How should I learn German? Once a week, twice a week, or intensively?
For German learners the problem is not just what to learn, but when and how.
I mean, every learner needs grammar, new words, and lots of conversation and listening.
That’s not the problem!
The real problems are often:
Practicalities. Whenwill I learn? Particulars. Whowill teach me and how? Passion. How to keep learningand not give up!
That’s why if you’re like me – easily distracted and often stressed! – then intensive courses are the way to go. By intensive I mean every day for a while, like a few weeks or a month.
And why is this more effective? Well, instead of half a year of going to a classroom every week – it’s all over in a month! You get more bang for your buck because you learn more, remember more, and you integratemore of what you learn into your daily life.
But here’s the snag. Teaching an intensive course is an art. You’re in the same classroom every day – so the teacher needs to be alert to the personalities in the room, provide variety in the lessons, and find new ways to repeat important information. And that’s not easy!
Setting up games, role plays, pair work,and maintaining ‘the energy in the room’ takes a skilled, experienced teacher. Not only that, but intensive courses require learners to bring something to the class, to talk about themselves, and play an active part in their own learning.
Does that sound like something you want?
If so, and you want to take a Learn-German pillwith us then email firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 030/3983 3993.
We have an A1 German intensive course starting on April 1st for four hours every morning, Monday to Thursday. (You get Friday off …😊)
Do you have trouble with Perfect forms in English? Then this post is for you.
I’m a teacher myself and I see that one problem learners have, from intermediate to advanced, is using Perfect forms correctly.
And keep this quiet … but teachers have problems teaching Perfect forms too!
It’s just not that easy because …
There’s no ONE easy rule for Perfect forms.
People learn Perfect forms as tenses – when they’re not!
Teachers teach ‘perfect tenses’ which people don’t use!
So this post aims to clear up the confusion for English language learners.
Let’s clear up one thing first. The Perfect form is not a tense–which shows a specific time in relation to a speaker – but an aspectwhich focuses on how an action is done, like if it’s complete or not, or if it’s temporary.
English has two tenses, past and present,where the main verb form changes: I eat, you eat, he/ she eats in the present; I eat, you ate in the past. (We form the future using will so it’s not a tense because the main verb stays the same e.g I will go.)
But English also has two aspects: perfect (also called perfective to confuse you) and continuous (also called progressive). The continuous aspect suggests we’re in the middle of an activity (you are reading). The perfect aspect suggests a link between two times, events, or situations. Think of it as juggling times, events or situations and keeping them in the air at the same time.
And juggling is not easy!
Let’s take an example. The present perfect is often used as the opening question at a party, to start a conversation:
Question: Have you been to New York?
By using the present perfect form here (have/ has + past participle) we mean have you been to New York ‘anytime before now’.
We don’t care if you went there last week, last year, or last century!
Get the picture?
However, to answer the question, you’d switch to a past tense to talk about a specific time:
Yes, I went there last year.I had a great time.
So one use of the present perfect – the most common and useful perfect form – is to talk about things ‘anytime before now’.
Some other uses of the present perfect:
1. To talk about things that just happened e.g accidents or unforeseen events:
Oh damn – I’ve dropped a plate!
I’ve lost my keys!
Phil has just called to say he’ll be late!
Here we’re ‘juggling’ the present and something that’s just happened. And we’re focused on the results!
2. To talk about actions or situations that started in the past but continue into the present.
I’ve lived here for ten years.
Here we’re juggling three times: I started living here in the past, I’m living here now, and I’m going to continue living here.
Compare this with the past tense.
I lived here for ten years. (I lived here for ten years before and now I live somewhere else.)
Also, be aware the past tense tends to create a sense of distance between the speaker and the listener, while the perfect tends to bring you closer – because when you use the perfect you’re talking about something that’s important to you now.
A few more things to know about Perfect forms:
You don’t need to know all of them.
When you speak to people in the street, you won’t need past perfect or past perfect continuous as they are very rarely used.
Brits and Yanks use them differently.
Brits use perfect forms more often so it would be normal for an American to ask at a party:
Did you see the new Spike Lee film?(past simple)
Whereas a Brit would say:
Have you seen the new Spike Lee film? (present perfect)
It’s a cultural thing. Don’t sweat it.
Okay. So today I’ve taught youabout Perfect forms. (See, there’s another one … see how useful it is?)
Above you’ll find a video showing five uses of the present perfect, some of which I’ve mentioned. Here’s a short test to give you some practice. (And here’s some advice on how to teach present perfect for any teachers out there.)
If you’re interested, or the company you work for is interested in learning Perfect forms with All on Board, then call 030/3983 3993 or email email@example.com to discuss a course.
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!
One 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?
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.
But hold on. You’re thinking ‘That’s English – what does this have to do with learning German?’
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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’.
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.
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 Synagogeon 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.’
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!
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 …
Berliner Unterwelten takes you under Berlin. If you likeair-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.
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 einergemütlichen 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 email@example.com