how to learn german grammar learning the German language

Tips to learn German Fast: Work with Intelligent German Grammar Exercises

learnclick is a platform to create German learning exercises which we have implemented in our German online course

Learn to use German in context with quizzes

The key to learning a language is context. Learning in context gives meaning to the vocabulary and grammar one learns. If you just learn vocabulary by using lists, you are likely to use the words wrongly. Grammar often only starts making sense, when seeing it used in example sentences. Learning vocabulary as part of a sentence, helps with connecting new words with words you already know. But German grammar exercises need to be carefully thought through and well designed.

One way to learn with context are cloze tasks. They can be effective in increasing recall. When filling out gaps one has to consider the meanings of words. Once the meaning of the word is involved a different level of learning is engaged. Cloze tasks add a deeper level of processing because they embed the words in a particular context. Completing them will expose you to actual language usage.

When does one say zahlen rather than bezahlen? What’s the difference of können and dürfen? How about bringen and holen? If you check the dictionary, both of them essentially mean „to bring” or „to get”, the differences are subtle. All these differences are mostly based on context.

Using the wrong words can be quite embarrassing or the very least confusing. Read for instance this article on Seven English words Germans get hilariously wrong.

At smarterGerman we make use of  Learnclick for creating cloze quizzes. Learnclick is a great tool for asking questions in context. Check out our interactive exercises for Lesson 01. When you hover over the i-icon, you will get a tip of what you have to enter into the gap. For instance, you will need to ponder which verb to use and how to conjugate it. Other exercises give you options as a dropdown list and you have to choose the correct German translation for a sentence. If you’re stuck, click on the button „I give up! Show me the answer(s)“.

Do you find yourself always making the same mistakes? Why don’t you try our German grammar exercises for free? You can access them in lesson one of our Everyday German online course here.

In summary, when learning a new word or grammar point try to understand the context and practice using it yourself more often.

learnclick is a platform to create German learning exercises which we have implemented in our German online course
bureaucracy Culture education german language german politics learning the German language Living in germany residency

Germans obliged to take integration test – Re-education upon failure

Germans will be obliged to take integration test – Re-education upon failure

Germans obliged to take integration test - Re-education upon failure
(c) EvgeniT via Pixabay

 

Today, the German office for migration and refugees (BAMF) published a report which admitted a partial failure of their current approach of teaching migrants and refugees the German language and culture via so-called Integration Courses (Integrationskurs). Yet the problem doesn’t lie on the side of the migrants, but rather on the side of the culture they seek to integrate in.

 

90% of Germans would fail an integration test

“Those who have created these integration courses especially the part where participants are supposed to learn about the German culture, social life, history and politics must have lived in a different Germany that anyone we interviewed. We asked about 2000 Germans the same questions course participants have to answer and 90% would have failed that same test,” said the head of intercultural studies at Viadrina University Frankfurt Oder, Prof. Dr. Hans Deutschendorf. “It almost sounds like an April Fool’s Joke,” he continues, “but we simply can’t ignore the evidence any longer.”
Ironically about 92% of the migrants pass that test (see official statistics of the BAMF here).
As a consequence the BAMF in cooperation with the ESF (European Social Fund) have worked out a new approach to optimize the integration process: All Germans citizens (18 and above) will be obliged to take the same integration test migrants have to take.

“We can’t have a situations where migrants end up to be the better Germans,” states Dr. Willer Nixsagsehör of the BAMF. It’s time the citizens of this country brush up their knowledge about the culture they expect others to learn about.

 

Political and Social Re-Education of Native Germans

Those who fail the test, will be obliged to spend 100 hours in so-called re-integration processes (Re-Integrationsprozess or short: RIP). That’s how many classroom-hours current integration course participants have to spend to learn everything relevant about the German culture therefore it should be more than enough for native Germans. Those courses can be taken in the evenings or on the weekends after work hours and will last between 3-6 months.

