In these strange times, it can be difficult to keep ourselves entertained – rocketing sales of baking ingredients, trampolines, and craft supplies are proof of that. Language learning apps have also seen a huge surge of interest since restrictions began – mastering the Konjunktiv may turn out to be the surprise silver lining of our severely reduced social lives. We’ve put together a few tips for our German learners on how you can use your time at home to take your German studies to the next level:
Working from home? Replace your commute with dedicated German-learning time
Now that we can’t go to the office, we should all have a certain amount of spare time per day that we used to spend sitting in a car or zoning out on public transport. Depending on how far you live from your place of work, you might even have several hours of spare time to fill! Try to spend that time (or at least some of it) before and after work doing a language-learning activity. In addition to definitely getting your homework done, you could make progress in a German novel, practice that tricky grammar topic you can never get right, or try to practice the vocab that you learned in last week’s class. If you want to multitask, you could take a stroll with a German podcast, like perennial favourite Langsam Gesprochene Nachrichten.
If you want to take it a step further, you can change the operating language on your TV, phone, and computer, and in all your apps so that you will never forget that ‘eine neue Nachricht’ means ‘one new message’. Take a look online for German recipes or German food bloggers that you can follow, to learn vocabulary as you cook – try Berliner Küche or Eat This. Seek out German music through the East Melbourne Language Centre’s playlist on Spotify or through Spotify Deutschland. Add German subtitles to your TV shows or use the language search feature of your streaming service to find German-language shows to watch – shows that have had a lot of hype recently include Dark, Deutschland 83, and Babylon Berlin.
Take advantage of working from home (or just being there much more than usual) to surround yourself with visual learning aids. Tape posters up in your bathroom or kitchen so that a tea break is now also an irregular verb break, or if you’re having trouble with remembering gender, use colour-coded Post-Its on your household objects.
The app of the dictionary Reverso has the function to practise the vocab that you looked up in the past.
There’s nothing like talking to reinforce your German skills, and fortunately there are probably even more opportunities for us to talk to other language learners online as there are to talk face to face. The free app Tandem, which has both chat and video functions, also has a section for free language exchanges between language learners. If you’re looking for someone you may eventually be able to meet for a coffee, there are lots of Melbourne-based meetup groups and expat groups where you can source a speaking partner.
Trapped with someone? Co-opt your family or housemates
Now that we all have the social lives of Antarctic researchers, you may be forced to turn to the people that you live with if you want any in-person language practice. If they speak German too, try a conversation hour (perhaps over the German recipes that you just cooked!), or play charades, Pictionary, or hangman with easy German vocabulary. If they don’t speak German, ask them to help you revise your vocabulary, and remember that you can still practice your greetings on them! Warning: read the mood of the house carefully before you take up any of these suggestions, or isolation may take on a new meaning for you.