Best ways to remember German vocabulary?
There are some Duolingoers out there who would really like to benefit from your language learning experience. So here goes:
In general, what are you doing to remember vocabulary?
Next, is there anything in particular you're doing to remember German vocabulary?
Any other German resources that are your absolute favorites, resources you personally use would be helpful as well.
Many thanks and Bunny 5's! for your awesomeness and assistance! :D
For more complex words that are formed from other words with prefixes/suffixes, or compound words, I remember them by their meaning when split into individual parts.
For the words formed by prefixes, one base word can make several other words, which would be entirely different in English.
"nehmen = to take" can become a LOT of words, including but not limited to:
übernehmen = "to over-take" = to take over
annehmen = "to on-take" = to take (sth) on
abnehmen = "to off-take" = to decrease, to lose weight
ausnehmen = "to out-take" = to disembowel
teilnehmen = "to part-take" = to participate
As for compound words, you (famously) often get things that sound very funny when translated literally to English. This makes these rather easy to remember, as well. I'll list a few of my favorites that I haven't seen on those "weird german compound words" lists :D
Beutelratte = "bag rat" = opossum
Wasserspeier = "water spitter" = gargoyle
Erdmännchen = "little earth man" = meerkat
Warteschlange = "wait snake" = queue
Cool! Teil-nehmen/part-take! Now maybe I can finally remember this one! I do love the way German words build on each other like blocks, making big words out of several little ones... one of the most charming things about learning the language in my opinion.
Yes, it's wonderful! One of my favorite things about the language for sure. Makes vocabulary a whole lot easier, really - and almost makes you realize just how similar some actions are, in a way?
I can only second this, and I think it works for more or less every language. For individual words or word compounds I've found it very helpful to try to translate them literally (sometimes it's helpful to dig into etymology (e.g. "Schlange" is not just the German word for "snake", but also related to the verb "schlingen" ("(to) wind, twist"), which is cognate to "(to) sling"), but if it isn't too obvious it might not always be worth the time). Not only does it make remembering easier, but it gives you an idea how native speakers think about these concepts. I've found the same to be true for more complex constructions, like sayings, phrases, or sentences in general.
It really does work, especially in languages that rely so heavily on derivation.
It reminds me - I am learning Arabic on the side, and they have a really useful root derivation feature. Several words can be derived from the same cluster of 3-4 letters, depending on how you add on to it, and words with similar vowel patterns are almost always similar types of words.. There's an interesting forum post about that here.
Being able to figure out word derivation will make your life easier in any language you choose to study, I'd think!
And here's the link to the Memrise course created with the Duo german vocabulary! http://www.memrise.com/course/335725/comprehensive-german-duolingo-vocabulary/
Thanks for telling us about Memrise. I just did my first lesson there and it was very fun. It will be a nice complement to Duolingo. I also found the lists of DuoLingo words in their flashcard section and practised those. Great review! Thanks!
Memrise is great for drilling vocabulary, but I've eventually switched to Anki, for the following reasons: You can actually modify the vocabulary cards, e.g. if there is a mistake or missing variants. Memrise would just count your (correct) answer as wrong, and only the creator of the course could change it. Then you can give more detailed feedback regarding how well you remember a word. And last but not least, Anki is more lightweight and can be used offline (both on your computer and on your phone, but you can easily synchronise your progress).
Memrise can actually be used offline, too, if you have an Android (and i assume iPhone) phone. There's an option to download a course for offline use in the app. The two main benefits for Memrise in my opinion are the dictionaries with sound entries and the amount of courses already pre-made. But in general i agree that Anki is much more flexible. I like to use it in conjunction with Subs2SRS to learn more colloquial expressions and practice listening comprehension by converting movies and TV shows into flashcards. There's an interesting post on it here as well as an interesting log documenting someone's journey using Subs2SRS and Nickelodeon's Avatar series to learn Spanish from scratch. It's impressive what they managed to do over the course of a month or two with a half hour or so of study a day. Near the end the cards were getting to be too easy so they came up with other ways to do more intensive studying.
