Jerome Luepkes Fri, 01 Sep 2017 13:08:24 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 56896375 The 1000-Word Challenge: Day 63 – The Podcast Fri, 01 Sep 2017 10:46:28 +0000


A quick update about a recent podcast that it was my privilege to be part of: My friend Stefano and I had a nice chat about our respective passions in life: language learning and cycling, and how these two things compare when getting ready for a new challenge.

Please check out Stef’s soundcloud page for details, also on iTunes.


The 1000-word challenge is going well, 800 words are now done, with another month to go. At this stage, most of the words are well-memorized and in my long-term memory (with any luck).


Others not so much. So, I thought I’d share a few of the funny mnemonic pictures I’m adding to help me remember if certain words should be masculine or feminine:


For some reason, I always want to say “la tranvia” for “tram”, and it should be “el tranvia”, so I found a picture of this crazy man clinging onto the front of a tram. Problem fixed.


The word “snake” should be feminine in my head already, as this is the case in German, but it’s rather confusing because it’s masculine in French and Spanish, and the spelling really messes with my head, so I enlisted this lovely lady to help me out…


I needed a bit of additional text to complete my mnemonic for “la costilla” (ribs). It’s a silly photo, but it works, that’s for sure.


This is my picture to remember that the Spanish word for “map” is masculine. I’m gonna get the same tattoo done tonight, might come in handy.


We are good at remembering funny, violent or dirty images, and so this rude little number really does the trick for remembering that “tower” is feminine in Spanish. ☺


This is what I do for a living.



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The 1000-Word Challenge: Day 40 – Half way there. Tue, 08 Aug 2017 22:00:35 +0000


The current status:

This is a quick update about the 1000-Word challenge that I am currently doing. I am going through a vocabulary list of 1000 words of Spanish I generated using several different sources, and which will give me a good start to learning the language very soon. I also invited my readers and students to participate in the challenge, either by also learning the words in Spanish from scratch, or using my existing lists for German and English instead:




I am just over a month into the challenge and the first 500 words are finished. This includes quite a lot of the easy words at the start of the vocabulary list, and the focus is to spread the net wide in terms of learning new sounds, testing a variety of word types, and also to become used to the Spanish spelling system.

If you want to see what I’ve been up to, then feel free to download the Anki deck for the first 500 words here:

Anki deck – first 500 words of Spanish

I’ll be posting the whole set of 1000 words at the end of the challenge, as well as completed vocabulary-pictures pages (50 of them), and the word and excel versions of the lists in Spanish. Stay tuned!


Some initial thoughts about the 1000-Word Challenge:

First of all, it’s been a surprise how easy it’s been. I’m not saying that Spanish is an easy language – it isn’t – but by making a solid learning plan, and working steadily through it, I’ve been able to add a lot of new words on a weekly basis and use any short breaks every day to practise (on the tram to work, between appointments, in the bath).

The visual dictionary that I’ve been using, and also the International Phonetic Alphabet have both been as great help, alerting me to any funky pronunciation issues that I have to keep in mind as I go. I’ve also been spelling all words, not just repeating and memorizing, and this has also been a great help with the pronunciation.

This project has been a great start in preparing me for the next challenge – when I’ll actually begin learning the language. For now, I shall continue with words, words, words and we’ll see how it goes.

It’s not too late to challenge me – in any language! Have you got what it takes? Then I challenge you to a language duel at the end of September!

Get in touch now, and we’ll set it up!


Coming up:

I’ll be posting more details as I complete the 1000 words, and will begin putting together the ideas for the next challenge. There are a few external articles in the pipeline, plus a few more surprises which I’ll be posting soon. For now, happy language learning!


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The 1000-Word Challenge: Day 5 Wed, 05 Jul 2017 13:50:20 +0000 How I began the 1000-Word Challenge:

I began by processing the entire 1000-word list using Google translate, with both English and German texts, and whenever results clashed, those words were marked for additional investigation later on. This way, I had some basic Spanish material to work with straight away, and I began learning the words in random order, one at a time.

