Goldlist Method

Tea in a Meißen pink-rose teacup

Tea or coffee – the fuel of learning!

In this page you’ll find the initial article from www.goldlist,eu about the Goldlist Method, but this blog contains a whole category on Goldlist, which you’ll find under “categories” – there you’ll find all the videos as well as articles and third party video about this method.

Uncle Davey’s “GoldList” methodology for learning to the long-term memory.

1. No reliance on mnemonics and no creation of strange methods to try and “visualise” words in contexts. No “think of a cat in a cot and you’ll remember that Polish for ‘cat’ is ‘cot’ “. – These are the ways by the way that course makers like Daniels gets phenomenal results over two weeks but they never last. Just as well, if they did, they would create a learner who, when he came to fluency, would not be able to say “kot” without thinking about a baby’s bed. Ridiculous. Oszustwo. Don’t let the oszusty deceive you by filling your shoes with the letter O at tea time.

2. No cramming, no learning against the clock. No learning for next week, or for tomorrow, or for a test, or for an exam. No conscious “memorizing”. The long-term memory is not a conscious function. Its samples are taken automatically and subconsciously out of the material which is run through the conscious. What we decide to memorise or forget only relates to s/t memory. You cannot decide to learn to the long term memory any more than you can decide to forget to the long-term memory. Disciplines based on the ‘aha!’ moment of putting two and two together to understand something can use the short term memory and be sure that they will get a long-term effect, but in languages there is very little “aha!”, and so short term memory is of next to no use at all.

You need to think of memory as a similar function to breathing – we breath best for our bodies when we don’t think about it, trying to breath at a special rate or especially deeply. The body regulates itself. We breathe ideally when we keep our mind off the process of breathing. For memory, when we take over the process consciously, like holding breath or breathing at a faster rate (‘hyperventilating’) we shut out for a time the body’s natural function. In other words when we take control of our memory by trying to memorize something there and then, we automatically shut out the possibility of long-term memorising and switch on instead the short-term memory function. And we can’t keep it up for long, and also it results in repetition of items in order to learn them which might be sampled on first reading even, if we just let go and let the God-given faculties of our body work. That’s why cramming methods and deliberate memorisation methods waste so much time for language learners and serious polyglots never use them.

Chomsky once commented on the inability of the child to learn language so well after the age of five or six, while language seems naturally to be acquired until this time. Chomskyites and other linguists have conjectured on numerous occasions what this faculty is that is lost, and how to measure it. In fact, there is nothing to measure being lost as nothing is in fact lost. What happens is that at that age an ‘extra layer’ comes in as the child learns by then to be self-consciously learning. The child, by school age, is aware that it is “now learning something” and making an effort to remember, not just being put through life’s algorithms passively. And so the short-term memory starts to come more and more into play, blocking the long-term memory function essential to the easy learning of languages. This method is all about putting back the long-term, unconscious memory into the learning process, which it does by taking any effort to rote learn or memorise on demand out of the progress, and focus instead on the mathematical process,  the algorithm of the goldlist method, and on the pure enjoyment of writing out new words and just liking the experience of touching those words with our minds in a relaxed way, without pushing them on our memories.

3. Pay attention to study times. Because the l/t memory is not a conscious function, we are not aware of when it tires. This is measured to happen after 20 minutes. At that point, the sampling process will be become less than optimal, and so the learner to the long-term memory is wasting his time, although he or she may feel interested and want to keep going. The rule is, after 20 minutes, take a break of at least 10 minutes in which a completely different sort of thing is done.

It really doesn’t matter whether the student comes back for one more or ten more sessions of twenty minutes in the day, as long as it is not forced and the interest is still there and therefore the motivation. It is not necessary to do the work every day. The more regularly we come to it the less likely it is that the habit of doing it will break, but we do not need to feel enslaved to it. The language learning is a relaxing, fun thing, not a chore.

4. Get comfortable when learning, don’t rush, and use attractive materials. We banish unpleasant experience from the long-term memory and garnish pleasant experience to the long term memory. By all means eat and drink during the 20 minute sessions of learning, but not alcohol, and also avoid music and background noise. After all, when learning to the l/t memory, you don’t have to work that hard. Less is more – less effort to cram means more of what you do learn actually sticks.

The use of Omega 3 and Vitamin D is helpful. The GoldList can easily be taken on walks and done outside, because it is ink and paper and not a screen that whites out in the sunshine. Similarly sleeping well assists the balanced functioning of the memory. If the gold list system doesn’t work for you even if you are sure that you understood the whole rationale and why it should work even though it is counter-intuitive (and by now there are videos all over the internet which back up the fact that this works – you’ll find some of them below) but you are finding a different story, then you need to look at how much Vitamin deficiency you may have, get sunlight, omega-3 and other vitamin and mineral supplements and ensure you are getting enough rest, enough sunlight, fresh air and water. Check your water for fluoridation, which is something everyone should do anyway, and use filtration in the home.

5. Use a variety of materials that present the content in a different way. For example, which explain the use of a particular tense or case in different ways. One book should be the “pace setter” and the other courses supplement it. A good choice of pace setter will be a course book which has vocabularies in the back going in both directions and which clearly teach something like 2000 words or more. There should be graded explanations of grammar, not shying away from grammatical terms but giving plenty of explanations and examples. Lengthy passages just on culture are a mere padder in language books – you can learn about any culture without learning the language properly. Photographs likewise, as well as cartoons and pictures. Discount these when choosing a language book in the shop. But give a premium to courses which offer a lead on second book for intermediate level, and advanced.

6. When using the key item in language learning, the vocabulary book, ensure that all the grammar for each word accompanies the word into the book. For instance, you would not just write “to begin” but also (began, begun) to show that it is a strong verb. You would not just write “Jugend” but “die Jugend” or “Jugend f.” Write the word on the right hand side of the page in your own language or the language from which you are learning the target language, and do 25 words at a time. 25 words can be comfortably written out that way in the course of 20 minutes, with time just to read the list through aloud at the end. Always work with units of twenty five head words, which wshould be written at the outset on the top left hand page of a double page A4 hardback writing book. You number the headword list from the beginning onwards so that the 5th such page will have numbers 101-125, etc. You always note the date you added the owrds to the list. You make an overall target of words to cover with no short-term time limit. It will be something like 2,500 words, which gets a learner up to what we used to call O level, and means that they become intermediate and most teach yourself course have roughly this number of words. I’m coming to the timing shortly.

7. You write the words into the vocab book by hand, in a beautiful hard back book, as neatly as you can, without getting stressed over it if it’s not as neat as you would like – so that the learner can take a pride in the look of it and not hurry over it. Write at a pace that is comfortable and natural. Do not do this in a computer, latch onto the natural memory that is linked to handwriting. It is a long-term memory function, which is why your signature always comes out the same, year in, year out, and you don’t even need to think about it consciously. Also, as stated above, you want to take your goldlist with you, and do it in the sun and in the bathroom and all sorts of places – even on aircraft when the fasten seatbelts sign is on and you can’t have the computer on. Also fiddling with diacritic signs means that the computer is not the best place for this – you will work slower and more arduously and less flexibly than you think. I like the computer as much as anybody does but we need to remember its limits. With computers it’s a bit like with the guitarists in a student Christian Union meeting or a youth worship meeting – the best guitar is the one that knows its place and doesn’t chime in when not needed, and the best guitarist in the church is the one who knows when to stop playing and give primacy to the voice. Computers are best when we reserve their use for the bits they do best. You could have your source word list or grammar book open in the computer, for example, no problem with that. Especially when so many good language books and audio files, often out of print in paper versions and replaced with more dumbed-down versions, can be found being file-shared on pdfs.

8. The explanation of the grammatical models and the practising of basic sentence types goes like any other system. The gold list is not a course book it is an approach to the course book. In fact you don’t only need the goldlist method for languages, I’m sure it also helps with history, geography, case law for those studying law, and latin names of things for scientists and doctors. There are many possible uses for goldlisting other than languages, but languages is the place where the dividends it pays are the most clearly evident.

My system differs in how you approach the learning of the vocabulary, which is 80% of learning a language if you consider that the irregularities of grammar can and should be linked as I say to the specific words they refer to.

9. After writing out the vocab set of 25, and reading it through, a process which should take 20 minutes, you break for at least ten. You did not try to learn those 25 words, you just enjoyed writing them out in a nice book with a nice pen slowly and in pleasant comfortable surroundings. you do nothing more with them. If after ten minutes, you would like to go on to the next session, then you turn the page of the vocab book, go to the top left of that double page and do the next 25 numbered words. Then read them out aloud, and then take another break. You are enjoying the language, not cramming it.

10. Don’t do more than about 10 such sessions a day. If you get anywhere near that, make sure they are spaced out with other things going on between them.

11. After no less than 2 weeks and no more than 2 months, go back to the headwords. No less than 2 weeks because the short term memory effect has passed, so anything you still remember is already learned to the long-twrm memory, and you will not deceive yourself. No more than 2 months in order to keep up a certain tempo. This should be a relaxed process, but there should be a limit to stop the laziness that is in human nature from making it ground to a halt. By 2 weeks a really enthusiastic learner may have already put all 2,500 words in their headlist but not have memorised them, resulting in words being repeated by accident, but that is really of no importance in this process.

12. What you then do with the words in the vocab book headlist that are more than 14 days old, but less than 60 days old is that you “distil” them. And this is what I call a “distillation”: Hermann Ebbinghaus’ experiments and the knowledge about the sampling habit of the long-term memory means that some of these words will already have been learned, despite the fact (actually because of the fact, but this is of course counter-intuitive) that all you did was try to enjoy them, not memorise them. In fact the prediction is that up to 30% of the words will be retained. You are looking to distil out the “hard to learn” expressions and obtain a concentrated, whisky-like list of distilled words that are an absolute bugger for you to learn (by which time you will, of course, actally have learned them, because they will have gone through this distilation process ten times with two weeks’ break in between each time). I call that the “gold list”. On the way to the gold list you will use up the first hard back book and a thinner second one.

If you intend learning, say three or four languages to fluency (over 10,000 words) then you’ll need three or four first books per language (with the head list and the first three distillations) I call these the bronze books or the bronze lists. Then you will find that as the 4th time you distil there are only about a quarter of the words left that you started with, you only need one second level book, or “silver” book, as I call it, per language. And likewise when you come to the final distillations in the gold book, you’ll find you only need one gold book for several languages to fluency, as by those higher level distillations there is less than 10% of what was in the first head list in the bronze books.

13. The first “distillation” therefore takes the first 25 words from the top left hand side of your A4 hard-back writing book and you pick from them 70% of the words which you least remembered, and write them again on the right hand side. You can test yourself by covering over the English, but that is not the best way. The best is to say “I know that I must now discard 8 of these 25 words which are on the top of the left page and write 17 of them on the top of the right page. Which do I think I have remembered best? These you ignore, and list 1-17 the least remembered of 1-25 from the headlist. If you cannot bring yourself to drop out a full eight words, then instead in one or two places you can conjoin words to make a phrase, and then learn them together in the system from then on. When writing the words of the first distillation, you take it nice and slow and keep to all the princliples of the writing of the headlist, namely easy, confortable work, not more than 20 minutes work at once, and read the side aloud when you are finished.

14. The act of discarding words from the distillation by the way is the final stimulus to learning them, by the way. Psychologists have discovered that, just as in physics for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, for every conscious action there is a subconscious reaction. Note that we tend to lose and spend time looking for things which we intended to keep and often put in a special hiding place, but we rarely forget the things that we have thrown away or given away. We don’t usually think we still have them and look around for them. So the very conscious act of discarding tricks the subconscious memory, namely the long-term memory, into being sure it jolly well has got those discarded bits. So if in doubt, discard rather than merge, when distilling.

15. Again, you do nothing with the words of the first distillation for a period of at least two weeks (this is why you always date when you do the distillations also) and not more than two months (same reasons as given above) and then, when that time comes, you go back to the first distillations on the top of the right side page, and make from them the second distillation on the bottom of the right hand page. From those 17 words you will be looking at keeping 12 and discarding or merging 5. Again, first plan and ask yourself “which 5 of these seventeen words did I remember best?” and put a cross next to them, don’t write them out again. It is a game with by our brain, an exploration of how our own memory worked – in some ways a discovery of ourselves and can be very interesting as an exercise in its own right – actually it is a lot less boring than cramming the vocab for a Callan lesson. Some users of the system have found it an interesting voyage of self discovery – why did they find this word so easy to remember and some other word harder? And for each learner it would be different, which means that group learning of languages is intrinsically wasteful of time as each person in the group has their own individual things they remembered automatically. The only common thing is that for each person, if they had allowed their long-term memory to function not just the short-term, it would be in the order of 30%,  as Ebbinghaus found.

16. It will come as no surprise when I mention that you put the third distillation on the left side under the head list at the bottom, and that it has the best remembered 9 words of the 12 on the bottom right, and that you need to leave between the two a space of no less than 14 and no more than 60 days.

17. A person can structure this so that they are working on the later parts of their headlist while bringing the early parts already into the second or third distillation, or do the whole of the headlist, then the whole of the first distillation, etc. That depends on the learner, their time available, and the number of words they plan to cover in their language learning. For really big projects, learners will be working on different distillation levels for the earlier and later parts of their vocab stock. As long as all the above rules are kept, this won’t matter at all.

18. The head list and three distillations will cover the full space available on the ‘bronze” excercise book, and so after that you take a fresh book, the silver book, for distillation number 4, etc. Now distillation number 4 will have numbers 1-25 of that distillation on the top left hand corner of the first page but they will be taken from the first 36 of the third distillation which was the toughest to remember of the first 48 of the second distillation which was the toughest to remember of the first 68 of the first distillation which was the toughest to remember of the first 100 of the head list and therefore will be taken from the first four double pages of your old book. The gold list system in full f/x, used here on basic Spanish. This illustration shows a mature vocab book with the head list and the first three distillations finished.

An actual gold list mature bronze book for Spanish

19. So the second book (‘silver’) will only need to be a quarter of the thickness of the first one (‘bronze’) or there will be one silver book while there are three or four bronze books, getting your headlist up past 16,000 words, which is a degree level knowledge, if you want, and will be worked through on the same principles as the first one, but in a quarter of the time. Always taking 20 minutes and taking your time and sticking to the same principles throughout.

20. The second vocab book then takes you to the seventh distillation. That would be enough for most people, but if you want to take it further then you probably don’t need a book for the last bit, as the 2500 words in the headlist have become 150 words identified in this process as the toughest to rmember words. by this time you already know them better than most people anyway, but of out of interest you wanted to continue than in little time engaged you could keep going on and distill this away to nothing. If you get to the seventh distillation you cannot be less than three and a half months from the beginning of learning even if you learned it to the max, as two weeks should be rested in between, or the short-term memory will deceive you.

21. Because you are in for the long haul with the long-term memory system, use the fact that you have numbered the words to motivate yourself. You will know that you are 40% through your target of 2500 words when you have 40 pages of headwords. As the number of repetitions on average that are needed in order to learn the words to the end is 3.3 (some are learned after one but some will only be learned on the tenth reiteration or ‘distillation’) then we know that having 40 percent of one’s head list in place is equivalent to 13 percent of the whole work. Use these numbers and statistics to motivate yourself, and note that even a small learning session can represent a small but irreversible advance on the road to learning the language. The s/t memory method makes huge advances at the beginning which are forgotten and the learner goes backwards, despairs, and drops out of class. The l/t method means that you are only ever going forwards, so the method is a more effective use of time, and much more motivating once the student understands memory in language learning and understands what is going on.

22. Need to activate – language learners using the long term memory will obtain a large passive knowledge of the language. They will quickly move towards being able to read newspapers and novels in the language. But they may have difficulty and be discouraged when placed in a situation where they have to “activate” their knowledge and start talking. They will feel tongue tied, and not be able to find words that, when someone tells them, they know they knew. The activation of a language learned well in my method by means of immersion in the environment of the language takes a maximum of three days. In this time, the person who has spend the hours with his vocab book doing what I suggested above, and doing grammatical exercises, suddenly starts speaking the language with fluency, and the experience of this “activating” can be very exhilirating, actually. The person who thinks that they will learn by immersion and have not put the hours in beforehand will not have this, and will learn to the short-term memory, and forget it all on his return out of the milieu, and not achieve the results of the learner to l/t memory, who is able to reactivate his language every time he goes into the milieu for a few days, for the rest of his life. He appears to be someone who has learned thousands of words in a few days – a claim which not even the boldest short term system would make – but of course he knows them, he is only bringing them “to the front of his mind”, which is a different matter to putting them there in the first place. Some people, witnessing the remarkable effect of immersion on activating the language ability of the long-term memory optimising student, and not giving full credit to the work this student did in his own time beforehand, think that the immersion method is a great way to “learn languages”. So you get people trying to combine Callan and immersion, then doing more Callan and more immersion, and then more of the same, and never getting off the ground with it. One Callan victim I knew had done the callan-immersion mix three years running, and when her boss came from England the first thing she said was “would Meester like the cup off tea?” and we’re talking about an otherwise educated person whose knowledge of her mother tongue is nothing short of eloquent in both speech and in writing.

Any questions? Please contact me, but questions are MOST appreciated from those who have seen the available videos which are all here in the same “goldlist methodogy” section here on and still have queries about things I may have overlooked to talk about so far.

Also your feedback is appreciated. The more people come back and tell me that they had success with the method the more I am motivated to keep sharing it on and developing it. Also please tell your friends about it, and anyone who thinks they cannot learn a foreign language, like that was somehow more difficult than learning his or her own.

Teachers – consider teaching this method to your students so as not to waste their time – they will thank you. Spend lesson time showing how it works and working on their lists with them until they get the hang of it. You will not only have liberated them for the learning of the language you were teaching them, but also put a tool in their hand which they can use throughout life to learn many languages.


  1. Hi. I’m a student and my question is the following:
    Finally 15 days have elapsed since I first saw your method on this site. My target language is English (I’m fron Russia). Which words am I to cover in order to perfom a self-check? Russian or english?
    You write “You can test yourself by covering over the English…”. Does that mean I must always cover russian words? I think it would be much harder to “destil” if I coverd over the English.
    I’ve suspended my work because don’t want something to be pear-shaped.
    From Russia with love. Антон.
    P.S. I’m 20 and I think your method will help me to have a stab at other languages.


    • Yes, in your case it is better to cover the Russian words. You are aiming for passive retention. Covering up words is optional, you could merely ask yourself which ones you would know, but if you are worried about subjectivity creeping in, then by all means cover the English.


  2. Dobrý den,

    začal sem se učiť německý jazyk prostředníctvim Goldlist metódy. Po prvních 2000 slovách, které mi zabrali 2 týdny sem začal s DI. Mám však problém v tom, že si pamatuji jenom medzi 5 až 7 slovíček (i to si nejsem pri tých 5-7 slovíčkach 100% istý).

    Je to v pořádku když si pri DI píšu namísto 17 slovíček až v podstate 20?

    Také mi neni celkem jasné jako mám psát ďalší nové slovíčka, když opakůji ty staré v rámci DI. Můžete mi to ještě vysvetliť?

    Děkuji za odpověď.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Je to uplně v normě Miroslave. Můžeš pak nebo jen distilovat do dvaceti tak jak mluvíš, nebo kombinovat více než jedno slovo na jedné pozici.


