There’s no place like home for stress-free, comfortable language study.
Even while you’re lying around in your jammies, a little creativity can make your studies more energizing!
Here are a few accessible but absorbing methods to improve your German education at home.
- Make vocab study a creative activity.
“Good art offers individuals a vocabulary for things they can’t define,” says hip-hop artist Mos Def.
So, if you’re having trouble expressing yourself in German, why not turn your vocabulary into art?
Maybe that wasn’t exactly what he meant, but think about it: you get a double whammy this way.
Many people are strong visual learners, while others are visual learners. Thinking about words visually, or linking them with distinct mental imagery, can be a very effective way to help language stick.
So, take out those old colored pencils and design a Vögel (bird). Alternatively, you might write the word Bundestag in the shape of the German parliament building. You won’t forget if you’ve written its name forty times. When you’re finished, hang it on your wall for everyone to see (and reinforce the vocabulary each time you look at it!).
- Learn to memorize a children’s poem.
Although rote memorization has fallen out of favor recently, it can still be a beneficial tool in language learning. You could argue that acquiring a language is nothing more than indirect rote learning, or rote learning is done on a bigger scale.
Learning a poem by heart will help you increase your vocabulary and fluency since the words and phrases in the poem will always be on the tip of your tongue. Because you have a context for the new term, it is more likely to stick with you. It also adds to your cool factor if you can recite German poetry when asked. Who knows when that will be useful?!
Consider this: there are numerous reasons why foreign language poetry is so wonderful.
It takes a long time to progress to the point where you can read a novel in a foreign language. Even when they’re competent, finishing a book requires much work and dedication. That isn’t to suggest it isn’t worthwhile. It most certainly is. If you’re interested, look at our German Classics page.
However, poetry is more approachable in many respects. For starters, it’s shorter. In far less time to read a Heinrich Heine poem, translate all the difficult words, and analyze all the exciting language, than it takes to read Thomas Mann’s “Der Zauberberg.”
What about children’s poetry? What’s more, that’s much better. It’s usually lighthearted and straightforward, and if it rhymes and follows a precise rhythm—as most children’s poetry does—simple it’s to memorize.
So, where do you go to learn poems?
Poems abound on the internet, just waiting to be read. For example, “Die Deutsche Gedichtebibliothek” and “Project Gutenberg” feature much free poetry to browse.
But first, here’s a great poem by Irmela Brender to get you started. It’s all about friendship—a good one to put in a birthday card greeting to your German best buddy. To aid you in your reading, we think the boys in this video do a fantastic job.
- Use grammar to cover the bathroom walls.
Grammar may be a real annoyance. It may also be fascinating and incredible, and it can make sense of things. But I won’t lie: there’s still a lot to learn. And the most effective approach to do so is to practice and reinforce. Every day, how many times do you go to the bathroom? (This is a hypothetical inquiry; there’s no need to send in the specifics of your lavatorial habits.) I argue that if you tape the conjugation of sein to your bathroom mirror and read it over and over while brushing your teeth, you’ll figure it out in a week.
The following are some examples of language that work exceptionally well as bathroom wallpaper:
conjugations of verbs
adjectival ends with der/die/das tables
Irregular verbs have present, imperfect, and perfect tense forms, such as bringen—brachte—gebracht (you can find lists of these all over the internet)
- Watch all of your favorite TV shows…in German.
Everyone has a guilty secret, but it doesn’t have to be guilty.
Put on German subtitles or dubbing, and you can relive your favorite comic moments, watch your favorite fictitious couple fall in love over and over (oh, the guilt of admitting I know these abbreviations), and generally immerse yourself in the bliss of fictional life while being productive.
Watching TV in a foreign language is genuinely beneficial—this isn’t simply a mirage of productivity; it’s the real thing.
- Watch children’s programming
We all know that watching TV and movies in your target language can help you learn new words and phrases. Still, there’s something special about viewing children’s programming. It’s soothing in its own right.
Your brain isn’t up to watching anything serious and meaningful now and then…
But a bit strange children’s show with bizarre characters and voices? Perfect.
Children’s programs are sometimes easier to watch because there isn’t much fast-paced language to keep up with.
Adults can find children’s television amusing, strange, soothing, and even infuriating at times…
However, we find German children’s television to be pretty entertaining in general. The theme music from “Schnappi” is one of our favorites. However, there are many more out there waiting to be discovered. Many of these can be found on YouTube.
So, if you have fifteen minutes to spare, try watching a show or two.
After all, isn’t it beneficial to your German?
- Follow a slew of Germans on social media.
Since its inception around ten years ago, social media has become a vital part of our daily lives. I’m not going to consider how many times I check Facebook in a single day. And, for a week, can you imagine how much time we spend there?!
But it’s not all doom and gloom, and I’m not suggesting that social media is inherently terrible. It’s rather valuable and straightforward to make it even more so.
Following fascinating German people or groups on your preferred social networking site or app (Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram…up it’s to you) is one method to boost both your social media experience and your language learning. As a result, every time you go through your newsfeed, you’ll be exposed to the German language, and ideally, you’ll learn something new.
So, who are you going to follow?
Follow individuals you’ll want to read—don’t merely follow them and scroll past their posts every time they appear in your newsfeed!
Follow newspapers if you’re interested in world events (Die Zeit and Der Spiegel are good places to start).
Follow related magazines and individual artists or designers if interested in art or fashion (the Goethe Institute’s culture portal is an excellent place to start).
Alternatively, you could follow that man who tweets bizarre photos of his life with amusing captions.
The more German you read, even if it’s only skimming the title of an article in your newsfeed, the more natural the language will seem to you.
It is highly recommended that you join the best German language classes if you desire fluency in the German language.