Learning German with all your senses

Let’s get out of the classroom! This method will help you remember German vocabulary and the articles better.

Learning German on the move: "The tram is yellow."
Learning German on the move: "The tram is yellow." william87/stock.adobe.com

Linguist Antonia von Trott knows how exhausting it is to sit in the classroom for hours concentrating on a foreign language. That's why she recommends: "Go outside and learn German with all your senses!"

Take a German stroll

"When you’re walking in a park or in the city, focus on what you’re seeing, hearing, tasting or smelling and link it to the language: ‘What's the German for the thing I'm looking at? Or this colour?' You can search a dictionary app for the German word right away during your walk."

Here’s an alternative: “Write down your impressions of the day at home and go through them again in your mind: 'Here I ate an ice cream, there I saw a fountain, the tram rattled past nearby'. The advantage is that this complex remembering activates different areas of the brain, so that new connections develop. You’ll then find it easier to remember the vocabulary."

You can use this method anywhere and link it to your interests. “Perhaps it works even better as a group exercise," says von Trott, "because when you say the new German words you have learned out loud to each other, you repeat them and train the pronunciation. Make a game out of it. Each person concentrates on a different sensory impression, or explains their three favourite words to the others,” the language teacher suggests.

Article dance

‘Der’, ‘die’ or ‘das’? Perhaps you're wondering how to remember the grammatical gender of German words and their corresponding articles? Movement can help you learn. Antonia von Trott therefore likes to invite German beginners to do the ‘article dance’. For this exercise she uses a music CD from an A1 textbook with a German rap tune: ‘der Apfel’, ‘die Birne’, ‘das Obst’. When the students hear 'die', everyone moves to the right; 'der' means move left, and 'das' one step back.

“The idea can be transferred to many other things; in fact the language students can develop their own dance," suggests von Trott.

Antonia von Trott
Antonia von Trott studied Applied Linguistics at the University of Vienna and has been teaching German as a foreign language for six years. She is also a trained examiner for telc certificates and Goethe certificates.

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