Archive for August, 2012

Learning Through Teaching

Tuesday, August 21st, 2012

Why German? For me, it was simple: my grandmother on my mom’s side is German and we’ve always gotten along really well. She told me story after story about her culture and what it was like growing up in Germany, and taught me snippets of the German language throughout my childhood. She sparked my interest in the subject.

When I started taking it in school, I realized that I was passionate about it for more reasons than I thought going in. At first, I figured I would just take it to make my Oma happy, but I found myself enjoying the class simply because I enjoyed the language. I took German through high school and ended up declaring it my major in college. I learned, and am still learning, tons about German history, film, and culture. I found enjoyment in learning other languages too, and a whole fascinating world opened up to me, all thanks to my grandma inspiring me to take that first step toward learning a new language.

Now I’m avidly interested in linguistics, and learning as many languages as I can. I want to do more than speak them; I want to understand them the way I understand English. I want to know the history and roots of words so that I really know what I’m talking about, because my ultimate goal is to teach.

So why teach? That’s the tougher question. There are a million reasons one could give for learning any language, all ranging from “it sounded interesting” to “it sounded easy”. I guess my personal reason for wanting to teach is that I think it’s really just one more way to learn, and I want to learn as much as I can. I would argue that it’s one of the best ways to learn, actually, which is why this just had to be the subject of my first blog post.

I would recommend to anyone that when they are learning a new language, they try to teach it to others. The reason for this is simple: if you’re going to teach something, you are forced to know exactly what you’re talking about. There are no excuses when someone asks you a question about grammar. You can’t shove it to the side and tell yourself you’ll study it later if you don’t get it now. When you make the effort to learn so that you can explain something to someone else, you’ll find that it sticks better in your brain.

Nobody wants to look like a fool when they try to teach someone else – so try! The motivation to come across like you know what you’re talking about will result in you actually knowing what you’re talking about, I promise.

Not to mention, it can be fun! If you enjoy German, I urge you to share it with someone else. I guarantee they’ll be impressed, and you both might just learn something!

Stephanie Farmer: the girl, the tutor, the legend.

Another perk of being a tutor: spontaneous workplace photography.

German Cinema

Thursday, August 9th, 2012

Why do we learn German? One of the things that keeps me eager and interested to keep learning more is German culture, specifically cinema. Germany has claim to one of the richest film traditions of any European nation. The best part is that while appreciating all of these great films, you are improving your German! This is one of the easiest ways to improve your language skills.

While this method doesn’t work for all of the great silent films Germany produced, it does hold true all the way back to classic films such as Fritz Lang’s “M”. Follow the link to Youtube and check it out! The story is about a city’s manhunt for a murderer, and the climax at the end is one of the most moving scenes in all of cinema history.

In the 1960s a movement called New German Cinema got started, proclaiming a new age in German cinema. A generation of young directors created some of the freshest films in decades. Wim Wender’s “Wings of Desire” is a wonderful film set in a divided Berlin and told from the point of view of an Angel who wants to become human.

Filmmaker Werner Herzog is famous for being one of the most original directors to come out of any period in history. His films are certainly not for everyone, but if you’re adventurous he can be incredibly rewarding. Some of his more recent films are in English, but still worth checking out (plus you get to hear his great narration!), such as “Encounters at the End of the World” about McMurdo Station on Antartica!

These three are just a start, there are many more directors and many more amazing films worth checking out. Check your local library, or poke around on Netflix or the internet and see what great German Films you can find on your own. Here are some links to get you started.

This link to Open Culture’s free online films page has some German films on it, and at the bottom has links to other websites with free films. Look for Metropolis, Faust, and Pandora’s Box in the silent films section.

Ubu Web is a repository of difficult to find and out of print cultural, mostly focusing on more experimental stuff. There is a lot on there, and I’ll let you explore for yourself, here a place to start: Alphabet of Dada. You’ve been warned.

Have fun! Don’t forget why we learn languages, and don’t forget to enjoy yourself along the way!


Strong Verb Lists

Tuesday, August 7th, 2012

Strong verbs are an important part of German II grammar. The following websites have lists of the most common strong verbs. You don’t need to memorize these lists, but they can provide a very useful resource when writing in the Perfekt.

About German has a great strong verb list, in addition to having hundreds of other pages about German grammar and culture.

This strong verb list includes which helping verb to use, the first and fourth columns are the ones you’ll want to focus your attention on.

This third and last list is a PDF ready to be printed out and kept with you at all times!

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