 

Proper Language trainings

It has become also blatantly obvious that High German, the language that is being taught in current integration courses and that ironically is even being used to teach German in those courses, is only spoken by about 3,14% of the German population (that’s pretty exactly the exact number of citizens of Hannover the capital of Lower Saxony). Though through some miraculous circumstance most Germans understand each other even in extreme situations (check this seemingly miraculous example of inter-dialectal communication) it would be humanly impossible for anyone to learn all 250 remaining German dialects. The new initiative therefore aims at making regular High German training obligatory for those who fail their High German oral exam which will be conducted via various institutions like the Goethe Institut or the Volkshochschulen over the coming ten years with all German citizens born after 1945. Participants will be randomly assigned to their exams so some Germans might still have a couple of years before they will have to face re-education. “We hope that everyone will take matters into their own hands and start brushing up on their language skills voluntarily.”

 

Heavy support from the EU

While the budget of approximately 600 billion EUR (that’s approximately 1000 EUR per German citizen) for the next ten years might seem steep at first glance, the economical benefit of a better integration on both sides and of fewer language related issues among Germans themselves will soon make up for this investment. The European Union is also heavily funding this project with 75% of the costs which is no surprise as Germany is the EU’s strongest link.

 

Similar consequences as for migrants

Those who fail their re-integration process, will have to face grave consequences e.g. loss of voting rights and continuous re-education until passing the test. “In a democracy we can’t have people vote, who have no clue why and what they actually vote for.”, says Prof. Deutschendorf. He continues: “We also think that the Germans will become more empathetic with migrants that had and still have to go through the same experience, especially when they realize how irrelevant this kind of knowledge actually is and when they are subsequently threatened with harsh consequences.”

Currently integration course participants might face shortenings of their already rather limited state welfare or non-prolongation of their right to stay.

 

Merkel welcomes new approach

Woman chancellor Merkel welcomes this initiative and, setting a good example, is already participating in one of the first model re-integration courses herself together with her favorite party member Horst Seehofer of the CSU, hoping to pass her test by the end of her current term. “I wouldn’t bet my house on Horst passing though”, Merkel said only half-jokingly.

Beam of hope for German citizens

We at smarterGerman are already developing a course for German natives to help them pass their Integrationstest with flying colors and to become better citizens of this beautiful Merkelocracy. How is your German today? Can you already answer the following questions from the final test of current integration courses? Give it a try. The questions are in German of course.

TEST: COULD YOU INTEGRATE INTO THE GERMAN CULTURE (CLICK HERE)?

 

 

Germans obliged to take integration test - Re-education upon failure
learning the German language

How Watching the movie Arrival can make you a better German Learner

I watched Arrival together with my 15 year old son, whose attention span is even worse than mine. We both were captivated by the wonderfully written story about humans trying to communicate with aliens who visited earth. Throughout the movie the humans try to figure out what the aliens’ intentions are by trying to establish some form of communication. If you want a more detailed description of the plot I can only recommend Wikipedia or even better, just watch the movie. The main focus of Arrival lies on linguist Louise Banks.

Show and Tell

Louise approaches her task to establish a form of communication first by trying to understand the spoken language of the Heptapods but soon realizes that that would take too long. So she decides to learn their language with help of written language and initially a show and tell approach. She finds out that the written language of the Heptapods is not a phonetical representation of their language. Linguist Betty Birner compares this with Chinese. You should read her interview after this article (link at the bottom).

Im Zweifel für den Angeklagten – Benefit of the Doubt

It takes a couple of months until Louise gains a basic understanding of the new language but at one point things turn around. This is when the Heptapods use the word “(offer us) weapon” as an answer to “Why are you here?”.

I don’t want to spoil the movie for you so I leave it at mentioning that Louise is warning the military, which is of course now even more alert, to come to quick conclusions as they are not yet certain whether both species have the same understanding of this word.
An approach I usually recommend when you are in a foreign culture and feel offended or notice that someone is offended by what you have just said is not to take things personal unless you are absolutely sure they are meant that way. And to also keep in mind that people who don’t know you well usually do not abuse you without reason. If they do, it’s also rather their problem, not yours. I wish I didn’t have to gain this insight the hard way.

