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.

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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!

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