      • Děkuji za odpověď,

        mám ješte pár otázek, jestli mohu:

        1. Když ukončím D3 a jdu na D4 vemu prvních 36 slovíček z D3 (bronze book) a z nich vyberu tých 25, které si pamatuji nejlépe a ty si napíšu do nové knihy (silver book) a očísluju je od 1 do 25?

        Chápu tomu správně?

        2. A pak dělám D5, D6, D7 podobně jako D1,D2 a D3?

        3. Pri tretí knize (golden book) – dělám D8 tak, že vemu prvních 36 slovíček z D7 a z nich vyberu 25, které si pamatuji nejlépe? A pak dělám D8, D9 a D10.

        4. Co pak?

        Děkuji mnohokrát za odpověď.

        Liked by 1 person

        • 1. Ano, zromumel jsi tomu velmi dobre.
          2. Tez dokladne dobre chapis
          3. Dobre, ale pak udelas ne D8-D10, nybrz D9-D11.
          4. Na konci zlate knihy mas asi 1-2% tych slov, co jsi je doprve napsal v H. Fakticne znas je tak samo dobre, jak nekolika slov sveho vlastniho jazyka, co znaci znas je pasivne ale casto nemuzes pripomenout na ne. Ale jestli chces, muzes te nekolika desitky slov dat natlacit na nejaky tricko, mousemat nebo neco toho tipu, i drzet je ze sebou na denni uziti. Nebo udelat hlasovy mp3 jejich, a sobe hrat to kazdy mesic.


  3. Добрый вечер, уважаемый Виктор! Большое спасибо за Ваш метод! Действительно, это очень интересно и заманчиво. Но есть одно “но” (как я заметил не только у меня). Из за слабости моего английского трудно понять все тонкости метода (я так и не понял, что делать после 3 “дистилляций” с оставшимися словами). Поэтому и просьба моя, как и остальных – не будете ли Вы так добры изложить на русском языке все тонкости и уловки Вашего метода? А что на счёт русской клавиатуры (U menya net russkoy klaviatury i napisat’ vsyo budet ochen dolgoe delo), я пользуюсь программой, которая конвертирует латинские буквы в русские (при нажатии “G” имеем “Г”; “F” имеем “Ф”). Это очень удобно и я с удовольствием поделюсь с Вами. Заранее, ОГРОМНОЕ СПАСИБО ;-)


    • Здраствуите гена,

      Я попробую обьяснить вам, если где-то ошибнусь джэимс (виктор) меня поправит.

      Прежде всего, вы записываите все в титради, джэимс писал что все лучше запоминается когда вы в ручную пишите (и я в этом согласен).

      После 3 дистиляций вы делаите четвёртую дистиляцию в новои тетради и так же продолваите с еще троимя дистиляциями.

      первая тетрадь должна быть с толстои оболжкой и многами странитсями по-тому что вы с неи возится будьте больше всего (конечно это зависит от вас). Вторая тетрадь может быть с тонкои обложкои, вы выбираите те слова во в третьих дистиляций из которых вы не понимаите и пишите в неи 25 слов, потом так же продолжаите с дистиляциями как и в первои тетради до того что остаються немного слов которе вы не помните.

      Потом вы пишите оставшие слова в еще однои тетради, её вы уже не так уж часто будьте использовать по-тому что тут вы будьте записывать редкие слова которые очень тяжело запоминаются.

      Тетради идут по токому порядку:

      Первоя – бронзовая тетрадь
      Вторая – серебряная тетрадь
      Третья – золотая тетрадь

      В дистиляциях есть:
      Оригинальные 25
      Дистиляций 17-12-9
      В следущеи тетради вы собираите 25 слов из прежднеи которе вы не как не запомните и продолжаите с дистиляциями так же.


    • Кстати, дистиляций вы делоите как минимум через 2 недели ну не болше 2 месяца. По этому вы пишите число над каждем списком слов в титраде.

      Когда пишите перевод вы можите написать это на родном языке или в предложение на обучаемом языке. Это зависит от того как вам удобно.

      Простите за мой ошибки, хоть и русский он мои роднои язык я в нем писать научился самостоятельно. Я выирост в израиле и никогда не изучал роднои язык.


      Liked by 1 person

      • Genadijus Vidinevičius

        Здравствуйте, Олег.
        Спасибо за ответ, как я вижу Вы используете этот метод. А что можете сказать о нём на собственном примере???
        Олег, может Вы могли бы мне ещё раз объяснить как делать 4 дистилляцию? Я не могу уловить смысл – “Now distillation number 4 will have numbers 1-25 of that distillation on the top left hand corner of the first page but they will be taken from the first 36 of the third distillation which was the toughest to remember of the first 48 of the second distillation which was the toughest to remember of the first 68 of the first distillation which was the toughest to remember of the first 100 of the head list and therefore will be taken from the first four double pages of your old book. ” Если говорить просто – 4 дистилляцию надо делать из результатов после 3 дистилляции (вместе взятых и выбирать 25 слов)??? Или не так???
        “В дистиляциях есть:
        Оригинальные 25 – 25 слов в 1-ом (оригинальном) списке слов.ОК
        Дистиляций 17-12-9″ – А как это понять?

        Огромное спасибо и извините, если не понима1 простых вещей ;-)

        Liked by 1 person

  4. That’s a pretty sizable article, it took me a while to read the whole thing.

    I’m mostly studying German at the moment and have dabbled a bit in Polish, I can read in both, though I mostly understand Polish words that are similar to Russian or English words I’m already familiar with. Actually on an unrelated note, I’m just curious, what is this PDF on your site with an Elena who has 2 autistic children who need rehabilitation or something? the other 2 are of her kids George who is nonverbal and Tatiana.

    I pretty much understood what to do, most of the questions that I’ve had about the method itself have been answered in the comments area. What I want to know is about the words and their meanings, also I want to know a few other things related to language learning.

    In different languages each individual word has a certain spectrum of meanings, for example the German word for “how” (wie) isn’t actually the same as it’s English counterpart, it’s closer in it’s spectrum of meanings to it’s Russian counterpart как. You can say “er ist nicht groß wie sie” but you can’t say “he is not big how you”, the Russian translation is better “он не большои как вы”.

    The problem is with words that have no similar enough equivalent in any of the languages I speak (I speak 3). Do I write 2 sentences in a familiar language beside the word and underline the ones with the similar meanings to the one in the target language? (that may take up a lot of space) or write it like in a dictionary? How do I do this to save time and page space?

    If I start studying non European languages it will be a lot more difficult to find a proper translation and even than each language has it’s own soul in a way. It may have expressions for common everyday things that require a different thought process.
    The Hebrew equivalent of “he likes her” (היא מוצאת חן בעיניו) translates somewhat literally to “she finds beauty in his eyes”. Do I also write phrases in the goldlist to remember these types of phrases if the target language has no way of translating otherwise?
    Many languages have idioms that can’t be translated literally.
    Knowing a meaning of a certain word wont guarantee knowing it’s meaning from within a certain sentence it’s in.

    Also, how what do I do to learn to understand ordinary connected speech in a language? I have the “German without Toil” course from 1965 which has the actors in the audio gradually speaking more quickly as the lessons progress (they also talk about odd things that are out of date, and they always use polite language) but how do I do that if I don’t have the option of listening to slow speech and gradually working towards faster more natural speech? I keep re-watching footage from a Bavarian sitcom on youtube, sometimes I can differentiate between words and even understand some but at other times it’s all gibberish. Though I shouldn’t expect extraordinary results after only a month of daily studying. I just want to know how long it takes and if I can speed up the process.

    And finally, do you know of any good materials for learning Polish? Both written and audio.



    • Also I forgot to ask about verbs, German has some non regular verbs and I keep forgetting their variations. Do I need to write down each variation of an irregular verb? wouldn’t I just be rewriting the same word.


    • That’s my wife and two of our children, my friend. We actually have a bit of a problem in our family because she has multiple sclerosis and cannot walk, while the kids are as you say autistic and need help. That’s a lot of therapy much of which I have to pay for and of course as she cannot work we got only my income to handle all the needs of the family (also our oldest daughter who has now also received a diagnosis of bipolarism). Although I am the only breadwinner trying to maintain all these needs, I did not ask for anything from all the films and methods on the web, which are free unlike other people who do not have a number of handicapped people dependent on them. I did not even ask for cash donations, although now that I have got the chop from my job that may need to change. But we are eligible in Poland to set up charity subaccounts for our children and for Elena so that Polish taxpayers can simply mention our details (from the PDFs you mention) and 1% of the tax they paid is donated into their Charity account. It is a properly organised charity and I cannot get the money out for any old purpose, it has to be something related to the respective person’s therapies or other of their disability-related needs. But at least I get as say on where and how and from whom the money gets spent. This is unlike some other charities where they can let you down as a beneficiary but take the donations made in your name anyway, which is what we had before. The bank account which is given in each pdf is also eligible to be used for donations. The Charity takes 10% to cover their costs of running an office and a dedicated team, which I do consider perfectly reasonable.

      If any of the readers of the blog or my various systems feel like either donating themselves or encouraging anyone else to, now would actually be a good time, since at present I am looking for new work and don’t know how long it will take to find it.

      Now on to your other questions:

      In the case of a word, you can often find that it’s semantic map is very different from the English one. You gave a good example that “wie” means both “as” and “how”. In fact there are many languages where the word for as and how are the same – in Spanish they add an accent on one just to distinguish it in writing but the pronunciation of both “comoes” is the same. Either you can describe the difference in the semantic map or you can give a practice sentence, or both. I would err on the side of generosity in the Headlist which gives you more to leave out and nicer ratios, but the downside of that is that there’s a bigger discrepancy between your Headlist line number and your actual vocabulary. I have got to the point where I don’t worry about that too much now. The Goldlist lines total (at all levels) becomes the aim rather than a measurable vocabulary. The two go hand in hand, but they go hand in hand a bit like the couple where one is a bit taller than the other, walking down the street.

      To get used to listening to ordinary connected speech, I suggest getting a book in audiobook format (especially Audible which offers different listening speeds) which you also have in printed form and a translation into a language you know fluently in written form.

      You start by giving each chapter (whether to go chapter by chapter, page by page, paragraph by paragraph or sentence by sentence will depend on how advanced you are and how easy you find the particular piece) a listen at a slow speed. Then at natural speed, also known as 100%. See if you understand what they are saying. At this point, open the printed version, listen again while reading along and underline in pencil anything you did not understand. Then use the translation into English to find the meanings for what you didn’t get, also checking whether you picked up everything that the translator is writing and if not then analyse why not – it could because you misunderstood a word, because you didn’t know all the nuances of the word, or because the translator made an error, which they do, or added something of his or her own, which they also do.

      Then the new material is something to put into the Goldlist and learn in the usual way over time. You can take it off the notes you made in pencil on the printed foreign language edition.

      Once you have understood the chapter, the next thing is to read it out loud from the printed version a few times on a few days. You can then go back and switch on the version (there’s no limit to the number of times you can hear it as long as you stay a subscribed member – be aware that Audible is a bit of a long-term commitment if you don’t want to lose your content, but it is very good value for money in my opinion) and read along while the actor is talking and compare your version to theirs. You can alternatively record a reading and put it on Youtube or one of the Facebook Polyglot groups and ask native speakers for a critique.

      This drill aids reading, listening and speaking. You can build up to speaking better using this drill better than any other method that doesn’t need another person there draining your wallet as you drain their patience, and all the hassle and travel time and expense to get together. Because it involves fine literature it should also include the quality of writing and because it involves listening to top actors it should hopefully also improve diction.

      As to Polish, I think the Routledge book by Sadowska looks good. You should seriously get hold of that. It’s in the Essential Grammar series.

      As for the audio side of Polish, there is a wealth of audiobooks available on


      • Interesting, I know this couple here in Israel, good friends of mine, they have two kids who are on the autism spectrum, the oldest is non verbal much like George and has recently had his 12th birthday. They both have British roots. you remind me of them.
        I’ve seen how difficult it is to take care of kids with special needs, it’s not easy. Doesn’t the government there give any help?

        I’ve seen a talk by Professor Argueles where he recommended reading a book in the target language after reading it in one I am familiar with, using an audiobook in addition to the text sounds like a good idea. I noticed that when audiobooks are being read, the actors tend to articulate words more than people do in regular speech.

        I’ve been periodically trying to watch stand up comedy in German on youtube, they speak very quickly there and I can imagine that there are also some subtleties that might take time for me to understand as well.


  5. I understand that if you pick 36 words from the third distillation of the bronze book, you’ll get down to 25 words again, because 36 * 0.7 = 25.2. The problem is that 36 is an odd number, given that the third distillation leads to a list of eight words each.
    So what about going from 25 to 17 to 12 to nine in the bronze book? Like this you can make one silver head list of four 3rd level bronze distillations.


    • It doesn’t have to be those exact percentages and it probably won’t be, that’s the first thing and the second thing is that it really doesn’t matter whether you’re taking the first 4 5 6 or 7 pages of the book into the silver book.


  6. I’m from central Canada, and have a Russian immigrant coworker who is trying very hard to learn English. Is there an explanation of the Goldlist method written in the Russian language? I think this coworker of mine could benefit.


  7. Hello,

    I am eager to start the Goldlist method. However, I need further clarification about scheduling. I read your post responding to Abdul some years back but I am still not sure how I can avoid distillations and new headlist overlapping. I do understand I could simply insert a batch of words and not use the step system, but it is not my desire to take that route.

    I would prefer to use the step Goldlist method. I think I am most confused by time allotment. I decided to use the 20mins/25words/10min break format. When distilling to the first set (from 25 to 17), I believe you suggest use the same format, that is to use 20mins/25words/10mins. What about D2? Do I still need to use 20 mins to go from D1–>D2 (and D2—>D3)? In other words, do I perform as many distillations as possible after D1 is completed in the 20 min allotment? For example, Would it be prudent to distill maybe 2 sets from 17–>12 in one 20 min block?

    I am looking forward to your response.


    • I think it’s an excellent question, which shows that you’ve understood most of what I need you to understand in order to work successfully with the method.

      I have in the past left people to fill in the blanks for this one themselves, as there are a number of ways in which you could fill in the blanks and they would all be good as long as the basic tenets are agreed to, but just to give you an example of what works for me, imagine that you decide to do a project in which you have a good idea how many lines will be in the headlist in total, and lets say it’s going to be 3000 lines of headlist.

      I would split that task into Batches, and each batch I give letters of the Alphabet, so Batch A, Batch B, etc.

      Now because we want to avoid running into within two weeks of ourselves, as well as not have too long periods of not getting to review the same material (more than a quarter of a year is not necessarily harmful, but means you have little momentum, in practice, which can be demotivating) we need to plan it so that the first batch is the biggest batch, and then they get gradually smaller.

      So the last batch will be 100 words, the second from last will be 200 words, etc.

      Now follow me through this logic:

      Batch Cumulative Number (backwards)

      100 100
      200 300
      300 600
      400 1,000
      500 1,500
      600 2,100
      700 2,800
      800 3,600

      (BTW – You can do the above triangular number calculations with a short cut, (n*n+1)/2 where n is the number of batches. If you want 8 batches, then 8*9 is 72 and half of that is 36. 36 hundreds is 3,600.)

      We see from this that to do 3,000 words it’s good to start with 700 plus the difference between 2,800 and 3,000, ie 900, then 600, 500, etc. You can do the same with other project targets and come up with other similar batch plans, but here for 3,000 lines in the headlist, I’d say the batch plan would look like this:

      Batch A 1-900
      Batch B 901 – 1,500
      Batch C 1,501 – 2,000
      Batch D 2,001 – 2,400
      Batch E 2,401 – 2,701
      Batch F 2,702 – 2,900
      Batch G 2,900 – 3,000.

      You then approach the project by doing things in this order…

      (I can’t do that table in the response so I will make this a full article, please find)


  8. Hello,

    I am eager to start the Goldlist method. However, I need further clarification about scheduling. I read your post responding to Abdul some years back but I am still not sure how I can avoid distillations and new headlist overlapping. I do understand I could simply insert a batch of words and not use the step system, but it is not my desire to take that route.

    I would prefer to use the step Goldlist method. I think I am most confused by time allotment. I decided to use the 20mins/25words/10min break format. When distilling to the first set (from 25 to 17), I believe you suggest use the same format, that is to use 20mins/25words/10mins. What about D2? Do I still need to use 20 mins to go from D1–>D2 (and D2—>D3)? In other words, do I perform as many distillations as possible after D1 is completed in the 20 min allotment? For example, Would it be prudent to distill maybe 2 sets from 17–>12 in one 20 min block?

    I am looking forward to your response.


  9. Hello :) Do you have any certain tips for studying Bulgarian and using this method ?


  10. Hi. Very fascinating method and above all for the theory behind.
    I discovered your method today surfing on internet looking for, as usual I do, methods to learn foreign languages more effectively instead to study it! Unfortunately, I don’t found any Italian site or blog that tell and explain about your method and therefore I tried to understood as best I was could. (I’m Italian..)
    My English level is more less pre-intermediate. I studied using Assimil course for beginners and now I’m starting the advanced book.
    I used Anki but I find it very mechanic and often I don’t remember some words in context although I remember them when I use anki.
    I’d like to try your method for Spanish that I’ve just started (with assimil) and to improve my English vocabulary.
    Do you think is correct if I use words, idioms and sometimes short sentences from assimil while I use it. Are there problem on L/T retention if I come across during my study in these words before the 2 weeks. When I distill my list, will I have to try to translate from Italian to English or simply read the list and rewrite the words that I don’t remember?




    • I would simply re-read the list and decide by being honest with myself which ones I could throw away entirely, which I could combine and which I needed to keep.


      • Do you think combining is very important, because I haven’t been doing it all ? I either know what that word means or keep it for a later distillation. What is your personal experience with it, sir ?


        • I think combining is a very useful technique as genuinely it helps to anchor something in long-term rather than short term memory. For one thing, if you can make a collocation which sounds idiomatic and useful and is something that people actually say, that is especially useful, but even if you are just making enigmatic titles for imaginary poems or paintings, we actually remember these longer things as well if not better than the short. I remember that “es” is Hungarian for “and” not because I sat and learned it, but because of a poster with the phrase “Me and my Magnum” (“En es a Magnum”) with a sensuous image of a beautiful woman holding the ice-cream in question up next to her exquisitely maquillaged mouth.


  11. I am fascinated by your Goldlist method! I’ve been studying Russian for 14 years, using a variety of methodologies and spending time in Russia every summer. But, being a senior citizen, the memory work has been a torture. Now, I’m excited about something that might actually work for me! Here is my question: how crucial is it to write the vocab. lists in cursive? I am able to print rather quickly now, and unless there is some kind of “magic” involved in the muscle memory function of cursive handwriting, I’d prefer to skip the effort of having to learn cursive in favor of creating more lists in the amount of time I have available. Thank you in advance for your reply. I love your videos too! Your spirit is wonderful. Bless you!

    PS – you might enjoy my blog about my adventures and mission work in Russia:


    • Which ever way is easier for you to write, dear big sister, please use it. Don’t fret about the cursive if printing is easier.

      I will enjoy your blog over the weekend.

      Many thanks for your comment and I hope to read more.


