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FÜR 2024

How to Become a Strategic Learner in 4 Easy Steps


Do you ask yourself why some people learn languages more easily than others? Do you also think that children are better learners than adults or that growing up bilingual is definitely an advantage that you cannot catch up on later in life, no matter how much effort and time you put into it?

If so, you probably wish to have a talent for languages or to have learned German as a child, so that you don’t have to struggle now through its difficult grammar and tons of vocabulary to memorize.

Or you are hoping that Google translator is going to become more accurate so that you can speak into your phone in your native language and it will automatically translate for you.

I am here to tell you that you even as a busy adult, you CAN learn German - it is a matter of having the right stategies.

So how do you choose the right strategies in order to succeed in your learning process?

  1. They need to be tested and proven. - You need strategies that you know work, not just blindly trying everything until something works, but using the right strategies for the right goals. So you need to know which strategies are best in which situations.

  2. They need to be valid for you – it’s not enough for a strategy to be just working in general. It is important that it also works for you and your learning goals. So you need to be selective about what strategies you are applying

  3. They need to be fun – because even if they work 100% of the cases and even if it teaches you what you want to learn, if you don’t enjoy this using it, then it will not bring you the satisfaction you want to experience after putting the hard work into it.

The 4 Steps for Strategic Learning

So today, I want to give you 4 easy steps in order to choose the most successful strategies that will bring you closer to your results with 100% satisfaction.

STEP 1: FOCUS on one specific thing that you want to learn or improve.

There are million things that you could learn in German: new words, the pronunciation of a specific sound or a sound combination, a new grammar structure, a way to behave in a specific situation, cultural specifics. The more you can focus on one thing, the easier and quicker it is going to be to master it.

STEP 2: FIND 3 ways for learning / practicing

List three “best-practice” strategies or learning methods to get to your learning goal. Why three? Because three is more than one. And three gives you more options to choose from. So that if #1 doesn’t work for you as expected, you don’t give up, but continue with #2. And by the time you get to #3, you might have already reached your learning goal.

STEP 3: DECIDE if it is fun.

What is it about that strategy that you enjoy the most? Is it easy to use? Is it applicable for more than one learning area? Is it more effective because it brings you quicker results or because it is something different and interesting to try?

STEP 4: SCHEDULE & APPLY.

Use the strategy. Don’t think too much and stop making excuses. Just do it. The best way you can do it is to schedule a specific time or a number of times when you consciously decide to apply this strategy.

How it works?

Let me show you an example of how this works.

My student Chris was still struggling with fluency, comprehension and learning vocabulary in German. He didn’t always have the time to do homework or learn German in a traditional way, so he was looking for a fun way to improve his German skills.

STEP 1: So he decided that he needs to FOCUS on one specific thing, which was German pronunciation.

So he asked me, how he can improve his pronunciation? I gave him 3 ways to do so:

STEP 2: FIND 3 ways for learning / practicing

1) Choose a sound or a sound group and words that have this sound and practice it in front of a mirror.

2) When around German colleagues, observing their reactions and imitate how they speak, repeating what they say and the intonation they use.

3) Listen to and sing German songs.

Guess which one he chose!

STEP 3: He DECIDED that strategy #3 sounded like the most fun and that he can really do it any time when he relaxes or listens to music.

STEP 4: SCHEDULE & APPLY.

So he decided to download a couple of German songs and listen to them every time he was in his car - and to start trying to sing along.

In fact, he likes to travel a lot on weekends, so once while he was driving from Zürich to Marburg (about 6 hour drive), he listened to his favorite song at the time „Tage wie diese” (Die Toten Hosen) about 30 times. He liked this song so much that by the time he arrived home, he knew the whole text by heart and each time after that when he would hear it on the radio, he would put the volume on max and sing it out loud.

Singing a German song not only helped him improve his pronunciation.

  • He also learned new words, much easier, because songs usually rhyme.

  • He gained confidence in understanding German in a very authentic situation. He knew what the song was about, because he could easily look up the lyrics and translate new vocabulary. And he could do that without feeling embarrassed and asking people to please repeat slowly what they just said.

  • He had found a fun way to practice German while on the road and without even forcing or thinking about being tired or not having time for homework. In fact, the rhythm of the song kept him emotionally on top and he hadn’t even noticed how fast the 6 hours passed by.

All of this, just by focusing on one thing, choosing a fun way to practice it and deciding on a fixed time and place to do it (while driving).

ACTION TIME

So now it’s up to you to take action!

Go through your learning goals and decide on ONE thing that you want to improve.

Leave a comment below, if you want some advice or more ideas on “best-practice” strategies that you might be willing to try out.

Or maybe you are curious to try Chris’ strategy?

In this case, write down:

Which German song, singer or band do you like and want to learn on your ride home or while cleaning the apartment for example.

I’m curious to hear about your music favs.

I hope this was helpful and if you liked this article, share it with your close friends, colleagues or anyone that you think might enjoy it.

And remember: You are not alone on your German journey!

Or as Xavier Naidoo (my favorite German singer) says:

“Was wir alleine nicht schaffen, das schaffen wir alle zusammen.”

Enjoy and have fun while learning German!

Dilyana

P.S. Stay tuned for next week’s article when we are going to talk about “best-practice” advice and options for you to exercise at any time and any place, with or without German (native) speakers.

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Hallo!

Ich bin Dilyana.
Du möchtest besser auf Deutsch kommunizieren und ich kann dir helfen.
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