This was my workflow:

Working from my Excel list, I cut & pasted the words into each of the following online resources:

  1. image search


The trick is to look for great pictures using Google, and great sounds using Linguee, both are fantastic language-learning resources.

By quickly checking all four webpages, I was able to confirm that the Spanish word which I had selected was what I thought it was, because if any of the translations were off, or the pictures didn’t match the original concept, it was immediately obvious.

With these resources open and ready to go, I was able to copy my Spanish word, with the gender el or la, choose a nice picture to go with it, and links to two audio files.  I plugged all of these into my Spanish Anki template before moving onto the next word. As I did this, I also updated my word list, the Excel spreadsheet and another resource which combines both pictures and text.

This was the result after a few days of solid work:



Working with Anki:

Having learned the words, the next phase was memorisation using Anki, and I will post more on this process in the next update. I have already found and fixed one or two small bugs along the way, and I’m sure there will be many more, but it’s all part of the learning process. Here are three examples of words which are causing a little bit of trouble:



So far I have learned just over 100 words and everything is going well!

If you want to see the first 100 words of Spanish in an Anki deck, then please install the program ( and then download this file, double click and go!

170704 Spanish 100.apkg


You are welcome to use my Spanish template for Anki (for any language), which is here:

170704 Spanish Template.apkg


If you have any questions, please feel free to post them below, and stay tuned for more language-learning tips as I continue to learn my 1000 words of Spanish in 3 months…



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The 1000-Word Challenge: The List! Fri, 23 Jun 2017 02:00:53 +0000


The 1000-Word List:

Behold, the 1000-Word list, as a PDF, DOC or XLS, ready for download:





or as simple links:

1000-Word List as PDF

1000-Word List as DOC

1000-Word List as XLS


Words used:

I started with basics (numbers, colours, days, months) and began adding more interesting topics such as food, clothing, jobs, hobbies, rooms, and other objects. Finally I added a few verbs and adjectives, but the primary aim was to have objects which can easily be represented as a picture. I chose words which didn’t meet this requirements and the result is by no means the “1000 most frequently used” word list. (Words cut include “the”, “in”, “after”, “go”, “his”.. and we’ll deal with those words in the next challenge.)

I’ve had to make other decisions about which words to use for my list and which not to use, the form those words should take and so on.

On the topic of gender equality relating to different professions, I’ve tried to make the distribution of feminine and masculine job titles fairly random and non-sexist and would invite everyone who takes the 1000-word challenge to simply choose either the feminine or masculine versions of each job for themselves, as needed. This list includes no particular preferences of political views, religious beliefs or ethics of any kind.


How to learn 1000 words in 3 months:

I will post more about this later, but as a quick summary: My first ally is the Anki freeware, with which I’ll memorize all the words over the 3 month period. After manually adding all of the words, sounds and pictures into Anki, beginning with the hardest words first, I’ll be carefully managing my time to learn 12 – 13 new words per day, leaving a few spare days towards the end of the challenge to practise.


The Rules of the Challenge:

Simple: There aren’t any! In other words, feel free to do whatever it takes to learn these words in your chosen language. At the end, those who wish to challenge me need to be able to recognize a random picture of any of the 1000 things on the list, say the word perfectly (and provide its gender if there is one). Use dictionaries, apps, courses, and even tandem partners to learn your words. I provide the basic list (in English and German only) and it’s up to you to create your own list for your chosen language. So far, we have participants interested in learning both English and German, as well as other languages not on the list, including Spanish, Italian, Russian and Hungarian.


How to participate:

There are many things you can do with this 1000-word challenge –

1) Nothing – observe how we go through the process and read about the things we learn along the way.

2) Reference only – Use this list for language-learning, at your own pace, whenever you feel like it.

3) Casual Challenge – Take part in the challenge, but only in a casual way, completing all or most of the words in the 3 months, and testing your skills at the end. If you begin the challenge and have to break it off half-way through – don’t worry!

