5 questions to ask your German teacher

5 questions to ask your German teacher

Pens and notebooks out …

coursebooks open …

turn to page 5 …

and grammar.

☹ ☹ ☹


Sound familiar? Well, it doesn’t have to be like this. In fact it shouldn’t be this. I’ll explain why with a short history lesson.

Are you sitting quietly?

Then I’ll begin.


Language learning in the English-speaking world grew out of the study of ancient Latin and Greek.

This meant grammar, conjugating verbs, and translating texts. An approach called the Grammar-Translation method.

Because who needs to speak Latin right?


That changed with something called the Direct Method around the end of the 19th century. Here learners worked with real-life speech. People thought that immersing the learner in the ‘target language’ would lead to proficiency over time.

Obviously, you can see problems here. A ‘sink or swim’ environment of new speech doesn’t automatically lead to learning a language. It can also lead to frustration – as any language learner will know!

5 questions to ask your German teacherOne method to address this was the Audiolingual or Army method, named the U.S. Army’s need for a ‘scientific’ way to learn languages during the Cold War, as mere exposure to Russian was not enough to create a new generation of spies.

 

This approach aimed at developing good habits through repetition or ‘drilling’ of the target language, with mistakes corrected by a sergeant major… I mean a teacher! 

Older readers may remember ‘language labs’ where learners would play tapes and learn a language via headphones. These come directly from the Army method.

But does this look like fun to you?

5 questions to ask your German teacher

Here the problem is: How can you learn to communicate with other people in a new language – by listening to tapes inside a plywood box!


We needed the communicative approach to kickstart language learning. An approach that believed languages are best learned by using the target language in (semi-)realistic situations.

Here the emphasis is on developing communication skills through interaction. That’s why today’s classrooms involve working in pairs or groups, and role plays. 


5 questions to ask your German teacher

But hold on. You’re thinking ‘That’s English – what does this have to do with learning German?’

Well for a while scholars have been developing something called Second Language Acquisition theory or SLA for short.

SLA involves theories for learning all languages not just English. One strand of research is the work of US linguist Stephen Krashen, who came up with several hypotheses. Here’s three and why they’re important for you as a German language learner:

1. Natural Order. There’s a natural order to learning languages which you can’t fast-forward. That means, leider, that you’ll still be making mistakes with Der/ Die/ Das for years to come!

Why is this important? Well, it means the order of grammar points you find in coursebooks is, well, almost meaningless.

Second, it means there’s little point in teachers correcting every tiny mistake a learner makes because a) in the ‘natural order’  of learning a language mistakes are inevitable and b) it can demotivate learners. Which brings me to  …

2. The Affective Filter.  One thing that prevents people learning languages is a mental ‘filter’ which comes up when they feel stressed or anxious. This means it’s really important for learners to have a nurturing environment in the classoom – and not be punished or made to feel stupid! 

3. Comprehensible Input. To learn effectively learners need ‘input’, speech and texts in the target language that is one step above what they know now.

They don’t need to know all the words, just most of them; the words they don’t know they can  guess. It follows from this that teachers should ‘grade’ their language and speak to learners at their level.

It also means that private reading and listening may be one of the best ways to learn!


You can read more about these theories here. But here are the five questions we think you should ask your German teacher, or language school, before you take a class.

1. Do you have a language learning theory behind your approach or teaching?

2. Which teaching methods do you use?

3. What is the content for your course?

4. Can I help decide on the course content ?

5. What are some of the learning activities we will do in class?


That’s all from us. I hope this post helps you choose a teacher or school.

If you want to learn German call 030/3983 3993 or email info@allonboard.de 

While you’re here check out other blog posts and our website.

Apart from that, stay warm and …

Tschüss!

Survive your first German job … and even make fire!

survive your first German job and even make fire

Despite the cold, last Saturday we had a full house at our Smashing the German Job Interview workshop.

And speaking to people there, we discovered that you want more workshops like this: short, focused, and practical. Events that help you negotiate your first steps at work. Workshops that help with that important process of zu der Firma passen or ‘fitting in’.

smashing the german job interview at all on board

So we’ll run ‘Smashing’ again, but have a new idea: Survive your first German job … and even make fire!

This workshop would be longer and include: introductions, formal/ informal phrases for emailing, telephoning phrases, talking in meetings, and small talk strategies.

We think these are useful things to know when you get, and start, your first German job.

But first we need your help. And suggestions!


We want to know a few things. If you could take just five seconds to answer three short questions we’d be very grateful.

powered by Typeform

 

Let us know your thoughts so All on Board can help you survive your first German job … and even make fire!

In the meantime, stay warm.

And tschüss!

BREAKING: The German sense of humour

If life funny in German

Is this the shortest blog post in history? No, it’s not.  There ARE funny Germans believe me.

Let me prove it. You’ve walked around the city, yes? Walk around Mitte and you’ll bump into Tucholskystraße, next to the gorgeous Neue Synagoge  on Oranienburger Straße.

