how to learn german quickly

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.
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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.

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Mastering German III-Vocabulary

How to improve my German vocabulary
der Schriftsetzer – the type setter / Image via Pixabay

Yesterday I have spoken about the importance of improving your listening skills and how to train them. Today’s article will close the trilogy on how to master the German language. If you want to build a house, you will need bricks (at least here in Germany). Your house is the German language and your bricks are German words. Let me provide you with a few invaluable hints on how to make sure that those bricks make a beautiful and solid house.

You do not need many words to beginn with

The German government recommends to learn 2.700 words to pass the B1 exam. Now it is one thing to simply understand a word but another to be able to use it. But  more about that later. To reach B2 just add another estimated 2.000 words and you will be able to cope with 80%-90% of information you have to deal with in everyday’s life. Let me share the good news with you: You don’t need that many words at all to get to a satisfying conversational level. I would say you’d be fine with about 500 words.

What words should I learn?

You have to understand what language is all about to be able to pick the right words. Language is about communication. I know, I know. Let me finish. We communicate usually about things we see or have seen and that we usually are dealing with. We give orders or make requests. We ask for the meaning or function of things and like to express our attitude. More abstract topics can wait a bit longer. So, if you usually do not spend time in hotels or do not own a car that you could bring to the garage for maintenance, than simply do not learn vocabulary associated with such situations.

Obvious, right? But then, why do you find so much useless vocabulary in German teaching books? Well, they have been made for thousands of customers. And the publishing houses prefer to please as many learners as possible a bit to pleasing a few of you fully. So when you come across new words, be a censor and decide whether that word is important for your life right now or not. Don’t be afraid to be to strict. You will always come across the more important words again and again.

Love what you do and you will never work another day. Konfuzius

How should I learn vocabulary?

Always in context and always with pleasure. 

Never learn words because you might one day be able to use them or because someone recommended you to read this or listen to that. Your mind is seeking satisfaction. It hates saving words for later so it will fight against your efforts. Read and listen to what you are normally interested in. Just in German. That’s it. You don’t need simplified material. You need the real thing as this is what you want to be able to communicate with and about. Don’t read children’s books unless you genuinely like them.

I work with Jojo sucht das Glück, a video series by Deutsche Welle, something like the German BBC. Videos are excellent for beginners to associate words with visual information like a certain scene or actor. But one has to be careful and be instructed well not to waste time. I will explain how to work with Jojo these days (place link here).

Use a vocabulary trainer for your mobile or computer

Most of you have access to electronic devices. Also most of you might have heard about paper flash-cards and about how good they are to learn vocabulary. I, myself, always hated them although I understood their incredible value. I lost interest quickly and also lost the overview over my cards soon. But now that computers are taking over, they offer us wonderful possibilities to revive that old gem among the learning techniques. The big advantage of such programs is that they can save you a lot of time. Simply because they keep track of your progress and four failures. They only repeat, what you have not yet learned sufficiently and will repeat the words after a certain amount of time until you can safely assume that you have memorized them. But remember: do not just learn any vocabulary. It must have a high priority in your life.

The next level

Once you have established a base vocabulary, you can start to expand your knowledge and also use the words you have learned already to memorize the new words. Yet it is still crucial to have a genuine interest in the topic otherwise you are about to sabotage yourself.

This is it. You now have all the information you need to get a solid start into learning the German language. Subscribe to not miss future posts on how to learn German the most efficient way. Thank you for reading this far and have a good day.

Michael Schmitz

Part I – Find an Excellent German Tutor

Part II – Correct Listening

*I choose the gender in my texts arbitrarily and of course always refer to all genders.