I didn't know you can use Memrise offline on your phone. However, when I tried the Android app it was very slow, so that I never used it much anyway.
I'm not sure when you tried it, but it's changed quite a bit over the past year or so. It's still not perfect and if you're happy with Anki i'd stick with that, but if you want access to the Memrise decks it might be worth a try.
Another option to correct an issue with Memrise is that you can ignore any wrong or incorrect vocabulary and then build an unlisted course for your own stuff. That isn't as flexible as Anki, but it's good enough.
I highly recommend this and it should be part of Duolingo proper. Period. It's one of two things I think is missing from Duolingo that shouldn't be missing.
My first wall with learning with Duolingo was that it doesn't do the vocab enough for me to actually remember the vocab. I was failing more because I couldn't remember a word rather than the grammar. And I couldn't get the grammar points, because I wasn't getting past the words.
When I started Memrise, it took me a long while to catch up to where I was in Duolingo, but I've been advanced rather rapidly compared to before. Doing the Memrise course first, and then Duolingo for grammar heavy levels, and doing it concurrently for vocab heavy levels has really improved the speed I've been completing a tree.
Where I spent almost 5 months stuck at 1/3 of a tree, I've been completing a section every 2 ~ 4 days since. (I'm going slow, but I know you get to a A2 / B1 level if you remember everything Duolingo teaches you, and comprehension is my goal)
Thanks; I've been thinking about checking out Memrise and now I finally have. I think it's going to complement Duo very well. I'm starting from scratch in German because I need all the reinforcement I can get, shot through the first hour or so, and now about 15,000 points later I'm running into material that isn't review so that's exactly where I want to be. Also downloaded the app and am looking forward to having portable learning!
Etymology, so I don't just know the word but understand the subtleties. https://yourdailygerman.wordpress.com/german-word-of-the-day/ is amazing for talking through how and when to use words that look identical on Duo, and explaining why the same word can be translated to english in several different way.
It sounds silly, but it helps me in two ways: it means I spend more time on a word and see it in different scenarios so I understand it better - and hopefully don't get dinged as much by Duo, and it means that hopefully when I learn reichen I learn erreichen and richen sich and Königreich and ausreichend and hinreichend at the same time, so for one memorisation I get many words.
And reading about my favourite things to hopefully see words in the wild.
Personally, I like to say things out loud or finger spell them. Mostly though, I say them out loud. Because I am a hearing person, saying things out loud engages my ears and makes the words more familiar. I really like to say everything out loud, the whole sentence they appear in. I never wait for Duolingo to prompt me to use the microphone.
I also write words down along with their definitions. Having a list helps me remember for some reason, especially if I can remember the words around a word I'm struggling with.
I have even made lists on big paper, so the font is huge and I can see it from anywhere in the room :D This one was a lot of fun, and I enjoyed using different color markers to brighten the room.
I tend to do a lesson right after I finished that lesson just to drill the words into my head. It works for French.
I also like to say it in my head a couple of times, and imagine a keyboard with the buttons pressed down that spell the word.
Some really good ideas here, many of which I do- especially keeping my own notebook. I would just add a humorous one, which has helped me with gender. Hat, shoes, skirt, and coat, are all masculine, while pants, and jacket are feminine. I picture my own usual work outfit (slacks and blazer) for the pants and jacket, while I have a mental picture of a Scotsman, all dressed in kilt (skirt), bonnet, coat and shoes for all the masculine stuff. It has been working! Did a similar thing with food- picturing feminine items on my granddaughter's plate, masculine ones on my grandson's, and neutral items still in the middle of the table.
I tend to write down new words that I learn on a piece of paper. I tape it on top of my computer so that every time I want to go on my computer, I practice them. It's very effective for me, mostly because I'm on my computer a lot.
It's worked for Spanish, Italian, and Swedish so it'll probably work for German too.
In school we have vocab quizzes every few weeks, or sometimes more often. I just go over the words (like 25-90 per quiz) on flash cards and make sure I know each one German to English. Then I look at the English words and make sure I know English to German (helps more with recalling)... Then the next day I use them to take the quiz and I generally get 100%.
