seahorse memory technique

133. SEAHORSE Memory Technique

Podcast Duration: 01:05:23
136. Finishing Your Foundation & Trusting Your Brain

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Fred Snyder by Email

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How Should Intermediate Level Students Learn Mandarin Online?

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Working with Tutors

Hi Luke and Phil.  

I was one of “those intermediate” learners that halted the course about a year ago.  I haven’t stopped learning Chinese though.  I regularly follow your podcasts and listen to the user input and questions.  The reason I temporarily stopped my course was that I needed more to “fill in the blanks” of my learning.  At that time, the inability to “unlock” succeeding lessons without stepping through each lesson was a little frustrating.  I know that you have expanded the course and changed the subscription structure.  How do you suggest I re-engage in the course?

I am impressed and appreciative of all the hard work you both do.  You have not only taught us Chinese, but taught us how to teach ourselves by providing the tools and techniques.  You reimagined what learning can be.  Even without accessing the course for now, your podcasts and YouTube videos teach a lot. I was surprised to learn that memory techniques were taught in the past.  The book Moonwalking With Einstein by Joshua Foer is a delightful read for those who might be interested in memory champions.

Your list of resources is impressive.  Thank you for sharing!  I would like to offer a few that I have found helpful.  If you are already aware of them, please excuse the duplication.

Rakuten Viki has Chinese mainland TV shows and movies.  Most are free.  There is a “learning mode” that allows the cursor to hover over the Hanzi that is not recognized and a definition pops up.  A collection of graded videos with transcripts.  A one time $5.00 unlocks the premium features.  The dialogs are not your 北京话 and has a slight “Guandongish” sound.  A collection of useful tools, particularly “DimSum Chinese Tools” which is an input method that will take a Hanzi character and convert it to the pinyin and add the definition.  I use this to create an Anki input file for a list of many words. (With Mac Big Sur you may have to launch it from the .jar file).  The idea is to put each new word or character on a different line, and use Tools to append the definitions.  This results in a tab separated variable text file which can be imported into Anki, either directly or through a .csv spreadsheet file, depending on the software.

Finally a language exchange partner.  I have four exchange partners; one is a professional  English teacher, another a translator, yet another a international business person, and finally a Guandong student.   The student is to hear a little bit different manner of speaking and learn that 是 can be pronounced without an “h” sound!  We use WeChat for both audio and writing. We each meet once a week at a regular time.

It’s not that hard to get a partner. I found that by advertising in.   Using the classified ads section will usually bring many responses from 北大 or other universities.  There is an etiquette and technique in finding a partner so that both parties can really help each other.  If you would like, I would be happy to offer some tips.  

Finally, one request.  You recently did a YouTube(?) about how to make advanced Anki decks with cloze and image occlusion and Pleco.  Could you please point me to that link?

Well, there are about 4 months or pent-up random thoughts.   I  really hope that after this pandemic has abated and travel is permitted I can invite you to dinner in Chengdu when I next come and we can talk about our different experiences in China.  I really have had unusual and unforgettable experiences as I am a bit of an adventurer.



Hannah Sloat on YOU DID IT!!!

Wanted to say that overall this was a wonderful start to my Chinese learning. My love is impressed with how fast I’ve been acquiring the language. Before this, I studied Japanese for a while and learned a lot from my mistakes. I’m excited to just keep going with your class and keep on improving. I’m trying to learn Mandarin and she’s improving her English. 我知道。


Christopher Glover on 袋子 in Context

I searched the course page for the character 弄 and found it here as I’ve been hearing this word a lot (e.g. 弄坏了 , 弄丢了 but haven’t really figured out when to use it. For instance, has it got any similarities with the usage of 让. Would you be able to give some of the common collocations that 弄 has – and whether they have any 相当于?Sorry for the ton of questions – Many thanks


Milena Thomas on Mandarin Initials: Categorized

I am not totally sure if my “roof” tongue position is correct. I’d love feedback or more examples of how far back/forward the tip of the tongue needs to be or how to really nail this pronunciation. I feel like my mouth feels/sounds full of cotton when my tongue is up, so I think I’m doing something wrong/extra. Thanks for any assistance with the other tongue positions do not seem too far off for me.


Steve Nicholls on Simple Final A Introduction: 八 bā, 他她它 tā, 妈妈 māma, 爸爸 bàba

Hi all, this may be in the content somewhere, but for the average person is there guidance as to how much course content to consume on a daily basis?

Whether all downloads are a good idea, as I know PDF’s can build up fast and overwhelm can creep in?

How to use time in between video watching to best further practice?

So I want to get into a sensible daily learning pattern I guess, e.g. 30 minutes of videos, x minutes reading PDF’s, x minutes practicing such-and-such…

See what I mean?



Anne Giles on MAKE A MOVIE 寸

These characters are starting to run together: 习, 勺, 寸. I need to redo my scripts, right?


Marek Kasperski on Special Effects & Memory Athletics

8 x World Memory Champion, Dominic O’Brien, is a good friend of mine. He taught me S.E.A.H.O.R.S.E. when using the three basic elements of memory and recall Imagination, Association, and Location.

S = senses. Use all your senses, smell, sight, hearing, touch, taste, for example. They are memorable.

E = exaggerate. Make things you are trying to remember as exaggerated as possible. If I am trying to remember to buy eggs, I think of someone throwing eggs at my front door. Not one, but a hundred eggs. Imagine the mess, the smell. Link it with a location, the front door.

A = action. If you put some action into what you’re trying to remember, it also becomes more memorable (Von Restorff). Imagine carefully stepping through the 100 broken eggs. Suddenly you slip, fall, and land on your back. Action. Memorable.

