Many people have difficulties when approaching a new language- especially at the college level. Why wouldn’t you? You literally grew up with a language that seems completely different than the one you are now trying to learn, while balancing an insane school schedule and a social life. You may be doing this with a professor who teaches the lowest beginners class as if you have had 3 years of experience. Or a teacher who has a class curriculum suited to students who do not have 8 assignments each week which can destroy whether they graduate or keep that scholarship. It is tough work!
But do not feel like you have to deal with this on your own. Do not decide on week one you are going to fail just because it is not easy. There are many concepts and tips which can be utilized to help you ace those difficult language classes. You are not the only one struggling in these courses that are supposed to be the easiest levels of language. Most of the time, the tips are so simple and overlooked that they can be utilized for any language course.
Tip 1: To Learn
When classes are over- they are over. But with certain classes you are going to have to prepare in some way in order to pass them. Believe it or not, language classes (even beginner levels) can be classified as these classes. To ace a language class, you have to prepare. Do not panic though. In language classes, you can learn in the simplest (and even coolest) ways.
• Duolingo: Get this app. Seriously. It saves academic lives. This app is an easy way to learn the basics of almost any language you most likely will be dealing with in life. It definitely helps when approaching a new language for the first time.
• Movies and Music: This is probably the most common thing anyone has ever heard of when learning a new language, but they really do help. Growing up knowing certain things from familial ties and listening to music- like this song “99 Luftballons”. These songs are helpful even when one does not really know what it means or how much German is taught by through it.
• Babbel: Download this app if you are looking for a more in-depth and lengthy understanding of the language. This would probably be something to use if you are teaching yourself- so if you do not grasp a concept or have a difficult professor, try it.
• Rosetta Stone: If you are like every other college student to exist- you do not necessarily want to go buy a subscription to this well-known language program. However, if you keep an eye out for deals you can get trials and special sales on it. For instance, a limited time trial is not unknown, and its helps people grasp the basics a little better. The great thing is, is it helps people not be blindsided in class.
Tip 2: Participate
Now, you may be thinking that this is a no-brainer, but if you are taking a language class because you have to (and will most likely have to take another) then you need to actually learn the material. So, take good notes and actually try to participate in class. Actually saying things aloud really does help it stick more.
• Textbook: With college level language courses, it can be rough with textbooks. However, the further you get into the course the more helpful it proves to be.
• Extra Credit: This seems like a no brainer. But, if you are lucky to get extra credit opportunities- take them all.
Tip 3: Integrate it into your life
Whether this is talking to people, joining the German Club, watching more German movies, or putting Post-It notes all over your dorm room- integrate your lessons. Auburn University has what is called Stammtisch, where people go and just spend two hours getting to meet and talk to other German speakers. These nights consist of people from all over the world who speak nothing and who speak German fluently. It is a great experience to be able to listen to people and get to hear tips from people who have been involved with the language a lot longer than you. If you are genuinely interested in learning German (or any language), see if your university has something like this- or if you could make something like this. If not, doing things like simply trying to think about common things in German can be helpful. For instance, if you go to a restaurant, try and name things in German. Or the next time you watch a movie, maybe add some German captions (or vice-versa).
Tip 4: It is okay to memorize
This will probably be one of the few classes your professor will be willing to say memorizing is important. Of course, you still need to understand the concepts and how they work, but the German language relies heavily on memorization. In German, the genders usually determine how to say every word. One thing that is difficult for beginners is the fact there is really not a cheat sheet or set way to determine this. You literally have to memorize each word and it’s matching Artikel – what says it’s gender.
Tip 5: Make sure you grasp the concepts
One thing which is important in German, but is probably important in every language, is understanding the concepts. If you do not understand the concepts, you will not be able to pass the course because everything builds on each other. The best way to approach concept learning for German 1010 is to focus on these main things:
• The basics of German Cases: Nominative, Accusative, Dative, Genitive
• Definitive and Indefinite German Articles and their cases: der, die, das, ein, eine
• Personal Pronouns and their cases: ich, du, er/sie/es, wir, ihr, sie/Sie
• Modal Verbs
• Regular Verb Forms and “tenses”
In conclusion, no matter how hard learning a new language may seem, there are ways to overcome your fears. There are many tools available to help you – whether they are apps, programs, talking to people, or simply studying. If you can pick up the things listed above (and understand them) you will be on your way to acing your class. Everything in German, and in every other language, are building blocks. Therefore, laying the foundation is important and will lead to a successful start to learning your chosen language.