  12. Hi,

    I have a question regarding the Goldlist Method and Estonian. I have used your method before with Russian with some success, and now that I am learning Estonian I hoped to use the method again; but I have some concerns.

    My concern with Estonian vocabulary, is that it is necessary to learn three forms of each word. For nouns and adjectives, you must learn the first three cases; nominative, genitive, and partitive; and the other cases you just add the ending to the genitive. For verbs, you learn the infinitive, first person singular, and the “-da” infinitive. The verbs do not worry me as much as the nouns, because with nouns in general it is impossible to construct the first three forms and must be committed to memory. For example, a simple regular verb, ütlema (to say) can be constructed from intuition, the three forms being; ütlema, ütlen, ütleda. In this case, I could write just the infinitive in the Goldlist; however, there is no shortage of irregular verbs. The verb, minema (to go) the three forms are; minema, lähen, minna. It is a similar case with nouns, some nouns are the same across the three forms and others have three completely different forms. Unfortunately there are no rules that define the conjugations or irregularities.

    I found an Estonian frequency list on the Internet, and it gave an analysis of word frequencies. The list gave un-conjugated, dictionary forms of which 10,000 made up 90% of the sample texts; however, when they listed the most common of all the forms of each word, it takes 33,000 words to reach 88%. So, it looks like you need three times the amount of vocabulary to know a word properly.

    The question I have is whether listing three forms per line will impact the learning process. Is it better to write out the whole words, or use abbreviations, or a mix of the two? For example, in a list I could write:
    Sõna, -, – – Word,
    Kartul, -i, -it – Potato, but for more irregular words,
    Vesi, Vee, Vett – Water
    Or, on the other hand, for use in this method is it necessary to write each form on a separate line? When learning Estonian vocabulary, I know that I have learned a word when I see the initial form and immediately the other two come to mind. But, in learning with this process, is 25 lines with three forms per line too much? In some cases, the three forms do not resemble each other. I would just like your opinion as you have done all the research and are more familiar with this method than I. I have already started on a list and will try to gauge the effectiveness myself over the next few weeks.

    Thanks for any advice you can give!


    • My advice is two points:

      1. Don’t worry if you put too many words or too many lines per word into the headlists, and

      2. If a word behaves as you know you would expect, then you can probably save the time needed to do all its forms. You are not writing the text for an Estonian grammar manual. Use that time to focus more on those words whose paradigms are less guessable for you or less obvious.

      Hope this helps.


  13. I am having trouble finding a hardcover notebook with the right size for the GL method. What should I do?


    • Also, I am located in the US.


      • Nevermind, I found a couple on Amazon. Does it have to a hardcover book?


        • No, it can be soft cover, Henry. It can be A4 or A5. It should not be too thin, it should b about 40 lines deep and it should be pleasant for you to work with.

          Hard cover ones are usually more hard-wearing, so I do recommend them if you have a nice fat one. Spiral bound will fall sometimes fall apart as will badly made ones. A well-made soft cover though is preferable to a badly made hard cover.

          Remember that in the case of some projects you could be walking around with that book in your hands or briefcase/bag for a over a year. That puts a good deal of wear and tear on a notebook, which is why I will always be ready to pay extra for a well made book, apart from the pleasure of working with nice materials.

          I will make – probably at the weekend – an section on and/or to help people find good products for this. Leitz is one I would particularly recommend, although even the Leitz books are on the thin side at only 80 sheets. Moleskine is of course very nice but their products are in the main too small for our purposes, which is unfortunate. Maybe one day I will ask Moleskine to make products specifically for Goldlist, but to do so I would need a certain critical mass of active users or else who will invest in the production run?


      • would probably ship – this is a bit on the thin side but has excellent quality. I bought one in an office shop in Warsaw last week and was delighted when I unwrapped it. But this is 10 times more than you actually need to pay to get perfectly fine notebooks in Central Europe.


        • Viktor,

          How many lines deep is this Leitz A5 notebook?


          • My God, people! A regular composition book – less than $1, available just about anywhere!


            • I’ve used books that have cost less than a dollar and I’ve even used books that have cost less than 50 cents. I have also got books that cost me 20 or 30 dollars just because I wanted the quality. You spend a lot of time with the book and so investing in a bit of quality is not such a sin!


            • Yes, but the compostion book does not have enough lines.


            • Rashid Patch,

              I have looked at scores of notebooks for a long time and all of them had less than 40 lines deep as Huliganov instructs is necessary for the Goldlist system. Read this article or watch his YouTube videos. Only recently I was able to find one with at least 40 lines. So I am sorry to say books necessary for a Goldlist are not available just about anywhere if you ever learned how to count. Maybe you should invest some time in remedial math to help you along with your foreign language training.


          • 52, so it has plenty of space to play with but if you have big handwriting or are trying to write Chinese characters it would be a bit tight.


  14. After realizing that you said 7 distillations will be enough for most people, I remembered somewhere else the number 7 came up for the brain… in Chess.


  15. I have just begun to use the Goldlist method in order to learn spanish. But I wonder what your thoughts are about learning several languages at the same time. Is it best to focus on one language until you have reached the goal your aiming for, or can you study two or three languages at the same time with goldlist method?


    • Ben, you can do as many as you want, but learning similar languages at the same time will lead to interference. Better if you want to learn similar languages to learn one to fluency, then use materials in that language to learn the second from the same family.

      Also its clear that the more you dilute time spent across a number of projects, the slower the process will be on each project, since time is the limited resource, in the case of most people, I suppose.


  16. HI there,

    Just starting my first ‘silver’ book and wondering how I should date the lists here? (I may only be transferring the final distillation of two or three lists there per day, which is only about 15 words…)



    • If you don’t do a full 25 on the D4 distillation, or any other for that matter, either write the new date next to where you restart the next day or if it highlights it better write in the top which ones you did which day.


  17. Viktor Dmitrievich,

    Can you recommend a website to buy bronze, silver and goldlist notebooks that meet your Goldlist specifications? Anything on Amazon or another website?

    P.S. You are the rock star of polyglot autodidacts.


    • You can find them on Polish – if someone wants to buy like ten or something then they can pay me and I will go and get them and send them. I’ll take 10% on top for the service, not more. Wouldn’t be worth it for small orders, though. It’s true that these days you don’t get a great selection of these books in the UK. I don’t know how it is in the US. Germany, Russia and most of continental Europe has plenty of such offers, with Poland cheaper than most.


  18. Hi, I’m pretty much on the silver level at this point. Now I have never been able to easily understand a SPOKEN foreign language. What is a reasonable about of time for this to happen?


    • It’s not a question of time but of the presence of certain ingredients in your brain. If you have done at some stage a Pimsleur or some audio course so that you know what the words and phrases you are goldlisting are supposed to sound like in a pretty standard version of the language you are learning, and you have goldlisted about 10,000 words or more and taken them through to the end of silver if not gold levels, then you can do the following activity with a much higher assurance of success.

      You need to get hold of an audio book for a book you can read in that language, and where there is a translation in English. The best place for this is Audible, where the app allows you also graded speeds of listening to the same material – and you can start off with a slower speed and build up. Listen to the same piece of 10 minutes long with short, ten minute breaks about three times over. This is not a long-term memory exercise it is an ear exercise and so you are perfectly OK using short-term memory techniques for this, they are quite appropriate. This is not the point at which you learn the words, you should have learned most of them before. This is where you push your ear and get it to go “aha”.

      Once you have done this, you are likely to find that some parts of the spoken text have become a tad clearer and some still baffle you. You then open the book and read the text, which you should not have done before this point.

      Having read the text, if there are any words that you do not know, please mark them and find them in the English text, please also make sure that anything you get from the English text which you didn’t get from the original – work out if that’s the fault of your lack of nuancing or too much freedom on the part of the translator. Add any missing knowledge back into your headlist and put it through the Goldlist system in due course.

      You then should read the text while listening to it at normal speed. You can do this a couple of times if you feel it needed.

      You should be able to speak along with the recording now, while reading the text. If this is hard at first, use the pause button and precede each recorded sentence with your own attempt.

      Then finally you can go back to just listening but use higher speeds, like 1,25 or 1,5* normal.

      You then move on to the next chunk of text, rinse and repeat.

      But every so often you go back and listen to what you heard before.

      Not only will this improve listening comprehension, but also accent.

      Nevertheless, it is not a way of learning to the long term memory, it’s an aural fitness routine. You therefore, like I said at the beginning, should only start to do this once you are really nearing your goldlist target.

      It is a way of getting to speaking fluency as well around the “listening” route described in my articles here on my Four Function Diagram.

      Many thanks for the question which I will turn into a lead article.


  19. Might get a chance to try this starting in January with a class of 6 who have gone through the grammar. Only 1 is an A student. At the rate we are going they will only need to do one list a day, so they might not understand why we are doing this, but it won’t be that big a deal. I’m curious to see where this goes.


  20. Imam Rashid Patch

    Dear Victor,

    I want to thank you for your elucidation of this method. I have struggled with language studies for several decades – but I note that when in high-school, in the 1960s, I took courses in German and Russian, and learned quite a lot by simply listening to records of Studenten-drinklieder, and Russian folk-song – and now, four decades later, I still know all of those songs – and all of the vocabulary in them! And, I still remember all the vocabulary in the poems of Goethe and Schiler that I managed to get to, even with the overdoses of beer!…. Without trying to engage long-term memory, I entered all that vocabulary into long-term memory!

    The same is true for the Latin I learned as an altarboy in the the 1950s, and what I know of Spanish, Arabic, Farsi, Turkish, and Urdu, I know because I paid attention to songs, poetry, and scripture in those languages, without “trying” to memorize them.

    I have not begun my “goldlists”, but I am convinced that your insight into the methodology of language learning is essentially correct.

    My earliest memory – at about age two or three – is of intense frustration that drove me to weeping, at not being able to communicate, because I simply did not know the vocabulary to express myself. I can distinctly recall learning English (my first language) by simply paying attention to lists of words – reading and re-reading poems and books – when I was three or four years old. I got a library card when I was three, and by the time I was four, I had read all the books in the children’s section of our local library near Boston, and got special permission to read books from the adult section….

    I want to thank you – and I plan, God willing, to report on my use of your system!


    Rashid Patch
    Oakland, California


  21. Hello there again. I wanted to ask, is it possible to go back to my list, if more than 60 days have passed ? The reason behind this is, that I was moving and I found my bronze book later and now more than 60 days have passed. I’m on my 2 distillation and I hope that I won’t have to do it all over.


    • You don’t have to worry about the two month upper limit – that’s just a pacemaker. You can pick it up where you left off and get back under 60 for the fun of it. The only deadline essential to the methid is the MINIMUM deadline of 2 weeks. Don’t review for distillation or distil or refresh or anything in less than two weeks.



  22. Dear Viktor,

    We have missed you over the last few months, but as you are normally very generous with sharing your time with us, I’m sure it’s because you have been very busy. It’s nice to see you back a few times recently.

    I just want to check with you your opinion on frequency dictionaries. I have a feeling that you are in favour of them. At one time, I was slightly against them, thinking the idea a bit “gimmicky”, but I watched recently a video lecture given by Anthony Lauder (aka Fluent Czech on Youtube) in which he strongly favoured frequency dictionaries, and that made me rethink my position.

    Clearly, if one is going to be Gold Listing anyway, it does seem to make a lot of sense to begin with the most frequently-used words.

    The 64,000 dollar question might be what are these words, and that might actually vary depending on, e.g. what one is currently reading or listening to in the target language. The most frequently-used words of a Sun reader might not be the same as a reader of the Telegraph, or of a reader of Tolstoy in translation (let alone in the original).

    I may say more about this later, but for now, this has opened up for me a fascinating extension to the already exciting idea of Gold Listing words for long-term memory curation.


    Mike, aka Montmorency


  23. Hi Victor, I started my Greek Goldlist at the beginning of the year but due to illness missed a batch of reviews that are now over the 2 month period. What’s your recommendation to restart the process when you go over the 2 month review time period?


    • Keep on as normal. There is actually nothing magical about the two months – it is just there as a pacekeeping benchmark. The only non-negotiable timeframe is the minimum one of two weeks. You can’t distill what you haven’t fermented!

      What probably is more important is to be sure that you are healthy and comfortable. I found out that working on Goldlists while feverish, for example, gives a worse result. Also I can imagine that some stronger medications could impinge on memory functions.


      • Great that makes sense and is a bit of a relief. Also Thanks for the method. A side-effect for me is that reading and writing greek-script is much easier now that I’m a over a thousand words in. (Plus my wife is curious as to why my greek handwriting is so much neater than my english :-)

        Kind regards, Spencer


  24. Been using the Goldlist method since June to start learning French alongside an Assimil Language Course. Absolutely love it and finding it effective – thank you so much for sharing it!
    As I am a primary school teacher in England, thinking about using it not only to help my class learn some French vocab but also to learn spellings (in English) from a high frequency word list and then apply in their every day writing. Got to be more effective than doing weekly tests that don’t seem to make any difference to the quality of spelling in their general writing! Any thoughts?


  25. Oh Yeah, I forgot one thing.

    Thank you so much for your answers in advance!

    Que Dios te Bendiga


    • Timothy, I like your post. I need to wait until later to give the reply it deserves. I am dealing with Russian visa admin, so “bear with me” as the saying goes.


      • Thank you very much sir,

        I understand your busy, and have lot’s to do. I respect that, I’ll be patient. Thanks alot!

        God Bless!


        • Thanks. In fact I probably have a lot to say so when I get to it I will be hopefully worth the wait…


        • You deserved a reply by now. I will try to get to it soon.


          • Thanks Viktor, you rock off the socks!


          • Hey Mr. Huliganov

            It’s been a long time (exactly two months since you last responded to me). No I’m not angry at you for not posting that reply yet, I’m excited and looking forward to that. However, I wanted to let you know I’ve been goldlisting for a while. This method is superb. I like it so much, I quit it temporarily for two weeks to try visual associative mnemonics, and they don’t even compare with remembering words (even when only accounting short-term, at least for me so far). For two days they were exciting, than I got bored, and slowly started to remember I forgot about Goldlist.

            Most of the time I distill at least 50%, and I know I’m remembering the words cause I try covering them up (even though it’s not necessary that’s my personal preference). I told my Dad about goldlisting, I hope it works for him, he’s still trying to judge for himself.

            Anyways, when you do share you thoughts on how/when/ and how much to listen to audio I can’t wait to hear it. I’ve learned some ideas myself, and would be glad to share them, but I want to hear from you since you’re such a darn awesome and experienced language learner, who definitely has the secret vocabulary sauce!

            God Bless!


  26. !Hola Señor David! Como esta Usted?

    yo tratando aprender español por acerca 5 meces. Originalmente, leyendo la santa biblia cada día, irendo a la iglesia de México cada domingo, hablando en conversaciones, algunaveces anki, escuchando mí biblia audio en mí mp3, y mirando en libros gramatica. yo preguntaré alga preguntas por tú en inglés, porque mí español es muy poco.

    1. I want to implement you’ll goldlist method with learning spanish, but I’m afraid it wouldn’t work because I’m going to the spanish church (which I enjoy going to, by now if I’m focused I can understand most of the conversations, sermons, etc. and I enjoy talking to the people, some of which probably have less english than I have spanish). Do you think I could still think I could realistically use the goldlist method in this environment?

    2. Also since I like reading my bible in spanish (as well as in English). Would it be okay, or perhaps even helpful if I continued doing that in spanish (or should I just continue in English).

    3. Also I was thinking about trying your idea with a ramdom language I know nothing about (for example: Korean). Do you think a good substitute for Michel Thomas, and Pimsleur would be learning how to pronounce the alphabet, and their words along with listening to some different audio content in the beginning (like the audio bible in Korean for example)?

    4. I myself am a bible-believing baptist christian, and I looked at your post in response to one guy asking about using Gold list for the bible. I’ve been able to use a method that’s been very effective (for me at least). thought I need to use it more. I’ll describe it to you.

    A: I start out by reading the chapter a few times or sometimes just once for familiarity.

    B: Read each individual verse.

    C: Right down the verse, but I only right down the first letter or each word, and the punctuation. (it sounds strange, but this really helps me, and I don’t understand the science behind it, but this is where I learned the idea.)

    D: Continue reading the bible chapter from the bible, and than when comfortable, switch from the bible, to the chapter notated on paper.

    E: When you feel ready, try reciting the whole thing.

    Please give me your thoughts on this, I think this works well and if I can use this, or using Goldlist, or something like it to memorize and remember scripture (long term) that way I can share with others, and be encouragement to christians for memorizing scripture.

    God Bless!


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  28. First, let me say, you are doing a fantastic job. I’ve been enjoying the russian videos. I especially like the KOMETA lesson. Just learning about stress was an eye opener.

    I’ve taught/studied German for many years and have found that listening to and reading the Perry Rhodan series has helped a great deal. It’s cheap, plus somewhat entertaining.

    Is there a similar thing in Russian as the German Heftroman or pulp fiction? It’s a good way to do both passive elements of system.


    • Yes, everywhere has pulpy fiction. For Russian if you want to read non-highbrow literature you could look out for the Russian geisha series or some of the criminal novels by the late Arkadiy Vainer, a former boss of mine.


  29. Hi, I’m using this method myself and I’m liking the results! I was wondering how you would adapt this to a classroom setting? We teach a Biblical Greek class and it would be easier on everyone if there was no cramming.


    • That’s an excellent question.

      I am not all over Koine of the NT or even the Septuagint as I hope I will be one day. I do however have a plan for that, which in my case involves starting with a reasonable coverage – like 2000 words and all the main grammar – of the modern language in order to read ealier Greek as today’s Greeks do, rather than the way a UK classic scholar would. The sound shifts that took Greek into something similar to what it sounds today took place closer to the New Testament time that today (b-v, g-gh for instance seems to be about 5th to 6th century) and also it will bring the language a bit more to life.

      That having been achieved it would be my plan to study through the standard work by Jeremy Duff, his revision of Wenham’s “The Elements of New Testament Greek” publ. by Cambridge University Press – I have the third edition with is ISBN 978-0-521-75551-1. This uses 600 words and I would read the book and put the word into the Goldlist. I would compare the grammar to the Modern Greek grammar and learn it using a “compare and contrast” approach goldlisting also the main paradigms and example sentences.

      After that it is a question of launching into an interlinear version and mopping up into the goldlist the previously unknown words. Sentences or verses which particularly seem worthy of memorisation in Greek would be goldlisted whole.

      In a classroom environment if you were working through Duff you could show the pupils how the Goldlist method works and show them how they can avoid a cram before the exam and also have the Word of God “hidden in their heart” as David puts it, by using the Goldlist from the beginning and keeping the distillations up through the year. You’d need to have got through the 600 key words that Duff says make up 90% of the text at least the first time by about February in order to give time for a full distillation of the whole keeping to the timing rules by a May or June exam.

      The remaining words outside the key 600 could be cram-learned in the last two weeks but only if it is for an independent exam. Otherwise if it is for their own benefit and edification I would avoid cramming altogether.


      • We focus on NT Greek with those 600 words. How would you test? If you test in the middle of the goldlist process, there’s no way to know if I’m asking questions in their 30% or so. We thought about making 30% the first time around count as full credit. (after second distillations) But then we usually have some sentences to translate… and if they don’t know those words then they are stuck.
        Or would you wait until they get through all their listing first?