Language is not as Deterministic as one Might Think

While the language hypothesis that underlies this movie, namely that language determines your view and perception of the world and even the perception of time, is not very scientific (after all Arrival is a Science Fiction movie – see also interview with Betty Birner below), after more than 10.000 hrs of teaching German to over a thousand human beings from all over the planet, I fully agree with at least one conclusion of the movie: that knowing a foreign language can be a gift. And it’s not only a gift for you.

A new Language is a Gift

It’s a gift in several ways. Above all when you start learning German, you will get to know the real you. The part of you that is hidden behind your mother tongue. Without any (or almost no) means to express yourself, what’s left is who you really are. For most of us this feels very uncomfortable for a long time.

The Secret of good Language Learners

With growing knowledge of German you will build up a extended identity of yourself step by step. It is almost like taking yourself apart and putting yourself together again. This sounds worse than it is. It can be very exciting if you accept this instead of fighting it.
And therein lies the secret of good language learners. They do not identify with what they can not express but with what they are able to communicate no matter how little it seems.

Knowing their Language Alone won’t make you Understand the Germans

In contrast to Arrival’s fictional deterministic assumption, knowing the German language alone won’t really give you any significant information about how Germans think and feel. For that you’d have to actually experience their culture and behaviour over a longer period of time and you’d have to analyse and compare it with your own culture and behaviour. And what a gift this is because it is like looking into a mirror of truth, in which we can see our true selves.
A good starting point to take a safe look at the German culture is the book “Doing Business with Germans”  which presents several incidents that non-Germans had with Germans and tries to interpret these carefully.
Don’t worry about the “business” in the title. It will give you a solid range of possible interpretations for the behavior of Germans.

A good gift Always Makes two People Happy

When you are learning German it is also a gift for the ones that you are learning it for. Germans highly appreciate when someone makes an effort to speak their language. It will establish a whole different kind of contact between you and them which will also make you feel a lot better. After all, if you live in a German speaking country I assume you want to feel as much as home as possible. And the more you understand the world around you, the more at ease you will feel. The more at ease you feel, the easier your life might be.

Worauf wartest du noch? The best moment to learn German is now. We at smarterGerman are happy to accompany and support you on this exciting journey. Talk (German) soon.

PS: I recommend that you read this lovely interview with Betty Birner, professor of linguistics and cognitive science at Northern Illinois University

How watching the Movie Arrival can make you a better German Learner
bureaucracy

Racist Germans soon Obliged to take ASSimilation Courses

german integration courses
© fgmsp via Pixabay

Germany is Reacting to Growing Population

In 2016, Germany welcomed 2.136.954 immigrants and said good bye to 997.552 emigrants (https://de.statista.com/themen/46/einwanderung/). That left a net influx of 1.139.403 people mostly from other cultures (some were Germans returning to their roots)

To guarantee a successful integration of all new citizens, the BAMF (Bundesamt für Migräne und Flüche) has been working on a new edict according to which “difficult” natives are obliged to take so called assimilation courses (short: ASS, not kidding, Ass (n) means ace in German), so Klaus Besserwisser, unofficial spokesperson of the BAMF today. All chambers agreed unanimous that the edict will be become effective today on the first of April 2017.

 

Assimilation for a Better Understanding

The assimilation courses will last 7 months and teach participants the basics (B1) in either High Arabic or the Romanian language as well as the basics of the chosen culture as most immigrants in 2016 came from these countries.

In only 3.5hrs per day participants will study the language and culture of Germany’s newest inhabitants. Highly educated natives as well as common folks from various Arabic countries and from different regions in Romania will teach them everything there is to know about their cultures, values and religions. 
The lessons will be held exclusively in the target language to simulate the pain migrants experience when sitting in integration courses. This way Besserwisser hopes to strengthen the empathy on side of the native Germans who at times struggle heavily with adapting to the changes that meeting new people evokes.

With this approach the BAMF hopes to reduce the gap between native Germans and new German inhabitants and is confident to have found a good addition to the already existing Integration Courses.