And you’ve perhaps wondered about the name … pronounced too-KHOL-skee. (I know it’s a bit of a tongue-twister …)

Well, Tucholskystraße is named after the Jewish-German writer Kurt Tucholsky. He wrote during the Weimar Republic of the 20s – that heady cocktail of political intrigue and social experiments – watch Babylon Berlin if you don’t believe me! 

Famous for his short, satirical pieces, Tucholsky opposed the rising tide of nationalism and captivated Berliners with his sharp wit:

Die menschliche Dummheit ist international.
Human stupidity is international.

Considering the way things are going, I think he had a point …

Talking about humour in German

So Germans are funny. But do they like jokes? Yes of course! 

One perennial topic is Beamten. You know: inefficient bureaucrats. Those officials that work in the Rathaus (town hall) and other state beehives shuffling bits of paper, having meetings, and filing reports.

Drei in einem Büro und einer arbeitet? Zwei Beamte und ein Ventilator!                             

Three in the office, and one working? Two state officials and a fan!

Did you laugh? Thought you would. To get your German chuckle-muscle moving, here are some words to help you talk about jokes.

starker Humor = good sense of humour
lachen = to laugh
trockener Humor = dry humour
Witze erzählen = to tell jokes
witzig/ lustig = witty/ funny                                    gemein = mean
stumpf = blunt
harmlos = harmless

Now watch this video from Easy German. See if you can pick out all the words. And watch the reactions of Germans to jokes about Germany!

Life in Berlin

Funny, yes? Though not all the jokes were equally appreciated …

So the next time you get annoyed with life in Berlin. whether you’re dealing with a stern-faced shopkeeper or Beamter, shrug it off with a smile and a Witze—because life can be funny in Germany, and Germans can be funny too. There’s even a comedy club in Berlin to prove it!

Finally, what did Kurt Tucholsky say about Berliners?

‘A Berliner isn’t really diligent, just constantly agitated. He has completely forgotten, unfortunately, why we’re here on this earth. Even in heaven—assuming a Berliner could make it to heaven—he would “have things to do” at four.’

In between your things to do I hope you enjoyed this post on German humour. Find us on Twitter, FB or Pinterest. Check out our other blog posts.

And stay warm in the winter chill.

Tschüss!

 

Three sides of Wedding

Three places to visit in Berlin Wedding

Our blog posts on movement and job interviews helped you with your German language skills. This post will help you discover the up-and-coming Berlin district of Wedding.

Because there’s more to life than learning, or struggling to learn German. American writer Mark Twain struggled to learn German himself, saying that some of its words look more like ‘alphabetical processions’.

Such as Unabhängigkeitserklärung = declaration of independence.

Try saying that!


So to begin. When you live in Berlin, you don’t just ‘live in Berlin’. Your home is your Kiez (pronunouced ‘Keets’). Your Kiez is the neighborhood where you eat, shop, meet up with friends. The place that’s hard to leave because it’s where your heart is! Ich wohne in Wedding, am Brüsselerkiez. Wo ist dein Kiez?

So if you live in Wedding, or want to visit, here are three places to check out whether you’re a sport billy, a history buff, or a lazybones like me who likes hanging about in cafes … 

Noch ein Cappuccino, bitte!

1.  Sport   

Although it maybe be cloudy and cold outside, winter is the perfect time to hit the ice rink! And at Müllerstraße 185 in Wedding you’ll find the Erika-Heß-Ice Pavilion. 

There you can skate and glide like an Olympic champion, or hold onto your friends for grim death! You can rent skates there and if it gets  cold outdoors there’s a smaller rink inside as well. Info here

After all that moving you’ll want to relax, perhaps learn some …


2. History

Berliner Unterwelten takes you under Berlin. If you like air-raid shelters, bunkers, and railway tunnels, then book a tour.

The tours they offer include Under the Berlin Wall, Exploring Dark Worlds, and From Flak Towers to Mountains of Debris and they can also guide you in different languages.

The themes are sometimes dark – that’s the attraction of Berlin, right? – but you get to experience the city at a different level in an emotional and humorous way.

Thirsty?


3. Coffee

After all that sport and history you’ll be ready for a coffee. As in every Berlin Kiez you’re spoilt for choice but try Göttlich on Tegeler Str. 23 in Sprengelkiez. (Göttlich literally means ‘divine’.)

This cafe has everything you need: good cakes, great coffee, but most of all einer gemütlichen Atmosphäre.

(One German must-know word is gemütlich = cosy. Think christmas markets, kittens and … err … christmas and you’ve got the meaning.)


So that’s your three sides to the Berlin district of Wedding.  Check these places out and tell us what you found!

And don’t forget to join us in Wedding at Seestraße 27 at All on Board language school for Smashing the German Job Interview on Saturday 26 Jan from 1:00-2:00 pm. Sign up  by the 22nd Jan by emailing us at info@allonboard.de

In the meantime – enjoy your Kiez!