        • I would test by taking a look at their goldlists and making sure that they were following the process. If you trust the process, which I do, then you know that if the process is followed properly then they will cover and retain their 600 words better and in a more long-term way than with the traditional process. So the examining would be process based. The question is how can we be sure that they are not pouring old wine into this new wineskin by simply laying out the work in the Goldlist style but still doing frequent repetition, as the heathen do? I would say that it is critical that they date all the work and that the teacher lays emphasis that reviewing lists prior to their maturity in two weeks is counterproductive, will not earn them any marks, and will count against them in the long-term because they will have short-term memorised 600 words of Koine Greek, when they could have long-term memorised them in actually fewer minutes of study using this counter-intuitive method.

          I was reminded this morning that Solomon in Proverbs 25 verse 2 tells us that it is the glory of God to conceal a thing, but the glory of kings to find out a matter. When your people learn this simple but as I say counter-intuitive (hence concealed) way of learning that taps into facilities we all have because God gave us them, then maybe they too will feel like kings who have discovered a matter.

          Those who understand and catch on to it will be able to use the same ideas for all kinds of learning, so they will be remembering in their lives that you showed it to them first. It is nice to be remembered for something like that by people.

          You can round off by giving them the other words, the words outside the 600, as a list at the end and offering them the choice of cramming them for the exam or learning them using the same methodology and keeping them forever. The one doesn’t necessarily exclude the other, though, they could cram them for the public exam in the last two weeks and then six months later with clear synapses start a Goldlist of the same for their own long-term benefit.

          The way to cram in two weeks is to listen as much as to read these other words, so you might prepare an mp3 for them that they can listen to a few times in their players. But just in those last two weeks before the public exam.


    • Like Davey, I’m no expert on Greek, but I do have an Ancient Greek bronze book that I’ve done a bit on. Actually I have two; one that I worked on for an exam, and one that I started the next year. I’m not working on Greek at the moment, because I have too many other projects going. I’m finishing up my Chinese character project, and I have a combined Cantonese and Mandarin project in addition to a Japanese one going as well. I’m also going to start Korean in a couple of hours.

      When I was just starting out with Greek, I had ordered a glossed reading book and a grammar book to go with it (Reading Greek, by the Joint Association of Greek Teachers). The grammar book arrived later, so I started goldlisting the words in the glossary list, only to find out that they were in fact repeated in the next text. Then I went to the vocabulary list in the back of the book and goldlisted that instead. The obvious problem with this approach (which was inspired by Heisig’s approach to Chinese characters, I must admit) was that I hadn’t learned any of the grammar yet, so I didn’t know what an aorist stem was, for example, and also I didn’t know what forms of the verbs I needed to know to be able to construct the rest of the forms. Another problem was that I didn’t get the words in a particularly useful order.

      The next year, I bought a dictionary containing all the words in the New Testament, and only the words in the New Testament with the relevant grammatical information. I started goldlisting that, but then I decided it would make more sense to go through the grammar book from the beginning first, which turned out to be a good idea. I got very far in the grammar book, but put it on hold so I could do more work on my other projects.

      From all of this, I’ve learned valuable lessons about how *not* to go about it. When I start doing Greek again, I’ll finish the grammar book, then goldlist a little book that has the 500 or so most frequent words in the NT, and then I’ll consider whether I’ll start reading my interlinear version and goldlist unknown words as I go along, or continue goldlisting the dictionary. The advantage of the former is that I will be reading the NT, which is the purpose of the project anyway, but it is easier to goldlist a list of words. Probably I will try the reading approach first and see how it goes.


  30. Hi,
    I have a small dictionary and plan to eventually put every word I don’t know into a Goldlist. I was wondering if I should just write them in alphabetical order, or is there reason to believe that this would make them harder to learn?


    • Sorry for the late reply. I think there is a lot to be said for the dictionary order, but if you find it too boring stop. The disadvantage is it can be boring. The advantage is that you immediately get to contrast and compare similar looking words, which I personally find helpful. Another disadvantage is that it’s a longer task than you might think if you pick a big dictionary even impossible – only little dictionaries of up to 20,000 words should be used and even that is a huge project which will end up in you being native-level literate. It’s for the serious learner, no doubt about it.

      Other easier methods are thematic dictionaries, like a dictionary of terms you need for your specific job, dictionaries of slang and vulgarities are in the market which of course are amusing and therefore have less tendency to bore the learner but they need to be handled with care as they tend to pull one’s register down too far for the situations one will really encounter in life. You’ll end up with the equivalent in a foreign language as when a distinguished gathering hears a foreign dignitary address them with “Wassup, dogz?” The best possible solution is a frequency dictionary and it’s always worth looking to see if there is one available for whatever language you plan or learning. That is the logical route to the most effective use possible of learning time.


  31. Eusebio Perez

    Wher I can find goldlist.xls file? I can’t find it. Thanks, Eusebio.


  32. I am an experienced language learner. Right now I am adding 100 headwords to my German Goldlist. Do you think that adding so many words daily decreases the effectiveness of the method?

    Also do you think it’s a good idea to “study” the new headwords for, let’s say 15 minutes on the day they are added?


    • As long as you are observing the breaks and are interested in continuing at that level of intensity, there is no problem in doing 100 or even 200 words per day.

      As regards “studying” them at the same time, this would entirely defeat the object of the Gold list method if you try to repeat or cram them. If you are in a hurry to achieve a certain vocab within a certain number of weeks, then something like Supermemo or Anki will deliver that in less weeks of involvement than Goldlist but the overall timw it will take you to do it will be more and so for each thousand hours of study you will cover more with the Goldlist than with the better known SRSs.


  33. Hi Dave,

    I hail from Down Aussie, & I just wanted to say that so far I’m luuuuuving your Goldlist method! I’m very interested in all things relating to Goldlist Japanese and Chinese (Mandarin), since I am concurrently studying these two wonderful languages. Later I plan on doing Tagalog, and possibly Hindi and NT Koine as well.

    Congrats for passing your JLPT N5 exam! I really must pull my finger out and get on with doing the same, and also to do the HSK.

    I was particularly interested in your “Control Sheet” for Heisig characters, and have adapted it to use for my goal of learning 2,000 Kanji from my copy of P.G. O’Neill’s “Essential Kanji”. I have studied Japanese on & off over the years, so I’m happily learning the Kun and On yomi readings together with the stroke order and meaning. Since Essential Kanji isn’t divided into parts, I could simply divide the 2,000 characters it contains into 8 batches.
    I noticed that you distil 25% each time for the Kanji which is great, so I copied that. Where you end up with 7,350 for total work done for 2,042 characters, I end up with 7,232 for 2,000 characters. I’m really looking forward to trying out your ‘batch-step’ method for learning the Kanji.

    I use 3 Japanese Goldlists: 1) vocabulary in Kana (hiragana & katakana) – using standard Goldlist method, 2) Kanji, 3) sentences in Kana. When I am more proficient in Kanji, I will start: 4) sentences [from (3)] in Kanji & kana.

    I use 3 Chinese Goldlists: 1) vocab in Pinyin, 2) Hanzi characters, 3) Hanzi vocab, 4) sentences/phrases in Pinyin. Later: 5) sentences/phrases in characters.

    Since I completed 13 weeks of university Chinese recently (from scratch), I am using character vocab lists from my future course texts, and sticking to simplified Chinese, as I plan on re-joining university language class further down the track. I intend to re-join Japanese class as well. (Why not fill my degree with languages I love?)

    I am also utilizing LingQ, Glossika (for sentences), & Pimsleur – but plan to mostly Goldlist both languages to my heart’s content for at least a year:)

    Once again, thank you for this wonderful site! I really enjoy your quirky character and lots of interesting posts.



  34. When you’ve combined lines in the bronze list, do you keep them combined in the silver list, or do you break them up again?


    • I don’t uncombine them, but what I tend to do is one of the following four things

      1. If the combining has helped me learn the whole thing, then the whole thing is distilled out
      2. If the combining has helped me learn one part but not the other, then I distill the part which I did know and see if I can recombine rest with another word or group.
      3. If the combining hasn’t helped me learn yet and there are other recombinations available, I might swap elements between combinations
      4. Or if the combining didn’t help but there are no other swap options, then I keep it in and hope another writing of it will stick.


      • That sounds like what I’ve been doing for the characters too, especially number 4. Sometimes I almost shake my head as I write them in, because I think I’m never going to remember that one anyway, but then there are times when I remove a whole line that I was shaking my head at two weeks before.


  35. Thanks for this great method! I used this method with success a few years ago while studying vocabulary for the GRE exam in the US and will be using this method again with Chinese and French. Time to find some handsome notebooks!

    Liked by 1 person

  36. I have a question about my first list in the silver book. As far as I understand I have to gather a list of 25 words from my bronze books 3rd distilations’, do I remove the words from those distilations that I think I’ve learned or should I just write all of them to my silver book and if I wouldn’t remove them would this be a huge mistake ? I feel silly asking this >__< but would really appreciate, if you'd answer me.


    • Good question. Taking the D3 list in the bottom left of the Bronze book and turning it into the D4 list at the top left of the Silver book is in many ways similar to the distilling you’ve been doing until now. The only differences are those dictated by the constraints inherent in a paper system with physical books the way we are using them.

      For big projects in a language, such as getting to over 15,000 words from scratch, you’ll need several bronze books but you may still only ever need one silver book, but on the other hand as long as you have quite large books (and using ones which are not really big and thick enough is too fiddly and I don’t recommend it) you probably will never need more than one silver book for the language, containing D4 through D7 distillations in the top left, top right, bottom right and bottom left fields respectively of a double page spread.

      You’ll start numbering the D4 list with it’s own internal numbering as with all the other lists to that point, but unlike the other lists except for the Headlist this one will be also in blocks of probably 25. (It is possible to use 20 in a block or a 33,34,33,33,34,33 system but 25 is in my view the best in the overwhelming number of cases) therefore you’ll be taking D3 from the bronze list, rejecting those which you know best, finding maybe new ways to combine some others, and also having fewer words going into D4 than you had in D3. As a rule of thumb you may find that the words in the first double page of your silver book are what is left of the first four to six double pages of your bronze book.

      I hope that this is a clear explanation, if not then please ask me whatever is unclear. The question is not at all silly. I’m very grateful for this question.


      • Thank you very much ! Now everything is clear, but I’ve noticed that I’m having trouble remembering new words, for example my first entries to my bronze book were very easy to remember and now new words that I’m adding aren’t like that and I can’t find what I’m doing wrong, because I don’t over repeat them, I read them out loud, slow pace 2-3 times and close to the book and those words are random. Do you think that Usually I do 6-8 lists a day with 20 min brakes between each. Maybe that’s just too much of work in one day ? Or maybe I should increase my resting times ?


  37. Hi,
    I want to learn Mandarin. I am not sure how to go about it. This is the very first language I am attempting to learn. I have not done anything yet. I am on very tight budget and currently not employed. I tried to access the free material on Mandarin ( )but it is no longer accessible . I was wondering if I could use your experince and if possible sort of outline the steps I need to follow.

    BTW, I am not sure where to post my question. I am sorry if this the wrong place for posting it.



    • Sure, I am making the assumption that you want to learn Mandarin thoroughly rather than just dabble in it, so I will give you the full approach in order and in phases.

      I’ll make it a main article today, as this is a very good question. Those following this thread later on in the months to come will be able to find the article by the navigation on date available in the right hand column (calendar).


  38. Hello Victor.I made my first distilation on russian and out of 25 words I only remembered 2 out of them.Is this probably a sign that the GLM does not work for me?Has something similar happened to you also?Thank you in advance.


    • Long term memory will only work if you avoid short term memory distractions, such as too much repetition or a feeling of stress. Please follow the guidlelines when writing a headlist for goldlist which I will write in a new article today.


  39. Hi Victor,

    Another question,,,,,,,,,:)

    I have learned English a bit. How now I can use it? How to learn how to pronounce it – your English accent is really British.
    I have all this rules/ words in ma head how to start to use them?




    • You could start off by using it to read or to correspond – as with me. You could get into discussions by, for instance, writing comments on YT videos, especially mine. This will make the transition to speaking and listening easier. You can also get hold of films in English and listen to them, using subtitles at first but then dispensing with the subtitles.


  40. Hello Viktor!!

    Thank you very much for sharing this very very useful method. It’s exactly what I’ve been looking for. I just want to ask 2 questions:
    1. If I take 17 out of 25 words at the first distillation, then at the second distillation should I have a look again at the headlist of 25 initial words , or only focus on those 17 words that have already been distilled once before (and so on)?
    2. In your videos I notice you write more than 17 words at the first distillation, because there are words that are written in one line. Those are probably words in similar topics (such as days in week, forms of verbs,..), but what if my 25 words do not have any relation?


    • Excellent questions, Kien.

      1. You always go back to the previous distillation only, and only refer to the Headlist if you want for example to count how much you’ve distilled, so that you know for instance that a D2 (bottom right of bronze book) is say at 52.5% of your Headlist. Also it can come in handy if you discover that you made a mistake when copying out a later distillation, you’ve got something to compare it back to. And also when you finish the bronze book and are taking the vocab over to the top left of the silver book from D3 (the bottom left of the bronze book) you might like to do a little check that you are still happy you retained all you wanted from the headlist. Other than that, you only refer to the previous distillation.

      2. This is a brilliant question. There is a whole art about how to combine words. I want to tell you and anyone else who reads these conversations a couple of things about this, but it won’t be the detail that I intend to cover this in in the book.

      a) Obviously the best thing is to find words which you are confident you can cut out from writing again, so maybe make that search first.
      b) If you cannot throw out, then combining is the next best thing. But you would get the best mileage form combining things which are normally said in lists together, like Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. First you can pair them, then make triplets in later distillations, then start only retaining the parts you find harder to remember. The limit for combining is obviously what you can comfortably fit on one line.
      c) I use certain marks for different kinds of combination. One is a mark that shows that two words which look similar are in fact different meanings. Another is to show that two slightly different words have the same meaning.
      d) sometimes putting the verb and the noun and the adjective of one idea on one line is good.
      e) for adjectives, verbs of motion, etc opposites are good to pair up.
      f) If other options don’t present themselves, you can combine, once you know enough grammar to do it properly, even unnconnected words to make small sentences or phrases. They don’t have to be common things – you can imagine them as titles for films, books, chapters, poems, paintings – how many titles we remember as we go through life – there seems to be a special light that comes on in memory when we make a title for something – so as you do this imagine what kind of a poem or film or picture it might be that has that combination of fairly random words as its title. Doing so does not seem to switch on the short term memory in the way that a forced repetition would, or the attempt to make a clever pun or mnemonic. So when you come to it again you could easily find that you learned two particular unconnected words better in combination with each other than separately, and when goldlisting from dictionaries this technique is particularly handy.

      Hope this helps.


  41. Hi Victor,

    I have one more question: What is in your opinion the best book to learn German from English?

    There is lot of staff available but is hard to pick something :)

    Happy new year



    • I saw a book called Mastering German some years ago and am not sure if it’s still around. Bear with me and I’ll have a look for it.


      • OK, It’s on Amazon. The reviews are here:

        As you will see, the sellers are not Amazon itself, which can be a disadvantage, the book was written in 1983, which can be an advantage as far as method is concerned – they didn’t used to shy away from grammar as they do today for this decade’s ignorant rabble. However it means they might be talking about Deutschmarks and the GDR, the Berlin wall and other stuff we don’t need to worry about today.

        One quick note about the fact that it has two stars. There are only two reviews, one is a three star review and he says it’s a good beginner’s book but won’t enable you to actually “master” the language. My (mental – I didn’t write him anything) reply to that is that none of these books do actually enable mastery, it’s just a bad habit of the publishers. What I assume is that you want a beginner’s book, and this is a good beginners book as this reviewer acknowledges, but gave low stars just for the title of the book which is part of a series which has to have some name or another but which only a fool would take seriously.

        The other mark is a one-star mark from someone who is marking his seller e-bay style and not the product. That’s not actually helpful on Amazon, and his review should not even be counted, much as I feel sorry that he was conned by a bad seller.

        So I think if it were me looking for that sort of book I would actually go ahead and buy one of the copies of this book.

        Hope this helps.

        HNY 2u2.



  42. I like what you say about using pen and paper, and not developing an over-reliance on the computer. However, I would like to use the GL method to learn various signed languages, which, at the moment, have no standard written form. I have considered making video “headlists”, and distilling them as you describe. Do you have any suggestions?

    Also, if someone were trying to learn a spoken language that had no written form, could audio recordings serve the same purpose as written headlists?

    I have just started a book for learning Welsh. I’ve tried for years to get into the language, only to get stuck in an endless loop of learning and forgetting the first ten pages of the course book over and over. I hope to be able to report more success with the GL method.


    • Dear Kathryn,

      It’s funny you should mention Welsh – that’s one of the languages I’m also planning on doing with the goldlist when I get a bit further with languages I need to do first. I should think that the Goldlist would be ideal for that one.

      Consider if you like the course book if you continually try it and then forget it all. Maybe you have already conditioned yourself to short-term memorize that material in that form, and in starting a Welsh goldlist you might do well to get yourself a different book. It’s not beyond the bounds of possibility that material which was previously, repeatedly learned in a short-term memory way triggers the switching on of short-term memory even when you come to it a different way. I’d like for you to get the best benefit from the Goldlist Method, and so I’d be more happy if you started with fresh materials, if it’s only possible.

      With regard to sign languages, because they are not written, a traditional gold list approach wouldn’t help too much with them. I think in this case you need to find material in video form and take it lesson by lesson, but do let’s say three lessons a day of ten minutes each, and repeat the last two before adding a new one, so the first week would be 1, 12, 123, 234, 345, 456, 567. After a few weeks you’d go back and watch 1-7 through again. I think you should use the pause button and make the signs back at the screen, having a mirror next to your screen to compare what you are showing to what the presenter is showing. Take your time over it and regard it as fun. Don’t stress over it. When you have gone a few more weeks, look back at 1-7 and the items which you have difficulty remembering, try to draw as a picture. Draw four signs to a page. Then a few weeks after that look at the drawings again and see if they help you make the sign and you can remember better. Draw again three of the four and leave one out, the one you know best.

      After two or three more weeks, take the book where you did three drawings to a page and repeat the process so that you have only two. You can probably work out where this is going.


      • Thank you, that’s really helpful. I do have a second course book for Welsh – in fact, it’s an old book that my grandmother used when teaching Welsh to adults, so if I get stuck I can ask her for her notes. In Welsh, of course.

        Drawing signs – of course! I’m learning ASL (American Sign Language) online, so the videos are all readily available. I can watch them as my head-list, then distil in pictures, as you describe. Thanks!

        My BSL (British Sign Language) has been mostly learned by spending time in the British Deaf Community, but I’m at the stage where I need to get to grips with the grammar. My Signing friends are nice about it, but I’m sure that my BSL is currently at the level of “Would Meester like the cup off tea?” >_< After I had posted my original comment, I realised that I can write down the grammar rules in a standard head-list, with each block of new rules being added as I learn them, then reviewed and distilled normally.

        All the best with your own Welsh studies. Are you going to learn Northern or Southern Welsh? Southern is the standard, but I'm learning Northern as that is where my family live. The differences are not enormous, but it's a good idea to stick to one or the other when learning.


