Glad to have you on my blog =)
I wanted to share a quick post today with two exercises for improving your German vocabulary. You can use the exercises for any of your target languages, but since I have a B.A. in German, attended all sorts of classes to learn German, tried (nearly) every method to improve my skills, and lived in Germany for a year, I wanted to do a language-learning post for German 😀
My specialty in life would have to be German grammar 😉 Most people are indifferent when it comes to grammar, but I love it! It’s interesting for me to learn about the structure of different languages, so it’s no surprise that I have predisposition for liking (German, Russian, French) grammar. German grammar seems difficult in the beginning for most learners and that’s the popular opinion around the world, but, in my opinion, it’s much more reliable and logical than French or English grammar.
I’m not sure if many German learners read my blog, but if you are learning German and have questions, or want recommendations for German learning resources, please feel free to ask in the comments.
With the little introduction aside, let’s move on to the two exercises:
- Write a text in German. For example: a diary entry, a letter to a loved one (imagined or real), a report about something, or an essay on a particular topic.
- Try to think and write in German only. There may be some words that you still need to translate, so make a list of the words you need to know.*
- Group words from the list together. You can group verbs/adjectives/prepositions together, or words that belong to a particular topic such as “university life.”
- Study these words and re-write the text. Here is an essay checklist for writing correctly in German: Essay Writing Checklist. Here is a list of transition words to help with the structure of your essay: Aufsatz Phrases (pdf). Finally, here is another resource that discusses common mistakes students of German make in their writing: Grammar and Usage Advice.
*why should you start with German instead of translating? 1) If your goal is to speak German, you have to use German before you get really good at it. Actively using a language is the only way to become “fluent,” so it helps to start thinking, speaking and writing even the most basic phrases and sentences when self-studying. 2) You want to avoid awkward translations. By using German only, you are helping to develop a feeling for correct, natural German. Also, if you are just translating a text instead of trying to see what you know first, your progress will be very slow. 3) If you are an upper intermediate or advanced student, I would suggest translating an essay you have written in your native language into German. You have already developed a feeling for the language, so your main concern is no longer major translation mistakes, but rather limited vocabulary. You may have good grammar and know many words, but are you always repeating them over and over? Translating a text you have written in your native language will give you plenty of opportunities to learn new words and to compare your writing ability in your native and target languages.
- Select a topic (for example: animals, nationalities, professions.)
- Jot down words you already know.
- Search them online for natural examples from native speakers. For this I recommend: Tatoeba, a collection of sentences and translations or use a dictionary to find related words. I recommend dict.cc.
Let’s use the word Kellner (waiter):
So, how else can you improve your vocabulary in a foreign language? a) Listen daily to native speakers by watching TV shows, the news, films, or YouTube videos. b) Read daily— you can actively look for new words, or just enjoy the story. Exposure and practice are key.
More blog posts I’ve written about learning foreign languages:
- Ten Tips for Learning Vocabulary in a Foreign Language
- „I want to improve my speaking in a foreign language“ (Pt. 1)
- Going beyond the textbook~ learning to speak a foreign language (Pt. 2)
I hope it helped! I’m going to use the first exercise to help with my French self-study and the second one to expand my Russian vocabulary.
Have a great morning/day/evening,