LingQ German Grammar Pack Prototype

Tuesday, 20 October 2020 | Graphic Design

I have made a 'grammar pack' for the German language based on the grammar guide at LingQ. The pack consists of three things. They are:

You can download them all using the link at the end of this announcement. I must stress here, though, this pack is a prototype. So, you should expect spelling errors, alignment problems and other unforeseen mistakes.

Before getting too far in to this announcement, I though it would be a good idea to explain what/who LingQ is/are. With that said, I don't want to put words into their month. So, here is how LingQ describe themselves,

LingQ is a fun, simple way to learn languages from authentic, interesting content. Learning the language from the language itself, just as most children learn their own language.

If you would like to know more about them, there is a link at the bottom which will take you to their website. Also, I am not associated with them in any way. I'm a customer and nothing more.

I decided to make this collection of 'toys' for two reasons. The first is because I haven't done a graphic design project in a long time which was getting to me. The second one is because I wanted a way to exposed myself to the (German) grammar rules in a passive way (for now). If you haven't guessed yet, I'm using LingQ to learn German. So, I will need to know how the grammar works if I want to reach a reasonable level. (I new to LingQ so I don't know if it'll stick -- see me in five years time.)

As I stated above, this version of the grammar pack is a prototype -- the second prototype actually. Because of this, I've based the designs on what I need/want with the hardware/tools available to me. So, the wallpapers might not sit well on your screen, the front cover/book might be unprintable.

Last of all, I intend to stop active work on this project for the time being. That is unless there is a lot of feedback from people (on LingQ's forum most likely). This is because I would like to let what I have made settle and see what sticks before refining it.

Why I Published These Files

The simple answer is because I thought it might give people ideas or act as a starting point at least. What I've made will not be to everyones taste but it might be what they need to get going if not.

The Book

Grammar Pack book example 1
LingQ Grammar Guide Book 1.

On LingQ's website, they have a grammar guide alongside the languages they offer (German in my case). So, I've taken the German guide and arranged it into a book (for myself first and foremost). I did this because I don't like sitting at my computer all the time for reading. And, you can't draw on the screen and make notes like you can with a book. This meant I was relunctant to head over to that part of LingQ's website and make my way through the guide. Now, I leave the book on the table in the living room and have a quick glance at it whilst having a coffee. I don't need to grab my computer, wait for the browser to start and then the page -- which also put me off reading the guide.

The book itself is A5 and about forty sides (twenty pages) long -- when printed, folded and stapled together. The layout of the text means you will need a double-sided A4 printer. If you haven't got one, you can print all the odd pages first and then print all the even pages on the reverse-side. Unfortunately, each printer is different so you might need to play around with yours. I printed mine on 80 gsm cartridge paper. The finish is not the best but it's good enough.

Grammar Pack book example 2
LingQ Grammar Guide Book 2.

When you have everything printed, you will need to bind it. I did this using a long-arm stapler. There are other ways you can bind it but that is something beyond the scope of this announcement. Instead, I will leave a link at the bottom for a quick guide, by WikiHow, to get you started. Like I said earlier, at the moment, I've focused this prototype on my needs. Depending on feedback, this might expand.  

The front cover is a novel feature. You don't need it but the book does feel fancy with it. To print it, you will need an A3 printer. If you don't have one, you can print the first page of the book on some card or leave it out. The content in the book is the most important thing. I printed my front cover on 250 gsm glossy photo paper which made it quite sturdy and the text is sharp. With that said, feel free to use whatever paper you prefer.

Grammar Pack book cover
LingQ Grammar Guide Book Cover.

I will end this section by saying the front cover is not my finest work. It's very rough and the trimmarks are a little under 10 mm off -- even when printed at 100% scale. I did this because it's a prototype and wanted some wriggle-room and my maths is rubbish. For a nice (nicer) finish, trim the bound book (including the front cover) on a (good) guillotine. Also, make sure the printer is not set to 'fit to page', it must be '100%'.

Playing Cards

The cards are nothing more than a reduced version of the book. Some of the cards will not make sense unless you've read the book/actual grammar guide. My intention with these was to have a way to expose the grammar guide to me in a passive manner. I can't read the book all the time and I won't have the book with me at all times, either. To help with that, I've been sticking the cards to my computer screens and using them as bookmarks. Which, in-turn, does two things. The first is they keep the idea of learning German in my day-to-day thinking and the second is I will want to read the book. The reason why I will want to read the book is because the cards don't contain enough information. They don't make sense unless I have enough of a grounding in the rules they refer to. Which means I need to go back to book because the missing information will annoy me.

Grammar Pack playing cards
Printed playcards which I've laminated.

The design of the cards allows you to have a front and a back if you want. This is easier if you have a (A4) printer which does double-sided printing but it's not essential. I've marked all the front-facing designs with an 'a' and the back-facing ones with 'b' in the filenames. So, 'lingq-printing-sheet-1a-p2.png' is the front and 'lingq-printing-sheet-1b-p2.png' is the back. If you can't do a double-sided print, print the 'a' sides first and then flip them around and print the 'b' sides on the back. You will find they don't line up as well but they should be close enough for you to use them.

My intent for the 'a' sides is obvious. With the 'b' sides, though, I'm still unsure of the purpose of them. On the one hand, you can use the back-side as a place to add your own notes. On the other, you can make the cards double-up as 'renew-able post-it notes'. If you laminate them, like I did, it becomes very easy to leave a note on them and wipe it way when you no longer need said note. That's after you've learnt the rule on the front, of course.

I printed my cards on 160 gsm matt card and laminated them with pouches 60 micron thick. I did a few tests using thicker paper and laminate pouches and they are more robust. With that said, my current set-up is fine. They don't feel like they're going to fall apart any time soon.