        • I would probably want to do Southern Welsh, Kathryn, as in my case they were from Tonypandy and before the Industrial Revolution apparently from near Cardigan. Also that’s one of my possible retirement plans. (Living in Wales, that is, not necessarily wearing a cardigan).


  43. Hello Vikor,

    Two question more:
    – how it with knowledge update in your method? For example I already learned explanation of one word, and later on I found better explanation, so I would like to add this or modify previous definition. Is it possible?

    – Is there any time period needed between 3rd and fourth distillation? So between last distillation in Brown book and creation of next headlist in silver book


    • As to question 1, you write a new line with the word in again and its fuller meaning. This will hopefully not be too common so don’t worry about recounting the earlier part or anything. The same thing happened when you learned your mother tongue. Let’s say Polish is your first language, so first off you learn the term wachlarz maybe just meaning a literal fan, and when you are older you hear it in phrases like wachlarz produktow and realise it also has a figurative meaning.

      As to question 2, at least two weeks are needed between every distillation. Between bronze and silver and then if you take it that far between the silver and the gold book. You always need two weeks for a distillation as the purpose of the distillation is to find out what has remained in your memory for longer than the term offered by the short-term memory.


      • Thank you Viktor for explanation,

        I have one more question :)
        I have one word for example to deal which in Polish it means radzic, rozdawac, dotyczyc.
        How it is with distillation of this word if I know only one meaning? Should I remove word from list but I do not know all of meanings?

        thank you


        • This word could have been written over threee lines in the headlist, or more. For example:

          To deal – handlowac, targowac sie (a deal – a bargain)
          to deal – rozdawac karty w grze
          to deal with something – to cope, to manage something, radzic
          “the chapter deals with the blossoming interest of the young neighbour in the narrator’s brother”

          These could have been four separate lines in the headlist, and then you would have the choice of keeping on with those meanings which you didn’t know. You could also combine the lines. There is every reason to keep the headlist nice and loose and it’s perfectly honest – the fact that you deal cards is quite a different idea and piece of knowledge to the fact that you deal drugs. (Obviously I don’t mean you personally deal drugs, only that this is the verb for that also.) Hope this helps.


          • Hi Viktor,

            I am grateful for your comment.

            I have one more question… :)

            For example I have following rule in English:

            110 Verbs after which we should use -ing:
            112 finish
            113 postpone
            114 consider
            115 admit
            116 deny

            I am wondering how I should distil such rules?
            For example if I know only know one verb “stop”, should I remove it from list and work with rest of verbs or should I live it on a list until i know every word and whole rule can be distilled?

            Thank you!


            • Hi Victor,

              Will you be able to provide me with answer regarding above comment



              • I am very sorry, but your comment somehow escaped my notice – we can probably blame the spammers who push the legitimate comments down out of sight. I do welcome such queries.

                I would lay out this rule in the headlist in full as you have done and then combine it a bit on distillation.

                Using exactly your material as an example, as it is indeed a very good example, maybe for D1 you could do something like this

                76 Verbs requiring an ing form to follow include the following ideas:
                77 Starting and stopping and restarting (eg start, stop, finish, resume)
                78 Verbs of delaying and postponing (delay, postpone, put off)
                79 Verbs of admitting or denying (admit, deny)
                80 Verbs of considering or enjoying (consider, anticipate, relish, enjoy)

                In fact you can see that not only did I get your list which had 7 at Headlist down to 5 at D1, but also I could have got a rather larger Headlist (if you had had resume, delay, put off, anticipate, relish and enjoy in the headlist we could have got 13 down to 5 – well over the odds. What we’ve also done is added a bit of our own analysis to the matter by deciding our own groupings for the verbs. This switches the long-term memory on much much better than simple repetition, and I do recommend that approach to distilling.

                Now let’s consider D2. Let’s say that you are at D2 and some of the verbs are still not sticking. Let’s say that you remembered that verbs of stopping, starting, delaying and resuming are in the rule and you remembered each of the verbs in those groups, but didn’t fully remember the others, then your D2 might look something like this:

                56 The -ing following rule applies to verbs of stopping, starting, delaying and restarting
                57 Also to admitting and denying
                58 Also considering and enjoying (anticipate, relish)

                We’re now down from 5 to 3, and we haven’t really lost that much information

                From then on you might find you remember it all in D3 and can just drop the whole thing, or keep the entirety of what you’d like to keep in the system on a single line.


  44. Witam,

    Jeszcze jedno pytanie mam.

    Chodzi mi o czas po dwoch tygodniach w ktorych pisalismy codziennie po 25 lini dla list głównej. Po dwoch tygodniach mozemy rozpoczac pierwsza destylacje listy głownej i czy możemy jednoczęsnie dodawać kolejne wpisy do listy głownej?

    Np. robimy pierwsza destylacje np lini od 1 do 75 oraz np robimy kolejne wpisy dla list głownej np od 400 do 475?


  45. Hello,

    Is there any chance to see a example, how put in Goldlist example of using present simple.
    I am wondering how to use gold method to learn grammar rules



    • That’s a very good question, and in due course I will be doing a full example online – for Indonesian. I planned to do it this summer but pneumonia and other commitments got in the way. Right now I am mainly doing Czech, Japanese and Mandarin (pinyin only, until I have the kanji down pat in Japanese, in order to avoid confusion), and so I haven’t really had time to give to Indonesian.

      Generally speaking, when it comes to grammar, it’s good to put into the headlist rules as line items ( at first when you write them, one rule might be more than one line and then when you partly know it you can abbreviate it to one line ) then regular usage or sentence structure can be shown by standard sentences as line items (the line beneath might serve for a translation in the headlist, but you may already not need it in the distillations, so that is one of the lines that get dropped) and then you write the exceptions given in the grammar book over the next lines as line items. Or if they are exceptions which affact a particular word, like the strong verbs in simple past and participle forms, you write the whole thing when you come to that verb.

      In that light, let’s consider part of an imaginary headlist where you are learning usages of the present simple in English

      267 The present simple is used for habitual or repeated actions and often accompanies time expressions
      268 such as “every day”, “sometimes”, “always”, “rarely” or “never”
      269 He wakes up at seven every morning.
      270 His wife sometimes goes to Purley.
      271 I never smile at a crocodile.
      272 We rarely see guillemots in this country.
      273 Guillemot [gilemot] = Nurzyk zwyczajny
      274 This sense is preserved even when no adverb of time accompanies, but repetition is implied
      275 He goes to school by bus. (“Every day” or “usually” is implied)

      I’ll stop at 275, as headlists done on the 25 word system, which I mainly recommend, would stop at 275 and you’d recommence on the next double side.

      That should give you an idea of a typically writing out of a grammar book, in the middle of which the learner stopped to check the meaning of one word
      (at line 273) before continuing with processing his grammar book.

      Let me show you how that section of the headlist might conceivably loook when the learner has distilled it over to the top right side (D1)

      180 Present simple used with repeated actions often with time expression (either of high, low frq or never)
      181 She sometimes/never/rarely goes to Purley.
      182 Guillemot = [gilemot] nurzyk zwyczajny
      184 Also used with no time expression but where repetition implied
      185 He goes to school by bus.

      That would obviously differ from learner to learner, depending on what had stuck in the individual’s long term memory. If the individual were particularly interested in birds, the guillemot may have stuck immediately. If he had no interest in birds and didn’t ever use the word for guillemot in his native tongue, then he might drop it from the distillation as less relevant just to keep up the pace (this is a valid reason for distillation if the distillation is going too slowly otherwise) or he may never have included it in his goldlist in the first place.

      Hope this helps.


  46. Czesc,

    Mam pytanie: czy metoda może być używana innego materiału np: dat, liczb, wydarzeń, itd.
    Czyli jakichkoliwke informacji, które niekoniecznie są związane z językiem.

    I czy można mieć w tym samym czasie dwie Goldlisty, jedną do nauki jezyka i druga do nauki inngo materiału np Fizyki, bilogi ?



    • Tak. jak najbardziej. Mozna uzywac te metode na wszystko, co sie chce uczyc na dlugofalowa pamiec. Zastrzezenie – prosze zwrocic uwage, ze dany material nie moze ulec zmian. Naprzyklad, dla studia prawnego, w ktorym sa czeste zmiany przepisow, metoda gwarantuje ze potem prawnik pamieta lepiej stare paragrafy, niz nowe. To nie jest zbyt korzystnie w tym kontekscie! Dwie, trzy lub kazda ilosc roznych goldlistow mozna prowadziec jednoczesnie, ale wiadomo ze jest tylko 24 godzin w dniu i maksymalnie 6-8 z nich moga byc prowadzone w skutecznej nauce.


  47. Dear Viktor,

    Thank you for sharing the Goldlist Method with us. I’d heard about it from other sources, but the descriptions did not do it justice because they failed to talk about why it works. It was only hearing your own descriptions (e.g. in the vid. of the lecture by Davey in Moscow, and 2 vids by Viktor showing the method with the help of Excel), that I “got” it, and I’m convinced, and now itching to try it.

    I understand the point about building up your passive vocabulary, and being able to activate it later when one gets a chance to go to an immersion setting. That’s really about the speaking side of it which of course is vital. But I also want to improve my writing skills in the TL in which I am currently fairly advanced (German), and also begin to develop some writing skills in the TL at which I’m only a beginner (Danish).

    Obviously the larger one’s vocabularly, the richer (potentially) can one’s writing be, especially if phrases come into the vocab learning, and one keeps up with the grammar as well.

    However, writing is obviously a “productive” skill, and would seem to require an active vocabulary. Do you think the mere act of trying to write (given one is gradually putting vocabulary into LT memory all the time with GL) will help to activate one’s vocabulary? Do you have any particular tips or pointers with regard to the written side of learning/improving a language?

    With many thanks in anticipation.

    Montmorency (Mike).


    • Writing out language which is given is a fairly passive language skill. Synthesising new written language, especially if it supposed to be high style like a poem or even a professional report needs advanced experience with the language, and is as much a product of reading as speaking is a product of hearing. So in order to read confortably we first build up a large passive vocabulary, or we use reading as a means to build up that large passive vocabulary, and then when we read at length in the language the kinds of styles that we wish to produce, and do textual analysis on it more or less wittingly, then we gradually become able to write in that language also.

      One word of caution, though – while when writing one doesn’t hear the “accent” of the speaker, it stays in front of the eyes of the reader and any flaws in grammar stand out more, and you don’t have tools like voice inflexion or body language to carry the understanding. So such texts, when you write them, must be corrected by a native speaker and you’ll find them covered in red pen. That’s normal and a very valuable way of learning. If you like that idea then the best pace on-line to do it is Steve Kaufman’s LingQ, although I’m not certain he has Danish yet.


  48. Hi Viktor!

    Thank you very much for sharing this method with us – it’s exactly what I’d been looking for for quite some time. I’m using GM to improve my vocabulary in German in which I am quite fluent but I feel there are many words which I’d like to put into my active vocabulary. Also, what is a huge problem for me is German verbs with prefixes so I concentrate on them. Now, to explain my way of applying this method:
    – I read German magazines on my ebook reader and underline any words I don’t understand or those that I’d like to be able to use actively when speaking.
    – When I have 20 of them (25 was a little too tiring for me in one sitting), I write them into my bronze book. I always write phrases and collocations, not individual words (e.g. “von seinem Job angeödet”, not just “anöden”, or “ob es als günstige i-Pad-alternativer taugt”, not just “taugen”). This helps me to remember the context I encountered them in and it also makes me feel more in control of these words. (Not sure if that makes sense to others as well :) )
    – I do all the distillations as recommended by you and I must say it works better than I expected! I’m starting to use more and more words from my headlists when speaking German and it just fascinates me. Thank you so much!

    My question is: do you think it advisable to slightly change those phrases in individual distillations? I mean, instead of rewriting always the exactly same phrase, I’d rather change the context a little bit, or turn the inflected form into infinitive so that I learn the word “auferlegen” not just in the phrase “eine Strafe auferlegen” but also as “er legte mir eine Strafe auf”. I’m speaking about German with its prefixes in particular. What do you think? Thanks!



  49. How many goldlist books do you keep at any one time? Is it better to do one (or a few) at a time, or is it good to have many so you can work on the language you feel like working on?


  50. Olivier Boucher

    Hi Mr Huliganov !

    I have been following your Rl 101 and Rl 102 series on youtube and I tumbled across this video of yours speaking about the goldlist method and peeked my interest. I am 17 yeas ols and I speak both French and English fluantly and have somes bases in japanese. As I mentioned, I obvously developed some interest in Russian lately and I bought The New Penguin Russian Course because I heard it was one of the best written sources to learn russian by myself since I live fare from any human teachers. I read some pages since I recieved it and it does a wonderful job at explaining basics, not as neatly as your videos, but still pretty nicely. I also discovered that the is a tremendeous amount of vocabulary given in the book, as much as 30 words per pages.

    So here is my question : I wanted to do the goldlist method and it seems that I’ll have to wait 2 week aevery time I want to advance in the book because alot of the exercises to help me understand the grammar is oft using the vocabulary given in the previous pages. What do you think I should do ? Wait for the goldlist method to make effect and remember the words before attempting any exercises given in the book or just ignoring the vocabulary and trying to understand the grammar anyway ?

    Thank you in advance for your time. I wonder if any e-mail notice will tell me if you ever answer this request, if not, I will try comming to this very adress as much as I can whule pending for your respond.

    Thank you very much ,

    Olivier from Québec, Canada.


    • You can keep on adding in the Headlist, you never have to wait two weeks doing nothing. you just don’t distill the earlier parts of the headlist until they are at least two weeks old. If you like you can go ahead and put the whole book into the headlist and then start distilling it. Or divide the book into quarters.


  51. Hello,

    Not sure if you remember, but you answered a question I posted on one of your videos. This is indeed a great article! I’ve started my first lists and look forward to the results. I have a question concerning the use of this list with the FSI German course. When reading the instructions in the FSI learner’s text, it says to repeat, repeat, repeat, etc… to the point of over-learning. It seems to me that this is activating the short term memory. However, if I don’t follow the instructions, and continue forward at a quicker pace than what is recommended I could finish much quicker. However, I’m worried that I will not learn the grammar well enough.

    So, as of now, I listen to the Audio on the FSI recordings and repeat them. Then, I take sentences from the dialogue and place them into my list. I feel this helps me understand the grammar (akkusativ and Dativ pronouns). Should I continue with the FSI course at a faster rate than it recommends? Or, should I follow the instructions and repeat sentences until they are completely internalized and I can regurgitate them at a moment’s notice.

    Thanks for help!



    • Hi Nick, I think what you are saying underlines the fact that not every language course offering good material also offers a good methodology. If you want to know the best oral method methodologies, you should follow Michel Thomas first and Pimsleur second. But they only give courses that take you a few weeks to a few months to cover. They won’t take you on a long journey into the vocabulary as the goldlist method will. Goldlisting is only a method for long term memorising various sorts of material, but especially written material. So it is a great way to memorise to the long-term language courses, but not so much the oral-only method, as it depends on writing.

      However, even oral method only does need to depend on brainless repetition, which always has the effect of switching on long-term memory. Endless repetition, even on an audio-only course is certainly not the way of Michel Thomas nor of Paul Pimsleur. Therefore I would suggest to you that you don’t waste time on drilling that material in the FSI recordings in the method that they suggest. Just because the material is good, it doesn’t mean the learning approach is efficient.


  52. Hi David,
    Thanks for sharing the goldlist method. I use it, and I like it very much.
    I have made a goldlist template, that may be usable to some. It is to be printed (even though I like having a dedicated notebook as well). If you like the idea, I could make some alternative ones also, allowing for longer sentences, smaller headlists, other paper formats, etc. This one fits on an A4 sheet:



  53. I’ve been using the Goldlist method now for 6 months to revise the Italian I used to know a long time ago. Now I,m processing new material , mostly from novels and a history book. I happened upon a (for me) fun new twist on the Goldlist method, which is that when I’ve written down a new list of words or phrases,and read them through acouple of times, I make up a little nonsense story using as many of the new expressions as possible,writing it down and reading it also a couple of times. The sillier or more incongruous the story, the better. It only takes a couple of minutes and I only do it if I feel like it, but I think it may help memorisation – time will tell.


    • Thanks for that, Frances. It’s not dissimilar to one of my established techniques for combining, which is, if other methods don’t get me to the desired distillation level, I make up a fictional title for a book, chapter, poem or film.


  54. When you goldlist, is the focus exclusively on passive knowledge? I’m especially thinking of grammar. Do you distill something away if you recognize the form, even if you couldn’t recite a given paradigm?


  55. I started my first bronze book last night. You mentioned elsewhere that it works on the same concept as Anki or flashcards. Well, I really like that I don’t need to be at my computer or fumble with a ridiculously tall stack of flashcards. Thanks for sharing this, Victor (& Uncle Davey).


  56. Здравствуйте,

    I’m very much looking forward to using the Goldlist method for my Russian, but have a small query re: the notebooks.

    I’ve been trudging around London’s stationers and artist supply shops and just cannot seem to find any A4 narrow-lined (minimum 40), ± 200 page bound notebooks. I’ve settled for a pad as a temporary measure.

    Any suggestions?

    Большое спасибо!



    • Ok – will answer myself! :0)

      For the initial Bronze book: Moleskine (hardback) Folio Squared Notebook: A4
      – approx 57 lines/squares, so more than adequate – rather pricey (from Amazon), but does the job!

      For subsequent smaller books (TBC): Moleskine (softback) XLarge Squared Notebook

      Hope this helpful


      • Sounds good. I think having good materials helps for those who appreciate them. If someone wants to treat themselves to a Moleskine or a Brunnen for their goldlist book then I think that’s money very well spent. I am using Moleskine for some of mine right now, the only issue is that they are rather thin, but the quality is very pleasing.


  57. Здравствуйте,

    I’m very much looking forward to using the Goldlist method for my Russian, but have a small query re: notebooks.

    I’ve been trudging around London’s stationers and artist supply shops and just cannot seem to find any A4 narrow-lined (minimum 40), ±200 page bound notebooks. I’ve settled for a pad as a temporary measure.

    Any suggestions?

    Большое спасибо!



  58. Thanks for the swift reply.
    So, aside from goldlisting,you recommend buying a course book and just going through it on my own? It’s important to practice reading, no? Isn’t reading comprehension an important part of learning a language? I actually have a pretty decent book at home by Nicholas Collins (I think). Again, the self discipline to sit down and learn on a regular basis is definitely an issue in my case. I know that in terms of speaking Russian with others, you feel that once one is in an immersion environment it comes if one knows the vocabulary..
    I suspect I can probably do this on my own with the exercises in the Collins book and I can always Goldlist the words I learn from there.
    Thanks again


  59. Hi again.
    I’ve been slowing down a bit with my gold listing for lack of time but I still try to get a few lists distilled every week.
    Question: I am nearing the end of my second classroom course in Russian (each course was 92 hours I think). We have learned all 6 of the cases but of course it takes endless repetition to remember when you use which case (and properly). I enjoy the classroom setting and I have an excellent teacher. I’ve already shelled out over $1200 for the courses.
    What do you think? Do you think I should continue on to a more advanced course? Or would it be more productive to just do more Goldlisting. I’m seeing that it takes an incredible amount of self discipline to apply myself to the Goldlisting, especially because I’m only supposed to sit for 20 minutes at a time. What do you think? Should I just continue on my own?
    Thanks for your input.


