Aroung 6 months ago, I’ve started using mnemotechnics to learn german. At that time, I came here and asked for some tips. Everyone tried helping me. The time passed. In the 3 first months I had some personal problems and didn’t studied, but for the last 3 months I was full-time(and I mean full-time) in german language studies.
During this time(3 months, full-time), I’ve memorised 15000 words(I’m interested in “native fluence”), and now i can even read Goethe and Kant without vocabulary problems.(They still are badasses to understand, but i can understand every word they say!)
Out of It, I’ve already studied linguistics and am used to neuroscience, so I take this knowledge in consideration while I give you the tips, in spite of the fact that I will not explicitly refer to them.
Of course, this intensive concentration in language was an interesting process, in which I’ve learned many ways of solving problems. I’ve had the chance to identify many difficulties, and to create solutions. In the following paragraphs, I will try delineating every important points I have discovered, and I do think and hope these tips can help you guys. I’ve read many books that try explaining “mnemotechnics and new languages”, but they all sucks. And sincerely, earning money with this knowledge doesn’t fit my ethical standards. That’s why I will deposit all I’ve discovered here, feel yourself comfortable to distribute it(but NOT for money).
1.So, first of all, about material for learning a new language, and the best way to use them.
If you search in internet, it’s always possible to find, some “vocabulary books”. In general they divide the vocabulary by “subjects”, por example “Corpse parts”, “Works”, etc…
About it, I’ve had an important discovery. The “subject” division isn’t good for those who use mnemothechnics.
Why? because when u are reading texts and you see a word, u will not have the “tip” inside of it, to remember that it belongs to the subject A or B. Because of that, even if you have a specific memory pallace for “Corpse parts”, for example, it won’t work that well. The word will not take you directly to THIS memory pallace, and not OTHER one. And, believe me, when you have 15000 words, it would be difficult to find this word without any clue.
Here, I think people could say: “Yea, but the idea of memory pallaces isn’t that you go to them everytime u see a word. They simply keep your words in a specific place, so that you can revise them from time to time, until u “naturalize” these words and do not need to revise them anymore.”. Yea, I would agree. But if you read or herad something, that’s one of the best ways by with you naturalize words (the "pragmatical use of language as source of words-meaning, from Ludwig Wittgeinstein). If you did not use this chance because u can’t find the word, u have an inneficient method.
What is the solution that works? Alphabetical organization of words, when creating memory pallaces. If they are alphabetically distributed, there is no mistake: If the word starts with “Ab”, it will not be out of “ab words memory pallace”. It is like when you lose a key. If you know you lost it inside your house, you don’t need to look for it in Jupiter, you don’t have to search all the universe. If you lost the meaning of a word, u need to know where to look for it.
If you consider yourself a ■■■■■■■ perseverant bastard, you would do well to substitute the “alphabetical index” for a DICTIONARY. The difference is that the “vocabulary books” choose their words based on “frequency statistics” so you will be learning the most used words. I heard about that chinese man that memorised all the words in big oxford dictionary. Very cool, but not necessary for everyone.
So, in sinthesys, these are my 2 first tips:
1.1.u need to find a “vocabulary” book in which you have a alphabetical organization of words. In general they have it in the end, in a special “index”.
1.2. Once you find this alphabetical index, prepare yourself to memorise the words alphabetically.
- Second kind of tips: how to “increace” efficiency of “vocabulary indexes” use?
So, you already have the alphabetical index with you and is almost having an orgasm to start memorising them. Before that, you need to specify your objective.
If you are whiling to have “foreigners fluence” in language, a alphabetical index with something like 4000 words suffice.
If not, you have 2 interesting possibilities:
a) You can do as i did: for every word in the index, i’ve related those with the same “root” or “radical”. For example: bereiten(verb)(prepare, arrange), bereits(adverb)(already) , Bereitschaft(substantive)(availability), Bereitung(substantive)(preparation).
b) you can use the available index you have, and after finishing him(and i mean finishing him like in “mortal combat”), use an other one to “fill up gaps”. In general these alphabetical indexes diverge in something about 15% of the words, so you could get ~1000 thousand with this method.
So, in sinthesys, these are my tips here:
2.1. The way you use your material depends on how far are you whiling to go on the language. Because of that, firstly you need to define your objective, and then, choose the material and the way you use it.
- Next point: separating grammatical classes in different memory Pallaces?
The answer for this question: NOOOO, you idiot!!! and YESSS!!!
Here comes why: firstly, our mind works in a associative way, so you can use it in your favor! Like i said before, every words has “radicals” or “roots” that are used for different words(I used the example of bereit-). So, if you put together(or “consecutive to oneanother in the memory pallace”) the words that have the same radical, you will a) save space; b) strenghten words you memorise, because they will be intuitively related one to another.
“Oh Paulo, that’s bullshit. So I should put Prepositions, Substantives, Adjetives, verbs, all grammatical classes together?”. Here came, for me, one of the most important conclusions: NOT NECESSARELLY
There are some words that appear all the time, and whose grammatical function we can easy iddentify in a text. These are the Prapositional structures and Connectors. In german, (Konnektoren, Subjunktoren, Verbzweisatz-, Postponierers, Partikelns and Adverbs(some of them, easyly to identify)).
