6 Strategies (You Can Apply At Work!) To Help You Learn German
For the hopeful polyglot, the German enthusiast, or somebody who just wants to feel like they’ve actually accomplished something useful at the end of eight hours at the office, learning German at work is a splendid way to develop a useful life skill and do it on your boss’s time. For the skilled and creative multi-tasker, there are endless ways of brushing up on your German inflexions and vocabulary on the sly. Here are a few.
1. Make use of colorful office supplies. One of the most confusing aspects of German for beginners can be its use of gendered and neutral nouns. So take advantage of the office supply closet for colorful post-it notes, highlighters, and flashcards to help train your eye to recognize the different genders of nouns on your vocabulary list. For example, write all masculine nouns and pronouns in red, feminine nouns and pronouns in blue, and neutral nouns and pronouns in black. Soon you will come to associate the word with that particular color/gender subliminally. Don’t forget your definite and indefinite articles!
2. Make use of office software. If your job provides you with certain programs, such as Microsoft Excel, you can use these to make charts organizing the four different declensions of German nouns. All nouns, as well as pronouns, adjectives, and articles, have a different ending based on whether their function is subjunctive, objective, dative, or genitive. These declensions can provide endless frustration for beginning students, so it’s best to have charts that you can use as a reference whenever you’re unsure of something.
3. Make use of the office printer. It’s always good to have a hard copy of your German notes, and most printers in an typical office are so busy that a handful of Germany vocabulary words will go unnoticed. Plus, the internet is filled with short stories, puzzles, and activities ideal for practicing your language skills. Going back to Tip #1, you can then use a stapler to craft a nifty little workbook of various pages you’ve printed off.
4. Make use of your free time. Whether this be your commute time or your half-hour allotted to lunch, chances are you could be approaching it in a more productive manner. If you take public transport to work, you can read over notes or exercises that you printed out the day before.
5. Practice Your Listening Skills. It’s common to see people listening to iPods or mP3 players during the day, just to take their mind off of the stress of the office or rush hour traffic. This is a prime opportunity for you to listen to language exercises, songs, or podcasts in German to get you accustomed to hearing the language. Goethe.de has plenty of downloadable resources in this aspect.
6. Construct your own sentences. German sentence structure is much more fluid than it is in English—for example, the sentences “The man eats the apple,” and “The apple eats the man,” can express the same idea if the noun declensions are identical. Buy a set of German refrigerator magnets and place them on the office fridge or filing cabinet. Have fun experimenting with crafting your own sentences in German, and encourage your coworkers to join in!