Both Sides need to come Closer Together

Integration Courses oblige current migrants to study the German language up to level B1 within 7 months and only 3 hours of study time per day. To make sure they get the most out of this opportunity, participants have to sign in and sign out every single day they attend. They are also lucky to be able to participate in a two week crash course on German politics, culture, religion, society and basic legal matters. In the last decade this approach has been proven to provide immigrants with a solid foundation of cultural knowledge and confident language skills. As many as 60% of course participants pass their B1 exam at the end of an Integration Course which Besserwisser contributes to the outstanding performance of institutions conducting those courses and the genius idea to teach the German language by only using German so that every course participant understands equally nothing and doesn’t feel behind the other participants.

Like in the integration courses, the group size of the new assimilation courses is usually limited to 30 students only and while attendance is voluntary for most native Germans, Germans who have been noticed for racist slurs e.g. on Facebook, Twitter or in public are obliged to participate. The BAMF plans to arrange a special social media task force whose sole task will be to scan the internet for hateful and racist posts and comments to make sure the ASS-courses are filled accordingly. This way Besserwisser says, the courses will become profitable within the next 24 months.

A Win-Win Situation

At the end of the ASS-course participants will take a language exam on level B1 and a multiple choice test with 33 questions (out of 365) about politics, culture, religion, history and society of the culture they have chose.

Successful participants will be granted amnesty in case they had been convicted or a free hand enlargement operation to better cope with their inferiority complex. Voluntary participants will receive the infamous German “feuchter Händedruck”, literally: a wet handshake for their efforts as it is already tradition with all those teachers in integration courses all over Germany.

Integrations Courses for Germans
Learning Techniques

How to Understand German Faster

How to Understand German Faster
© Pixabay

 

What You Need to Know to Understand German Faster

When you decide to learn German, you want to make a little bit of progress every day. But often, you don’t know how to make progress towards fluency. There are lots of techniques and promises in the language learning world, and it feels like you have to spend years finding what delivers.

What if you could cut the questions and simply focus on the best methods for learning German?

In today’s article, I will share with you three surprising facts from my new course How to Learn German Faster. Knowing these three tricks alone can save you hours, and I hope that you’ll be checking out the course reading to learn how to truly learn German much faster.

Vocabulary Works in Chunks, not Words

There is no way around learning vocabulary and it’s one of the most challenging tasks when learning any language. But when you understand the power of learning in context and in chunks, you will finally start putting words together so that they make sense.

This is why I recommend you throw out the classic wordlist. Instead, focus on learning your word in context. The German word Bank for example is best learnt as bei einer Bank arbeiten (work at a bank) and auf einer Bank sitzen (to sit on a bench), which helps you recall the correct meaning much quicker.

There are great vocabulary tools out there, and in How to Learn German Faster I have included videos to guide you through the full technique and learn it step by step.

The Difference Between Passive and Active Listening

Most German learners would like to have a conversation in German at one point but real life rarely provides us with ideal conditions for conversations. So instead, many learners focus on listening and understanding more. They spend hours with audio courses and radio shows, and wonder why progress won’t come.

The trick here is that you have to know two types of listening:

Active Listening is more than just listening. This step requires your full focus, and you will need a text and its recording to work with it. In active listening, you are following every word, sound and sentence to grasp an audio piece’s full meaning.

Passive Listening describes those times when you are listening to native German speakers. This will familiarize you with the sounds of German, help you distinguish the words from each other and follow the language at natural speed. Focus on environments with natural atmosphere, so that means you should avoid the news and audiobooks.

Listening is Step 5 in the Learning Cycle, which is my biggest tip. Check the course-video for a first insight. The book will provide you with a deeper understanding of the technique:

 

 

 

Think About the Learning Cycle

At the heart of How to Learn German Faster, I am sharing the exact details of the German Learning Cycle, a simple and reliable system for learning faster and remembering better. If you usually sit down and try a little bit of this, a little bit of that, and feel like you’re not getting anywhere, the Learning Cycle is going to be exactly what you need.

You are going to learn exactly how to follow this cycle. There is a version for beginners and a special level for advanced learners, and my videos will show you exactly how to build this into your daily life.

