Learning Tips


Some Tips for Your Language Learning:

1. Have fun with the new language. Be bold and daring, experiment with new sounds and new structures and don't be afraid to make mistakes. In a beginning language course students frequently feel like they are being propelled back to a child-like stage in which they are lacking the necessary words or structures to be able to express themselves. Try not to focus on the frustrating aspects of this situation Instead, remember how much fun you used to have as a small child trying out new words and sounds. Learn from little children by thinking back about how often they repeat the same phrase over and over again, ask the same questions hundreds of times, and have the ability to be silly with the language. We are all here to learn, so don't be embarrassed! Instead, enjoy being able to learn to communicate in a whole new language!

2. Learning a foreign language is not primarily a cerebral process but involves acquiring new speech habits through imitation and repetition, i.e., physical activity of your speech organs. Always read and speak out aloud whatever you are learning.

3. Study in short but frequent periods of time; this is more effective for absorbing and retaining the material than long but sporadic periods of cramming. Avoid tedium by limiting lab and computer exercises to 30 to 40 minutes.

4. This is a demanding course with a fast pace. Unless you are a Wunderkind, you cannot afford to cut classes and fall behind. If you neglect your daily work, it will take a superhuman effort to catch up. (If you feel underprepared, do come to class and tell us before class or drill - we will exercise benign neglect. )

5. Please be reminded that drill is a required part of German I. You are expected to be mentally and physically present at all drill sessions. Drill affords you an opportunity to practice the grammar and vocabulary presented in class. Please do not ask your drill instructor grammar questions during drill; it interrupts the rhythm of the session. Bring all of your grammar questions to class. (Your classmates probably have the same questions!) Also, please let your instructor know immediately about any problems in your drill. Too often problems that could have been easily solved at the beginning of the term are first expressed on course evaluations at the end of the term.

6. Language learning is an accumulative process, thus you cannot afford to forget what you have learned two or four weeks ago. Review regularly, especially your individual weak spots.

7. Before starting a new chapter (when "Bausteine" are assigned), please take a good look at the entire chapter for your overview orientation and to get a feel for the structures and principal contents of grammar and vocabulary.

8. Do your daily dose of German when you are alert, awake, and relaxed. That way you will retain things much better than when you are sleepy or exhausted from jogging. (But you still can listen to a tape of the language lab drills on your walk-man while jogging; frequent repetition of the work you have already done is an excellent way of improving your language skills!)

9. Do feel free to consult with your instructor during office hours or after having made a quick appointment (you can e-mail us any time). Don't hesitate to ask for clarification if you feel something is less than crystal-clear to you.

10. We encourage students with learning disabilities and other "invisible" and chronic diseases to consult with us during office hours so that we can discuss appropriate accommodations.


Comments to: vonderemde@vassar.edu
Page last modified: 10/29/03