Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Memorising Vocabulary

I just remembered something I meant to include in yesterday's post. Ok, it's easily sorted but reminds me I have a flaky memory. Some people manage to remember things by repeating them over and over. That doesn't really work for me. I get bored, go sleepy, lose concentration.

So how do you build up a good vocabulary (Wortschatz)? Two things have helped me. One is the sheer level of exposure to the German language through reading and listening. The downside is I hardly ever write in German so the gap between my understood and written vocabulary is probably greater than it need be. The second aid to learning has been a program called Teachmaster. You can download this free from There are instructions and an online manual in English.

Teachmaster has an editor for you to build your own exercises by entering German words or phrases and their English equivalents - or some other pair of languages. Lessons need to be kept to a reasonable size for ease of learning - though you can have several lessons in a single file and as many files as you like. If you are revising stuff you know reasonably well then 30 word pairs per lesson would be fine but if it's new then smaller lessons make learning easier.

The other part of Teachmaster is a teaching program which presents you with the text in one language for you to enter the matching text in another. If you don't get some right first time you'll find they are repeated at the end of the exercise. Those words you don't get right are the ones that need more practice and Teachmaster has a mechanism that lets you concentrate on those if you want.

I was never very good at remember the gender of nouns but by including the definite articles with any nouns in my Teachmaster exercises I've improved enormously. At one time I tried associating genders with cutlery. Don't laugh! - der Löffel, die Gabel, das Messer. I would visualise putting things onto a table next to the spoon, fork or knife according to gender. Some people imagine a 3-storey building and associate words with a particular level. Or if you can live with gender stereotypes - associate masculine with garage or basement, feminine with kitchen and neuter with some shared space like the sitting room. Divisions of labour don't work like that in our household.

If there are things that help you memorise or free software you want to recommend then please let everyone know by leaving a comment.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments on posts and helpful suggestions are welcome. Just write your comment in the big box and a name in the small one. Enter a verification word if requested. Comments are moderated.