How do I start?

Hi! I’m a 24 year old guy who knows English (Native) and Spanish (fluent) and wants to learn German, Dutch and Swedish now. I don’t understand the idea because loci or how it/visualization is supposed to help but I haven’t tried it. I’m also on medication that can lower intelligence and possibly memorizing capability and don’t know how much it has affected me. How do I make it so I can learn these three languages as quickly as possible?


Welcome to the site! :slight_smile:

Have you seen the getting started page yet?

I have, in 68 years learned and partially forgotten 6 languages. I think people tend to take the wrong approach. I have some tips if you are interested.

I am interested mr. zyuv, I do use some mnemotechnics, even though did not try learning languages this way. Was wondering if I use loci castle, if I am supposed to reuse same castle over and over `till get vocabulary.

You might want to use Anki, which is a spaced repetition system.

There are German add-ons for Anki. They exist in the add-ons site here:

Unfortunately, none of the titles actually contain the word “German” :frowning:

I used the Google search: “anki german”, and got dozens of hits. Each hit is a description of one of the add-ons in the above link. I found many such links.

However, I’m a regular Anki user. I think that means my Google searches might yield a lot more results than yours.

If you’re interested, I can attach a file containing the saved contents of my google searches. I don’t want to go to a lot of effort if you’re not interested in Anki :slight_smile:


1 Like

I’d suggest using a town—not a castle or other building—for storing foreign-language vocabulary. That way, if you’re learning words for fruits/vegetables, you can store them in the local grocery store or market. If you’re learning about education, those words can be stored in the school. Greetings and conversational basics might be stored in a coffee shop or wherever people hang out. (This method, by the way, is an approach that Dominic O’Brien—and Lynne Kelly too, I believe—recommends.)



I didn’t have memory techniques when I learned these languages. They definitely would have helped. I endorse most of the suggestions around here for memorization. But IMO the general approach to languages is off the mark. We approach a foreign language like it was a box of Lego or an Erector set. You learn all your pieces, learn the rules and you build things. There is some of that but mostly that’s not how it happens. Nor does your brain do this subconsiously when sentences pop into your head. Your language brain is full of structures, rhythms and intonation. This is why, when a German speaks English, it may sound like he’s speaking German in English. He knows the grammar but his patterns are German.

You learn language in phrases and as a kind of chant. Small children on the edge of speech will produce sounds that sound exactly like a sentence, perhaps a question or a vehement assertion. The words are nonsense but he’s working on the structures. When he does learn the words, they will fit into these patterns. And he does this mostly by hearing. There’s little methodical instruction, just some correction here and there.

You brain will still do this! Expose it to the language and it will start to learn by itself. Not as fast as when you were a toddler but the process still works and it’s very little work.

My secret weapons: :slight_smile:

  1. Find German YT videos, news casts or whatever, get someone with clear diction and play them all day long or as much as you can stand. Might be annoying at first but stick with it. Do not make an effort to concentrate. This is low level assimilation. When it feels right, repeat a whole phrase or sentence to yourself the way you heard it. Pick one video that you like and play that one every day, you can vary the others. Minimal attention. Background environment.

  2. The same with reading. Read some grown up German every day. A newspaper article perhaps. You may not understand any of it. Doesn’t matter. You didn’t when you were a kid. Read it out loud trying , best you can, be a German. Again, don’t struggle.

The point is to learn phrases and sentences more than words. If you get stressed or irritated or tired, stop. You won’t be learning and you will get discouraged.

Do this for a just a week or so and you will find, that when you turn to your grammar & vocab you will take to it much more easily.

Avoid any unpleasant experiences when learning. Your brain tries to forget unpleasant memories. That’s why cramming doesn’t work. Your brain hates you and is going to dump all that stuff as soon as you look away.


Brilliant! Thank you. My language learning days are over but I have a lot of other uses for that idea.

Zvuv I agree. Learning German for a year and use Parrallel Text. I read every day a page or two. Only looking up words when I have to. Regular spaced rep reviews. And listen to spoken German downloads provided. Painless. Cheap. Author Brian Smith.

1 Like

None of us know our strengths or non-strengths until we make an attempt. I would imagine that the usual methods employed by the usual folks around here will be good methods to attempt. You should boldly go forth and make the attempt, or I should say attempts because sometimes one method and sometimes multiple methods will be best. As for learning three foreign languages quickly and simultaneously, I haven’t tried / succeeded at that since high-school.

I’ll offer as “additional” the methods that I employed while a student in the days long-long before internet:
I purchased separate notebooks. I wrote my lessons in different color ink for each language. I used the local “foreign accent” in my mind’s ear as I slowly read the textbook whether or not the words were foreign. Kept the languages separated by book, by ink-color, and by accent. While learning the day’s lessons, I wrote three times: 1. The foreign phrase; 2. The verbatim translation into my own language; and, 3. The meaning of the phrase in my own language. This “pulled it apart” in such a way that reading all three lines in the foreign accent helped me associate the grammar with that accent.

I got top marks back in high school in all three languages, so it worked for me. You’ll find what works for you.

I’m considering trying a couple of systems from this site and using them to start up again with some language learning on my own time. I’ll still write phrase, funny grammar, and meaning; but I’ll be adding vocabulary to an Esperanto cottage in my mind and trying that out.

1 Like

I agree with MrsS.

I would say it this way, people seem to get a little dogmatic when following these instructions and especially the heavy emphasis on visual images. IMO you won’t get far if you just blindly following a recipe. They are an excellent place to start but not a ready made solution. You have to spend some time with yourself find out what you pay attention to, what makes your memories stick etc. This would seem like common sense but I think it can get overlooked in the initial enthusiasm.

I have my own personal learning techniques which I worked out for myself after frustration with all the advice I was given and they have been very valuable to me. Strangely I find a strong echo in MrsS’s description of her techniques.

You have to know the horse you are riding and tailor methods to get the best out of it. That’s work. It takes some time and patience.

This video went viral because it’s so cute. It is. But I think people laugh because the little boy is “faking” English. He is not! That is English! He has the large scale structure of how sentences sound and how a conversation goes. Now he will go on to learn the words and fill in the blanks. In another year, dad will be dying for him to shut up! But this infrastructure is vital and usually ignored by foreign language students.

Baby Talk

This one I couldn’t resist for fun :slight_smile:

thank you for giving tips :slight_smile: it has also helped me :slight_smile:

You might memorize words of all three languages at the same time, but you should take care during the grammatical portion of your studies. Maybe Swedish grammar before German grammar and end up with Dutch grammar; unless you’re only interested in memorizing phrases.