Starting an Intensive German Course
Since I’ve just moved to Austria, and I don’t speak any German, the company that I work for is sending me to a German language course in the evenings. It will be
15 12 hours per week in class plus homework. [Edit: I found out that the course is only four days per week, so 12 hours and not 15.]
If you are learning German too, come join our group, Learning German Using Mnemonic Techniques.
German Grammar and Exceptions
From my very limited knowledge of German, I think that the difficult aspects of the language will be the grammar and the exceptions.
Preparing Memory Palaces
The first thing that I want to do is figure out how to organize my memory palaces. I need to know something about the grammar first. Wikipedia has a general overview, but I’m not sure yet how to deal with the exceptions that I’ve heard about.
The Memory Town Method
I’m thinking that I’ll use the memory town method for memorizing the gender of nouns. I’ll find three sections of the city for masculine, feminine, and neuter nouns, and then place images for the nouns in those sections. I will explain more about how I’m setting up my memory town as I make progress with the language.
It appears that German uses prepositions differently. The example given in Wikipedia is that in English we would say, “the book is on the table and the poster is on the wall.” The word “on” doesn’t change. But in German, the word for “on” changes between auf and an depending on whether contact between the objects is horizontal or vertical. I’m guessing that there will be many situations like this to remember.
Another example that was told to my by a German is that in English we say, “I have eaten” and “I have gone.” In German, the auxiliary verb “have” can change between “have” and “be”. It’s something like this, if I correctly remember our conversation:
- Ich habe gegessen. — I have eaten.
- Ich bin gegangen. — I have gone.
For Greek and Portuguese, I tried placing different verb conjugation groups in different parks within the town. Apparently German verbs have a lot of exceptions, so I’m not sure what I’m going to do about that. Where Modern Greek, Portuguese, and Spanish each have three main verb-conjugation groups, it appears that German has many more. I’ll have to explore some of the neighborhoods in Vienna to find locations for all of the verb groups.
Plurals are going to be a tough one, according to Wikipedia:
The German language has twelve different ways of forming the plural. A student of German as a foreign language must learn the plural for each new noun learned; although many feminine nouns are very regular in the formation of the plural, many masculine and neuter nouns are not.
Will it be feasible to create separate locations for plural formats within the gender areas of my memory town?
I don’t know enough about German yet to know if adjectives are divided into categories. Wikipedia says:
German adjectives normally go before the noun which they are changing. German adjectives have endings which depend on the case, number and (in the singular) gender of the nominal phrase, but there are in fact two sets of endings, called the strong endings and the weak endings. Which set is used depends on what kind of word the adjective comes after, and sometimes also on the gender and case.
Different Word Uses
When German-speakers say “homepage”, I’m finding that they mean “website”, and when they say “site”, they mean “webpage”. I’m still trying to figure some of these things out, and will keep an eye out for similar situations when trying to speak German.
Anki Flash Cards
I expect to also be using Anki flash cards. I would like to put the 1,000 most common German words into an Anki deck and be sure that I know them as soon as possible. I did find an existing Anki deck with the 2,500 most common words, which I’ll use if I can’t find one that just has 1,000.
I work in an office where everyone is constantly speaking in German, so I’ll be able to practice listening. The language is very difficult for me to pronounce (compared with languages like Portuguese, Esperanto, and Greek), and it seems that people have many different accents, but I’ll deal with that problem later.
Also, I work for a company that runs five backpackers hostels with bars in Austria and Germany, so it may be a good environment for conversation practice, if the bar music isn’t too loud.
After some experiments with studying Esperanto, which I will write about soon, and memorizing a bit of poetry in English, I thought that it might help to learn sentence construction by memorizing some foreign language poetry that is in strict meter. I won’t write about that idea now, but will save it for its own post.
Our German Learners Group
If you are learning German with memory techniques, come signup for our group! There are 58 members in the group so far. I’ll be in German classes for one month starting next week and things will be busy, but we could trade tips in the group and maybe even meet on webcam on Google+ Hangouts.