Then I just use the words in conversation (because if they're useful words, I need them anyway) and they stick that way.
I have the same issue with Swedish, so it's not like German is something completely special that is hard to learn... I'd study it the same way you do any language. If it isn't similar to one you know, it's more like starting over with 0 knowledge.
I have written down every sentence and every word from every lesson I have taken so far in German. Then, I have printed each verb I learnt, in all tenses, from a German website. All this information is organized within a binder (1 section for the Duolingo lessons, 1 section for nouns, 1 section for verbs, etc. including one section for idioms). I also have a section for all links offered by other participants on Duolingo (dual-language online books, cartoons, movies, grammar, music... all from the German culture). As I review the lessons, I have plenty of recorded information in my binder to help me review and progress. I have added friends from Duolingo who can help me when I have any question regarding German. I am well organized.
You are my DL hero Carol. In this place there are a lot of people just accumulating points and badges, and that is OK, it is their choice, but it is nice to know that some people take it to the next level.
Hi Lorel90, I am so grateful for this free training! I learnt more in 81 days then I learnt in all the years I tried learning German. And, I spent a fortune! I am so glad you understand. You made my day, Carole
Thanks Carole for your great ideas. I am just new user, so It waso kind of you for helping me. i love german and it was my dream to learn it but because time and money it was a problem. i Wonder if in Duolingo has more Advanced level so that we can be a fluent speakers
Duolingo doesn't offer more advanced levels but you have so many other learning tools. Just scroll down this discussion panel and you will be surprised at all the free learning tools from the internet. Best of luck, Carole
Not only the next level, but above all the levels there are. (On Duolingo, at least)
Thanks for sharing this with us Carole! I may just have to take out a few hours for this on a weekend and make my own binder!
I wish that I could do that. I would make the binder, but then I could never actually get myself to use it.
We all have our learning style. What works for one doesn't necessarily work for another. Enjoy your learning process and have a great day, Carole
The secret to success. Thanks again Carole for your thoughtful reply. Keep up the hard work.
Hi Carole! This is a very good idea! I have a lot of problems learning French and I think I must try your way now!
Hi Browny777, Good proposition, I will help you with your French and you can help me with German. Enjoy your day, Carole
Well, being organized like that makes you already half German. You're on the right track :)
For remembering vocabulary, I divide the Words Tab into five groups and practice a group each weekday. If I have trouble words, I'll make a note of them, their meaning, and any other information. Then I'll drill them into my head until I say them in my sleep (or, I think I say them)! I'll start using Memrise, but it is just another thing on my list that needs to happen. I'll make my own flashcards until Duolingo comes up with a better Words Tab/Flashcards with genders, colors, the ability to divide the words into different groups, a search feature, and the ability to change the vocabulary words from German to English so that, if I forget a word that I've learned, I can just sort the words alphabetically, In English, and find the missing word!
I have a particular way I use Anki for Duolingo in general.
For German in specific, I always add the plural as a separate card if it's not a predictable one. (E.g. feminine usually adds -en or -n, masculine endings -er takes no plural, etc.). For irregular verbs, I add phrase with "he"in it. (E.g. "He walks" Er läuft).
Awesome blog post! How do you set up Anki to allow you to type words in the flashcard?
I use Wiktionary to get the meaning of a word as it often gives the etymology. So Bushaltestelle (bus stop) is Bus-halte-stelle (bus halt stall). Think of a covered bus stop with seats. So it is the stall where the bus halts!
I made this post for someone else. :) But, German is a language I would like to learn someday. One of my favorite fanfiction author's is a native German speaker, and I would like to have access to more of their fanfiction.
I tried learning German when I was 14 but didn't really have access to the right resources (No internet and lived in the boonies.) It's on the list though! :)
Neat; I used to be pretty heavily into fan fiction and I once made myself useful translating a story written in French that everyone was raving about but relatively few fans were able to read. I really enjoyed the challenge.
