Commonplace Foreign Language Journal

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.

Journal Foreign Language
Art of Memory

Use “Multi-Sensory Memory” so you’ll never forget again

Learn New Words

Learn new words, phrases, and grammar with ease


Personalized learning around your own life, interests, and needs

Speak a language

Carry it with you to learn anywhere and everywhere

Perfect Memories

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).

Foreign Language Context

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.

Foreign Language Context

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)

Commonplace Foreign Language Journal
Commonplace Foreign Language Cards

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).

Commonplace Foreign Languages

Based on the latest memory and learning research

Spaced repetition

“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.”

Distributed practice

“For best results, spread your study over time. Students often “mass” their study—in other words, they cram. But distributing learning over time is much more effective”

Interleaved practice

“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.

Deliberate practice

Deliberate Practice is a focused effort designed for the purpose of improving performance. It is most effective when accompanied by a mentor’s or teacher’s guidance.

Visualizing and multi-sensory memory

“…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.”

Seeking critical

“Feedback is one of the most powerful influences on learning and achievement, but this impact can be either positive or negative.”

Retrieval practice and self-testing

“Although most students prefer to take as few tests as possible, hundreds of experiments show that self-testing improves learning and retention.”

Elaboration and Inquisition

“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”

The Commonplace Foreign Language Journal was developed from the writing and research of the world’s top language learners, educators, and linguists. Buy their books and follow their work to learn the detailed insights that made this journal possible.

Barry Farber

Barry M. Farber

Author, polyglot, memorization expert

Joshua Foer

Joshua Foer

Memorization expert, author of “Moonwalking with Einstein”

Steven Pinker

Steven Pinker

MIT linguist, researcher, and best-selling author

Benny Lewis

Benny Lewis

Traveler, polyglot, author, blogger at “Fluent in 3 Months”

Mark Manson

Mark Manson

Best-selling author, traveler, blogger

Brian Kwong

Brian Kwong

Founder at

Olle Linge

Olle Linge

Chinese language expert, founder at

Matt Kepnes

Matt Kepnes

Traveler, founder at

Gabriel Wyner

Gabriel Wyner

Author of “Fluent Forever” and the Fluent Forever App

Albert Wolfe

Albert Wolfe

Chinese expert, blogger at Laowai Chinese

John Fotheringham

John Fotheringham

Author of various fluency guides at Language Mastery,

Pat Wyman

Pat Wyman

Founder at, author, language expert

© 2019 Rebilder LLC. All rights reserved.

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