Journal - Learning German as my first Memory Palace Project

So, I decided to chronicle my endeavors with the art of memory here on this forum. I am fascinated by the promises of mastering this skill, and perhaps by sharing my efforts here I will get new and experienced artists joining me, commenting, motivating and maybe even learning from me.

Today was my first go. I got an 8,000 vocabulary book that, at first, I hoped to memorize in 3 months. The vocab book is divided into 15 different categories (people, nature, home, etc.) including a category for verbs and another for grammar. Fearful of paralysis of analysis, I decided to follow the book’s own categorization, instead of re-categorizing the whole book by myself. Important to note, nearly every single noun (so, excluding verbs and grammar) has accompanying pictures.

I counted all the words in the first category (“People”), it came up to 268. Then I went out and set the area in my neighborhood that I will use as loci for this category. Then I went on to set images in each loci. Feeling overwhelmed, I kept myself to the first page - 11 words. I memorized them, but my mind first referred to the image it has of the page on the book, not to their respective loci. I wonder if this order of reference will be a hindrance to advancing the skill.

I will be away for the weekend, so I won’t try to build on my Memory Palace, but I will take a German grammar book to the trip with me in order to keep the language learning practice active.

To you that has taken interest in this budding mini-blog, thank you very much!


Viel Glück beim Lernen! :slight_smile:

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Hey, this is great to read I literally did this exact same project twice with German, the first time I tried to do seven thousand words in three weeks. Of course I feel that this but there was one day where I memorised around four hundred words and recited them all. The problem with a list this massive is that the anxiety around how big it is can cause some massive procrastination to happen. Also, you get such a little amount of reward as you go along even though you’re memorising massive amounts of information. You have done for then go ahead but my advice would be to try to do one thousand German words in alphabetical order first. You will then have created 90% of the images for the German sounds. You will also have the reward of doing one thing therefore the second one will be easier. If you want I can send you the list I created of the top one thousand most used German words in alphabetical order. I can also send you a frequency dictionary PDF for German it has the top five thousand most German words once in alphabetical order and once in rank of frequency. Also, if you can I would advise making an Anki flashcard deck that has all the words you are learning in it. Obviously, if this is from a physical book you can’t do this from an e-book you can. If you would like any help doing that I could make one pretty quickly. Any other questions you have feel free to ask


SilvioB, without cheating, I’m going to guess that means “Best of luck with your learning”. To which I say, vielen dank!

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McNally, cheers for the reply. I must say, even to me, 7000 words in 3 weeks sounds ridiculously ambitious.

Yesterday, I did one page - 11 words - and today we ended up staying put, so I went back out there. I do have a target of reaching B1 German in 3 months, but I am consciously easing my way into this relatively new skill. So today, I did three more pages, and tomorrow I will do 6 more. I am both learning a new language and a new skill. I’m noticing, for example, that with some words, my mind automatically makes image associations, so I just let it run with it and anchor to the locus (single for loci) the image my mind impulsively conjures up.

Worth mentioning, I’m also going through exercise books in addition to memorizing the vocabulary - and I also live with a native German speaker (so I have a few things going for me).

One pass through the words certainly isn’t enough. On a first passage, I repeat the words and visualize them in their loci, then I do the same backwards, then I see how I do with a closed book. Finally, I do a third passing front to back again before calling it a day. That’s what got me through today. The word-loci association improved today as well (bottom-right of the pillar is “Freunde”).

Will send you an email, McNally. Thanks for your tips.

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Das packst du schon locker! Wenn du irgendwelche Fragen hast, kann ich auch dabei ab und zu helfen oder dein Mitbewohner auch natürlich. Es gibt bestimmt mehrere deutsche hier auch außer ich.

You might like to check back on your progress until you can freely translate this unless you already can hahaha.

It might make it better rather than hinder it, so you don’t have to worry too much about it. It’s evidence that the connection is quite strong which is always a good sign.

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Hey, I’ll make a little video showing you all the things I learned doing this and what programs I used and send the lists or whatever. I’ll do it tomorrow going on a hike now


very interesting thread.

Want to do my B1 in 3 months as well and do not a single word in German.

@mcnally would be great if you can share the list of most common words in German language.