    • All I can tell you is that you’ve already spent a lot more on learning Russian than I ever did. I have spent maybe that much on Japanese, but then Japanese is a real toughy, and I think the teacher I have gives good value.

      If you need a class to give you the pace then that’s one use of it. Another is the social element. But I can tell you I did not have a class for Russian and you don’t really need one.


  60. The Goldlist Method is fantastic. It efficiently takes care of vocabulary learning, the most time-consuming part of learning any language. What used to be a tedious necessity for applying the grammar is now the most fun and interesting part of the learning process. Language learning will never be the same again. With some time and determination, it’s no problem to learn 10 000 words in less than a year! It’s like a dream come true! It’s so counter-intuitive, yet it makes so much sense! I’m totally in love with the Goldlist Method!

    Is there an equally wonderful method for learning grammar? How do you personally go about that, uncle Davey?


    • I’m delighted to read this. Effectively I do use GL for grammar too, but splitting grammar into four parts. The rules which you can write out, the example paradigms, the example sentences showing syntax and grammar in context, and the irregular aspects linked only to particular words.

      The first three parts can be turned into line items and goldlisted in the usual way and distilled off in the usual way. For a rule you will write it out on one line. An example might be the consonants which can be written double in Spanish, or the “for luck” rule in French. A regular paradigm can be written out spaciously in the headlist and distilled into more compact versions in later distillations, become tables, later tables where the axes are swapped so that they are written longways on, and as usual what you do remember, you simply leave out of the next re-write. The example sentences I think are self explanatory, but in H you might be writing also a line of translation or explanation which might be dropped as early as D1. D2 may have only 1 instead of 2 examples per point, etc.

      In fact grammar usually distils off quite a bit quicker than vocab. Learning the regular parts of grammar is not more than 30% of the task of learning even grammatically loaded languages. For languages with much easier grammar like Chinese but where the whole task is remembering kanjis, tones, and the meanings of combinations, regular grammar itself you might consider to be as little as 5% of the whole task, It depends of course how far you are taking the language, and how grammatically laden the language is.

      If we are talking about Japanese, the amount of grammar taught in most courses is pretty finite, but you can go on and add in all sorts of additional grammar points, such as the keigo uses of the passive voice, as well as modestive and exultative verb trios, lesser known nuances connected with certain particles, or lesser used classifiers that are more correct than hon, mai etc but where you’d easily get away with a less accurate classifier. Add to that some archaic points of older Japanese grammar and you can easily end up knowing four times the grammar that you would actually need on a day to day basis.

      When it comes to the irregular grammar that we still think of as grammar as it involves an irregular genitive or plural are really irregularities occuring on a word by word basis, and therefore just as you see them by the word in the better learners’ dictionaries, so you include them together with the word on Goldlist. You can even have them on separate lines on the headlist, or on the same as you like. Goldlist is a game of solitaire, you play against yourself in the end, and so how you decide questions like this are a matter of individual preference.

      Thanks again for your warm words of recommendation!


      • Thank you for your thorough explanation! You can imagine how spoiled I felt while studying Chinese before going on to goldlist Greek with no clue as to what I should do with the irregular word forms. Once again, the Goldlist makes me feel spoiled for learning so comfortably. Thanks a ton!

        Speaking of being spoiled, it happens every now and then that I remember too much, like the last distillation I did, where 25 headlist words went down to 10 words in D1. It happens very often in silver books, and I guess it is expected, since you’re supposed to know most of them by the end of that anyway. You just go along with the distillations normally, except with shorter lists, right?


        • Yes, if you can go beyond target but know that you didn’t do something like leave less than two weeks, etc, then so much the better. Certainly sometimes the results are worse than that, and it is hard even to get to a modest 25% off without resorting to binding and combining lines. But then all of a sudden on a later distillation you find that the penny has dropped for them and a load of words get remembered at once. The thing is not to worry and just have confidence in the algorithm. It simply has to work.


      • What is the “for luck” rule in French?


        • The rule is that if a word ends in a consonant other than FRLC or K (not that many Native French words would end in K) then it is not pronounced, unless there is elision. From the “for luck” consonants, r is a tricky one. You can hear it at the end of ‘pour’ but not at the end of ‘aller’.


  61. 2 questions:

    1) Sometimes it takes me more than 20min to make a headlist. This happens if I randomly select words to use (usually online) one by one. Having a dictionary decreases the time. So is it ok? Or should I speed up by already having a preselected list?

    2) What do I do if I find on my first distillation that I didn’t remember anything, or maybe only a few words? Should I merge words and learn them together as you said or should I repeat the whole headlist again? I guess I should ask if this has ever happened to you? Has your mind ever been blank when coming to the first distillation? I can see how you would improve on further distillations. The first seems the hardest



    • Dear Mitch,

      I think that in most cases you need to have preselected the material you want to put through the system. If you are sorting out what you actually want to goldlist while doing the goldlist, it’ll add to the time, but that might be fine, as long as you’re comfortable going through your material that way.

      As a generally rule as extra “pass” through any material, rather than trying to do too much with a single “pass”, cannot be faulted.

      As to your second question, you can always combine words from more than one line onto a single line as an alternative to discarding them altogether.

      There are a number of ways of doing this. You can make a phrase, a title for an imaginary book, chapter or poem, you can match words to their opposites or contract the different meetings of similar looking words on one line.


  62. Hello, and thank you for your website.

    Please, I would like to know how you deal with bad pronunciation, I can read and write very well, and even understand everything that someone says, but I can not sound like a native speaker, I am taking accent reduction lessons, but I still think that the actual speaking part is the most complex aspect in learning a foreign language, what is the best way in your opinion to reduce a foreign accent when using your method? Should the person wait until the immersion phase, or start working on it as soon as they begin learning. It’s really costing me a lot of money and time to learn the new sounds.

    Thanks for your help.



    • Dear Corina,

      I suggest the following steps

      1. Check that you don’t have any speech impediments and that you can indeed make all the sounds of the chosen target language. If for example you can’t say “r” with a trill, find my film on youtube “Roll your ‘r’s now, baybee” which seems to have helped a lot of people crack that problem, judging by the comments under the film.

      2. Test whether you are a good voice actor in your own language. It’s no coincidence that someone like Stephen Fry or Rory Bremner are capable of speaking foreign languages with convincing accents when they are good voice actors and impersonators in their native tongue. Can you do other accents of your native tongue?

      3. Further to 2., remember what elements voice acting and impersonating is made up of. Experiment in your own language with the effect of holding your mouth in differnt shapes. holding the tongue further back or further forward in your mouth, raising or lowering the vocal chords and palate, choosing different default resting places for the tongue and lips, creating the shape of the sound further forward in the mouth or further back, considering rhythm, speed, pitch, melody, staccato vs elision, a whole load of things to experiment with, and use your own language as the laboratory.

      4. When you start a new language, before even thinking about reading, writing, and goldlisting, first off do one of the audio courses in full. Be that a Michel Thomas method one or a Pimsleur one. That will give you the feel for the sound of the language and you’ll know what you’re aiming at withut being drawn aside by the way it is written

      5. When dealing with a word in the language, start at the back syllable as they show in Pimsleur, built it forwards. Consider where the stress falls and how heavily it falls, and exercise it slowly at first, building up to a more natural speed. Exaggerate the foreign pronunciation while drilling and you can fall back to something more natural later.

      Whilst the issue of worrying about fluency of speech I would seriously leave until immersion phase, you can and should work on pronunciation from day one, if pronunciation is really something you want to achieve.

      HOWEVER it’s not just pronunciation that makes a linguist. Unless you are planning to be an undercover spy, having a fioreign accent can be a positive advantage. I do the Huliganov lessons in English with heavily accented Russian for a whole bunch of reasons, but one of them is to show that you can have a foreign accent and still be perfectly functional and well understood.


  63. Hey Uncle Davey,

    I just wanted to leave some feedback as I’ve been employing the Goldlist Method to learn German. My first head list is dated September 29th. As of yesterday (November 30), I am up to 800 words in my head list. For verbs, I have been listing the infinitive, perfect, and simple past. For nouns the article, singular noun, and plural noun (fully written out). I know that you advise against covering up one or the other side of the page when distilling the lists, but I have to confess to covering the German and trying to guess the word based on the English. At first I did this to keep myself honest and to see if I was really retaining the words. After I established that I was in fact retaining the words, I continued the practice for no good reason (ha).

    Anyway, I wanted to comment on one aspect of the Goldlist which you’ve mentioned in writing and in the videos which I found to be of great importance. You emphasized writing out the lists in a relaxed, quiet setting. I’ve found that I had a higher rate of retention when distilling lists that I constructed in the quiet of my house compared to those that I constructed while traveling, or when surrounded by distractions. The only times I encountered difficulty in distilling from 25 to 17 was when working on lists constructed under less than ideal circumstances. When watching your videos I underestimated how important environment is to retention. Now I know better!

    Thank you for giving this method to the world. I hope to continue my head list until I run out of pages, and then to start another, and another, and another.


    • Many thanks for this valuable feedback. I think that the unconscious as well as the conscious mind can be subject to distraction by stimuli – even those that we become not conscious of, and maybe even especially them. That’s why a quiet place is essential. Especially damaging to study is having music on in the background for those who claim that they are not distracted by it. If their conscious mind is not registering it, but they feel they need it, then it must be the unconscious mind that is feeding on it and therefore not sampling the material we want it to to the proper degree.

      I believe also that stimulants and other chemicals can effect how well we do, and the best way to study is without such chemicals as caffeine or alcohol coming in. I’ve made real breakthroughs in Japanese since giving up caffeine.


  64. In just moments I am off to the store to find a proper notebook and try out this method, but I have a couple easy questions.

    It makes sense that after the first go on a list of vocabulary, a certain percentage is ingrained in long term memory. I wonder, does it help to go over the list several times, and THEN take the 2+ week break? For instance, 20 minutes writing your list of 25 words, 10 minutes off, 20 minutes studying that list, THEN a long break? What is the effect on what transferred to long term memory?

    What do you think of Rosetta Stone or other immersive language learning methods?

    Thanks! I hope to post again with my success story!



    • It harms this method to go over the list several times. That switches on short-term memory functions. You should do it once, at a leisurely pace so that you enjoy doing it, and then go on to the next page and the next 25 of headlist if you are on the headlist, after a short 10 minute break. If you are using Super Memo then there are different staged repetition lengths because it maps onto Ebbinghaus’s findings whereas I just use those ideas generally and approximate to Ebbinghaus more broadly, but still the effect is the same – you don’t spend longer than you have to long-term memorizing words, and with Super Memo you are bound to a computer whereas with Goldlist you have a more portable system which you can do in the sun or carry in the pocket of your coat. Super Memo gets you there a bit sooner, but that’s the cost, more typing – which is what people do at work all day anyway, and using a pen or pencil becomes for me and many others a welcome break from using a keyboard.


    • And I forgot to respond to your point about Rosetta Stone. I know it has some fans but it is not worth the money in my personal opinion. I do not accept that immersion is a good tool for learning. I believe that passive knowledge building over a long period without immersion followed by real immersion (ie by going there, not kidding yourself with a program) after already acquiring a large passive knowledge by working alone, in order to activate the language, is the more effective means in terms of not wasting time and money.

      There is also less material than you think in a Rosetta Stone course. It will not get you very far.

      Anyway, read up what other polyglots think of it, on Google if you don’t believe me. Among serious polyglots RS has more detractors than fans, it seems to me.


  65. I just thought I’d write a bit about your Goldlist method while I’ve got a few spare minutes. I have just started using it and wonder what your thoughts are on a few issues I have.
    First a little background:

    I had, by chance really, happened upon my own method of learning vocab but without really thinking much about the function or structure . Like yourself I had an instant aversion to the standard mnemonic memory tricks, thinking that I just didn’t need all of that extra baggage to learn simple words. I also didn’t get on with flashcards very well. Since I was getting all of my vocab from reading literature I was looking up a lot of words in order to simply follow the story. This was time consuming and I would frequently realise that I had already looked up a certain word, sometimes several times already, only at the point of once again looking it up.
    This all changed when I purchased a brilliant dictionary for my Iphone which had a ‘favourites’ folder where you could bookmark words for learning later. However I found that I didn’t ‘learn them later’- I simply looked them up again and again. It was much quicker to type half a word than search through the pages of a dictionary and it would also tell me if I had that word already in my favourites list. After about a month or so, I would go through the list of favourites and delete the ones I definitely knew. So, depending on how common the word was, I was, by default almost, using a spaced repetition system, though I knew nothing of this type of system at that time. I found that I was learning the words without trying, just by reading them. And it won’t surprise you to learn that some words would ‘stick’ first time and others took many ‘passes’. There are obviously problems with this rather disorganised method , for instance the slow rate of vocabulary acquisition and the limited source of the vocabulary to name but two.
    So When I found out about your goldlist system I immediately thought of the similarities to what I was doing and thought that it could definitely be an improvement. I agree with you about our relationship with the subconscious long-term memory and that explains why words can simply ’appear’ into my vocabulary without me remembering even remembering having heard them – if that makes sense. My subconscious has ‘sampled’ them from a radio program or somewhere without me realising. I also see the same process occurring with my kids who can grab the strangest words and phrases from seemingly nowhere.

    I have only been using the goldlist for a month or so and so have only done a hand-full of distillations but I was wandering what you thought about a couple of issues I have come across so far:

    If I still get most of my vocabulary from reading literature then I cannot avoid coming across a certain amount of the words again, by accident, before its time to distil, simply by looking them up whilst trying to follow the story.

    I sometimes find that I am very familiar with the word itself but have trouble remembering the translation. This can be exacerbated when I look again at the headlist and remember the word itself very well but not necessarily the meaning. I have ‘sampled’ the word but not the meaning.

    I don’t yet find it easy to remember the genders of words using this method.

    My active vocabulary can only be increased by ‘needing’ to say a word and I still may need to look it up to do this. Therefore, have I really learned the word if I can only recognise it whilst reading?

    I don’t see these questions as problems as such since my goal is increasing the speed of my vocabulary acquisition and that is already working. It was just to find out what you think.

    Also as a separate question: How would you define being fluent in a language.? At what level do you consider yourself fluent? Or is this question relevant at all anyway. I only ask this last question because it’s one I am asked a lot and cannot usually give people a satisfactory answer. I feel it’s a distraction at best. It’s easy to tell when someone is fluent and just as easy to say when someone isn’t. As for the in between?


  66. Back with a question:
    My Russian teacher says that I don’t spend enough time watching Russian news, talking to people in Russian etc. (I actually have other things going on in my life and learning Russian is not what I want to do all day long.) What do you think? I keep telling her that when I “immerse” myself in Russia for a few days, it will all come to me. She doesn’t accept that. What do you think? FYI I attend a 3 hour Russian class one day a week and I spend at least a couple of hours doing various exercises for homework. This is in addition to the goldlisting that I do. I really don’t talk much and my conversational skills are sorely lacking.


    • Of course she doesn’t accept it. Teachers of languages get much much more money out of unwitting students by insisting on wasting their time on pointlessly keeping them active the whole time. These students are encouraged to measure their progress in class by how well they can do performing seal style activities without real measured long-term vocabulary growth. Once you actually have enough vocab to be able to read novels in Russian, it will seriously need only a short time for you to activate the whole of your vocab. You do not need to keep bringing yourself up to a semi-active state repeatedly as doing so involves activities more likely to switch on the short-term than the long-term memory.

      Find out how far any student has ever actually gone with this teacher of yours. Did any achieve a vocabulary of say 3000 or 4000 words under her wing? Or did they just use 1000 words over and over? How many of her students could pick up a Dostoyevskii and read it? If you do goldlisting I guarantee that in the long-term you will know much more than if you spent that time senselessly watching the news or drilling things to the short-term memory just so that you can subjectively feel as if you know them.

      Find out how many of this teacher’s ex students can still speak Russian at will one year after leaving her classes.

      She is doing the same ignorant things which schoolteachers do in their classes, as a result of which in the UK kids leave school having done on average 5 years or more of French for 2 hours or more a week. 5*2*40 is 400 hours. You should be fluent, then, and they come out knowing next to nothing.

      It’s all in the method.


      • I thoroughly agree. Everyone has his own goal and can probably work out for himself what works and what doesn’t. Personally while at school in Brighton, England, which is just across the Channel from France and has good reception of French radio, I learned a great deal of french just by listening to French pop songs most evenings. As a teenager I was well into pop music, so that worked for me. Now (62 years old) I would be more lilkely to approach a new language through You Tube talks,books newspapers all free on the net.

        In short, motivation is all. If you need to take an active approach to the language,find some topic you are passionately interested in and you’ll find loads of like-minded people to discuss it with in your target language on the net. Never forget that language is (mostly) communication, so get out there and communicate rather than going over boring exercises that will probably soon be forgotten.

        I started learning languages at a time when the translation method was much in use, and still find it a great exercise for learning new material in a really difficult text. I doubt if the method is much used nowadays in lessons or textbooks because the learner may get in the habit of translating thoughts instead of trying to express them directly. I think it probably depends on the learner. Anyway to work on a text that seems unintelligable and to come up with a really polished translation can be extremely satisfying and forces you to develop an ear for nuance.


      • Mister Villeneuve

        Hello! I am a public school language teacher myself, and strong believer in the self-teaching approach. I have met scores of highschool graduates not worth a lick in English, after having sat through over 900 hours of English class in their 10 previous years. I would like to add that it is a double challenge to try to teach students to become more independant learners. First because they have been spoon-fed education all their previous school years and will go back to spoon-feeding mode the year after the one they spend with you. And second because you must face the open criticism from collegues (or good old trash talk about you when you are not in the teacher’s lounge), because you supposedly turn obedient and bored students into “rebelious little rascals”.


  67. I noticed that you mentioned that you don’t have a Russian keyboard. Actually, anyone can have one because it is just a definition in the control center of your Windows Operating System. The trick is to get labels for the keyboard cause it’s murder to find the right letters!


    • That’s the point. Of course I can swap the keyboards in Windows, it’s a question of remembering where each of the letters are. Могу, конечно, но достаточно медленно.


      • When I switched to a Dvorak layout, I initially made lables for the keys by cutting off the sticky part of post-in notes. After a few days, I could take them off, because I had started thinking “K means T, L means N” and so on. Now I don’t really think about it, since I don’t look at the keyboard when I type anymore. Maybe you could do the same with the keys that are not self-explanatory? My own Russian input is also not completely intuitive, nor costumizable, so I might do that when I learn Russian and need to type it more often.


