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.
- Brain Basics - simple explanations for younger learners
- Your Brain - video presentations about how brains work
- The Importance of Sleep - all brains need it
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
TIPS FOR LEARNING GERMAN
If you speak English, you already know a lot of German. Both languages belong to the same language family.
- Quiz to find out how much you know - surprise yourself
- Test your German - not for beginners
- Europass - Rate your own skills in German and other languages you know
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.
- Basic Principles for Learning Languages - Brain theory and learning tips
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.
- Self-Assessment Grid for German - For your own use
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.
- Transparent Language - German
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.
- LEO - Online German dictionary
- dict.cc - Online dictionary for German-English - and many other languages
- Online German Flashcards - Choose your topic, select 'Study' or download
- Study Stack - online flashcards for many topics and other games
- Days of Deutsch - learn German image by image, word by word
- DWDS - German-German dictionary
- Wortschatz Lexicon - University of Leipzig
- Pons.eu - language portal for European languages
- Duden - Sprachwissen - Rechtschreibregeln, Podcast, Szenensprache and more
- The Free Dictionary - German-German dictionary
- Woxikon - Synonyms, rhymes, abbreviations, verb conjugations
- Synonyms - Rechtschreibung (in German)
- Exam / Test Tips - Strategies, BBC
Vocabulary Lists and Idioms
- Deutschfans - Wort/Idiom/Zitat der Woche and more
- Forvo: Pronunciation - Type in word and hear it pronounced e.g. Deutsch
- Digital Dialects - Basic vocabulary
- Glossaries - Lists vocabulary in themes from A - Z
- Top 500 German Words - High-frequency words from the German Professor
- VCE/IB Flashcard Sets on Quizlet
- Redewendungen - Idiomatic expressions
- Szenensprachen - Duden keeps pace with how language is used, not necessarily standard German
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)
Mir geht es gut! - Basic Phrases for Daily Life
Everyone can learn useful greetings and phrases to use in daily encounters.
- Basic Greetings - Basic greetings explained
- Digital Dialects - Simple vocabulary and phrases for beginners
- Languages Online - Beginners German course funded by the Victorian government
- German in Germany - Videos and everyday situations, good if you are going on exchange
- BBC Learn German in 12 weeks - Online course for everyday situations
- MYLO - HIGHLY RECOMMENDED UK interactive website - with some great challenges too
- How to Write a Letter in German - German About website
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
- Memrise - standard German, Swiss German - sign-up for free
- Quizlet - A fun way to learn vocabulary
- Adjective Endings
- Byki: German words and phrases - online vocabulary cards with audio and different levels
- German Very Easy - learner-friendly explanations in English about grammar and more
- Slow German - Learn all about Germany with these aural texts with transcripts on many topics
- Grammar - About German section for grammar, explanations in English
- Grammar and Punctuation Glossary - Find out what the terms mean in English
- Grimm Grammar - Grammar in context
- ClickDeutsch - Grammatik der deutschen Sprache
- German Verb Conjugation -
English Grammar Sites
- Learning English - Designed for adults and kids learning English in the UK
- English Grammar - Video explanations, quizzes (UK)
- Basics of English Grammar - simple explanations
What do German-speakers find tricky about learning English vocabulary?
- 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.
- Radio D - Online audio course for beginners with English moderator
- German Language Practice - Web exercises f or lots of grammar topics
- Paul Joyce German Course - Comprehensive course - UK
- Learning German - Online materials from Deutsche Welle
- Practice German Online A1-C2 - Goethe-Institut: Exercises, Read and watch, Chat - Forum - Mail, Second Life
- Practice for different levels of German - Goethe-Institut examinations
- busuu - online learning community, a range of free materials but many more if you pay
- Duolingo - practise language skills interactively
- BBC Languages: German - A great site for all
- Germanheit - Bite-size bits and pieces about German culture and language (English)
- Austria-Forum - all about Austria
- Infonetz - many topics to explore in simpler language
- Blinde Kuh - A German search engine for children
- Logo - TV show for young viewers
- Planet Wissen - Research your own topic
- Project Topics - Thematic resources and links
- German History in Documents and Images - Go to the primary source
- European Union - Information about members of the European Union
- Hansiauland - Very good site - comics, films, books, lexicon and more
Hotlinks for Senior Students in Victoria
- VCE Study Designs - Know the assessment criteria, the only way to get marks!
- Past Exam Papers and Assessment Reports - Practise your exam technique and research what examiners said
- General Achievement Test (GAT) - Learn how it affects your results
- Statistical Moderation - Understand how Units 3 and 4 are assessed
- International Baccalaureate (IB) - All about the IB program offered in some schools in Victoria (and Australia)
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.
- Goethe-Institut Australia - Courses for senior secondary students (and adults)
- Goethe-Institut - Courses for children and teens in Germany
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