Memory tricks for German learning

Whilst looking for ways of teaching German grammar, I recently stumbled across Peter Heinrich’s website and videos.

Peter is a proponent of memory techniques to help students learn German, and has published an eBook on the subject.

So, for example, to remember the gender of German words, traditional wisdom states that you just have to learn each word with its definite article: der, die, or das.

Peter’s techniques give learners a way of doing this much more efficiently and easily.

Firstly, learners choose a symbol or an image to represent each gender, so it could be a lion (der Löwe) for masculine words, a woman (die Frau) for feminine words, and water (das Wasser) for neuter words. Then when they come across a new word that they want to learn, they create a mental image of that word, somehow connected to the symbol. The more unusual the mental image created, the more likely they are to remember it. Confused? Let me give you an example…

Recently one of my adult beginner students has been tackling the topic of places in town. I have a set of flashcards with simple images of a hospital, supermarket, park, bakery etc. After asking her to place them into two piles, words she knew and words she didn’t, we then practised the pronunciation of these words, with the definite article. After a few vocab games, I then tested her on the gender of the words – some she had remembered, but most she hadn’t. This is where I explained the memory technique to her and  she chose to stick with der Löwe and das Wasser for masculine and neuter words, but chose die Blume (flower) for feminine words.

So we discussed the images she could mentally create… a hospital (das Krankenhaus) full of water, a lion pushing a trolley in a supermarket (der Supermarkt), a bakery (die Bäckerei) full to bursting with flowers etc.  After discussing the images for each of the words, another test revealed that she had remembered all of them. OK, admittedly it is not a very scientific study, but she went away with a new found confidence that it is possible to learn the genders of German words.

And this week, she had come back with these vocab cards, complete with a sticker that shows the gender (the words shown in the picture are all neuter, so they have a water sticker on them). Give this trick a go with your students!

German vocab cards with images for remembering gender


German for Beginners Part 2 – Penzance

Learn German in Penzance this Spring

I’m pleased to say that Cornwall Adult Education Service are offering another 5-week German course in the Skills for Life Centre at Penlee Park. The course starts on 22nd April 2015 and takes place on Wednesday evenings from 7 to 9 pm.

Topics covered

This course follows on from German for Beginners Part 1 and we will be learning how to ask for places in a town, understand times and prices in German, buy tickets for travel, and talk about your family.

New learners welcome

Learners who did not come to the first part of the course are welcome, though some prior learning in German will help you.

To enroll phone Cornwall Adult Education on  0300 1231 117.

Rabbiting away in Spanish at the Dog and Rabbit, St Just.

March – Spanish at the Dog and Rabbit

Now March is upon us, the Café Dog and Rabbit has reopened after a very well deserved hibernation in February, and we are back to our usual Thursday evening Spanish sessions. These are from 4.30 – 5.30 and are aimed at beginners who have some knowledge of the basics, and people who have learnt a bit of Spanish and want to practise their speaking. To give you an idea of what we have been covering, last week we practised using and understanding numbers above 100, and then understanding the words for places in town, and saying how far places are.

New people welcome

We are always on the look out for more people to join the group, so please pop along to our next session and enjoy un café con leche and some Spanish chat at the Dog and Rabbit.


Many thanks to Corinne at Bosavern House, who provided a very comfortable alternative venue in February. Muchas gracias!

Why learn a language?


Speech bubbles with reasons why people want to learn Spanish or German

Why learn German or Spanish?

In the first class I like to ask learners why they want to learn German or Spanish. Shown above are just a few of the answers they give.

Get speaking right from the start

Many people learnt a language at school and now want to take it up again, or learn a completely new language. Others did not really enjoy language learning at school, but are motivated to give language learning a second chance. Often they feel their knowledge of grammar is OK, but they want to be able to speak and understand more confidently.

Travel, friends and holidays

A lot of people are enthusiastic about the country where the language is spoken and may have visited and got a taste for the culture and want to go back and chat with the locals or friends over a café con leche or a Weissbier.

For business

I have several learners working in the hospitality industry, who want to be able to communicate with their guests. Here in West Cornwall we have a huge number of German visitors, thanks partly to the popularity of the German produced TV adaptations of Rosamunde Pilcher novels shown on a Sunday evening in Germany. Filmed in Cornwall with a German cast, these shows draw thousands of German tourists every year to visit the landscapes and houses made famous in the programmes.

Classes tailored to your interests

Whatever your reasons, I will take them into account when planning your lessons and if there is something you particularly want to learn then let me know, and I can plan it into a future lesson.

And if you have no particular reason and just want the fun and challenge of learning a new language, then that’s fine too!

Look under the Spanish or German tabs to find details of current classes in St Just, Pendeen and Penzance.


Spanish and German at the Centre of Pendeen

Spanish and German at the Centre of Pendeen

I will be running FREE taster sessions at the Centre of Pendeen, so you can see whether learning a language is something you’d like to do, or to check which level is best for you. Please come along!

Beginners German, Wednesday 14th Jan, 4.45 – 5.45 pm.

Improvers German, Wednesday 14th Jan 6 – 7 pm.

Beginners Spanish, Monday 19th Jan 5 – 6 pm.

Improvers Spanish, Monday 19th Jan 6.15 – 7.15 pm.

Please contact me for more information.

New German class in Penzance for 2015

Learn German in Penzance

Beginners German, a 5-week course running through Cornwall Adult Education Service, will start on Thursday 15th January in the Adult Education Centre in Penlee Park, Penzance (behind the library).

This is a great chance to get a grounding in the basics of German without having to sign up for a full 10 week course. The 2 hour classes will have you speaking in German right from the start and give you the grammatical tools you need to introduce yourself, hold a simple conversation, ask for information and order food and drink. Sign up through Cornwall Adult Education 0300 1231 117 or email

Spanish and German at the Centre of Pendeen

I’m really happy to be running Spanish and German classes at the Centre of Pendeen in the New Year.

Free taster sessions

Provisional dates and times are below and I will be offering FREE taster sessions in January so that you can see whether you would like to join the class.

Spanish beginners – Mondays 5 pm – 6 pm
Spanish improvers – Mondays 6.15 – 7.15 pm
FREE taster sessions Monday 19th January 2015

German beginners – Wednesdays 4.45 pm – 5.45 pm
German improvers – Wednesdays 6 pm – 7 pm
FREE taster sessions Wednesday 14th January 2015

I really hope you’ll come along and try a session!

Centre of Pendeen

We will be using the small meeting room at the Centre, which also runs a huge range of other activities, groups and classes as well as the farmers’ market every 1st and 3rd Saturday of the month. So if languages are not your thing, maybe you could try patchwork, yoga, scrabble or bowls.

Check out their website at