  68. Hi Mr James,

    Your GL method has helped me to learn vocabulary. I am a Stanford-Harvard educated MD. You are quite overweight. This can usually be cured. The key is to obtain your energy from complex carbohydrates = with intrinsic fiber such as whole grain cereal, rice & beans, whole grain bread, rolled oats. The best thing to drink is water. Take a look at the river and the lake. What does it contain? Water. That is what animals like humans are designed to drink. To obtain vitamins & minerals, the best source is vegetables > fruits. In general, meat should be avoided as it is always high in fat, even the so called “lean” meats. The book, “Prevent & Reverse Heart Disease” by Esselstyn is excellent. Obesity is strongly associated w/atherosclerosis of the coronary arteries (heart) and carotid arteries (brain). Thus w/heart attack and stroke. Obesity also increases the risk of impotence. Obesity requires the heart to pump blood to a larger body which leads to hypertension. Hypertension increases the risk of stroke and kidney failure. Adipose tissue increases resistance to insulin which overworks the pancreas and greatly increases the risk of type 2 diabetes. Of course, you could take meds for this. However, it is more effective to lose wt. If you follow the guidance of Esselstyn and start to educate yourself on what is truly healthy about food, you will become a lot healthier. The books of Dr McDougall, eg. “Digestive Tune Up” are also helpful. Thank you for inventing the GL method and for teaching me about it. Good luck improving your health. Remember, the key to improving your health is to make it a top priority and to start learning about how diet affects risk of coronary artery disease and obesity etc. Good luck.


    • Many thanks. I will look for the writers and books you’ve recommended. If I may, just a few questions:

      1. What relative importance would you place on exercise, portion control in volume terms and the selection of better nutritional alternatives?

      2. It sounds as if sushi is a quite healthy option from what you have written. Is that so?

      3. Do you subscribe to the idea that sparkling water is less good for you than still water? It’s just that I cannot abide still water but quite like carbonated water.

      Many thanks in advance for your views.


    • Maybe I’ll be able to find some of these in Honolulu in a couple of weeks.


    • Personally, I found the book “Ma gavte la nata” by Pomposius Melanom very helpful in
      dealing with obesity-induced lack of rudeness. Good luck.


    • Hi,
      My comment has nothing to do with the GL method but is just an expression of care

      Mr Anonymous above gave you a low fat advice which some say is totally wrong. The There are other methods which seem counter intuitive at first but proven to work very well (just as your GL method), especially to diabetes patients. I believe that what does you good as a diabetes patient, will also prevent you from becoming one. Perhaps you have already read about the lchf (low carbs high fat) way of eating (I did not write diet for a reason).

      Here is a link if you’re curious. He also a youtube channel.


      • Since Mr Anonymous above gave his comment I followed his advice and it has done me a lot of good. I cannot say I am a strict Vegan since 24th October, but I cut out meat and shellfish altogether, as well as caffeine, and I am down to about 20% of the eggs and dairy that I used before. I started eating many more vegetables, I started cooking. I use Oolong, and rooibos and a lot more water, and have experimented with new vegetables.

        I’ve also reduced the use of processed sugars and oils and I don’t go mad on soya derivatives.

        I still like to eat a lot and I haven’t limited myself on quantities.

        I lost 7 kgs in the three months to the start of February. I started letting chocolate in a bit in Jan – Feb and also the cold weather stopped me from achieving my 5 km a day walking target, so I added back 2 kgs in February, but I have gone back to the previous way now and I am losing again. I look better but feel better out of proportion with the change in weight – I have more tenacity, I don’t feel like a nap in the day, I am more intellectually alert and naturally paced through the day and I feel like getting up and walking around and doing things rather than just clinging to the desk and the computer, as for so many years previously. I even managed to do without my car all winter.

        Dr Atkins, the original author of the idea that you need to get high fat and protein and reduce carbs has enabled people to lose weight. He does so of course by limited calories. Unfortunately what his diet (which is not what our ancestors ate and not what we evolved to eat slash were commanded at the outset to eat) creates slimmer but sicker people. He himself died relatively young from the effects of his dietary principles, and people like Caldwell Esselstyn, John MacDougall, T Colin Campbell and Dean Ornish, whose dietary principles have now been borne out over and over by real scientific research (in the case of the China Study, the single biggest experiment there’s ever been – nutrition’s equivalent of the large Hadron collider, if you will) are all still alive, looking great, running marathons in their seventies and healing President Clinton.

        I’m very indebted to my Anonymous friend above and urge you to take another look at these issues, by reading maybe the China Study, watching Forks over Knives and Eating Part 2, and reading anything by Esselstyn or John MacDougall.

        I am a more vegucated man now, after 4 months of this, and I’m never going back.


        • With all due respect, I suppose that 72 is relatively young by modern standards, but the poor guy did slip on ice and hit his head.

          One thing though (I’m one of those rebels you like :) ), he popularised one version of LCHF, but he didn’t invent it. A really good book that covers the whole gamut and history of diets, from William Banting onwards, is by Gary Taubes. Its original US title was “Good Calories, Bad Calories”. It was published in the UK under the title “The Diet Delusion”. I’m not trying to convert you; I’m happy that you are happy with your way of eating which works for you. But read the book anyway for the interesting scientific history lesson. It’s rather eye-opening. BTW, he is a scientific journalist, and doesn’t claim to be a diet expert or anything, although since writing that book, he’s written another which is a little more “partisan” on the issue. I think the 1st book was the better one.

          Another interesting guy to read (who takes an almost opposite approach actually) is Dr Ray Peat (not an M.D. but physiologist and endocrinologist, researcher and writer). (He’s also a bit of a rebel. :) ).

          With Best Wishes,
          Montmorency (Mike).


  69. Uvajaemyi Victor, spasibo,chto vykroili vremya,chtoby otvetit mne! Prosto,mne neponyatno s chego nachat. Na razvernutoi stranice tetradi,kotoruyu Vy pokazali kak primer, mne neponyatno,pochemu slova imeeyut razlichnuyu numeraciyu: odin stolbik v tysyachah, drugoi 3oo,sleduyushii 500 i tak dalee,otkuda eto beretsya. Izvinite menya ,no ochen hochu ponyat i primenit na dele. Pomogite mne,pojaluista!!!! Hotya by nachalo….. S uv. D.Roza


  70. hi there Dr Huliganov, hope y’all cool o/

    Many thanks for the R rolling you-tube video that led me to your crazy world. I had abandoned my dream of learning another language in despair after failing hopelessly at trills for at least a year. Then your mental video cheered me up, I had another crack at it and now I can sort of trill badly, which is progress enough to convince me it’s doable. So it’s back on, woo!

    Goldlisting looks awesome; I’m all over this idea. Despite eagerly devouring every word I can find on the subject I still have one question. How many words would you recommend as a target for goldlisting prior to activation?

    Finally, aaargh! Now I believe I can do this again I can’t decide which language to start with. I’ve narrowed it down to Polish and German, as I know and meet a lot of cool Poles and my favourite music is mostly in German. If I learn one I’ll definitely learn both, but which to start?!?! Do you have any insights that may indicate the optimal one to start with? If not I’ll flip a coin.

    Many thanks for all your entertaining**, illuminating and inspiring work Doc* You Rule.


    *except the Peter Paczek material which is borderline cruelty, hilarious, but still cruelty :)
    ** You don’t know that you need to see Pancakes of the Opera until you see it and then you do.


    • Nice to hear from you. I think that if you have never tried languages before German would be a gentler experience to start with than Polish. You can graduate to Polish by learning German first. I’m not saying that it’s impossible to learn Polish first, it’s just that if you wanted to end up speaking both, you’d find that you’d done yourself a big favour by taking German first, as the fact of learning concepts like cases and conjugations in a language more similar to English will ease you into it all a bit more. Also you don’t need to trill an r for German unless you want to speak Bavarian. You said your favorite music is in German, but I’m imagining Rammstein rather than mountain yodelling…


  71. Daminova Rosa A.

    Здравствуйте,уважаемый Виктор! Спасибо за Ваш метод! Но,из-за слабости моего английского( изучаю его третий год) я не смогла понять Ваш текст досконально. Не будете ли Вы так добры ответить мне на русском языке,разложив по полочкам,с чего начать и так далее.Очень заинтригована Вашим методом,хочется быстрее взяться за дело.Спасибо.Удачи Вам! С уважением Роза


  72. One more thing. I just went through my book and counted – I have about 1,450 Russian words in my first list book. I am having serious trouble keeping up. Meaning, I keep finding distillations that are dated over 2 months ago! I’m going nuts trying to keep up. I guess this means I should stop compiling new lists and go back and “finish” my old ones. Sheesh. It’s tiring business, this language learning….


    • You don’t need to worry, seriously. It is a new way to learn, and it involves not getting stressed. You are trying to keep up with a class and that is what is stressing you out. You’re also sticking the new wine of the Goldlist into the old wine skins that is the class.

      My Czech head list has 8400 words, and it’s at 8 different phases of distillation as I have over 11 batches in there so far. I am currently distilling words I last wrote 4 and a half months ago for Czech and it’s still fine. The 2 months outer limit is a moveable feast. The lower limit of no less than 2 weeks of not seeing them is the strict one.

      FInding it hard or onerous or stressful will not help you learn, just enjoy the experience and the indpependence it gives you just as you would paint a picture for pleasure or do exercises.

      Hope this helps.



  73. It’s me again. I’ve done 4 distillations on some of my words already. It’s hard to say how much I’ve retained. There are some words on my lists, by the way, that no matter how many times I look at will simply not take up residence in my memory. Very frustrating. But, all in all, I find that the Goldlist method is useful as a COMPLEMENT to my classroom learning. After every class I try to sit down and take all the new vocabulary words I learned and put them into a list. This way, I’m looking at words that I’ve actually USED in class. Anyway, just wanted to leave you a little update.
    Thanks again from your fan in Israel.


    • I think that the way you are using it will help your class, or make more of a success of your class, but it will hamper the method from working to its full advantage as you are also using s/t memory tecvhniques on the same material!


  74. Hi there Mr. Huliganov.

    I’m Spanish and I’m trying to learn Japanese, this language seems complicated using Gold List Method because of the kanji but I have some basic questions because my English skills are not good enough and I don’t understand some points of the method.

    1 – I read people is trying to do huge lists like 600, 1000, 2000.. and that sounds a little scary so, as a beginner in your method, how many words are recommended to familiarize yourself with the method?

    2 – If you are going to do a huge list, suposedly you have to write 25 and then take a short break like 15 minutes, ok, but then you need one week or more to write all the words, right?

    3 – After you create your headlist and let’s say a month later, do you just try to write out the words your remember or you look your list in your language and translate it?

    4 – In your explanation of the steps to Taylor, you did a “new step” which is like creating a new list in the middle of the other one, with new words I guess but when did you started it?how long after the second destilation? and then you do two destilations at the same time? I’m a little confused.

    I hope you can understand my questions because my English skills are just decent, and thanks.


  75. Witam. Zobaczyłem Pana filmy na YouTube o Gold List. Mam kilka pytań.
    1. uczę się już angielskiego jakiś czas i znam wiele słów i czy te słowa też muszę wpisywać do czołowej listy czy już nie, znam je na tyle że ich nie zapomnę?
    2. czy mogę prowadzić równocześnie dwie Gold list jedną z językiem angielskim a drugą niemieckim?
    3.wszystko co mam robić to tylko napisać słówka, odczekać 2 tygodnie sprawdzić które umiem, i przepisać te których ie zapamiętałem? wiem żeby przez 2 tygodnie do nich nie zaglądać ale czy później też się ich nie uczyć tzn. nie powtarzać?
    4. czy jeśli np znajdę w internecie 2000 najczęściej używanych słów w danym języku i te słowa wykorzystam to czy taka ilość pozwoli mi się swobodnie komunikować w danym języku na codzienne potrzeby? 5. lepiej będzie jeśli słówko angielskie będę pisał na zielono a polskie znaczenia na niebiesko czy obydwie kolumny na niebiesko?
    6 jeśli słowo wymawia się inaczej niż pisze to wymowę mam pisać normalnie tak jak słychać czy za pomocą transkrypcji fonetycznej( np. why – łaj)
    czekam na odpowiedź.


    • OK, dziekuje za serdecznie za cierpliwosc, nareszcie sie biore do odpowiedzi na te b. dobre pytania. Przepraszam, jezeli jestem nieformalny i per “ty” mowie, ale jakos mi sie lepiej tak piszy on-line.

      1. Jezeli znasz slowo, nie ma sensu dolaczyc tego do goldlistu. Zaczalbym od poczatku osobiscie tylko gdybym znal albo mniej niz 500 slow, albo mniej niz 10% swojego docelowego slownictwa. Inaczej mozna zrobic cos takiego: wziac slownik angielsko-polski, (badz cokolwiesko-polski dla tych polakow, ktore nie chca sie uczyc angielskiego lecz innego jezyka) i wtedy odnotowac (lepiej liczyc dla siebie anizeli ufac liczbe na okladce ksiazki) liczbe pozycji (slow, czy tam “entries” tak zwane) i lepiej wziac slownik kiszonkowy o jakies 20-30 tysiecy slow w jednym kierunku (ang>pol), nie wiecej.

      Wtedy wez co 17ta strone i co 17ta pozycje (lub co 13. strone i co 13. pozycje albo cokolwiek co bedzie juz z gory nakladany jako algorytm) i napis te slowa – i czy znales to czy nie. Mozna tez prosic kogo innego o pomoc jezeli chcesz byc totalnie objektywnym. Wez ze 100 slow i daj sobie 1 pkt jezeli:

      – znasz conamniej podstawowy zakres znaczen tego slowa, i
      – umialbys to napisac bez bledow ortografycznych
      – znasz gramatyczne warianty typu nieregularnych liczb mnogich oraz czasoe przeslych, itd
      – umialbys to wymowic prawidlowo, napotykajac na to podczas czytania na glos.

      Jezeli nawet jest elementem niepewnosci, lub gdzie myslisz ze to wszystko znasz ale nie czynnie tylko biernie, daj 1 punkt.

      Jezeli mialbys blad ortograficzny, lub nie znasz czegos z podstawowych zakresu znaczen, lub nie umiesz to wymowic, ale cos tam bys pewnie zrozumial z kontekstu daj sobie pol punktu. Innymi slowami 20% do 80% wiedzy slowa to jest pol punkt, 81%-100% wiedzy to jest punkt, a mniej niz 20% jest zero.

      Masz wtedy procent slow w tescie, i rozmnozysz to przez ilosc slow w danym slowniku, to Ci daje wielkosc twojego slownictwa poczatkujacego.

      Kolejny krok jest ustalic cel – do jakie wielkosci slow chcesz zdazyc.

      Wtedy goldlistujesz do 7mej destylacji na headlist o tylu slow, i potem zrobisz jeszcze raz ten sam sprawdzian, i zobaczysz, ze dziala bez problemu. Nie musisz tego rodzaju slow, gdzie dalbys sobie 1 pkt, do systemu.

      I w tym jest caly klucz uzywania goldlistu dla tych ktory uzywaja goldlist do jezykow, dla ktorych istnieje tylko kurs podstawowy, a potem tylko slownik, i dopiero po pewnym czasie by mogli czytac literature.

      Dla tego Goldlist jest metoda nie tylko dla poczatkujacych, ale tez dla “Orlow”, i pasuje do Ciebie!

      2. Mozesz ale odradzilbym uczenia sie jakakolwiek metoda dwoch jezykow z tej samej grupy jednoczesnie, dopoki jeden z tych jezykow nie osiagal 10,000 slow. Wtedy uzywaj kurz napisany dla anglikow aby uczyc sie niemieckiego (lub odwrotnie jezeli znasz wiecej niemieckiego) bo w ten sposob lapiesz latwiej roznicy miedzy tymi jezykami. Zawsze widac na 100 metrow polakow, ktore lekcewazyli te porade, bo mowia rzeczy typu “My brother is doctor” oraz “yesterday I have been to the cinema”. Niemecki potrafi szybciej zniwelizowac twoj angielski niz powiedzmy jezyk arabski badz turecki jednoczesnie, gdzie nie co drugie slowo ma to samo pochodzenie jak jest pomiedzy angielskim a niemieckim.

      3. Najlepiej nie probuj ich zapamietac w ogole w tych systemach tradycyjnie uzywanych. Tylko mniej przyjemnosc z ich wypisania, poznania ich znaczenia i skojarzenia ale jakby b ylo to tylko ciekawosc a nie czescia wielkiego maratonu pamieci. I tak podswiadoma funkcja pamieci zrobi swoje, i duzo skuteczniej niz kiedy sie probujesz swiadomie uzywac pamiec. W sumie czekamy te 2 tygodnie aby te krotkotrwale nauczone czesci juz ida do niepamieci, a to co zostaje mozemy smialo liczyc do zapamietanych i nie napisac ich na nowu. My tu probujemy szukac wlasnie te slowa ktore NIE chodza na jakos do pamieci. Ktora nasza podswiadomosc nie lubi dlugotrwale zapamietac, i to wlasnie szukamy to przez to wielokrotne destylacje lub filtrowanie tak jak prospektorzy szukali zloto powsrod zwiru rzecznego w Alasce. Dlatego nazywa sie to metoda “goldlist”. Nasze osobiste “zloto” jest ta kolekcja slow ktore dla nas sa najtrudniej do automatycznego zapamietania. To bedzie indywidualna kolekcja – lista zlotych slow sasiada moze wygladac totalnie inaczej, bo on ma inna podswiadomosc z innymi glebokimi i nieswiadomymi kojarzeniami.

      4. Zawsze jest dobrym pomyslem zaczynac od najczesciej uzywanych slow, wiec te listy na pewno warto uzywac. W jezyku angielskim 2000 slow daja bardzo duzo. W innych jezykach mniej. Jednak uwazam ze 10,000 slow nawet angielszczyzny sa potrzebne dla uzywania angielskiego do profesjonalnej pracy i zupelnie komortowego radzenia sie w anglojezycznym swiecie. Nikt nie powinien wychodzic z uniwersytetu z diplomem anglisyki moim zdaniem bez 15.000 slow angielskiego. I to wszystko jest jak najbardziej osiagalne, tylko wymaga kilu lat regularnej pracy.

      5. Nie strailbym na to czasu. Jeden z fanow systemu lubi tak robic, i jezeli mu sie podoba, to wtedy warto. Jak nie, to nie. Osobiscie kolory stosuje i radze stosowac tylko do nauki jezykow tonalnych typu chinskiego. Wtedy radze uzywania zielone do pierwszego tonu, blekitne do drugiego, czerwone do trzeciego oraz czarne do czwartego, czyli metoda dr Harolda Goodmana, ale on nie daje koloru do piatego tonu (tzwn “zacisnieta piesc”) wiec do tego uzywam szary olowek.

      6. Rob sobie transkypcji tylko tych slow gdzie nie znasz wymowy. Naprzyklad, powiedzmy, ze trafisz na 2 slowa w jednej sesji: “vehicle” oraz “fleet”. Wieksosc uczacych rozpoznalaby od razu, ze “fleet” bedzie podobny do “feet” (stopy) i nie musi napisac [flijt] w zeszycie. Ale vehicle nie jest zbyt podobny do niczego i wiekszosc uczacych sie nie wie z istniejacego doswiadczenia angielskiej ortografii, ze trzeba mowic “wijekl” ze stresem na pierwsza sylabe i bez wymowienia “h”. Wobec tego napewno warto napisac transkypcje takiego slowa. Ale to nie powinno dotyczyc wiecej niz 20-30% slow, jezeli chodzi o angielskim.

      Mam nadzieje ze to pomoglo, jeszcze raz dzieki za cierpliwosc, bo bylem bardzo zajety ostatnio.