I would like to learn German one day, too. I would really like to read some of Hesse's work in German, but I imagine I have a very long way to go.
I think at some point, I might open up a Hesse book and its English translation and try to read through them paragraph by paragraph.
well i guess im on a fresh start 13 and already starting memrise and duolingo although somedays i have exams and cant get my hot streak
Here's an great Memrise course that I found which has an outstanding amount of vocabulary that directly correlates with what you learn here - http://www.memrise.com/course/335725/comprehensive-german-duolingo-vocabulary/
Print screen anything you get wrong and leave a note on the image explaining why it is wrong.
I'll tell you what works for me but may not work for everyone. I have a sketch book and I draw a picture of a scene or simple image corresponding to the vocabulary word. I have hundreds of these little drawings. This is effective (for me at least) for even abstract words. The key to this is association. I remember the vocabulary word by associating it with the image.
In general, what are you doing to remember vocabulary?
I like to go for more traditional methods. I write down every new word I learn into a vocabulary list. I find I remember things better when I write them down :)
Is there anything in particular you're doing to remember German vocabulary?
So, like I mentioned, I make looonnnngg vocabulary lists. I check over some of these at least twice a day. I cover the German translation and write them out on a piece of scrap paper. Anytime I get a word wrong or don't know it, I write it out three or four times to try to drill it into my long term memory. I also add it to my whiteboard where I list all the words that I need to revise a bit more. I also colour-code my vocabulary lists to help me remember noun gender. I list every word with their definite article and colour them blue (masculine), red (feminine), green (neuter) or yellow (plural). I also like trying to make my own sentences using new vocab and I try to work these into conversations with natives. I find that I remember words better when I use it in a sentence I made myself, not just a copy of one that I learned in a book or on Duolingo (plus, it's more rewarding).
Any other German resources that are your absolute favorites, resources you personally use would be helpful as well.
I have a lot of different resources that I use on a daily or weekly basis, so bear with me :)
- Duolingo (obviously): I strengthen all my skills and do a few extra sessions of "strengthen skills" to reinforce the vocab (German is by far my best-kept tree)
- Teach Yourself: I love the Teach Yourself books! They obviously aren't enough on their own, but they give you a good basis in the language. I am currently working my way through Perfect Your German which is a C1-level book. I haven't used the Complete German book (I thought I was a bit further on than this book by the time I discovered the series), but if the Dutch, Swedish, Polish and Portuguese equivalents are anything to go by, it is also brilliant.
- Collins Easy Learning German Verbs: I have a copy of this verb book which I use every day. I find it useful to have full conjugations of the most common verbs right in front of me :)
- Get Germanized and Deutsch für Euch: I love both of these channels and have been following them for a while :) The lessons are relatively short but enjoyable. DfE's grammar lessons are my favourite :D
- I also love Memrise and Anki for expanding my vocab lists :D
Now for some native material! I think the best way to advance your German skills is to put it to good use by using some native TV shows, movies, books and newspapers :)
- LeFloid: LeFloid is my favourite German YouTuber! His channel is good to get some exposure to more colloquial German than you get in a textbook as well as a more natural speed of speech :) His videos are similar in style to Philip deFranco.
- Nachrichtenleicht: This really does what it says on the tin- It's easy news :) Every day they upload a few short articles about some of the most interesting stories of the day. They are written in simple German and are usually only 5 or 6 paragraphs long. They also make for good translating in Immersion :)
- Der Spiegel: Der Spiegel is a German news magazine (think along the lines of Time or the Economist). I always grab a copy of this when I'm in Germany or when my local bookshop gets one in. The stories are written in a more difficult register, so I always read along with a dictionary and I try to find stories that I had heard about previously so I know the gist of what's going on. The website offers tons of articles that cannot be found in the magazine itself :)
- Frankfurter Allgemeine: This is one of my favourite German newspapers...though there's not much I can really say about it...It's a newspaper :P
- Süddeutsche Zeitung: Same as above
- 20 Minuten: This is a short newspaper that is available in Switzerland. The language used is similar to that used in a tabloid (meaning it's not overly-advanced). I also like getting a bit of exposure to Swiss German because it is one of the dialects I am most interested in.
