Does this sound familiar?
You’ve been learning German for a while now and you’re about to read a new text. You scan over it and spot several words you don’t know…. and you get annoyed with yourself! Surely you should know those words! Why don’t you know those words? Will you ever learn German properly? Oh, all this is so disheartening!
Does this also sound familiar?
You’re reading a newspaper article in English (or whatever is your native tongue) and you come across a few words you don’t know. You either ignore those words or, if they are really vital and/ or you really want to know, you look them up. Not once did you start to panic and thought ‘Oh, I’ll never learn English (or your language) properly!’
Most likely not!
We’ve all been there. We’re happy to read something in our own language even if there are words we’re not sure. But as soon as it’s a foreign language we get frustrated!
So, today’s blog post is a chance for you to take a break and look at what you CAN do.
That text you read, which had unknown words or structures, look at it again and pick out all the words you do know. If it’s possible highlight those words. Unless it’s a text that is not suitable for you yet as it’s, for example, for advanced learners whereas you’ve only just started to learn German, there are most likely more words you do know than you don’t.
Here are 5 strategies for the next time you feel frustrated because there is something in your German text/ work/ exercise that you’re struggling with:
- Look at some work you did as a beginner and enjoy that you now understand it. For example, if you’re learning with a textbook, go back to some of the pages in the beginning and remember how you struggled then and how easy it is now.
- Pick up everything in your current work that you do know or can do. For example, highlight every word in a text you do understand and celebrate those instead of worrying about those that you don’t know. Then, when you feel better about yourself you can look up those unknown words.
- If you’re struggling with a grammar concept, for example, if you can’t use the past tense, spend some time doing something with the present tense and really celebrate every German sentence you can say in the present tense.
- Make a list of everything you have achieved in your German learning. Take a piece of paper, decorate it if you wish (or download the PDF of the image below) or just open a word document or make a folder in Evernote or Trello or whatever you are using. Sit down with a cup of coffee and start your list with ‘I can…’ or if you’re advanced enough with ‘Ich kann…’ and then list what you can do. Depending on your ability this might be simple sentences like ‘I can introduce myself in German’ up to ‘I can use the passive’ – everything you can think of. Add to the list as and when you have accomplished something new.
- If something frustrates you immensely, get that list out and read it, or go back to step 1.
EDIT 2019: You can now also buy my notebook. It’s a lined notebook purely for writing your success stories: Success Journal for German Learners