Archive for September, 2012

Anki – User Friendly Flashcards

Monday, September 17th, 2012

Anki (taken from the Japanese word for memorizing) is a free flash card program downloadable from the internet. Unlike paper flashcards you could make yourself, Anki employs a spaced-repetition algorithm. This basically means it focuses on the cards you have the most trouble with, and brings back the ones you know well at increasing intervals relating to when you’re likely to have forgotten them. It might sound a little complicated, but luckily, Anki does all of the work for you. You just type in the facts, German vocab and English translations in this case, and Anki takes over.

After a while, German vocab decks could have hundreds of words in them. This is no cause for concern though, because as long as you keep up with your reviewing, you’ll probably not have more than 20 or 30 words to review on any given day. And usually you’ll already know them pretty well, so even that won’t be much work. The benefit is enormous though, because you’re constantly reminding yourself of older vocab words that may have slipped into the dark recesses of your memory. Now the words which have gotten farthest away from you are being brought back systematically. In just ten minutes or so a day you can be reviewing your entire German vocabulary!

There are a lot of fancy features of Anki, which you may or may not feel the need to explore. This includes, but is not limited to, total control over the length of your review sessions, access to copious statistics and graphs of all sorts, and the ability to store your decks online for free and sync them between multiple computers (i.e. use the same deck and home and school without having to review the same words twice!).

To make it even easier, and to encourage your German studies, I went ahead and entered in almost all of the Vokab for German I and II. If you’d like any of these vocab sets just send me a message in the message center on the Distance Learning website with your email address and I’ll send you the goods. Than all you have to do is import what I send you into Anki and you’re ready to study. So do yourself a favor and go download Anki here.

Their web site has pretty good instructions on how to get it set up and going, if you have any questions just message me in the message center.

Example Card

Munich & Bavaria – A Completely Foreign Germany

Wednesday, September 5th, 2012

This past summer I was fortunate enough to be able to travel to Germany for the third time. In my previous visits I stayed in a small town near Cologne, North Rhine-Westphalia. This time I stayed in a very different region of Germany; I was in Bavaria. Southern Germany, like the Southern US States, is completely different from the rest of the country. I was not expecting the culture in Bavaria to be so drastically different from the German culture that I had been previously exposed to. But oh, was I wrong.

I was in Bavaria on the KIIS (Kentucky Institute for International Studies) Munich Program. There were 16 other college students who also participated in this program. Each student lives with a host family and then we attended class Monday through Friday. We were not living in the actual city of Munich, but rather in a small farming village called Esting. Esting is about 30 minutes by S-Bahn from Marienplatz, the heart of downtown Munich. When we first arrived at the Grundschule, the elementary school where our classes were held, in Esting it was raining and I just wanted to sleep. Our host families were coming to pick us up at the school and I couldn’t have been more excited to meet my host family…and then take a nap.

Esting, Bavaria

Upon meeting my host father and both of my host sisters I realized that I was not at all prepared for the culture shock that Bavaria had just placed in front of me. I’d studied German for more than five years and actually found myself speechless when I tried to speak to my host family. “Why?” you might ask? It was at that moment when I realized how intensely altered the German language in Bavaria is. Actually the language spoken by native Bavarians actually has its own name, bayerisch. I do not speak a lick of bayerisch and found myself not being able to understand the majority of what my host family was saying to me.

“Well, this will be fun.” I thought to myself. The language barrier existed throughout my entire 6 week stay with the Schilling family in Esting, Bavaria. I did my best to listen and try and pick up some of the simple bayerisch words but fully comprehending them turned into be an impossible mission. This dialect of German taught me one very important lesson: patience. My host family was patient with me when I didn’t understand them and I was patient with them when they tried to speak more clearly. I have more patience than I ever have had before with the KET German students because now I understand from personal experience the frustration that a language barrier can bring. I was essentially learning a new language in Esting and that’s what our students are also doing.

The language barrier was something that was only an issue in the small outlying towns and villages of Munich. In the metropolitan city of Munich, the language barrier did not exist. Munich is by far the greatest large city of Germany that I’ve visited. The people are so friendly, the city and all of its old charm is enchanting and there is never a dull moment in a city like Munich. Munich has so much to offer to everyone that is there, whether that be foreigners or natives. There are museums, restaurants and shops galore.

Soccer Public Viewing at Hirschgarten, Germany's Largest Biergarten

The cultural difference that most distinguishes Munich (and Bavaria) from other parts of Germany is the Biergarten. There are so many Biergartens in Munich and the atmosphere at the Biergartens is so relaxing. People are enjoying beer after work, singing and spending time with friends and family. My favorite Biergarten was Augustiner Keller, a more traditional, non-touristy spot. We were the only Americans there but were treated just like everyone else. Before I came to Munich I had never been to a Biergarten anywhere else in Germany. Some of my favorite memories of my summer in Munich were at Biergartens. The Biergarten is what most defines Bavaria.

Besides bayerisch and the Biergarten, there is one final aspect of Bavarian culture that is

My UK Blue Dirndl and Lederhosen for Women!

unique. And that would be the traditional Bavarian dress: Lederhosen for the men and Dirndl for the women. No where else is Germany is it common to wear such attire. Bavarians don their traditional dress anywhere they can – Biergartens, street festivals, town festivals, or any other major celebration. Authentic Dirndls and Lederhosen can be quite costly but this is a cost that families push aside because the traditional dress is so important to their culture. My favorite purchase of my trip is definitely my Dirndl. It symbolizes the time I spend in Bavarian, the memories I made there and the amazing people I met.

I wouldn’t trade my trip to Munich for anything. I learned so much about myself and advanced my German skills. I absolutely fell in love with the city and the people. After all, the city’s motto is

“München mag Dich!”

München- Die Frauenkirche und Das Rathaus

Jessica Ankenman


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