Desktop Wallpapers/Backgrounds

Grammar Pack Wallpaper Example
An example of how the desktop wallpapers look.

As an aside, 'wallpaper' and 'background' are interchangeable terms at this point. So, if desktop 'wallpaper' makes no sense, replace it with 'background'.

The wallpaper designs are an extension of the playing cards. They are another way for me to expose myself to the German language and its rules in a passive manner. I tend to set my desktop wallpaper up as a slideshow which changes every 30 minutes.

I say again, this is a prototype focused on my needs and wants. Because of this, the set of wallpapers I've created are all in one size (2560x1440 px). This is the screensize I use the most so I made sure the designs fit that the best. Again, depending on feedback, the range of sizes might expand. I've found, though, if you set your wallpaper to 'scaled', they should look ok (on widescreens). Unfortunately, each operating system has a different way of setting their wallpapers. So, I'm gonna have to leave you hanging with regards to showing you how to change you wallpaper.

Lockscreens and Mobile

You will notice the pack doesn't include a 'mobile' version for the wallpapers. This is because I don't use my phone much beyond the essentials and I tend to work on and prefer desktops. So, I haven't bothered making versions for it.

When it comes to lockscreens, I have found my Linux computer is fine using the desktop wallpapers. My windows tablet, though, works best when I use the image with only the blue background (no 'cards'). I haven't tried this with a Mac so I don't know if it'll work or what's best/good. As each operating system is different, I'm gonna have to leave you hanging on this, as well. Sorry...

Why Only .PNG and .PDF Files and No 'Working' Files

All the files in the 'grammar pack' (link below) come in the formats they are because the working files are very rough. I didn't want you trying to unravel the chaotic layers and linked file/missing font errors. Again, if enough people show an interest, I will look to expanding what I've shared. For now, though, it feels like extra work.

File Breakdown

The grammar pack comes as a .zip file so you need to unzip it after you've downloaded it. This should be a case of right-clicking on the file and selecting something along the lines of '7-Zip -> Extract Here'. Again, each operating system is different in this regard so, if you're unsure, you might need to look-up how to do it.

As an aside, I should point out here the .zip file is about 30MB in size. The reason why is because I haven't worried about optimising the designs/files yet. I didn't think it was worth it at this stage of the design process.

After you have unzipped the file, you will find the following file structure,

lingq-german-p2
├── wallpapers
│   ├── desktop-wallpaper-p2-4-verb-tenses.png
│   ├── desktop-wallpaper-p2-4-understanding-cases.png
│   ├── desktop-wallpaper-p2-4-subjunctive.png
│   ├── desktop-wallpaper-p2-4-seperable-and-inseperable-prefix-verbs.png
│   ├── desktop-wallpaper-p2-4-relative-pronouns.png
│   ├── desktop-wallpaper-p2-4-prepositions.png
│   ├── desktop-wallpaper-p2-4-passive-voice.png
│   ├── desktop-wallpaper-p2-4-numbers.png
│   ├── desktop-wallpaper-p2-4-nouns.png
│   ├── desktop-wallpaper-p2-4-nouns-gender.png
│   ├── desktop-wallpaper-p2-4-intro-to-verbs.png
│   ├── desktop-wallpaper-p2-4-constructing-sentences.png
│   ├── desktop-wallpaper-p2-4-conditions-and-imperatives.png
│   ├── desktop-wallpaper-p2-4-articles.png
│   ├── desktop-wallpaper-p2-4-adjectives.png
│   ├── desktop-wallpaper-base-p2-3.png
│   ├── desktop-wallpaper-base-p2-2.png
│   └── desktop-wallpaper-base-p2-1.png
├── playing-cards
│   ├── lingq-printing-sheet-5b-p2.png
│   ├── lingq-printing-sheet-5a-p2.png
│   ├── lingq-printing-sheet-4b-p2.png
│   ├── lingq-printing-sheet-4a-p2.png
│   ├── lingq-printing-sheet-3b-p2.png
│   ├── lingq-printing-sheet-3a-p2.png
│   ├── lingq-printing-sheet-2b-p2.png
│   ├── lingq-printing-sheet-2a-p2.png
│   ├── lingq-printing-sheet-1b-p2.png
│   └── lingq-printing-sheet-1a-p2.png
└── book
    ├── lingq-german-grammar-guide-p2.3.pdf
    ├── lingq-german-grammar-guide-p2.3-1.pdf (for single-sided printing)
    └── lingq-german-grammar-guide-front-cover-p2.1.png

Within 'lingq-german-p2', there are three folders:

Within those folders are the files relating to those 'mini-projects'. At this point, it is a case of opening the files and seeing what's in there.

If you're struggling with any of the above, I've created a thread in LingQ's forums. So, feel free to head over to that and ask any questions you have. The link (like the rest of them) is below.

I'm Sure I've Forgot Something

I've tried to include as much information as I can without you getting bogged down in an little announcement which turned into a novel. With that said, I'm sure somethings won't make sense because I've forgot to add that crucial piece of information which brings everything together. If that's the case, hopefully the discussion on LingQ's forum will pick up the slack.

Last of all, I can't stress this enough: the designs included here are all prototypes. And, more importantly, they are aimed at solving my goals first-and-foremost. The people I expect to find the most use from everything listed above are people who like to tinker and make things. I wouldn't be surprised if people used these files as nothing more than a starting-point for their own projects. Everything included here is incomplete and requires you to have reasonable computer skills. The designs are not 'finished products'. With that said, I don't want to discourage people from wanting to learn and make things. So, if you're wanting to improve your computer/design/making skills, I think this is a good project to try your hand at.

Links

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