Can't remember words when studying a new language

So I'm trying to learn German because i think it's a pretty cool language,I'm 14 and I'm from Serbia and i turn off everything that distracts me,i'm learning German as a 3rd language(English is second) but i still keep forgetting the old words,i forget them in a minute. My knowledge is on a pretty low base. I will look at a word for about 5 minutes and repeat it and still forget it.What should i do?

March 22, 2018


When I keep forgetting words, I write them down on flashcards (the foreign-language word on one side, and the German word on the reverse side). Then I go through this package of cards regularly, and take particular care of those cards I can't remember.

Duolingo helps us remember things because you have to repeat a lot. I think in your situation it is a good idea to use Duolingo.

You could also try tinycards for German.

These are electronic flashcards. It's like my stacks of paper cards, only more fun. :-)

I hope this helps you.

March 22, 2018

You have to find out what helps you most. Try writing down the words in a list like Heike proposed (handwriting worked best for me at school), say them loud, or try to find an image that you can couple to the word, even just in your imagination. Other apps show words always together with a certain picture - that can help. Also Duo does it, but they change the pictures....

March 22, 2018

Duolingo has something called "Tinycards" you can use. It's like a flashcard game, it helped me memorize a lot of words.

You can also put sticky notes on to things. For example: You can write "Das Bett (Singular)/ Die Betten (Plural)" on a small piece of paper and tape it above your bed.

And you can memorize words is by writing down just a few words at a time (don't overwork yourself) and make new sentences with them. Example: I have trouble remembering the word for "mirror" (der Spiegel). So i'll make a couple of sentences with it, 1. "Ich kann mich im Spiegel sehen. (I can see myself in the mirror)" 2. "Der Spiegel ist zu gross. (The mirror is too big)"

Another thing you can do is get a piece of paper and write down the word (both singular/plural) and draw a picture of it. For example: Der Himmel/die Himmel is "The sky/the skies," so you could draw a picture of the sky under the word. Or for "lachen (laugh)" you can draw a person laughing.

March 22, 2018

All through my years learning and practicing languages the best method for me to memorize words was to use them. Find pen friends and change letters, chat or video chat, find yourself German texts and translate them, or translate texts from Serbian to German, and so on. Do not only learn the language! Use it!

March 23, 2018

Try the Memrise 3rd party flashcard application (web portal, not mobile app).

It has:

  • 6 flower planting steps to learn a word/phrase/sentence (Duo quite often just shows one time the word in a lesson, maybe now 2-3 times)
  • additional short-term 4h + 12h spaced repetition review intervals

If you use AnkiSRS, you can define your own learning and re-learning (lapses) steps in minutes.

So you can customize everything from 30sec, 1 minute, 5min, 20min to 4-12h depending on your personal "forgetting curve".

With Memrise you have to live with the defaults.

Not sure about SR what interval / algorithm TinyCards it uses. Have just shortly tested it for PT BR and switched back to the other applications.

What really might help:

  • Do not learn words alone (honestly, learning single words+sentences (in context) together on was not really that much easier for me)
  • Try to learn them in context (real-life 3-5 sentences, not weird Duo sentences you can't remember / associate).
  • use pictures

  • create MEMS (unfortunately pickup Mems on Memrise does not work for me is quite bugged now after several updates in 2017; maybe it still works if you CREATE YOUR OWN ones)

  • try not only to recognize the word written in the target language, but practice RECALLING with translation from your L1 native/2nd English to your L2 German target language.

You can hardly train RECALLING into L2 on DuoLingo with a forward tree (old strengthen skill concept before "Skill crown levels").

  • try to learn both verb (person) conjugated and also their INFINITIVE verb forms

The DuoLingo vocabulary clone courses on quite often just use the base (infinitive) verb form in teaching and review testing.
Duo asks you for the "normal (conjugated) verb" forms.

Mixing both is a good win:win.

  • Re-Learn (review) words before you go to sleep

  • Try the special "sleep mode" on the Android app of vocabulary trainer VT.

March 23, 2018

I'm new to German, as well. I've implemented what I did as a young mother to teach my kids to learn to recognize words and how they are spelled. Cut a few index cards in half. Write the name of the thing, and tape it on the object. For instance you might tape a card with the word 'bild' on a picture hanging on the wall in your house. Tape a card to the refrigerator with the word 'kuhlschrank' on it. There are literally hundreds of things you can label. Good luck!

March 23, 2018

Hi there!

German is going to be my 3rd language as well so I use some of the tricks I learned when studying English. One of them is making sentences with the words I learn. I write them down and as soon as I finish the new lesson, I start making sentences with the new words I learned. This helps to review grammar as well.

One other thing that I do and helps a lot is that I listen to LOTS OF German music. so usually when I learn a new word I'd be like:" oh yeah I heard that before!" since I know the lyrics already it means that I always have an example of the word in my mind.

Good luck on learning German!

March 30, 2018
Learn German in just 5 minutes a day. For free.