  76. I Like your methurd Mr. Huliganov !


  77. Hi Everyone.
    I just saw a new comment on the blog and it gave me the urge to write in. I have been practicing the Gold List method for a couple of months now, in conjunction with my Russian studies (once a week for 3 hours with a fantastic teacher at the Russian Cultural Center in Tel Aviv) and I think it’s working! I’ve done alot of work already and have even reached my 3rd distillation with some of my lists. It’s working! I’m remembering more and more words. I don’t know if it’s because of the Gold List work or because I have become more familiar with these words from my classes and reading. But I don’t care. It’s easy work – this list making and I am enjoying it.
    Thank you ever so kindly Mr. Huliganov/Uncle Davey for sharing this method with us. I really am enjoying it.


  78. Hi Dr. Huliganov,

    Firstly I’d like to thank you for sharing this method. I’ve been watching your videos and reading on other reviews of your method but I still have some questions. I am already quite advanced in the language I wanna use the goldlist so I would just use it to build up new vocabulary, nothing to do with grammar.

    – How much information can you add in your list. I quite like having the definition rather than the translation (as sometimes the words does not have a direct translation) and some examples. Of course I can’t write a paragraph for every word but I thought of having an example instead of a single word and then either the translation or a short definition. I’d like to know your views on that and how you actually built your lists of the languages you learnt.

    – I’d like some further clarification about the 20min study times. If I am reading(or watching a movie) I can easily read for several minutes without finding new words(depending on the book, of course) so does that count in the 20min or not.
    Plus do you think it is better to write the words down in the list as I find them or instead I should create a pre-list in which I would just store the words that later I’ll goldlist.

    I think that’s all for now.


    PS. When’s your book coming out and how can one get it?


    • Gosh, I seem to have over looked this kind comment by Pol.

      I think the answer is to the first question that you can add all you can comfortably fit on one line of handwriting. Don’t put too much on a line in the headlist, as your lines get longer when distilling using on occasion the technique of coompacting rather than dumping outright known words. If there aren’t enough known words for some reason, it’s possible to make up the number by compacting.

      20 minutes is a good study time for the long term memory. It is not a conscious function, and so therefore we are not aware when it tires. We can only assume it will get tired, and take breaks for it. The memory that we can “feel” getting tired is the conscious memory, and therefore the short-term memory. Hopefully we are working in a way that doesn’t even switch that one on in the first place.

      I think that whether to pre-arrange your headlist depends on the source you are using. If it’s a dictionary, then you don’t need to as your source is in list form. If you are goldlisting words that come up in a conversation lesson, then it could be a good idea.

      Hope this helps, and sorry for omitting you earlier. Thanks to Deena I’ve seen your neglected query now.




  79. Many thanks for the Goldlist method-it certainly deserves to be more widely-known. I have tried on and off over the last 40 years to teach myself Russian, but always came up against the fact that on taking it up again after a time lapse I had to practically start at the beginning again as I had forgotten so much. I have been using the Goldlist method for only 2 months so far, but am getting amazing results- the words seem to pop out of my unconscious sometimes in an eerie way. It takes the drudgery out of language learning and lets you appreciate the way the language works, it’s really fascinating.

    I only wish the Internet and Huliganov had been around when I was younger and learning my other 3 languages. I’d love to hear of other users who have tried this method to learn ancient languages or in
    other fields,like medics memorizing the names of bones or nerves or suchlike.

    απ’την Αθηνα, πολυ ευχαριστω.


    • Hi Frances! Another fantastic letter which I omitted before – I’ve been really busy this Spring and certain things appear to have simply by-passed me – many thanks.

      I’m delighted that you’ve had amazing results using this method after 40 years of drudgery. Well I’m sorry about the 40 years of drudgery, but glad it’s now over for you, and thanks for adding your name to people publicly recommending the method.

      I would like to think of doctors using the method to keep their studies in their heads for life. Whether the stresses of a medical degree even allow them to be so paced in their study I do not know, but there is no harm in doing a gold list even after the degree is over, or for medics to incorporate a Goldlist system for their CPE.

      Nice to read and understand your Greek thanks. Mou agapoun poli ta ellinika alla den exw elliniki keys sto keyboard mou!


  80. I am working on my lists already for the last week and I am now passing the link to this site to my fellow students and teacher from my Russian course.
    I really look forward to getting to my first distillation and seeing what I remember….
    Thanks for all this incredibly interesting information!!
    Dena (Batyaboo)


  81. Hello Victor,

    I saw you on youtube and i will say- I think your method is absolute stunning so thanks lots of helping people.

    But I will have some question: I am learning English but i want to improve it. And the question is about this: when I come back to my head words list and I try my first destilation HOW I MUST to DO IT? HOW to check witch of this word I remember or witch one I don’t remember? Do I have to read 1-25 words from the headlist and then put words on some of the shit of paper which I remember(maybe 10 I wrote) and 15 I should put on my firs destilation on my notebook? I don’t get it, how do I know that I remember maybe 10 from 25 words, what to do? But If you say I should mist my column, whith do I have to mist? In English languge or in my native language?

    I would be extremely grateful if you could answer me giving me a great help

    Yours Sincerely
    Anna Kozłowska


  82. Właśnie Panie Davidzie,
    podpisuję się pod pytaniem Pana Mirka – którą kolumnę zakrywamy a na którą patrzymy destylując listy?

    Mam też swoje pytania:
    1. Czy podczas stosowania Pana metody można równolegle chodzić na kurs językowy, czy to może przeszkadza i źle wpływa na proces zapamiętywania?

    2. Różne formy czasownika w zależności np. od czasu wypisywać oddzielnie jako osobne linie czy w jednej linii?

    3. I ostatnie pytanie. Czy każdego języka uczymy się dokładnie w ten sposób czy może do jakichś ma Pan dodatkowe wskazówki? Dajmy na to np. norweski, bo ten jest w centrum mojego zainteresowania… :)

    Będę wdzięczny za odpowiedź,
    Pozdrawiam – Przemek


  83. Hello,
    1 question. The gold list is activated after 3 days in an immersion environment. This will require correct pronunciation. How do you go about getting this for each word? Do you find audio for each word on your list? I don’t remember doing this as a child. I don’t think I asked someone how to say this for every word I found. I’m missing something.
    Thanks Viktor


    • Mitch,

      This is actually a very good question, so in addition to answering it here I think I’ll also make this answer a fully fledged article on the front page of the blog. I’ll kick it off here and continue on the full article.

      The first thing I will take issue with is your statement “this will require correct pronunciation”. I am not sure what “correct pronunciation” is, all I know is that there are people who mimic native pronunciation better than others and they may sound like better linguists when what they probably are is just better voice actors.

      What you definitely need to have an awareness of is how that word is supposed to sound so that you would be able to say it understandably – without having a native listener confusing what you were trying to say, and to recognise the word when another person says it.

      You don’t need to worry about this mythical holy grail of “correct pronunciation” in the way you’ve formulated it in the question.

      Now for most languages in the world, and surprisingly not for the so-called “easy” language of English, one of two things is true….

      and now I’ve hopefully whet your appetite and I’ll take it forward in the full article.


  84. Witam Pana,
    czy moze ma Pan opisana metode po Polsku ? czy sa roznice w niej w przypadku uczenia sie roznych jezykow ?


  85. just trying to learn easy traveling language/ I adopted two teens from Ukraine…..but they speak Russian maingly. Thanks N


  86. Chomsky’s age of six is indeed a fabricated fantasy, I learned French as my second language, from Polish, at the age of 11-12 and it has become my mother tongue in full, with an above average proficiency at it compared to native kids. Apparently I had lost nothing of this something by then! I had lost any trace of an accent after a year or so, though.

    One question, sir.

    How many head-lists do you think someone can run concurrently (i.e. per day or within two weeks)? Assuming one has free time and motivation.


    • It depends on leaving enough breaks between parts of twenty five. Working for twenty minutes and having a break for ten, that’s two lots of 25 per hour, I wouldn’t do more than 6 hours a day, 30 a week. If you keep that up you’ve done 750 words a week. Allowing 12 weeks a quarter so that you can have time off now and then you would do 9000 words that way a quarter. It takes on average three meetings with a word to memorise it, so with those 9000 words you’d have memorised 3000. That’s a language to O level in a quarter, or four languages to O level in a year done concurrently. But that would mean it’d have to be the main thing you did with your time.


  87. Drogi Davidzie, przypadkowo natrafiłem na film w którym opowiadasz o swoim odkryciu chcę go wykorzystać. Wierzę w skuteczność metody. Mam 50 lat i uczę się angielskiego od kwietnia 2010 metoda Callana.Mam tygodniowo nawet do 12 godzin lekcji. Skończyłem właśnie 8 stage z 11. dużo się nauczyłem potrafię odpowiadać dość szybko, dość dobrze rozumiem gramatykę. Jednak z czasem zapominam słów i mam taką pustkę w głowie że mam wrażenie kiedyś wiedziałem więcej niż obecnie. Jestem momentami bardzo zniechęcony, Mam lekcje indywidualne i sporo mnie to kosztuję. A efektów spodziewałem się lepszych. Bardzo chcę się nauczyć i tylko dlatego jestem zdeterminowany kontynuować naukę. Twój film dał mi nową nadzieję na przyjemniejszą naukę i bardziej skuteczną. Mam pytanie. Kiedy po dwóch tygodniach wrócę do destylacji materiału jak mam ją przeprowadzić. Jak sprawdzać co pamiętam , zasłaniając kolumny ? jeśli tak to którą ze słowem angielskim czy z polskim. Czy też może jeszcze inaczej. Jestem bardzo zdeterminowany, dziś jadę po polecane przez Ciebie książki i zaczynam przyjemną naukę języka. Pozdrawiam Mirek Kyrcz


  88. Taylor Mendelsohn

    Hello Viktor!

    Reading the Goldlist method has gotten me really excited about trying it out, but unfortunately I’m still somewhat confused as how to do that… I guess I just have some very specific questions. Also the first language I would attempt this with is Russian, my current focus. I’m hoping to develop my skills in it as much as possible between now and June 17th, when I’ll be in Tartu, St. Petersburg, and Kiev for three weeks.

    Okay here are my questions,

    A. For my goals would it be better for me to put whole sentences or just words?

    B. And when I do words/sentences, should I put every form? (ex. every form of the verb possible)

    C. Say at the end of 2 weeks I’ve written in the journal 18 times. I have 450 words(or sentences). At the end of those two weeks the only thing I can distill is any work I’ve done on the first day right? The others I have to wait? Should I make sure I don’t glance at those other pages for fear of corrupting my l/t memory with s/t memory?

    D. Assuming the above example I gave is correct… for further distillations I should also make sure I count at least the full 2 weeks out for each next distillation right?

    As a Student with a lot of free time and a love for languages and a goal of going from practically 0 Russian to as fluent Russian as I can possibly manage by June 17th, is there any other advice you could give me?

    Thank you so much! Also, I love the site! I watched the video of you singing, whose name were you saying at the end, was that from the song or some creepy movie??


    Taylor Mendelsohn


    • Many thanks for your questions, Taylor. This also helps me to know where the weak points have been in my explanations to date, and to ensure that the book will cover everything once it finally is ready.

      A: it depends on two things, where you are now with the language and where you want to be. For example, if a person is a beginner in the language, then if they wish to attain proper fluency they should be counting words. Whereas if they only want the language for a holiday, then learning phrasebook phrases might be better. The learner who wants to really advance starts with individual words, and in later distillations makes his own phrases by combining the words once he understands how the grammar works. Or learns the set phrases which are in the material.

      Essentially the gold list doesn’t give you the material – you choose the material from the bookshelf or from pdf torrents and then you use the goldlist to process it into your long-term memory. So the short answer is if you have material that you like which has words, then you are doing words. If it offers phrases, then you’re doing phrases, and if it has a mix, then you just goldlist the mix. That’s the pure answer as far as goldlist is concerned. From a linguistic point of view I refer you to the first part of the answer, but goldlist is the same whichever you do.

      For Russian, I would put every form of a typical 1a verb, like ponimat’ or delat’, and then only conjugate after that in the headlist verbs which don’t follow that model. For 1a verbs, most do. In 1b and 2 conjugations there are many more exceptions, but in fact it’s enough to learn the ya, on, my and oni forms as the second person forms will always be predictable. In later distillations you may be able to get by with fewer. For ovat’ verbs there are few exceptions, so I’d follow the 1a method.

      When you see verbs behaving similar to one you know, you can just write “like ….”

      I’d take a similar approach to nouns. You’d learn a typical inanimate masculine hard stem, a typical inanimate masculine soft stem, a typical animate masculine hard stem, a typical animate masculine soft stem and a typical masculine animate vowel stem (I don’t think there are any inanimate masculine vowel stems) You keep in mind the action of spelling rules on the conjugations, and then after you have conjugated out the standard forms (and you do something similar for the feminine and neuter paradigms – a good book will take you through them) then you only need to write out the full declensions of the nouns which are exceptions. You get most exceptions in masculines. Here you can find exceptions among nounds which have a vocative form, a common partitive genitive form, accented -u locative endings and unusual plurals like druz’ya, synoov’ya. Each of these has a manageable list of common nouns following the exception pattern and I suggest you learn them together. The there is something like put’ which can’t decide whether it’s masculine or feminine, and kofe which looks neuter but is masculine.

      It’s not really an awful lot. Polish has more, but even for Polish the list of exceptions is finite and manageable.

      Once you have the main paradigms in the list in full, you only need to write which ones the remaining nouns are like. Or write nothing if they follow the default pattern for a noun with the given ending. You need of course to note the gender of the noun with soft sign roots as these can be masculine or feminine. Here again the letter before the soft sign gives a strong but not always absolute indication of what the gender is.

      All of the above will be covered thoroughly in the Huliganov RL-103 course, when I finally get to it. The 102 course still needs about ten lessons.

      C: You don’t have to start distilling immediately that two weeks have past. You can leave it longer if you would like to get a good swing at the distillation. Sometimes I’ll take a month or so over the first lot, and maybe do 1000 words, and by the time I have distilled them I can go from start to finish and it’ll take over two weeks so I don’t have to do it piecemeal.

      The key is not doing it earlier, as the risk is you could have a word in the short-term memory and believe it was in the long-term memory, as this is not something you can know without giving yourself a proper chance to forget it. Some words you just don’t forget.

      I don’t say to get anxious about avoiding words in the meantime, the common words you’ll see again and again in your ongoing study, but they’re the ones you almost can’t avoid learning anyway, as they are so frequent. So don’t worry about it, only don’t actively review them as it will defeat the object of the method, which is to increase your “long-term memory/work and time taken” ratio as far as it will go. Which is panning out in my experience as being two or three times as far as using traditional methods.

      D: In each further distillation you are using the self-same incubation period of two weeks. That’s why in practice, in order not to lose momentum, you can either do two lists for two different subject matters (not similar languages, though) or simply use a ‘step system’ which is what I do.

      Let me explain how the step system for Goldlist works:

      The headlist (bronze book top left of a double page) is “H” in my notation.
      The top right of bronze book is D1 (first distillation)
      The bottom right is D2
      The bottom left is D3
      The top left of the silver book (which can be a much thinner book, or you might have one silver book to three or four bronze books) is D4
      The top right of the silver book is D5
      The bottom right is D6,
      etc etc. You get the general idea.

      So I do things in this order:
      a. H 1-1000. (Let’s say that’s a month’s work at my pace. If you’re working faster, then that number will be bigger, but make it a comfortable month’s work)
      b. D1 1-700 (say) from H 1-1000.
      (This usually takes two weeks or three so I’m fine)
      c. H 1001-2000
      (this is a new “step”.
      Now I go to the top of the “staircase” with:)
      d. D2 1-450 (say) from D1 1-700 (say) (was H 1-1000)
      e. D1 701-1400 (say) from H 1001 to 2000
      if you drew a graph of that, it would look like walking down stairs, and now I build an extra step, but I may find I don’t need a full thousand this time, as I have enough buffer. I might start working with shorter base steps, like 800, and later 600, etc
      f. H 2001-2800
      back to the top of the staircase I’m building under myself…
      g. D3 1-300 (say)
      h. D2 451-900 (say)
      i. D1 1401-2100 (say)
      j. H 2801-3400
      That new bottom step was only 600. How short you need to make them depends on your pace. It’s good if you can get through your cycle in two months or you may lose momentum. But I will admit that for Czech I have a three month cycle and it seems to work just fine.

      E. (The next question after D, in your letter. I’m just being pedantic) If you have little Russian now, then quite apart from goldlisting a good grammatical Russian course you could get the Michael Thomas method and the Pimsleur Russian courses. (Your university language lab may have them) both of which are audio only. You can even kick off with them, and take them in that order, MT first, then Pimsleur. They don’t teach writing at all, so you can do your written goldlisted approach concurrently. The effect should be fast learning and a rounded language ability at the end.

      F. There are loads of song videos by me, so I take it you mean the one I just posted on here, the Bob Seger cover, which I finish off by saying “Clarice Clarice”. This is an obscure pop literature reference to the Hannibal Lecter books by Thomas Harris, and the characterization of Lecter by Anthony Hopkins in the films, whose voice I am attempting to impersonate there.

      Good luck with your learning, enjoy it, and let us know how you got on.


      • Taylor Mendelsohn

        Dr. Huliganov,

        Thank you so, so much your your quick and luxurious reply. This has helped me a huge amount! It’s funny you should mention Michel Thomas and Pimsleur, because those audio programs (especially MT) have been my favourites forever. You recommending them makes me feel even better about using them. What would you recommend for Russian grammar courses? I figure I should buy a comprehensive textbook or something.

        Once again, thanks a ton!

        Taylor Mendelsohn


  89. Bonjour,
    Je découvre votre méthode.
    1- Peut on inscrire une phrase dans le cahier à la place d’un mot et de sa traduction ?
    Par exemple je voudrai retenir la formulation suite : “Investors with stronger stomachs might even consider Greek debt. ”

    A/ Est ce que je dois l’écrire en entier dans le cahier ou juste des mots ?
    B/ Dois je inscrire sa traduction en français sur la ligne du dessous ?
    C/ Comment être sûr de retenir de si longues phrases plutôt que des mots ?
    D/ La traduction du mot à coté est elle obligatoire ?
    E/ Mon cahier peut il être rempli de phrases tenant sur 1 ou 2 lignes plutôt que des mots ?

    Merci beaucoup.


    • Dear David,

      Many thanks for your question, which I shall reply to in English since you are studying the language, and it will giev greater utility to other readers coming on this question and answer.

      A. If you already know all the words, then you can write out the phrase. You can also put unknown words from the phrase on separate lines, or break the phrase down into a few words at a time in the head list and then reduce the number of lines in later distillations.

      B. If you fully understand the phrase, there is no utility in translating it into the list. Instead you could make a note highlighting why you found the phrase interesting.

      C. You may be surprised to know that the brain is just as capable of retaining phrases as individual words. How many words in your own language did you learn as part of a set phrase, which often if not always comes to mind when you hear the word? So it is with the foreign language also, when learned correctly.

      D. Not if you already know it. Only if you’re not sure you know it or if it could be a ‘faux ami’.

      E. Sure. Or you can build up phrases from the words you are trying to learn. These can be quite random, or sometimes make good sense. Recently from random Czech words I got the phrase “opanovat se a ovlivit jinych” “to control oneself and to influence others” which seemed quite deep, although it was simply concocted as part of the whole memory game.

      J’espere t’avoir aide un peu, et bonne chance.


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