During the week I often listen to a business podcast by Darren Hardy, his DarrenDaily. Although I don’t always agree with him, he usually has some interesting things to say. A while ago he mentioned 8 tips to help you learn. And those 8 tips are brilliant for learners of whatever they are learning, including German.
So here they are with my added comments for German learners:
- Become comfortable with the struggle of learning
Wouldn’t it be nice if you could just go to sleep with a book and wake up speaking German fluently! Maybe one day, but until then we have to do the work ourselves. Remember as a toddler you used to be spoon-fed? At the time you couldn’t feed yourself so that was the only way for you to get food. Then you learned how to feed yourself but it most likely was messy. Now you can feed yourself and it’s easy, but there might still be occasions when you struggle to cut a steak or eat something you’re not used to.
Now compare this to learning German. In the beginning you get ‘spoon-fed’ by learning phrases or sentences, a tutor or course tells you. Then you start picking up new things yourself and it often gets messy. Your sentences don’t sound at all like they are supposed to sound. Finally, your German sounds great and you feel comfortable using it, apart from the odd struggle.
So, become comfortable with the struggle of learning and don’t worry, if things don’t always go to plan. You may have made a mess as a toddler but you are eating okay now, don’t you?
- Become curious
Carrying on with the food theme, do you eat the same food every day? We found out that we were cooking the same food every week and realised how boring it became. So we changed our routine. Some days are still the same – purely because we like it like that – but we now make sure we cook different things as well and also try something new nearly every week. Some of those new dishes have tasted extremely good and others, well, were a disaster. That’s how your German learning should be. Stick to some of the things you feel comfortable with (always good for confidence building), but also become curious and learn new things, like grammar. Some of it you’ll understand straight away, others you will need to try again … and possibly again…
- Have a goal for your learning
And ‘I want to learn German’ isn’t a good goal, as you’ll never reach it. I’ve been speaking German for over 60 years and I still learn new things about the German language. It’s the same as trying to lose weight (Oh, I’m back talking about food ☺). ‘I want to lose weight’ is not a good goal to have. ‘I want to lose 5 kg by …’ is a lot better. Once a dieter has reached that goal, they can start the next goal.
So what could be good goals? Maybe something like…
I want to be able to order food and a drink in German on my first ever visit to Germany.
I want to be able to have a basic conversation in German with my German friends.
I want to be able to read that book of my favoruite German author in German!
I want to reach A1 by … (Insert date).
Once you’ve reached your goal, you can set the next.
- Learn in focused sessions
I was listening to a podcast when I decided to write this post. After a very short time I had to stop, because a) I made too many spelling mistakes, and b) I didn’t have a clue what the podcaster was saying. So, now I am focused on my writing. I still make mistakes but at least I spot them straight away (I hope!). Later on I will listen to that podcast again, maybe when I go for a walk – that is something you can do together. But when you learn German, focus on it.
- Spaced repetition
This is easy when at school but tricky when we have our lives to live. The best way to learn German is if you do it regularly. But ‘I’m going to learn German for an hour every day’ rarely works as other important things need to be dealt with. So start small. Commit yourself to a minimum of 5 minutes each day. Usually, you’ll do more but on the days when there is no time you will have spent at least 5 minutes.
Need ideas? Have a look here: How to learn German when you only have 5 minutes
- Go deep versus wide
On social media I often come across people who are learning a little bit of this language and little bit of that one. For some it’s the ideal way to learn but for others it does mean they’ll learn a little bit of this and a little bit of that. If you want to learn German properly, stick to just learning German. leave the other languages for later.
- Reflect, revisit and review to improve
This is where the internet is so great. Before we had all those wonderful websites with grammar activities or games, the only revision we could do was to go over the textbook again or do the extra worksheets the tutor gave us. Now we can play games or watch videos online which help us revise or revisit what we have learned.
- Teach someone else
Just as you don’t need to be a chef to show somebody how to cook a meal (There, I managed to finish with food again😉) you don’t have to be a German teacher to explain something to a fellow student. Sometimes an explanation from a fellow student is actually easier to understand than the explanation from a teacher because it goes nice and slowly. And by explaining something it also reinforces it for you.
What do you think about these 8 tips? Are they helpful?
If you are interested in the original podcast, you can listen to it here
Please share this post, danke!
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