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Tips for Learning

Students - Tips for Learning

Übung macht den/die Meister/in!  Es lohnt sich!

You learn a language by trying to use the language to communicate. You will make mistakes.

Part of learning is learning strategies to overcome problems - a skill for life.

Here you can find general learning tips followed by specific tips and links for German.


Your Brain: The Engine Room of Thinking and Learning

Just like a car, the brain needs fuel and skills in how to drive it to the destinations we want to reach.

Scientists have found out a lot about how the brain works and how we learn. Understanding how the brain functions helps us decide what's worth doing to promote memory and learning. It  will help you become a better learner now and in the future.

Everything we can do, every skill and all knowledge has been learnt.

What is learning?

Learning is the lifelong process of transforming information and experience into knowledge, skills, behaviors, and attitudes. (Jeff Cob)

Definition from the Google Dictionary:    learn·ing    /   ˈlərniNG    /     Noun

 1.  The acquisition of knowledge or skills through experience, practice, or study, or by being taught.

 2.  Knowledge acquired in this way.

  • The acquisition of knowledge or skill. It occurs in the brain! , and may lead to changes to the brain.
  • Learning is acquiring new knowledge, behaviors, skills, values or preferences. It may involve processing different types of information.

How do we learn?

Every learner is different and you bring a unique set of skills and experiences to learning situations. Try this online test to see what your strengths are. This quiz can be completed in Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, English, Somali and Urdu.

 Each of us has strengths in three or more areas - and we can develop the others.

Find out how you can use knowledge of your strengths to your advantage.

What is your preferred learning style? How does your brain process information best?

Learning successfully is connected to how well you remember information and processes.

The more you understand yourself as a learner the better you can target strategies to help you learn.

What makes for the best learning experiences?

If you reflect back on how you have learned to do something, you might have identified some of these:

 a)  Actually doing something. - Use German to express yourself wherever possible.

 b)  Doing it with others. - The brain is social. Learn with and from each other.

 c)  Having support from a teacher /coach /parent. - Your teacher knows a lot about German.

 d)  Having an audience for the learning. - We tend to try harder when it is for a real purpose.

 e)  A sense of having learnt something. - Know what knowledge or skill you have added to your toolkit.

 f)  A sense that the task was tough. - We need to stretch our brains to make progress.

 g)  Having some sense of personal progression. - Identify and celebrate the steps you have made.

 h)  Some passion about the whole activity. - Find ways to to make learning meaningful and fun for you.

      From an idea from Andrew Hiskens


If you speak English, you already know a lot of German. Both languages belong to the same language family.

General Tips for Learning Languages

Remember how you learnt your first language (without a teacher). Over time you worked out how the sounds were put together, then you distinguished different words and phrases. You showed this by doing what you were asked. Your first words were likely to be something that had meaning for you: Mum, Dad, Bic (Biscuit), Ta, There (and pointing), Mine - or the equivalent in your language. When we learn another language, it is similar, but we have experience in learning language. We have learnt one (or two) informally and formally at school. We transfer this knowledge to learning the next language - and you have a teacher to help.

Spoken German is different to written German, as it is in English. We need to learn the rules including the cultural differences in language use.

Comprehension (speech, written texts and symbols) is the first step toward producing language (speaking and gestures, writing symbols of the language, spelling, grammar, writing for different purposes and text-types)

Learning is doing! You get better at German over time by exposure to the language and trying to use it to communicate. We need to find ways to move the information we need to our long-term memory.

Know what you Know and How you Know

It is sometimes hard to see how you are making progress. Print and rate your current skills on this self-assessment grid. You can also pick up some tips about learning languages along the way.

eNewsletter for Learners of German

This US site is a treasure chest of support for users of English as a first language learning German. It is about grammar, vocabulary, word of the day, quizzes, German-speaking cultures and more.

Sign up for a regular e-newsletter to arrive in your mailbox.

  • About German - Comprehensive site with English explanations

Subscribe to this site and receive a German word a day sent to your email which you can hear pronounced and used in a sentence.


Dictionaries and Vocabulary

Learning how to use a dictionary well is an important skill of learning languages. There are many online dictionaries. Don't just pick the first word you see. Think about the function and context of the vocabulary you want to use e.g. do you need a noun or a verb. Luckily for learners of German, all nouns begin with a capital letter, so they are easy to identify.

Vocabulary Lists and Idioms

Getting Started 

Learn the sounds and symbols of German.

  • Alphabet - ABC song sung in a round (other videos on side)
  • ABC Lied - sung with examples of words and umlauts
  • Phonics – Listen and practice sounds and sound combinations
  • Phonetiktricks - Short Videoclips with 17 tricks
  • Phonics - Listen to vowels and learn some tips - and more (Leipzig)
  • Zungenbrecher - listen to the tongue twisters and try them out

Mir geht es gut! - Basic Phrases for Daily Life

Everyone can learn useful greetings and phrases to use in daily encounters.

Learning Vocabulary and Grammar

Think about how the brain works. Staring at your vocabulary list is the most ineffective way of remembering it.

Grammar is the set of rules for speaking or writing a particular language and the rules for forming the words, phrases and sentences.

Know how you learn best. What can you do well and how did you get so good at that? Try those strategies learning German. Learn some strategies for learning languages.

You need to find creative ways to remember vocabulary e.g. making up a rap, using pictures, recording yourself, playing concentration, and learning with others, as the brain is social. Know how you learn best. Ask for help on how to learn. The only way to get

Verb Conjugation

English Grammar Sites

What do German-speakers find tricky about learning English vocabulary?

Reading Comprehension

  • Deutsch-to-go - Short texts with quick online exercises, great for exam preparation

Online Language Courses

There are lots of online courses you can use for home study.

General Knowledge

Hotlinks for Senior Students in Victoria

Check out the exams from other states

  • NSW HSC - Look up Beginners and Continuing German

And this site might be useful for practice.

AGTV Student Forum for Students of VCE German

The AGTV conducts a Year 12 Forum for students of VCE German on preparation for the end of year exams. It is usually on a Sunday morning in August. We send out information to teachers.

German Language Courses in Australia and beyond

The social brain will enjoy learning German with others right here in Australia or a course overseas.

Online Translations, Plagiarism and Copyright

Online translation services can by helpful if you use them as a tool for learning. However, unless you can understand what was constructed, as well as the vocabulary used, you will not learn anything. It is usually obvious that work is not your own.

Making mistakes is part of learning and lets your teacher see what particular aspect of German you have not yet mastered.

There are so many ideas and so much information out there, it is tempting to just copy and paste. But this can land you in a whole lot of trouble.

  • Smartcopying - Find out about Copyright  Law in Australia and beyond
  • Pixabay - All images and videos on Pixabay are released free of copyrights under Creative Commons CC0

Featured Links