German diary: Keeping up the good work

Learning a language directly in the target country has its advantages, one of them being in constant contact with the language, but for those learning it in an EFL context creating this contact demands making the time to sit to do something with that language and through that language. Any teacher teaching learners in EFL context should understand that we teachers are in constant contact with the language because we teach it (if we are non-native speakers) and perhaps we like it so much that we also read, watch movies and listen to podcasts/music in English. As a language learner, I see exactly what learners go through when they are learning it in a classroom. Keeping up the good work is hard. It demands discipline. Learners who had not time to even do their homework because they were unable to prioritize learning another language. Or when they miss classes because they have to study more for college, work extra hours or do something with or for the family. These all very often sound like excuses, but I got myself thinking today if the reason might be because we have nothing to push you into it and the lack of natural contact.

Days 5,6,7 and 8

The last 4 days with family and work having the priority, German learning was left aside. My goal was to read at least one paragraph of the book a day and play around with Duolingo. My coaching goal in Duolingo was 50 points, soon after I got back to work I had to go down to 30 and in the following day to 20. Yesterday, I was not even able to do that. Actually I had the time, but I had also other things which I thought was more interesting and important. I also haven’t touched the book in the last 4 days leaving me really behind with the goals I had set for myself.

keep-calm-und-lernen-deutsch

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9 thoughts on “German diary: Keeping up the good work

    • Oh are you learning Portuguese? Are you using Duolingo? Ready for some speaking practice? 🙂 Yeah, isn’t it weird that we are as just bad language learners as them? kidding! I’m just taking into consideration certain things and putting myself on their shoes. Good to see you here.

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  1. Hi Rose,

    Maybe your goals are too ambitious (is that an awful thing to say?!) I make weekly goals as then there is not so much pressure every day as we are bound to have days which are consumed by other activities. I definitely think natural contact is a big motivator and reminder of the need to practice. I’m lucky that I have quite a big motivator to learn German which keeps me going!

    See you on Duolingo again soon 🙂

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    • Not awful at all. Sie haben recht. Realistic I’d add as far as adult life is concerned. My two experiences with language learning was living in the country. Of course, I also dedicated time to study grammar and vocabulary even attended a school in London, but the contact with the language was everywhere. I learned all the time and from different sources. Friends were the best teachers ever. So, I wonder what it is like to learn it without that rich environment. I have colleagues who speak English well and they’ve never traveled abroad. You know, there is a myth even among students that says: “you will only really learn if you go abroad”. The fact that I’ve been abroad does not help to convince them otherwise. Not everyone can afford to do that anyway. Once they see that they can learn, they will change the argument and say instead to become fluent you need to go abroad whatever fluent mean to them.

      As for my goals, in the past everytime I tried to set goals on a weekly basis, life took over and my desire to learn a language much like my students are doing begins to wane. Perhaps there is no big motivation really to keep me going, other than understand what it is like to learn a language this way. Not giving up this time… not just yet!

      Danke für kommentieren 🙂 See you in Duolingo then!

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  2. Hi Rose,
    I think it should be obligatory for all language teachers to do some language study every couple of years to remind them that life gets in the way!
    I find the best kind of goal for me is ’10 minutes a day’. It doesn’t matter what I do with those 10 minutes, but I have to do something. It’s a small enough bite of time that if I get to the end of the day and haven’t done anything, staying up for an extra 10 minutes is OK, and I can normally fit it in earlier in the day. For example, while I’m having breakfast I might read a bit of (say) a Russian magazine, or do a bit of memrise. It depends on getting into a routine, and you have to think about work-life balance too!
    Good luck,
    Sandy

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    • Danke Sandy für the idea of focusing on an amount of time that can be manageable. I’ll try to do that from today on and set a more challenging goal for once a week as Gemma suggested. Let’s see how it goes. 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting! 🙂

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  3. Hi Rose,
    I read your comments on Geoff Jordan’s blog post about Vocabulary Learning and wanted to pass on some of the things I have been doing to teach myself Swedish (which I started last year in May as a total beginner) and some other tips that might be useful for your personal project as a learner of German, well as for those you teach.

    My first tip would be to join memrise.com. I haven’t tried duolinguo but I am having great fun learning Swedish via memrise.

    You mentioned that you were reading German children’s books – which I totally understand as I love children’s books, too! – but had problems with the pronunciation of words. You mentioned that you used the audio tool on Google Translate, but are you aware of this resource, too?

    http://www.forvo.com/

    A lot of the courses on memrise are with audio input so you hear the word each time you come across it. I annoy my long-suffering family by repeating the words aloud (in accordance with what Geoff mentioned in his blog post, incidentally) to try and help my mouth get used to the sounds of Swedish. It seems to have helped. The other fun thing about memrise is making so-called “mems”. Initially, when I had barely any vocab, these were simple mnemonics, but now I tend to use Google Advanced Search to find short phrases in Swedish which contain the word I am trying to learn (i.e. lexical chunks). This has helped me understand how the words work in more depth as I see them in use in various ways.

    Another great resource for you to look into, alongside your children’s books, would be to try and get hold of the audio version of the books you have read. These might be available second-hand on amazon.de or on ebay.de. Alternatively, you could try joining audible.com. My younger daughter, aged 14, loves audio books, so I bought her a Kindle Fire for Christmas last year and a subscription to audible.de. I have seen that I would also be able to get audio books in Swedish via this subscription, too.

    I also watch old children’s TV shows on the internet, or have them burbling away in the background when I do the washing-up or other household chores. A particularly good one to watch in German would be “Die Sendung mit der Maus”, which is a long-running TV show for kids with short segments in nice bite-size pieces. I used to love watching that with my kids! There might be DVDs available, for all I know, with subtitles for the hearing impaired in German, which would also be great. A Swedish TV channel has archives of old TV shows with subtitles which is great for me. I wonder if any of the German channels – ZDF or ARD are the two main ones, or any of the regional so-called “Drittes Programm” – offer anything like that. If you want to improve your pronunciation and listening abilities, these might be good places to go. YouTube, of course, is also a good resource for original material. Perhaps some of the bloggers might be worth watching, such as Le Floyd, although he speaks incredibly quickly!!!

    What else? I might try to start listening to pop music in Swedish next and look for the lyrics on YouTube or elsewhere. Songs also often include many everyday phrases. If I was learning German again, I would most definitely look up the band “Die Fantastischen Vier”; their tunes are really catchy and the lyrics are very very clever and funny.

    Anyway, I hope this helps. I shall follow your progress with interest!

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  4. Pingback: German diary: some exciting findings! | ROSE BARD – Teaching Journal

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