Journal - Learning German as my first Memory Palace Project

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.


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.

It is a wide range. People with a typical college grad vocab are not happy reading Edwardian and even Victorian English. But someone with a lot of literature in their background has typically around 60,000 words. At that speed, you may have to look up a word or two a page, but the language will flow for you. Then you have engineers and the like whose communication skills are not the stuff of legend.

I have a family member who is an editor. I have not yet succeeded in finding a word that stumps her - even if she doesn’t know, her guess is too good.


Hey how did you send this in a way that the video shows in the comment?

I copy-pasted the link as a address, it formatted automatically.

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Commenting instead of vlogging today.

Consistency is key.

I went yesterday and today out and about, building my palace. Three things are becoming evident:

  1. Yes, like all skills, this takes time to build. Well, I’ll speak for myself only and say that memorizing just 22 words doesn’t come easy. I have to work at it.
  2. It is important to keep things organized in the Palace. An early snag I ran into was caused by the attempted use of unmemorable loci, confused my head and ensured next to nothing was memorized.
  3. It is painfully obvious too that I am still early in this skill. It is often tricky to come up with associative images for the words I am trying to memorize, and I have read on many sources that this is something that improves with time.
  4. (I’m on a roll) I had my doubts that this time-tested and thoroughly chronicled art for memorization worked, but now that I have experienced it myself, I have no doubts and I am even more energized to develop this skill.