Lexinomicon

Lexinomicon presents written exercises meant to accompany the 6th edition of Deutsch: Na klar!, by Di Donato, Clyde, & Vansant. There are additional exercises intended for intermediate students.

This page explains:



Using Lexinomicon most effectively

Some general hints:

  • Keep your sessions short. You won't do yourself any good sitting at the terminal for hours. When you find the drills getting mechanical, do something else for a while.

  • Make your sessions as frequent as possible. Rote learning is like training for an athletic event. It can't be crammed in at the last minute but must be spread out over time, with interludes of something else, including rest.

  • Pay attention to what you are doing. If you find yourself just going through the motions, even if you are producing correct answers, you are wasting your time. Pause to consider what the particular exercise is trying to accomplish. Make sure you know what each word means. Think of what variations would look like.

  • Do not confuse passive understanding with active knowledge. Especially if you have had previous exposure to German, you will be tempted to think that recognizing forms is the same as generating them. It is not. "Oh, I knew that" is not a true statement. Do not move on to another item until you have actually produced the right answer.

To install Lexinomicon on your hard drive

    Go to http://projectsx.dartmouth.edu/lexinomicon/install/install.htm and follow the directions. Please read all of the instructions before losing patience. Note that there is a Trouble-Shooting section below.

    Alternatively, you could download an experimental version of Lexinomicon that does not require installation but simply runs as a free-standing program (although you still need to download the workbooks, as well). It seems to be successful in duplicating all of the relevant features of the installed version. If you do use that version and encounter bugs, please notify your instructor.

How to download the relevant materials (workbooks)

    After you have installed the application Lexinomicon on your hard disk, you are ready to download the associated exercises, in the form of "workbooks." (If you have not yet installed the application itself, go back to Installing Lexinomicon. Do not download the workbooks from that site. They are obsolete. Use the ones below). If you have difficulties, note the Trouble-Shooting section at the end of this page. Please read all of the following before growing impatient.

    You will need to download each chapter as a separate workbook. To do so, use a right click [Windows] or control-click [Macintosh] for each:

    If your browser insists that this is a zip file, that's okay - it is a special form of zip. Simply change the extension to '.lex'.

    If your browser expands things on its own, keep the file ending in '.lex' and delete the expanded folder. Put the downloaded files (which should end in ".lex") in a convenient spot on your hard-drive. Note that you can open them only from inside Lexinomicon. No other application will work.

    Some intermediate-level review exercises are also available (with more on the way). You download them from this page (again: right click [Windows] or ctrl-click [Macintosh]):



How to do the exercises

    Now open the Lexinomicon application itself. It takes some time, so be patient.

    The first time you open Lexinomicon, you'll need to create a profile. Give yourself a name and password. (In the future, you should not need to repeat this step again on the same computer. You can, if you want, import your profile from, or export it to, another computer). The next time you start up Lexinomicon, you'll see see the above, except it will be your name next to the smiley icon. Click on your name to highlight it and enter your password.

    It can take a while - but eventually you'll get the program and be ready to roll.

    The first time that the program window opens, it will not yet have any contents. Go to the "File" menu and select "open." You have, of course, already downloaded the relevant workbooks onto your hard drive (If not, go back to the previous section). Now you have to put each workbook into Lexinomicon. Select, let's say, Kapitel 1 (It will be called "Kapitel1.lex") to import it. The importation process can take quite a long time. It's good to have something else to do while you wait. The good news is, it's a task that you have to do only once (for each workbook). After that, it will always be there (unless you deliberately remove it with "Managing Workbooks).

    After you have done the workbooks for German 1, you'll have something like this:

    From now on, whenever you open Lexinomicon you'll find this same set-up, with your workbooks listed in the left-hand column. You will no longer need to be connected to the internet. If you click on the "Begin" button, you'll be given the first item in the first set of exercises in Einführung.

    By clicking on the arrow (or triangle) next to each workbook, however, you can open up the list of individual exercise groups:

    If you want, you can select a particular set of exercises by clicking on its name. Thus you can pick any place to start, or you can skip ahead or back:

    At this point, the "Continue" button will take you through the individual items within the set - usually randomly. Getting the right answer moves you to the next item. As the next illustration shows, you can also open the list of individual items within the set in order to choose any that you want.

    There are three kinds of exercises:

    1. Fill in the blanks:

    Here, as the instructions tell you, you're asked to fill in the proper form of the verb: in this case, "ist".

    Make sure your cursor is in the blank space and type in your answer. If there is more than one blank to be filled in, you can press the tab key to advance to the next one or else click within that blank.

    2. "Transformations":

    Here you supply a more complete answer, which, as in this illustration, can sometimes be an entire sentence.

    3. Multiple Choice:


    The Evaluation of Your Answers:

    Press "return" or click on "check your answer" to submit what you have written.

    The "Preferences" menu will give you some choices about how you want responses configured. It will, for example, allow you to dispense with those annoying "correct" messages. Go to the Lexinomicon drop-down menu, select Preferences, then Plugins, then uncheck the "Correct answers" and, probably, "Incorrect answers" boxes.

    A wrong answer will prompt a red signal in the progress bar. In the case of fill-in-the-blank question, there will also be a red line in the problem area. Occasionally, but not always, you will get an explanation of why your answer was wrong. Edit your answer and try again. A predetermined number of wrong answers will cause Lexinomicon to give up on this item, invite you to consult the instructor at a later time, and move on to the next question.

    You can ask to see the correct answer by selecting "show answer" in the "Help" menu. In many cases, there's actually more than one right answer, but only one, the most likely one, will be displayed.

    You can adjust the size of the "Instructions" or "Answer" windows.

    Do not simple look at the supplied answer and then move on. Write it yourself. You are only fooling yourself if you think you are getting anything out of just looking at the answer.

    Special characters:

    While Lexinomicon will in a few exercises accept ss instead of ß, it rigorously insists on umlauts. If you are using a Macintosh, it's easy to type ä, ö, or ü: just hit option-u and then the desired vowel. If you want an ß, just type option-s. Windows - of course - makes it much harder to work in languages other than English, especially when you're not using Word (and Lexinomicon doesn't - it's java-based). To learn how to enter German special characters (e.g. umlauts) in Windows, download diacritics.pdf. Or else use the "Special Characters" palette (which should appear automatically, but you may have to select it from the "View" menu):

    Clicking on the desired character will place it where your cursor is located in the answer space.

    When Germans are using a primitive e-mail system or a typewriter without umlauts, they sometimes substitute ae for ä, etc. You do not have that option.

    Note: Lexinomicon is case-sensitive; i.e. it insists on proper capitalization. Your answer may be considered wrong because you have erroneously used lowercase somewhere, including at the beginning of a sentence.

    In most cases, the program is forgiving about inessential punctuation. It normally doesn't matter if you put a period or question mark at the end of a sentence, although a comma is usually not optional. Spaces always count. Your answer may be judged wrong because you left out a space or added an extra one.

Trouble-Shooting: