A Quick Update on a German Language Course and a Smartphone

Last week I was so busy that I wasn’t getting much sleep. This week I have the same workload plus an intensive German course.

A Galaxy Note

I finally got a Galaxy Note cell phone, which I am pretty happy with so far. I’ll write a full review of the phone in another post.

I’ve downloaded many interesting apps, including Memory Ladder and some ebook readers for poetry. The large screen is exactly what I was looking for. I wrote most of this blog post on the Galaxy Note with Swype, and am finishing it on a laptop.

The German Language Course

Schiller Monument, Vienna

Schiller Monument, Vienna

I’m enjoying the German course so far. These kinds of classes focus on conversation and not grammar. I prefer to begin with systematic grammar and then go into conversation. I was that way even before I started with memory techniques.

For me to use the memory town method, I need to understand the grammar first. When I asked about cases, the teacher said that wouldn’t be covered until the next level of course, so I’ll have to study that on my own for now.

I’m not complaining, because most people who take these courses might not like technical grammar at all. It has always been my favorite part of studying languages though. During a 10 minute break today, I memorized the 12 definite articles in German, right before the teacher introduced the first three. We’re only getting into der, das, and die, but I’m ready for the others when I see them on posters or overhear snippets of conversations.

Since there are four cases and four situations (three genders and plurals), I set my memory palace in the nearest location with four loci: my limbs. Each hand and foot has four locations: above, below, and on each side.

Example images:

Photo of the King of Hearts

The Suicide King

  • der — oil derrick
  • das — a 5.25″ floppy disk from the days of DOS
  • den — a fox in a den
  • des — a woman named Dez who occasionally appears in my mnemonic images, like in the Esperanto verb, deziri (to wish), where she is wearing earrings and wishing on a star.
  • die — King Saul, who is the King of Hearts in my memory system (the “suicide king” who fell on his own sword at the Battle of Gilboa)
  • dem — someone named Erdem

I arranged everything clockwise: nominative (left hand), accusative (left foot), dative (right foot), genitive (right hand). So, my left foot has a Fox’s den on top, it’s crushing a DOS floppy disk, and a King of Hearts is on each side.

This would have been more difficult if I had never heard of grammatical cases before, but I’ve studied a little Modern Greek, so have a basic idea of what the cases are about.

German definite articles chart

German definite articles

Preparing the Memory Town

What I plan to do is start to make categories based on the structure of German.

Vienna

Vienna Memory Town

As soon as I have the categories figured out, I’ll turn them into lists and place each list in a separate area of my memory town. I also want to separate my flash cards by these lists.

I would like to write many blog posts about what I’m doing, but I’m so busy at the moment that I’m not even getting enough sleep. Someday I am hoping to have no commitments in life except to work on memory techniques and to write about what I’m learning. πŸ™‚

By the way, if you’re ever looking for a German language course, this one in Vienna is a pretty good deal at 250 euros for four weeks, 12 hours per week. Check out their website here.

And don’t forget — we’ll be meeting on webcam again on Sunday, 13 May 2012, at 3pm EST (New York timezone) to share tips about using memory techniques for learning languages. Follow our Facebook page for updates on joining the meeting. Hope to see you there!

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    5 comments

    • I like the idea of using this technique with foreign languages. While I still need to work on the technique, I like this application for learning a language. I could really see this as being helpful.

      Like you, I enjoy the grammar side as well because I don’t want to just learn how to say something but understand how I say it and how the grammar works.

    • I think that the memory town technique will be one of the tricks to dealing with things like pluralizing German nouns.

      We’re meeting on Google Plus Hangouts (or similar conferencing program) on Sunday to trade tips about using these technique for learning languages in general. You’re welcome to join us if you would like.

      It will be at 3 pm New York time zone. I’ll post details on how to join the meeting on the Facebook page as soon as I figure out which software to use. Google Plus works, but we had some technical difficulties with it last week. πŸ™‚

    • Pingback: Creating a Memory Palace for German Vocabulary and Grammar β€” Mnemotechnics.org

    • Josh

      I have as you know just joined the site and I am looking forward to your completed system. I don’t understand you spreadsheets and I wonder what the colums A,B,C,D, etc are for . I assume the location of the station?? Sorry if i don’t get it.

      I have just recently bought Anthony Metiver’s book ‘ How to learn and memorize German vocabulary’ Which is very interesting. He is not as good as you on the plurals. His system is to have a seperate Palace for each word of the Alphabet which seems good but I am still thinking of it. And I myself have been using a different colour for each plural i.e: e = red etc. I also use the various endings available if only to cut down the notation.

      Really interesting. Can’t wait to see your complted spreadsheet if only for a few items.

      Many Thanks

      Darroll

    • Welcome to the site… πŸ™‚
      I ended up leaving Vienna and didn’t finish learning German. Which spreadsheet are you referring to?

      If you’re interested in languages, check out our free online event on Saturday, October 12, 2013:
      http://artofmemory.com/memory-meetups-1215.html

      The topic on Saturday will be language learning and there is a guest who is very knowledgeable about languages.

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