3 Phrases to Smash that German Job Interview!

A few key phrases can help you sound like a Profi and help you get that dream job.

Does your heart sink at the thought of a job interview in German? Well don’t worry … that’s normal.

It’s like writing with your left hand, or drinking coffee from the other side of the cup.

Difficult, right?


But not impossible. A few key phrases can help you sound like a Profi and help you get that dream job. (A Profi is a professional. And that’s what we are, right?)

But first here are words to avoid, because they’re over-used and altmodisch (old-fashioned).

  • zuverlässig (reliable) 
  • ordentlich (respectable, neat and tidy)
  • ehrgeizig (ambitious)

I’ll prove it. Watch the video. Can you hear the words?


Instead here are three real phrases that people really use in interviews, and they respond to three real questions you might be asked.

1. Tell us about yourself. Erzählen Sie uns etwas über sich.

Ich lege viel Wert auf Kreativität in meiner Arbeit, zum Beispiel = I place great value on creativity in my work. For example …

2. Why do you want to work here? Warum wollen Sie in unserer Firma arbeiten?

Ich hätte gern eine Stelle, bei der ich mich persönlich entwickeln kann = I really want a job where I can develop myself personally.

3. What skills can you bring to our company? Welche Fähigkeiten bringen Sie mit?

Ich bin fähig Websiten zu erstellen = I’m competent/ skilled in creating websites.

 


So there’s three phrases to help you! If you find them useful please share the blog with others.

Smashing the German Job Interview! – our free event will give you more useful phrases. It’s on Saturday 26 Jan from 1 to 2pm at All on Board school, Seestraße 27 in Wedding.

You can socialise, meet others, do some networking and learn to SMASH that German job interview and get that dream job.

To book a place call 030/3983 3993 or simply email info@allonboard.de 

But remember. Sign up by 22nd January to be sure of a place.

Tschüss!

3½ ways to talk about MOVEMENT in German

moving through the city with ease
Markus Binzegger via Flickr (colourized) CC 2.0

Why are you here? I don’t mean why are we all here—I’m not a philosopher. I mean why are you here, in Berlin?

What brought you here? Was it work? Study? Or perhaps romance brought you here?

Aha. That’s interesting. I didn’t know people came here for that.


Well. Whatever brought you here I hope you’re finding your feet, your Berlin and getting settled.

I’m sure you know how to get around by now. Moving by U-Bahn, tram, by bike or on foot, the city is a metropolis of movement. 

I didn’t know people came here for that.

More than other cities, Berlin is easy to get around.

So here’s your first tip.

1. Wie sagt man ‘movement’? Bewegung is movement. It can be physical movement or an organisation or association. (Like the scout movement Pfadfinderbewegung.) 

And don’t forget the protest movement Protestbewegung

Which Berlin is famous for! 

Now you’re wondering what I’m doing here. Well I’ll be giving you essential tips on surviving and thriving in Berlin.

Stuff like smashing a job interview, finding a tandem partner, and finding a school to help you learn German.  

All for free. 


On that note … I’d like to invite you to our free Smashing the German Job interview! event on Saturday, January 26, 2019, at All on Board school, Seestraße 27 in Wedding!

You’ll meet the staff, learn some useful vocabulary, and do some fun activities.

You’ll be greeted at the door and we’ll explain how to improve your German in a nice environment—with us!


But back to movement. If you’re relatively new here I bet you’ve moved house, with all those boxes, getting lost, and walking up to those Altbauwohnungen.

moving house in Berlin
Forrest Wheatey via Flickr. CC 2.0. Credit Fantastic Removals

So here’s your second and third tip.

2. Wie sagt man ‘move house’ auf Deutsch?

To move house = umziehen

We had to move house when I got a new job. Als ich eine neue Stelle bekam, mussten wir umziehen.

***But careful! Sich umziehen means to change clothes.

Entschuldige, ich muss mich umziehen = Excuse me, I must get changed.***

3. How do you say ‘to be moved’ by something in German? Remember that word Bewegung? That was the noun. We use the verb in a similar way to English.

I was moved by the film = Der Film hat mich bewegt


So that’s your three ways to talk about movement in German. Oh I forgot—what about the half?

Well, if you’re like me, then one consequence of moving is the arguments that sometimes erupt …

So I don’t wish an argument on you—but here are the essential words in German, just in case!

. Wie sagt man ‘to have an argument’?  Einen Streit haben

Example: Wie oft streitet ihr? How often do you (pl.) argue?

Answer: Wir streiten uns nie! We never argue!

You never argue … really? Not even at IKEA? 


Well that’s all. I’ve given you some essential phrases to talk about movement and moving house.

Remember to book a German course call us on 030/3983 3993 or email us at info@allonboard.de

Check out our website. And keep your diary free for Saturday, January 26, 2019 – Smashing the German Job interview!

Stay warm and keep moving …

Tschüss!


Photo credit:
Free image Subway train
torange.biz CC 4.0