- DW: This is another news site, but is also includes tons of articles on German culture, literature, film, etc. It's really a one-stop shop for all your German needs :P
- Dual Language Books: If you are a beginner, I recommend this series of dual-language books. The left-hand page is in German, the right-hand page is in English. This makes it really easy to read along and switch between languages if you reach a part that you don't understand :)
- Native German books: This year, I am aiming to read 15 German novels. It'll be a mix of native German and translated material. While there are thousands of novels, poems, plays and short-stories I could share, I thought I'd just share the one I'm looking forward to reading the most.
- Translated material: There is an abundance of material translated from English to German. My current favourites are the Harry Potter series in German and John Green's books in German
- German TV and movies: Again, so many options here, I'll just share the ones I'm watching now: Unsere Mütter, Unsere Väter (a.k.a Generation War), der Untergang (a.k.a Downfall), Stromberg (basically the German Office), HIMYM auf Deutsch and finally one that isn't out yet: Margos Spuren
If you can manage to get German Netflix, you are in luck! There are thousands of dubbed shows and movies there.
I hope you find something useful here :)
I do not use it often, but when I do it it is very effective: MEM (mnemonics) flash cards. Memrise has wonderful Mems. You can also make your own in anki, they require and image that speaks to you, that makes it memorable to you and preferably add sound, to make these cards takes time, but everybody says that it is worth it. I do not make my own cards, I use the ones in Memrise. An example of this is the word möglich (possible), the image had a dog looking at a mug and "thinking" it is possible to mug lick, the association is what makes you remember and send it to long term memory.
Memrise has some pretty strange mem photos too. Have you seen the one for "I should be an American" in the beginning German course? It's a picture of a guard at Guantanamo standing amongst a bunch of prisoners on their knees. I'm no flag-waver but I found it kinda offensive. Certainly memorable, as I'm sure I won't soon forget it, but tastewise, maybe not the best choice.
They are supposed to impact the person who creates them, they are personal. The person who made that mem probably does not like us, there will be people like that, I agree it is offensive. But Mems are very effective.
Memrise is a great tool that helps me re-enforce Duo vocab and learn new vocab, too.
We speaking your native language replace the ones you know with their German counterpart.
Actually using German as in trying to speak,listen and understand and write helps me retain German vocabulary the most.
I vocalize all the new words, and it makes it much easier later on. I also use the playback option whenever possible. Also remeber the the's (Der, Die, Das.) It makes things a lot simpler later on.
Absolutely; cannot stress that enough! Always memorize gender along with nouns; you'll thank yourself later on.
The hardest thing for me has been remembering the genders of nouns, so not so long ago I've associated each gender with a color - masculine is white, feminine is black, and neuter is blue. For each noun, I visualize the physical object relating to that color somehow. For example, for der Flur I think of a long school hallway with white cinder block walls, and for das Gesicht I think of a sports fan with blue face paint.
The other thing is that you should definitely use Anki or whatever your flashcard program of choice is, and make sure to put plural nouns and different principal parts of verbs and things like that as different cards.
I tried this a while back and do something similar, but more vivid: masculine has an image with male lion involved with the noun; feminine has a witch; for neuter i think of a Gorilla. The sillier the better.
One quick tip: In German class we'd be given a picture and then as a group come up with words to describe it or sometimes write sentences together about the picture. Seems like one could use this strategy at home as well. Find a picture you like through a google search or whatnot, print it out, and then write down all the vocabulary you know that fits the pic and then look up other ones that you don't know yet. :) Finding the words you will need, or want, to describe things is sort of built into the process. We also did this with a short film once and it was a lot of fun!
We did this in junior high in first year French and I loved it. My best friend, not so much... since when she came over she would often find herself stuck describing pictures in French with me instead of doing something "normal" 13-year-olds would do on a Saturday. It was even worse when I borrowed my dad's cassette recorder so we could play what we said back and check our pronunciation.