This course is based on the knowledge I share with private clients who regularly reach level B1 in just 3 months, and it is now available in the smarterGerman shop.

[Click Here to Learn More About How to Learn German Faster]

How to Understand German Faster
testimony

Rina

I spend weeks looking for the perfect course that would help me learn the German language effectively and achieve my goal of B2 level in 3 months time. And I´m very glad that I´d chose SmarterGerman, as Smart it was indeed.

Michael understood my results oriented nature along with the time and dedication that I was willing to put in and optimised that in our lessons that has in turn brought out a great result. 

My biggest struggle was always with the grammar rules, and given the amount of them in the German language, my struggle was real. But with the techniques and learning materials, along with Michael´s patience to find every possible way to make me thoroughly understand and feel comfortable in using them, I was amazed and can gladly say it worked.  

Being a perfectionist, I also always had the fear of not sounding perfect or correct when I speak, and although I know I´m still not perfect,  the conversation trainings has done a great deal in raising my confidence and encouraging me to just speak and learn as I go on.

The lessons were personalised, the hard work was present from both sides, and that is what has made the course and experience truly worth it for me. And of course, the results oriented side in me is also pleased, as I´ve passed my B2 exam in 10 weeks time. : )

See her B2 certificate here (coming soon).

testimony

Anitha Diewald

Learning German with a full time consulting job is a complete nightmare. I could never find time to take a proper B1 course but always wanted to do the B1 exam. Getting the B1 Goethe Certificate was a dream for me which i never managed to achieve in 9 years.

Finally i decided to do my B1 level in 3 weeks. 2 big language schools instantly turned me down saying 3 weeks is not enough time to do B1 course(even with an intensive course). I was very much disheartened. I had been following smarterGerman on Youtube. I loved their channel for their smarter way of teaching German. It just occurred to me one morning to write to Michael and ask him if he would help me in achieving my goal. I felt really lucky when he instantly replied me and confirmed me that he would teach me and help me achieve my goal.

I knew i was in the right hands and needless to say with his german grammar videos i learnt everything i need to know in 3 weeks.Michael and Margareth constantly gave me tips and tricks to strengthen my weak areas. I am really very thankful to both Michael and Margareth without whom i would not have achieved my goal. Yes i passed my B1 exam 🙂

See her B1 certificate here (coming soon).

Learning Techniques

Die Binaurale-Methode zum Fremdsprachen-lernen nach smarterGerman


ENGLISH VERSION BELOW

Die Binaurale-Methode ist eine Methode zum Erlernen von Fremdsprachen. Im Folgenden bezeichne ich die Sprache, die man lernen möchte, als Zielsprache und die Sprache, die man benutzt, um die neue Sprache zu lernen, als Ausgangssprache.

Beschreibung der Methode

Im ersten Schritt wird ein Text in der Zielsprache Wort-für-Wort in die Ausgangssprache übersetzt.
Diese wird im Folgenden “Spiegelung” genannt. Diese Spiegelung darf jedoch nicht zu wörtlich genommen werden, da an manchen Stellen eine wörtliche Übersetzung eher verwirrt und den Sinn des Textes in der Zielsprache verstellt. Die Spiegelung wird entweder neben dem Text in der Zielsprache dargestellt oder Satz für Satz darunter.

Die Spiegelung in der Ausgangssprache soll in einer blasseren Schrift oder in einer anderen Farbe gedruckt werden, um die Aufmerksamkeit des Lerners auf der Zielsprache zu belassen. Der Lernende soll die Spiegelung – die z.B. unter einem roten Vordergrund verschleiert liegt (siehe Beispiel unter: http://www.taponet.de/projects/verschleierung/) – entweder mittels einer entsprechend farblich getönten Brille oder mittels einer diesem Prinzip entsprechenden Software-Applikation sehen können. Die Spiegelung erübrigt das Nachschlagen einzelner Wörter und kann je nach Lernfortschritt ein- bzw. ausgeblendet werden.
—–
Anhand dieser schriftlichen Vorlage wird nun der Text eingelesen bzw. eingespielt.
Dabei ist darauf zu achten, dass die Textversionen in der Zielsprache und in der Ausgangssprache auf zwei getrennten Stereokanälen von den Wortsilben her möglichst deckungsgleich aufgenommen werden. Auf dem Daten- oder Tonträger soll der Text in der Ausgangssprache später auf dem linken Ohr zu hören sein, während der Text in der Zielsprache auf dem rechten Ohr zu hören ist. Jedoch ist auch eine umgekehrte Anordnung der vertonten Texte denkbar und hier miteingeschlossen. Ziel ist dabei, dass der aufgenommene Ton von Ausgangs- sowie Zielsprache so deckungsgleich wie möglich zu hören ist. Ein Beispiel soll dies illustrieren:

Die Sonne scheint. Es ist ein schöner Tag. (rechts)
The sun        shines.      It   is  a      beautiful  day.   (links)   oder umgekehrt

Der finalen Aufnahme können noch Klangeffekte und Hintergrundmusik hinzugefügt werden, um die Atmosphäre zu vertiefen.

 

Vorteile der Methode

Die Spiegelung eines geschriebenen Textes ist nichts Neues. In der hier beschriebenen Darstellungsform sowie in hörbarer Form gibt es sie jedoch noch nicht. Vorteile der geschriebenen sowie der auditiven Spiegelung sind die folgenden:

Der Lerner muss keine unbekannten Wörter oder Satzstrukturen mehr nachschlagen.
Die Struktur der Zielsprache wird mithilfe der Ausgangssprache deutlich gemacht. Der Text in der Zielsprache wird somit vor-analysiert und der Zugang zur Zielsprache erleichtert.
Durch die Vertonung beider Versionen des Textes wird ein weiterer kognitiver Zugang genutzt. Neben dem visuellen wird auch der Hörsinn des Lerners angesprochen.
Das simultane Hören beider Versionen bringt die Vorteile der geschriebenen Spiegelung auf eine auditive und somit auch weitere emotionale Ebene.
Dem Lerner ist es durchaus möglich, sich bewusst auf jeweils eine Version einzustimmen und die andere in den Hintergrund zu verbannen und sogar spontan zwischen beiden Versionen hin- und herzuschalten. Dies hat eine tiefere Auseinandersetzung mit dem zu lernenden Material zur Folge.
Der Lerner kann selbst kontrollieren, wie viel neuer Information er sich aussetzt. Diese Kontrollmöglichkeit vermittelt ihm Sicherheit, die den Sprachlernprozess aller Voraussicht nach positiv unterstützt.

 

Ausführung der Methode

Der Lerner spielt die zweisprachige Audio-Datei mit einem geeigneten Abspielgerät ab. Um in den Genuss der möglichen Vorteile der Methode zu gelangen, muss der Lerner einen Kopfhörer benutzen, denn das gleichzeitige Abspielen zweier Sprachen über einen Lautsprecher ermöglicht keine Trennung des zielsprachigen Textes von seiner Spiegelung und würde nicht zu dem angestrebten Effekt führen. Der Lerner hat den zielsprachlichen Text idealerweise bereits vorbereitet, z.B. indem er das Vokabular gelernt hat oder den Text gelesen hat. Beim Hören versucht der Lerner sich auf die zielsprachige Version zu konzentrieren. Ein wiederholtes Hören kann von Vorteil sein, da jede Wiederholung hilft, das Erlernte im Gehirn zu konsolidieren.

Weitere Übungen sind angeraten. Ziel der ganzen Übung ist es den Text ausschließlich in der Zielsprache hören und verstehen zu können. Hierfür sollte eine gesonderte Aufnahme erstellt werden. Diese Methode wird von smarterGerman auch für musikalisches Lernmaterial in Form von Liedern und kurzen Audio-Übungssequenzen verwendet.

(c) 2016: Diese Methode wurde im Rahmen der Unternehmung smarterGerman erdacht und entwickelt von Michael Schmitz, 12047 Berlin und Margareth Jabczynski, 12045 Berlin. Alle Rechte vorbehalten.

