One of the most complicated things that I have found in language learning is verb conjugations and how to present them in a simple and easy format. The standard conjugation tables just don’t do it for me. I love a good spreadsheet as much as the next person but for something so repetitive and complicated I needed to find a new way to make it engaging. While planning flashcards to learn the Icelandic pronouns I have stumbled on a method for presenting all pronouns and verb conjugations using two images.
Before I explain the pictures and how to use them there is one statement you will need to get your head around.
“All pronouns are based around your distance from the conversation”
Until now this never occurred to me but it makes perfect sense. Let me explain. You start by thinking as if you are having a conversation with someone and there are some other people around you. As you have started the conversation you are the first person to be involved. The person you are speaking to then responds and becomes the second person in the conversation. The other people around you are the subject of the conversation but not directly involved so they are the third people or subject of the conversation. Now I know the last example isn’t as practical as the first two but I needed to link it into the image to make it stick.
Two of the key things to remember with language learning is to make it personal to you and not use translations. Adding a personal connection allows you to remember and recall faster. This allows your brain to create more connections and more connections means greater retention. Using translations is fine to get a clear understanding of a word but if used heavily, especially with flashcards, it will force your brain to translate whenever you are in conversation which will slow you right down. The idea being that you can speak and think in the language naturally.
Using this concept I have developed two images; one for singular and one for plural. I have simplified the flashcards right down so the images are stick men and women with names underneath to indicate the gender without using my native language. The first example is me talking to my girlfriend with my brother and sister standing next to us. Then for each flashcard I will put an arrow over the person I am looking for and the word on the reverse. Four cards done. Easy peasy! The plural picture works in the same way but with groups of stickmen and names rather than individuals. You will notice three groups for they as Icelandic has different words for masculine, feminine and neuter.
At this point I was feeling very pleased with myself until I had another brainwave. What if I put a verb and tense on each card over the stick men with a small illustration of the verb (keeping away from translations) with the correct conjugation on the pack? This means I can learn the conjugation for any verb in any tense with the same set of images to represent the pronouns and not resort to any direct translation. All in all, I think this will save me a considerable amount of time when learning the verbs and keep them interesting. If you are a digital flashcard person it will be even quicker as you can reuse the same image for every card you want.