4) Full Challenge – Anyone who wants to learn the list in any language is welcome to get in touch with me (either via email, FB or contact form) to challenge me directly. If you already know some or most of the words, that’s fine – it’s all about perfecting all 1000 words, regardless of what level you begin with.


The Endgame:

I aim to complete the 1000-word list in 3 months, and be able to say all the words in perfect Spanish. Anyone challenging me directly can do the same in their chosen language. I will produce the list of 1000 words in Spanish, and publish this here, in DOC and XLS formats, as well as my new Anki deck and other language-learning resources that I create along the way. Please feel free to do the same, and if you send them to me, I can share them with everyone else at the end of the challenge. For those challengers who live in Berlin, we can test each other directly, and for those who don’t, there’s always Skype!

The important thing is to have fun and learn a lot of new words!


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The 1000-Word Challenge: The Basics Tue, 30 May 2017 09:30:50 +0000


Language Learning Challenge: 1000 Words in 3 Months.


As a language trainer, I am very much aware that I ask a lot of my students, particularly those who are beginning to learn a language from scratch. I ask them to practise every day and make sure they reserve the time for themselves without interruption from others.

I don’t ask anyone to do anything I wouldn’t do myself and so it’s time to prove it:


I am going to learn 1000 words of Spanish in three months.

Not having studied this language before, I will be starting at absolute zero and will have to deal with a lot of new information quickly, whilst learning how to pronounce new sounds and having to deal with words which may be similar in other languages. The idea is to go through a very fast period of learning, concentrating on only a single part of a language, as preparation for basic conversation later on.

The start day is the 1st of July and I will be finished with my 1000 words at the end of September, so there will be plenty of new words to keep me busy throughout the summer. I’ll be working from a list of objects (things like food, clothing, pieces of furniture, animals, kitchen utensils, etc) and will learn each word as a singular item, along with its gender, with perfect pronunciation. No sentences, or abstract words (such as: “the”, “his”, “have”, “this”, etc) or anything else. Those words will come later. In short, 1000 easy to recognise objects found in everyday conversation.

This is only the first phase of my adventure of learning the Spanish language, with plenty more challenges to come over the next year. My long-term goal is to be fluent. Some say Spanish is easy, but I will still be pushed to my limit with about an hour of intense study per day.


The Challenge – Can you do it?


Why not join me on this quest? On the 1st of July, I will release a two-page list of 1000 words (in English, see the preview above) and would like to invite everyone to learn 1000 words – in any language, at the same time as I learn my Spanish words.

This list will be available on my webpage, sent out as a newsletter like this one and also individual emails upon request. The challenge ends on the 30th of September.

Mastering 1000 words means dealing with at least 10 – 12 words per day at an even pace to get through everything by the deadline. I will be using a wide variety of apps, dictionaries and online resources to find my learning material (Spanish translations, words, pictures and sounds), a variety of memory tools, including Anki, Babbel, Duolingo, etc., as well as anything else I can get my hands on to get the job done.

Everything is allowed, the goal is to know each of the words (in singular, not plural) with its gender and with perfect pronunciation. No sentences or grammar or any conversation, just plain old 1000 objects which can be represented as pictures.


How does this affect you?


I already have a few interested people who may want to directly challenge me. This means we would have the potential of doing head-to-head challenges at the end of the three months. Also, my idea is that we pit different languages against each other as well, and that’s where all my German students would come in: to challenge me in the same set of words, only German vs. Spanish. I will provide the list of 1000 German words!


Need some motivation? Ready for the challenge?


If you want to challenge me in this endeavour to help yourself to a dose of motivation, then great. However, be careful what you wish for: this is not going to be easy!

At the end of the three months, we can do several different things, depending on who has joined the challenge and has done 1000 words – we can have a live showdown either here in Berlin, or at a convenient time via Skype. I have a few friends who will help with judging the showdowns (typically 20 random objects as pictures).




So, if you’d like to challenge me, please let me know and start learning straight away. There is still a month before my part of the challenge begins, so I’m giving everyone an extra month. Have fun!


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