The Ultimate Foreign Language Fluency Tool
Remember every new word and phrase you encounter with near perfect memory
The Commonplace Foreign Language Journal is a self-learning guide that drastically increases the amount you learn from reading, writing, listening, and speaking in a foreign language. Designed to be carried with you at all times, this journal is used to document new words or phrases and quickly commit them to memory. Unlike most courses and workbooks with predefined word lists and lessons, this journal enables you to learn as you go — absorbing new words and phrases as you encounter them.
We forget most of the words and phrases we try to learn
Most of the time we spend trying to learn new words and phrases is wasted. We quickly forget and instead of understanding the next time we hear or see it, we have the exact same reaction we did the first time – “what’s that mean?”. It’s a waste of time, effort, and opportunity. The faster we learn the more motivation we have, the quicker we learn, and the more enjoyment we get out of using and practicing the language.
Use “Multi-Sensory Memory” so you’ll never forget again
Learn new words, phrases, and grammar with ease
Personalized learning around your own life, interests, and needs
Carry it with you to learn anywhere and everywhere
Memorize using “multi-sensory lists” to create perfect memories
Each entry is based on mnemonic visualizations and arranged into groups of ten. With a little bit of practice (trust us, it’s easy), this organization will allow you to “visualize” all your learning and quickly memorize new words, phrases, and grammar with a near perfect memory. This process is far easier than traditional rote learning and far faster than spaced repetition methods alone (see below for an example).
Memorize in “Chunks” to Learn through Context
Instead of memorizing new vocabulary and grammar rules individually, the Foreign Language Journal enables you to learn in chunks (2+ words at once or entire sentences). By combining vocab, grammar, and syntax (word order) into a single memory, you’ll both remember more and learn faster. This also gives you an advantage when speaking/conversing as you’ll have tons of sentences/chunks ready to go without needing to think too much before speaking. By learning grammar through context, you’ll get a feeling for the sound and flow of the language – you’ll know what sounds right, just like a native speaker.
Focus on the words, phrases, and situations that you’re actually using
As any language learner will tell you, a huge portion of the time you spend learning a language is often focused on situations and items that you simply won’t ever need or will rarely use. While you may eventually need some of those words, spending time learning stuff that’s largely irrelevant to your life destroys motivation and overall learning quality.
Using the Method of Loci to create near perfect memories
Invented by the Ancient Greeks, used today by memory champions around the world
Step 1: Decide what you’re learning
Choose ten 1-3 word “Chunks” or entire sentences that you’d like to learn. They can be random, grouped according to theme, or used to learn grammar (10 different verb conjugations, for example).
Step 2: Choose a Location
Choose a physical location that you’re familiar with to “store your memories”. You should be able to easily close your mind and visualize walking through it. Familiar locations like your home or office are great starting locations.
Step 3: Create Mnemonics
Use the pronunciation/sounds of the words you’re learning to create a visual “mnemonic” or mental representation of the words/sentences that you’re learning AND their meaning (see example). The crazier the images, the better your memory!
Step 4: Visualize
Close your eyes and visualize each mnemonic at different “spots” throughout your location. For example, if you’re using your bedroom as the location, imagine the 1st on your pillow, the 2nd on the corner of your bed, the 3rd on your nightstand, etc…
Step 4: Repeat
Repeat this process for each mnemonic in your list. To review, visualize yourself moving from spot-to-spot while looking at each mnemonic and recalling the meaning behind each. Review just a 1-2 times and you’ll know them by heart – no more visualizing needed.
To remember the word “Kan-Pie” (“cheers” in Japanese), imagine a small, drunk samurai yelling “cheers” while falling into a “Pecan Pie” in your bathroom sink. Include as many senses and details as you can…flakey crust, delicious smell, gooey texture, and the pie splashing everywhere.
The Commonplace Foreign Language Journal
(click the colored circles in the photo below for details)
Challenge Cards (Optional) – Self-test or use with a friend
Challenge cards provide a simple way to test and reinforce your knowledge on a regular basis so that the words and phrases you learn are always available and ready for use. Slip a challenge card in your pocket for the day, leave it around your home/office, or give one to a friend to test your knowledge at random.
Writing vs Typing
“When you have to use your energy to put those words down, you are more apt to make them count.” – Raymond Chandler
While digital tools are often easier and more convenient than pen and paper, the actual act of writing down thoughts, ideas, and information has been shown to drastically improve memory and understanding. Spend less time and money by using tools that work (if apps were effective you’d already be an expert).
Based on the latest memory and learning research
“Spaced repetition is a technique for efficient memorization & practice of skills where instead of doing a lot of work quickly, each item’s practices are automatically spread out over time, with increasing durations as one learns the item.”
“Students tend to study in blocks, finishing one topic or type of problem before moving on to the next. But recent research has shown benefits for interleaved practice, in which students alternate a variety of types of information or problems.
“…it is in large part thanks to our capacity to form and manipulate mental imagery that humankind has been able to out-compete rival species, and develop our complex cultures and technologies.”
“Inquisitive by nature, we are always looking for explanations for the world around us. A sizable body of evidence suggests that prompting students to answer ‘Why?’ questions also facilitates learning”