I think my old bestie is still a bit surprised I didn't decide to become a French teacher. :-)
There are a lot of great ideas here that I will certainly be adding to my regiment. So thank you for this post and all the comments.
I'll share what I've been doing too. I have been studying German for exactly one month today. I had no prior knowledge or study of German.
I make a point to keep my 30xp streak going on Duolingo. If I miss a day, I make it up the next day plus some. So the next day I would go for at least 70xp. It's a great way to keep myself accountable.
I also subscribe to Germanpod101.com. This is a bit expensive but not as expensive as RS. I also suggest signing up for a free trial and waiting for a good sale (30% or more) to subscribe. Although I subscribed before a sale and they returned the sale amount when I asked a week after I subscribed.
What I love about Germanpod101 is first the flash cards. I could not find another resource that is as good as Germanpod101 for flashcards. There are about 2000 words on flashcards to begin with. You can also add lesson vocab to flash cards. They use spaced repetition which I know some other programs use too, but they also have recognition, production, and listening comprehension. It also tracks how many words you have started, learned, and mastered. I learn 30 words per day through flashcards and probably more through unofficial sources. One problem with these flashcards is the lack of gender on some of the nouns. But I keep my german/English dictionary on hand to make sure I learn them.
Germanpod also has great podcasts, listening comprehension videos, and other activities and tools.
Additionally I use an app called Konjugation to help learn verb conjugations. It isn't an extensive list, but it has a couple hundred verbs and multiple tenses for around $7. You can use it as reference or to test your knowledge.
There are a few other apps I'm checking out but I haven't found any that stick out to me.
I am also writing a german friend and learning lots of new words every time he writes me back.
One thing I do specifically with German vocab is every time I learn a compound word, I look up the pieces of the word so I can learn 3 or more for one. It also helps me remember gender when you look up the end word of a compound word.
I hope some of this helps others like all of your ideas are going to help me. Good luck!
as a move-on from post-it notes someone on here labelled and then photographed things, and kept the pictures in a file on her phone. It looks interesting, and you can do things like the cat (who looked outraged) and also the things you are really going to need. ( because of the crazy gender system, always include that on the label). Another tip I used when we had to change our passwords weekly at work was to use words I wanted to memorise, but they eventually stopped that because of the number of people contacting IT support to reset passwords they had forgotten.
That reminds me, I like to use Evernote for my ASL vocabulary. Each sign is linked to an ASL dictionary entry for it. So, I can see the words first and read through them. Once I see a sign I don't know, I can click the word to see how it's done. That way, I have to try to jog my memory first. What I really like about evernote is that it syncs across all of my devices without me having to do anything special besides have an internet connection. So, I do all of the typing on my computer instead of on my phone. :)
I write down the words I learn (their spelling, pronunciation and English meaning) in a book. Straight after, I'll review flashcards and do a skills test. If I find that I'm having trouble with something, I'll redo the lesson and maybe another skills test. I find it better to learn slowly and practice more, then do 5 lessons in a row and remember nothing. Remember, learning another language is hard and takes time, so if at first you don't succeed, just try again. Hope this helps :D
I also write whether the words are neutral, feminine or masculine, though I tend to forget this.
1) Write down nouns (with article/gender) and sentences separately. 2)Make a list of the changes that takes place when verbs are being paired with different pronouns. 3)Try to go through my notes everyday. 4)Try to ask in forum when have doubts .. this really helps :) 5)Download german-english dictionary to find more about the meaning and the pronunciation.
I memorize words in batches. So, for example, I would memorize Mutter, Vater, Sohn and Tochter. After that I would memorize Onkel, Tante, Neffe and Nichte at once. etc. I made sure that the words I memorized were connected in some way. I also make flashcards of my own, usually written. On the front of each flashcard, I would put the German word, it's English translation, the part of speech, the gender, and whether it was singular or plural. On the back, I would write an example sentence in German using that word, then translate it to English. This takes a bit of time, but you don't have to do it all at once.
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