Monday, August 1, 2016

Ten Observations about German Language Classes

I've taken a few different ones in my life.  I might be referred to as a 'permanent' student because I generally reach a point where I'm shaking my head over the complex nature of the language and need some relief.  So, these are my observations about language classes over the German language.

1.  German instructors are people with a degree in linguistics usually.  They've studied German to the ninth degree and are experts over the use and misuse of the language.  It does not mean that they are great instructors or really grasp how to get a point across.....just that they have a degree and know German itself.

2.  Before 2013....there were a number of instructors who did this year after year.  I get the impression now that some folks are burned-out and tired of the various characters that they've had to teach German.....so there is turn-over going on.....constantly.

3.  Most German language classes now have two instructors.  One teaches two-to-three days a week, and the other for the remainder of the week.  They do it this way to ensure someone is there in the event of an accident or health issue.  It's a crappy way to run the program because each instructor has a different manner of teaching, and a different speed.  Don't worry.....you can't fix this and you simply need to get used to this manner of teaching.

4.  On the first day.....for the first hour.....you need to only use a maximum of 12 German words and walk around the room introducing yourself as the teacher, and introducing the students to the room, and convey "welcome".  If you convey 150-odd words in the first hour, without some context or meaning.....the students are just sitting there and wondering...."what-the-hell" does such-and-such mean?  Probably less than one-quarter does it the right way, and it's a screwed-up day to get through day one of such a class.

5.  Foreign-born German instructors?  Well....yeah, and you'd best get used to this occurring more and more.

6.  I once had a classroom filled with 25 students.  We made minimal progress.  The perfect number is between twelve and sixteen students.  Don't count on ever getting that number.

7.  Some instructors have decent instructor skills.....and some have lousy instructor skills.  Maybe there's a class for this type of occupation but I get the impression that it's a 50-50 shot if it works.

8.  I've had two impressive German instructors in my life.  One was more of an actor or comedian, and that worked well in the class atmosphere.  The other was a precise person who led the class inch-by-inch through twenty different exercises in a four-hour period....none taking more than 12 minutes to accomplish and get the point across.

9.  The training book matters.  I've had some training books which ought to be listed as a masterpiece. And I've had some booklets which were lousy and worthless.

10.  Most foreigners that I've come across in the classes (not including Americans).....usually come to some point where they ask why Germans made their language so difficult.  No instructor that I've ever had.....has been able to explain that.   There is probably some historical reason.....dating back to the Romans, and it might be worth a decent story....but no one seems to know how it occurred.

1 comment:

Jess Short said...

One of my favorite quotes from Mark Twain. (I would have loved to have a drink with thus guy)

A dog is "der Hund"; a woman is "die Frau"; a horse is "das Pferd"; now you put that dog in the genitive case, and is he the same dog he was before? No, sir; he is "des Hundes"; put him in the dative case and what is he? Why, he is "dem Hund." Now you snatch him into the accusative case and how is it with him? Why, he is "den Hunden." But suppose he happens to be twins and you have to pluralize him- what then? Why, they'll swat that twin dog around through the 4 cases until he'll think he's an entire international dog-show all in is own person. I don't like dogs, but I wouldn't treat a dog like that- I wouldn't even treat a borrowed dog that way. Well, it's just the same with a cat. They start her in at the nominative singular in good health and fair to look upon, and they sweat her through all the 4 cases and the 16 the's and when she limps out through the accusative plural you wouldn't recognize her for the same being. Yes, sir, once the German language gets hold of a cat, it's goodbye cat. That's about the amount of it.
- Mark Twain's Notebook