How good is your German? What level are you?

I have a love-hate relationship with levels.

Yes, they are useful in deciding whether somebody should do A-levels in a subject, study it at university or apply for a job that requires, for example, fluency in German.

I remember when I taught at a secondary school during an inspection. If they had been asked, most students wouldn’t have been able to tell the inspectors what they had learned in German or hold a (mini) conversation. But they all knew what level they were in German. Absolutely useless!

Nowadays most of my students are adults. Some need German for work and want to do exams, which requires working towards a level. The majority, however, want to learn German because they want to be able to use it when on holidays or visiting friends and family.

If you are learning German because you want to be able to read your favourite German author’s books, does it matter what level you’re on? Of course not! What matters is whether you can read and enjoy the books or not (yet).

Having said all this, last week I came across this lovely website Sketchplanations Explaining the world one sketch at a time (well worth subcribing to his newsletter!) with this beautiful sketch about Bloom’s Taxonomy

If those planes were the perfect tense in German, then you:
remember that the teacher/ textbook mentioned the use of ‘haben’ and ‘sein’ in the perfect tense.
understand that you need to use either haben or sein plus the past participle in a perfect tense sentence.
apply that knowledge by completing exercises which require you to decide if you need to say ‘ich bin…’ or ‘ich habe …’.
analyze, why you got some sentences wrong.
evaluate your newly learned knowledge about the perfect tense in German.
create a beautiful text, maybe a story of something that happened to you, in German with the correct usage of haben and sein.

If those planes were your German lessons, you might:
remember something from your school time about die, die, das, den dem etc…
understand, that gender and cases are important in the German language
apply that knowledge by completing over a certain time lots of exercises about the nominative, accustaive, dative and genitive cases.
analyze, where things went wrong and where they went right.
evaluate your mistakes.
create your own beautiful work!

A bit like this learning pit (also from Sketchplanation)

This is probably my favourite sketch, because we can all relate to this.

  • Challenge accepted! Yes, I will learn German! This is going to be so much fun!
  • This is harder than I thought! Is it just me? It looks like everybody else knows what they’re doing.
  • I don’t get it! No, I definitely don’t get it.
  • Wait a second …! There is another way to tackle this. I think I can do it!
  • Aha! One of the most wonderful words when learning a language. Aha, I got it, I AM learning German, yay!

Do you need to know which level you’re at? Or do you see yourself at one of the stages from either image?

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