For these ones, it really is useful to have a separated memory pallace, because you use them everywhere and everytime, and by the context u can easely say they are Prapositions, conectors, and not verbs or substantive or adjectives. Once you can say by reading or hearing it, that it is a connector, you can look for it in conectors memory pallace.
Here, one more time: you do NOT have to sub-separate these prapositions and connectors in sub-memory pallaces. Everyone of them goes to the same memory pallace, in alphabetical order. Why: because you don’t need to know if “umso weniger, als…(even more, considering that…)” is a Konjunktor or subjunktor to unterstand its meaning.
In synthesis, these are my tips here:
When memorising vocabulary, you will have JUST 2 types of memory pallaces:
3.1) one type comprehends all words, separated in memory pallaces alphabetically organized: “ab-” until “an-”,an- until “auf”, “auf- until aus-”, for example.
3.2) the other type compreends all conectors and prepositional structures, separeted in memory pallaces alphabelically organized. (In every language they are aproximatedly 400, so you do not need many memory pallaces here).
*here I put a last but really important observation: I recommend this “special memory pallaces for conectors”, but it does not mean that in the “general words memory pallaces” you will not memorize these conectors once again. Yea, you will have these words memorised in 2 different places! If you don’t identify that the word is a connector by reading it, even so you will find her in the “general words pallace”!!! (and no, it will not confuse you between pallaces, making you transfer yourself from one to the other when see these words - sincerely, I thing the people that say that don’t know much about mnemotechnics. If you make the correct connection between suscessive words in your memory pallace, you will never be “transported” to another one.)
3.3.) I call that idea of a specific memory pallace for connectors a “suplementary pallace”. You can have others if you want to. For example, with the base “irregular verbs”(irregular verbs that from which other iregularities derive). The important feat is: 1) they must be in alphabetical order; 2)they are supplementary pallaces, so the same words must be in the “general words pallace”
- Last but not least(really, not least!) about using mnemotechnics to identify “specific carachteristics and categories” of words.
Here I’m refering to these characteristics without “rules” that every language has. In this point, I will use german as my reference, because I think using portuguese would be restrictive(YES, I’m Brazilian, we think a lot here too, we do not just play soccer.). But the general points I derive from my considerations apply to any language learn process, and are fundamental.(i will explain de german case, and if you do not want to understand it, you can go to conclusions)
Substantives: In german, there are 3 genres(masculine, feminine and neutral), and, by the word itself, we can just say the genre in 30% of the cases. In 70%, we need some lucky. The same thing goes to plural forms. There are something about 13(with some very very specifical diferences). So we have here 39 possible combinations for substantivs(3x13=39…)
Verbs: there are 4 types of verbs: Irregulars with auxiliar sein, irregulars with auxiliar haben, regular with sein, regulars with haben.
About preppositions, we have the folowing types: 1) with dative casus 2)with akkusative 3)with genitive 4)dative or akkusative 5)dative or genitive 6)akkusative or genitive 7) akkusative, genitive or dative. So, 7 different types(of which, just 4 are more than theoretical)
About connectors, we have 7 types. 1)Konnektoren; 2)Subjunktoren;3)Verbzweisatz,-4)Postponierer, 5)Adberbial Nichtsvorfeld, 6)Adverbial nichsnacherst Position, 6)Adverbial nichtspositionbeschränkt.
These are ALLLLL important divisions to learn german. So, how do we deal with it???
Well, i’ve seen plenty people that separate them in separated memory pallaces. WRONG!!!. Why? Once again, you can’t deduce from external stimulus(reading, hearding) in which categorie they fit! So, if you separate them you will “need to look for the key(meaning) all over the universe.”
In the other way, once you know where the word is, you can use this in your favor. The secret here is: you put “specifying images”, related to each of these categories.
So, every neutral substantive with plural -er , for example, has a common feat or image.(in my case, they relate to “chess”(don’t ask me why)).
For all german language you will need, by my description, 57 “specifying images”, what isn’t all that bad for A ■■■■■■■ WHOLE LANGUAGE!
In syntesis, the points here is:
- You use “specifying images” for every characteristics that can’t be deduced from the external stimulus(reading or hearing), and NOT, different pallaces. You can only use different pallaces if they represent characteristics that you can see when you read or hear a word in mivind situations.
By doing what a suggest, you will always have the “specifical” informations at hand in the moment you find the word in your alphabetical general pallaces. Once these pallaces are alphabetically ordered, it will be really easy to find the words into them.
With that, I conclude my exposition.
My text probably has many mistakes. Well, i’m not british or american or canadian, and didn’t used mnemotechnics for english(yet),so…
Anyway, I’m confident that my method really works better than those in books about “mnemothechnics and languages”, at onse side. At the other side it is more specific than those general methods in books generally related to mnemotechnics. And more important, in my case, ist FREE knowledge!!
If I sounded autoritarian in the text, that’s not the idea. The knowledge is constructed with debates and new Ideas. So if you desagree with any point, or see better ideas and solutions PLEASE talk about it and show me I’m wrong!!! With that, we can really make durable knowledge hier.
If you enjoy my ideas and think they are useful, please share them with everyone who can make good use of it. I really don’t care if you do not use my name, provided that you make it for free.
Bye Guys, thank you for helping me when I needed, I hope this text pay my debt!