 

ENGLISH VERSION

The Binaural-Method to learn foreign languages developed by smarterGerman

The binaural method is a method to learn foreign languages. In the following, I will call the language that one aims to learn “target language,” and the language that is used to assist the learner in learning the target language is the “helper language.” The helper language might be the learner’s native language or any other language he speaks on a level of B2 or higher.

 

Method description

In the first step, a text in the target language is translated word for word into the helper language. This almost literal translation will be called “mirrored text” from here on. A mirrored text is always written in the helper language. The mirroring process should not be taken too literally as, at times, a too literal translation would rather confuse the learner than be of help. The mirrored text is being placed either next to the text in the target language or sentence per sentence below it. The mirrored text should be presented in a lighter or different color than the text in the target language to help the learner focus on the text he aims to learn from. The mirrored text could be hidden under a red foreground, as in these examples: http://www.taponet.de/projects/verschleierung/. Ideally, the learner should have to use accordingly colored glasses or a suitable software application to be able to read the mirrored text. The mirrored text makes the process of looking up words in a dictionary redundant and can be made visible or invisible according to the learner’s progress.

Based upon the written version of the text, it is now being voiced over / recorded on two separate stereo channels: The text in the target language, as well as the mirrored text, will be recorded separately, but when played on a suitable device later, the target language text will be heard on one speaker and the mirrored text will be heard on the other speaker. Both texts need to be congruent so that when, e.g., the learner hears the German words “Die Sonne…” on the one ear, at the same time he will hear “the sun…” on the other ear. One example:

Die Sonne scheint. Es ist ein schöner Tag. (rechts)
The sun        shines.      It   is   a     beautiful  day.   (links)   oder umgekehrt

We suggest that the target language should be recorded on the right stereo channel while the mirrored version is recorded on the left channel. However, the di
rections might as well be exchanged. Additional sound effects and background music can be added to the final recording to deepen the learning atmosphere.

 

Advantages of the method

Producing mirrored texts is nothing new. However, in the form described here, as well as in audio form, it does not exist yet and is, therefore, an invention of smarterGerman. We believe our approach brings the following advantages to language learners:

The learner doesn’t have to look up unknown words or structures in a separate dictionary.
The structure of the target language is being clarified with the help of the helper language. The text in the target language is pre-analyzed, and accessing the target language is, therefore, a lot easier.
By recording the audio of both text variants, as described above, the learner can use an additional cognitive channel during his learning process.
Next to visual cognitive input, the learner also gets auditive input. The simultaneous listening of both versions transfers the advantages of mirroring onto an auditive and therefore also another emotional level.
The learner can focus on each version of the song individually and, with a bit of practice, will be able to switch between both versions with ease. This way, he is engaging with the material on a much deeper level than normal.
The learner can control by himself how much information he exposes himself to. This possibility leads to a feeling of being in charge of the learning process and provides him with a sense of security, which is crucial for any language learner, and therefore most likely has beneficial consequences for the language learning process.

 

Execution of the method

The learner plays the bilingual audio file with a suitable device. To make use of all the benefits described above, one needs to use headphones as only then can our brains differentiate between the two versions. Ideally, the learner has prepared the text in the target language by having learned its vocabulary and having read it once or several times, for instance.

While listening, the learner tries to focus on the version in the target language. It is certainly beneficial to repeat this process several times as repetition consolidates any information that has been learned before.

It is advisable to perform further exercises. The aim must be that, at the end, the learner is capable of listening to the target language version of the text and understanding it to a satisfying degree. To test whether this goal has been achieved, it is recommended that, next to the binaural version of the audio, an audio solely in the target language is also created. We at smarterGerman use this method also for songs or short audio sequences. Other uses are thinkable.

(c) 2016: This method has been created and developed by smarterGerman, aka Michael Schmitz, and Margareth Jabczynski, Berlin. All rights reserved.

binaural language learning
german language

How does it feel to Learn the German Language from Scratch

Learn German From Scratch

It’s kind of weird. I will actually be trying to learn German from scratch again. I decided to take part in an intensive German sign language course for four weeks from June, 13th until July, 8th. For three hours a day I will go through the experience of an absolute beginner of German and explore my emotions, thoughts and the way it is being taught to me. Without any prior knowledge I expect to feel afraid, frustrated and angry but also joyful and curious. Whatever comes up, I will share it with you in the playlist above (click in the upper left corner or the info sign on the right to get to that playlist).