H = Humour. Adding humour can also make things memorable. If I also need to buy cat food, imagine resting on the couch (location) and you are attacked by a giant cat. Image it as a cartoon with a giant ball of dust, feet and hand flying everywhere. Memorable.

O = Order. If you need to remember is an order or sequence, create a journey. Start in a room in your house. Go around the room in a particular order, “hanging” things to remember onto items in the room, a bedside table for example. When you re-walk through the room in the same direction, you will be able to more easily remember items in a specific order.

R = Repetition. ANKI

S = Symbols. Sometimes using symbols can connect similar things that you want to remember. A cross, or a big tick.

E = Enjoy. Have fun and you will remember more.

Of course, you don’t have to use all these SEAHORSE items, perhaps just one or two, to make things memorable.


Evan Hall on Walk in the park?! I’ve got 汉字 to study!

Are we supposed to be able to do the native speed before moving on to the next?


Mesrop Porsem on REQUIRED: How to Use Vocab in Context Flashcards

Hi there, just to be sure: am i supposed to visualize the character that fills in the blank? or is it sufficient to repeat just the pinyin? i am asking because some characters tend to be a bit complicated so can take time to recall them.


Soren Korsbaek on Vocab Unlocked from 理


I don’t get this one although I anticipate it’s fairly straight forward 🙂


Jeff Bryant on 别人 in Context

Just want to know that I’m understanding the nuance correctly

You can’t give to other people

You can’t give (all of) it to other people

You can’t give a bit to other people

You can’t give any bit of it to other people


Philip Dong on 哪儿 in Context

Hi there. In the sentence,他哪儿知道你不吃面包; specifically, …哪儿知道…, how (was) he to know” but based on the characters I’ve learned so far, it’s translating to where to know. What am I missing, thanks!



Jason Pon on 冰水 in Context


By placing the 都 after 我, is there a shift in the sense of ‘all’ to focus on ‘I’ rather than it being 每天早晨都?

52:04 Vocab Living Links

This section covers “Living Link” mnemonic techniques to remember Chinese words of two or more characters. Here’s a video explaining the theory behind it.

Jeff Bryant on Vocab Unlocked from 别: 别人 – 别的

别人 We’re out for BEER ‘N galavanting with the others


Jeff Bryant on Vocab Unlocked from 绍: 介绍

I’ll JUSt SHOW you around and INTRODUCE you to some people


Jeff Bryant on Vocab Unlocked from 到: 没想到 – 回到 – 得到 – 找到

the esteemeD DOWager obtained great wealth


Jeff Bryant on Vocab Unlocked from 做: 做饭 – 做爱 – 叫做

叫做 “it’s between you and the person you’re doing it to” 🙂

58:06 Movies! 

This blog post explains the theory behind Movie Scenes and learning characters.

Will Raley on Make a Movie 指

指 zhǐ To Point At

1. Jerry at -Ø’s Living Room
2. A floating Finger (扌) randomly appears and POINTS AT a killer Sun (日) about to break in through the window and attack Jerry
3. Jerry quickly grabs a Chinese Spoon (匕) uses it to fend the attacking killer Sun away
4. Jerry says to the Finger: “thanks for POINTING (指) that out”


Will Raley on Make a Movie 龙

龙 lóng Dragon

1. Leslie Nielsen at -ong’s Kitchen
2. Leslie Nielsen wants his own pet DRAGON
3. He draws an outline on the Kitchen wall with a Highlighter Pen (尤)
4. Then Leslie Nielsen carves the outline out with a Samurai Sword (丿)
5. It magically turns into a new pet DRAGON for Leslie Nielsen
6. Leslie Nielsen tightly hugs the DRAGON (龙)


Nick Sims (戴燚)on Make a Movie 石

Sean Connery (shi-) is in the kitchen of my childhood home listening to a chatty teeth mouth (口) lie and lie about his life.

Give me a break I’m tired of your lies, can’t you talk about something other than yourself. Chatty Teeth starts to talk about me, Sean. And the insults just keep coming. Okay Chatty, you cast the first STONE. Sean takes out his samurai sword (丿) and slashes at chatty just as it is parried with a ninja star (一) thrown by chatty teeth. Chatty turned to STONE after the sword touched the tip of his mouth.


Nick Sims (戴燚)on Make a Movie 硬

Eve the American rapper (yi-) is in the bathroom at the MSU Engineering Blgd (-ng) trying to get Jabba the Hut (更) to invest in her rap business. Jabba wants a 20% stake in the business and trying to drive a HARD deal term sheet. Eve, is a saavy negotiator though and slaps him across the head with MSU’s Rock (石) which is extreme big and HARD to knock some sense into him. You drive a HARD bargain Eve, I accept your proposal.


Hank Elliott on Make a Movie 据

JORAH MORMONT is in the BATHROOM of my CHILDHOOD HOME carrying a FLAG celebrating his mother of dragons. One of his FINGERS is wrapped up like a MUMMY. This is because he has grey scale and ACCORDING TO GOT lore, he is highly contagious if his grey scale touches anyone. ACCORDING TO all the maeisters JORAH should be dead already and can not be saved. But Sam saves him ACCORDING TO directions from another old old book!


Hank Elliott on Make a Movie 投

TOM CRUISE is practicing WING CHUN KUNGFU in the KITCHEN of SANDISFIELD AMBULANCE (OU-set). He is practicing quite fast and suddenly a FINGER falls off. So he picks it up and THROWS in INTO the trash. A little while later, a TOU falls off his foot. So he picks that up and THROWS it INTO the trash as well. Over and over again he THROWS his FINGERS INTO the trash. Every now and then he also looses a TOU. Soon he has no FINGERS or TOUs left to THROW INTO the trash.