5 Ways to Re-Use Your German & Learn More in the Process
There is one key ingredient to students who learn the most in their German lessons: they repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat.
My first German teacher was (and surely still is) an excellent instructor. She told me if I wanted to learn a new word in German, I'd have to use it 28 times.
28 times!! That's a lot of repetition. (If that's an average, sometimes it goes faster--say 20 repetitions, and sometimes it takes longer, say 40 repetitions. For as many times as you have to remind yourself that it's "das Ende," suddenly 28 times sounds fairly reasonable, oder?)
My awesome teacher was right.
Some students tell me they aren't sure how to repeat things out of their course book when they go home to study. They dutifully go through each homework exercise, read it again, check their answers, fill out the vocabulary, and then not know what else to do.
Let's count that up in terms of contact with the same material. Perhaps you've encountered the material 1 time from the teacher's introduction and 1 time through an exercise done in-class. Running tally: 2.
Then you did your homework and there were 3 exercises dealing with that topic. You read each exercise 1 time again. Running tally: 6.
You checked your answers. Running tally: 7.
You filled out the vocabulary workbook and read the sentences aloud again, which brings our running tally to 9. You're only 1/3 of the way to 28.
Here are 5 ways to re-use your German book & materials and to learn more in the process--and get to 28 times faster!
1. Rewrite the reading exercises.
For any exercise that you have read in class, you may have read it a couple of times--or at least glanced through it. Reading is a passive skill, so take that passive exercise (reading) and turn it into something active (writing). Rewrite that paragraph, that whole page, once, twice, three times. When you start to get sick of it, keep going a little further and you'll have incorporated that knowledge that much faster.
2. Use a ruler.
Yes. Use a ruler.
If you have an exercise where you need to put words in order, unscramble a sentence, or fix grammar, it could look something like this:
|heiße / ich / Maria Schmidt / . / ? / Sie / und / heißen / wie|
|Ich heiße Maria Schmidt. Und wie heißen Sie?|
Use a ruler (or a folded piece of paper) and cover up the answer you wrote it. Re-write the answer in your notebook or on another piece of paper--and do that multiple times. You're already multiple times closer to that magical 28!
3. Download only 1 podcast.
Oh, this totally goes against the grain, doesn't it? So many people get the feed for something like the Langsam gesprochene Nachrichten and proceed to listen as if it were the news in their native language. Prevent overwhelm and frustration by listening to just 1 podcast up to 6 or 7 times a day, day in and day out, until you can't stand it any longer.
So don't select "automatically update" or "download all" in your RSS feed reader or in iTunes. Download just 1 podcast, print out the transcript, and read it, listen to it, listen to it and pause it every 5 words and repeat what the speaker says, or listen to it and write it out and read it aloud to yourself.
Just download only 1 podcast.
4. Match and re-match.
In exercises that ask you to match things like a question and an answer or a picture to a word, match them up with arrows, cover up the arrow section with another piece of (non-transparent) paper and match them up again.
If the matching exercise calls for matching a number and a letter, do the same there.
5. Read it out loud.
To your cat, your dog, the plant, the chair. Just read everything aloud again. And again and again.
Even if you aren't 100% sure of the pronunciation or you feel really silly doing it, not only will reading things aloud help you gain confidence in your German speaking while you repeat, repeat, repeat.
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