 

Putting Myself in Other’s Shoes – Sich in Andere Hineinversetzen

I think that a good language tutor needs to know how his clients feel and think to be able to guide them through difficult phases during their German learning process. Last year I studied Greek for 30 days and gained invaluable insight in the language learning and teaching process which helped me to optimize my German private lessons and my material (a new video course which will teach you most of these insights is already in production).  I am very excited about what I am about to experience and learn from this project. Make sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel above not to miss any of the upcoming videos or future projects.

How Gestures can Enhance your German Learning

This is exactly what I would like to find out. A gesture can be seen as a three dimensional word. It takes place in a certain physical space and it has a direction. It therefore might stimulate one’s brain in different ways than other languages based solely on sound. There is a professor A.D. Ludger Schiffler, who has been promoting the use of supportive gestures in foreign language learning for many years now (get his book here). But my problem with his approach is that if you take a look at his videos that he presents at his public speeches (e.g. at the Expolingua in Berlin) his clients do not seem to enjoy those gestures too much. They leave the impression as if they felt silly performing them. I know that feeling from my foreign language tuition in the past. I had to play inefficient and silly games, participate in artificial role plays or sing songs, that made my brain want to jump out of my skull, run to the next river and drown itself.

Adults need to be treated like adults. If they are exposed to material like this (NSFB-Not safe for brain), they could suffer severe motivational damage. Be assured that IF I find a way to integrate gestures into the German learning process it will be in a way that respects Article 1 of the German constitution (Grundgesetz): Human dignity is unviolable.

Let me know what you think of this project and I hope to inspire you to pursue efficient lifelong learning.

Take good care. Pass auf Dich auf.
Michael

german music

Kennst Du Das? – German Music

Kennst Du Das – German Music

This is one of Margareth’s first songs from long ago and the first one I heard when we met. I loved it for it’s catchy and witty lyrics. This German song has a few hidden lines or better words which make part of its wit. But even if you don’t find them, you’ll love this song and your German will benefit from it. 

You can download the song for free from out page at Bandcamp above. Simply enter 0 EUR or more if you want to support Margareth. You can also download the lyrics here.

LYRICS

FIRST VERSE

Kennst du das, wenn du morgens aufwachst und dein Ohr ist eingeknickt?
Know you it, when you in-the-mornings upwake and your ear is in-bent?

Kennst du das – bist du schon mal im Unterricht eingenickt?
Know you it – have you ever once in class in-dozed?

Kennst du das – dir steht alles bis hier und du bist so angesickt – oder –
Know you it – you’ve had it up to here and you are so grumpy – or –

Kennst du das – du läufst gegen die Tür und fühlst dich so ungeschickt, sag mal,
Know you it – you run agains the door and feel yourself so awkwardly, tell me

Kennst du das? Kennst du das? Weißt du, was ich meine?
Know you it? Know you it ? Know you what I mean?

Kennst du das? Weißt du, wie es ist, wenn es dir nicht passt, wie es ist?
Know you it? Know you how it is, when it you not fits how it is?

SECOND VERSE

Kennst du das, du hast alle Hände voll und der Schweiß steht dir im Nacken?
Know you it, you have all hands full and the sweat stands you in-the neck?

Kennst du das – du bist in der Schlange bei Eil-DI und merkst, plötzlich musst du … ganz woanders sein.
Know you it, you are in the queue at Eil-DI and you realize, suddenly must you ……somewhere else be.

Kennst du das – wenn du dich beeilst und ein rohes Ei fällt dir auf den Boden
-or – Know you it – when you yourself hurry and a raw eg falls you on the floor – or –

Kennst du das – du stehst vor `ner ganz tollen Person und es juckt so schrecklich… am Ohrläppchen!
Know you it – you stand in front of a wonderful person and it itches so terribly… at your earlobe!