BLL German/How to study
How to study German using the bite-sized lesson format
The bite-sized lesson format means that you typically will not need to spend a lot of time on each lesson. Both new grammar and new vocabulary have been kept to a minimum. This was done with three goals in mind:
- You will not be overwhelmed with the amount of new things you are expected to learn;
- You will be able to practise what you learned very quickly rather than having to go a long while without any control that you understood correctly;
- You will probably not have to stop reading in the middle of a lesson;
In order to make the maximum out of this format, go through the following steps:
- When starting to study a new lesson, find at least 1 hour of free time, preferably away from any distractions in a calm and tidy place where your only focus will be on the lesson. Study the lesson carefully and if possible without interruptions (breaks of a few minutes are allowed and may even be beneficial if you just close your eyes and sit back):
- Look at the goals of the lesson and think of how being able to speak German in general and achieving the lesson's goal in particular can be helpful for you. Imagine yourself expressing yourself fluently in German.
- Read the text or dialogue and try to grasp the gist, but at least try to recognise a few words. English introductions, the format, foreign words or names appearing in the text, German words that look similar to English ones or that you have learned in a previous lesson are your friends.
- Study the mandatory vocabulary. Pay attention to the comments in the third column, they might contain useful hints. Looking up the words in the text / dialogue may help you to remember how they are used. Try to think of mnemonics (things that help you memorise, e. g. imagining lifting a very heavy box, it dropping on your foot and you swearing in order to remember that the German word for 'heavy' is 'schwer', sounding approximately like the English word 'swear'). Mnemonics allow you to learn words much more quickly. Even if words don't sound 100% the same, they are close enough for your brain to get the hint. If you found a mnemonic that isn't mentioned in the lesson, please add it so that other users may benefit from it, too.
- Study the grammar. Look at the text for further examples. Mnemonics will help you here, too, but if you can't find any, just saying things as a rhyme or with rhythm will usually do the trick. Also, it may help you to memorise sample sentences or sample words with the feature you're trying to learn, e. g. students of Latin typically learn "amo - amas - amat - ..." rather than just the endings -o, -s, -t... .
- Re-read the text and do exercises in order to make sure that you understood everything. You needn't do all of the exercises if you are sure you understood already.
- Now imagine yourself involved a similar situation. Is there anything you would like to say that you can't say yet? Having a look at the Extension section and the lists of optional vocabulary there might help you. The words introduced there can be used without any additional grammar knowledge. You may also use this section in order to build your vocabulary. Pick out any words that you consider relevant to your situation or that you believe would be useful to know. These are typically words that some might use often and others rarely or not at all. Any words that are really frequently used will eventually be taught in the main vocabulary section of the lessons (even if they appeared in the optional vocabulary section of a previous lesson).
- Now you may stop studying for the day, if you like. You could also continue to the next lesson, if you feel ready for more grammar and vocabulary and if you have the time.
- You should try to revise the lessons you already did at least twice on different days. Revision doesn't take as long as the actual study, so it can be integrated into the day much more easily, whenever you have a few minutes to spare. If you don't have the time to read through the whole lesson, just re-read the text / dialogue in order to remind yourself of the vocabulary and grammar. If you find you can't understand something then, you should look it up in the vocabulary or grammar section and maybe do some more exercises. You could also just do some exercises without reading the rest of the lesson if you want to see whether you remembered the grammar correctly.
- In order to be really sure that you commit the vocabulary to your long-term memory rather than just the short-term one, I recommend flashcards along with the method of making different stacks and quizzing yourself on the ones that you appear to know less often than on the ones that you can't seem to memorise. You can find special boxes with compartments for this method or computer programs employing it, too.
- You can find more general information about how to learn a language well in the Wikibook "How to learn a language"