Consuming LingQ's German Grammar Guide Passively

First of all, sorry for the long post. If you read this and it turns out to be a waste of time, I do apologise.


I have taken the German grammar guide, on LingQ, and made:

  • a collection of desktop wallpapers
  • a pack of playing cards
  • a printed book

They are in the prototype stage at the minute so they are rough around the edges. But, if you would to use them, feel free (designs are linked at the end). Below are some pictures to show you what they look like.

I have written more about this project on my website, the link is at the end of this comment/post/text/thing.

One of the main objectives of doing this was for me to consume the (German) grammar rules in a passive way. So, the main things I do with these ‘toys’ is look at the wallpapers and the cards.

For the wallpapers, I have created a slide-show which changes every thirty minutes. For the cards, I have stuck several to my computer monitors. I have not stuck them all to my monitors because I do not have a big enough screen – to be frank. Instead, I stick a handful down and when a card is ‘learned’ I replace it with a new one (yes, glorified flash cards).

The aim with the wallpapers and cards, at the moment, is to keep the rules in my head – in a passive manner. I do not worry about reading them every time I have a free five minutes. Instead, what I do is glance at them every now again. The reason why is because I plan to keep these on my computer for months. I am in no rush to learn them. For now, I would rather they keep my head around the area of grammar. I am still new to LingQ so I have quite a bit to go before the grammar ‘clicks into place’. I, also, have no idea if this will work so I am not going to stress over it.

For the book, I wanted a way to read the grammar guide away from the computer – which is how all this started. I was going to print out the guide as it is but I had not done a proper graphic design project in a while. Looking back, it is safe to say I wanted more time with my graphic design tools than I realised.

I now leave the book on the table in the living room and pick it up every now and again. I tend to pick it up when a wallpaper or card is annoying me. This is because their designs consist of stripped down sections from the book. So, they will annoy me at some point because I do not have enough information to understand them. I then forget that section and repeat the process. The key take-away from this process is it almost feels automatic. I do not need to make time to go over the grammar and it always feels close to hand. I hope that makes sense.

Although the designs are available for everyone, I must stress they are prototypes. On top of that, I have designed them for my own use. My decision to share them came late in the day and altering them for general use seems like too much work. With that said, if the feedback on here is quite fruitful, I will look into expanding the project.

If no one finds my designs to have any value, that is okay – no harm nor foul. This was a stab in the dark, as they say, on my end more than anything. I figured this might spark ideas in people to make their language learning more fruitful. It might, also, encourage people to share their home-made contraptions with the world (spawning more ideas…)

Anyway, this post is becoming a novel. Time to wrap it up…

You need tools and some computer skills to make the book and cards. An A4 printer and a pair of scissors is enough to get you going. My website has a tiny bit more information on that. If that is out of your reach, feel free to stick to the wallpapers. I designed them for my computer but if you have a widescreen, you should be okay (not promising anything).

The grammar pack is a .zip file so you will need to unzip it after you have downloaded it. Each operating system is different so I cannot show you how to do it here (sorry). It is, also, about 30MB. This can be reduced but I did not want to worry about optimising everything, with it being the prototype stage.

I hope I was not too vague with explaining everything.



One of my non-language learning hobbies is book binding, so of course I need to do this. :slight_smile: Be sure to update us if you get beyond prototype and remove the watermark. Danke!

Nice! I hope the .pdf files for the book are in a good enough state to do this beyond the basic staple binding. Let me know if they are not. I think I got a bad case of tunnel-vision and could only see the book being bound with a long-arm stapler. Oh, I forgot to mention the book is A5 and the front cover needs an A3 printer (glaring omission I know).

I would like to see how you decide to bind the book if that is okay? It might give me and other people ideas for future projects.

I intend to post all my developments here and on my website (see original comment) but I think I need to let what I have done up to now to settle for the moment. I have spent more time looking at margins, fonts and colours than the actual content so I need a bit of time to assess what is working and what is not.

If you see any errors or clunky bits, feel free to post them here. It will help me form a backlog of fixes/updates for when I jump back into the designer’s chair.

Pausing on the formatting to concentrate on the content is probably wise. I have not carefully proofread the whole thing, but I noticed in the Understanding Cases chapter that the paragraph for the Nominative case is truncated. Proofing for accuracy would be a good idea, too. They’re most likely written by different people, but I noticed some mistakes in the English grammar guide on LingQ. I’m not qualified to judge the German.

I was impressed by your formatting for the booklet. Initially I got the idea that it was set with LaTeX and got excited, because I’m having difficulties getting LaTeX to satisfactorily typeset a book project that I’m working on. But then I inspected the PDF’s metadata which reveals office suite that you used, so I’ll have to figure out LaTeX for myself.

For such a small, light book, and a prototype at that, I have just stapled it for now. I haven’t done anything with the cover yet, though I was thinking about that earlier today. I’ve made simple light stabled booklets using heavy photo paper for the cover with fairly good results. A single signature book could be sewn and set in a case binding. I was wondering whether I have enough initiative to format and print, say, the German mini-stories to flesh out the volume a bit with multiple signatures. Alternatively, I’ve used a perfect binding (describes the style, not the quality) with a paperboard cover where others might use a simple ring binder or comb binding for single double-sided pages, but this still might be rather thin for that. (I recently bound that way the English translation of a Russian fantasy novella, released by the author for free. I had bought and imported the Russian original into LingQ and thought my wife might read the English so that we could discuss it… The author must have translated it himself, though, or asked a friend to do it. I hope he didn’t pay for what was a rather rough translation.)

By the way, living about 6 hours west of you, as the sun flies, I had to print the booklet file scaled onto ANSI A (letter) paper. That usually works fine for material formatted for A4. I never tried to get A4 paper here; it could probably be ordered online, but probably is not worth the effort or cost for what little I’d use it.

Nice catch, thanks.

I tend to use LaTeX as part of Org-Mode within Emacs – no worries if you have never heard of them. So, I am not that brilliant with it but I know enough about it to know it would make things harder than copying and pasting the text into a Libre Office document (then use its ‘styles’ system). I would like to sit down and take a proper look at LaTeX one day, though.

I always forget you guys have letter and legal sizes (I think that is what you call them). It never occurred to me you would find it difficult to buy A4 paper (learn something new everyday). If it helps, I can send over the .odt file so you can adjust it. I would do it for you but I clearly do not know what is and is not available to you.

If you do not know, .odt files are ‘Open Document Text’ files. They are the ‘open’ version of Word documents (.docx). It should open in Word and, if all goes well, you should not notice a difference. I thought I would mention this just in case you are unfamiliar with .odt files – accepting files with strange file extensions from random-internet-bloke is… cause for thought. If you do not have MS Office, you can use something like Libre Office or Only Office. They are both free are there are other free office suites out there is they do not float your boat, as they say.

I intend to proof read the guide but I am reluctant to alter it too much. I can foresee me making a change not realising the thing I am changing is a U.S. spelling/convention/grammar, as an example; The other obvious example is I add errors to the guide because I am not paying attention or my lack of English skills become apparent. I am more concerned with mistakes I have made copying the guide. I do not want to muddy the waters.

I would really like to see the mini-stories in book form. The talk about perfect binding is taking me back 10 years to one of my old jobs. I forgot I actually did that as part of my job. The machine we had was really bad and the pages fell out after a couple of days. We had quite a few complaints if I recall.

The Russian novella idea sounds like a lovely idea – shame about the translation.