My source for words is the Linkword German programme .

i thought 1000 words would be enough to go through a B1 and may be 4-5000 for a B2…


Das… du… du… Fragen hast, kann ich auch… und… helfen oder dein… auch… Es… hier auch… ich.

I do appreciate you offering to help! Will take you up on that.

The approach of constant repetition is helping. I am still struggling to first remember, then to actually conjure up fantastic imagery that helps in recall. I am not too worried, as I know that it is a habit that takes time to improve and implement.

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Nandan, 1000 words to B1 is definitely low-balling the target. I’m no expert, but the vocab book I got is for 8000 up to B2. That’s not to say that they have more vocab than necessary for that level, but I feel it a safe bet to say that’s closer to the minimum requirement for B2 (and I find it unlikely that B1 is 7x less, or even 3x less).

I didn’t realize how long I spend out there for just a few words. I had a lot less time today than expected, but about 40 min is what I spent to put 13 words in the Palace. As a beginner, I have no real grasp of whether that is too much time or not, but it’s more than I first noticed it took.

Glad I at least got out there, but fell well short of the six-page target due to time constraints.

Leaving it as a reminder to myself here for next time: go back to page 18 and put in the palace words left behind, then go all the way end of page 25.

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My bench marks in learning a language:

1000 words basic daily functioning in public
2000-3000 can maintain a simple friendship or a simple job
2000-3000 if it includes specialized vocab - can read a tech paper.
5000 words read a newspaper - follow the news with practice
Read literature - depends on the kind of of work but I estimate 15,000 at least

I learned 3 spoken languages this way and these benchmarks seemed about right.

Of course fluency is significant. If you have to stop and mentally retrieve the words or translate their meanings, you won’t have much left to think about the content.


Can you send me a frequency PDF as well?

This is pretty accurate

I recall that 80% of communication is made with 2000 words
90% is made with 3000, after that, it’s a set of diminishing returns as you get closer to 100%

"Read literature - depends on the kind of work but I estimate 15,000 at least

I’d say that that is too much. I read that the average educated adult anglophone has about a 7,500 word vocabulary. Literature is easily readable be people like that.

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"According to UPI’s findings, “most U.S. adults have a vocabulary of more than 42,000 words.”

Of which only about 20,000 are active - the rest passive. These numbers are typical for what’s estimated. There are vocab testers online, if you are highly educated you can expect to score 40k+

Literature covers a very wide range from easy to read light fiction to works like Ulysses by Joyce.

English seems the most demanding. It is in almost every way, one of the most difficult languages to master - native speakers don’t do that well either. But my limited experience with other languages is that these benchmarks are similar.


Guess I misread or misinterpreted to get to 7,500. It really is that high.

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Alright everyone! Sorry for being so late with this.

I got the top 2500 most used German words and put them in alphabetical order and put them into an excel spreadsheet, a PDF and made a flashcard deck in Anki out of them. I also made a video giving a load of advice on how to memorise this list and loads of things to speed up your progress and what not. I know it sounds cheesy but stick to the end because I keep remembering new little important pieces of advice throughout the video. Hope it helps! :

Email me if you want the PDF, Anki and Excel spreadsheet btw dunno how to add it to the description haha


These posts are so very useful.


Ich have started Der process to memorize Deutsche words and have reached about 500 words which might be ,ein bisschen infact nuo ein bisschen Deutsche but the process has made me realize more Deutsche words as I read them.

Aber bitte, nicht hold this against me for any grammatical errors as ich bin just starting Der language. und also enschulldegang sie for my errors.

Ich habbe also found an excellent way to learn GERMAN and memorise the words while also learning to spell them and write them correctly.


The above post I just speed typed from my memory as my thoughts occurred and added the German words as and when it came to my mind without stopping or thinking about at the german word. It has been 4 days since i started.


Laughing out loud at that message with the combo of German and English, brilliant

Thank you all for participating in this thread.

Going the vlog way with this thread. It’s more enjoyable to talk to a camera than to write comments. But def want to do whatever keeps the activity in this thread the highest.


I suppose it depends on the literature itself. The average educated anglophone would probably have a tough time with Shakespeare - or maybe I’m just projecting.