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Guidelines for autonomous learners of German at beginner level

You have decided to learn German autonomously. The following guidelines offer you practical tips for
a successful language learning experience.

These guidelines include:

1. Materials that provide learning steps t.uzh.ch/6Y
2. How to learn vocabulary A computer program that combines
3. Input: Reading, listening and grammar self-assessment with test exercises,
4. Interaction and production including tests for listening, reading
5. Timetable and final tips and writing skills as well as for vo-
cabulary and grammar.
In the boxes you can find advice on materials in the
Self-Access Center and online. All materials are in the Sprachenportfolio
Resource Pool (www.sprachenzentrum.uzh.ch/slz/infosys). t.uzh.ch/6Z
Please enter the title of the material in the search box on A tool with which you can assess
your own language competence and
the right or use the shortlink below the titles. You will then
document your language learning
find the entry with the catalogue reference number or with
the link. At the moment all descriptions are available only
in German. Should you need help, please ask the assistant
Cornelsen GER-Einstufungstest
in the Self-Access Center for support. t.uzh.ch/70
An online placement test to help you
You can find the Self-Access Center at Rmistrasse find your level of German.
74, room J15. During the semester it is open on Mon-
days, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 11:00 until 21:00 and on Fridays from 11:00
until 17:00. During the semester break the Center closes at 17:00 on all weekdays.

These guidelines are for beginners. If you are not a real beginner, you can evaluate your language
skills with the help of the Language Portfolio (Sprachenportfolio): There you can also find lots of
tools to structure your learning, to think about what you are doing and to document it. Should you
need any support during your self-assessment, we recommend the Online Placement Test Dialang.
Knowing your level will help you find appropriate materials in the Resource Pool.

1. Materials that provide learning steps

When learning autonomously, lots of learners find it difficult to set aims and to define what to learn. As
a possible replacement for a regular course with a teacher where you would be given a certain struc-
ture and progression, you could buy a course book (or find it at a library) or find an online course. The
course would help you decide which topics you wish to focus on: you could then complement the
chosen topics with other materials and exercises. You should work with a language course that you
like and find interesting.

Text: Anja Gredig, Cornelia Steinmann / bersetzung: Christine Martinez Seite 1/15

As you plan to learn on your own, it might be a

We recommend the following materials (availa- good idea to alternate between two different
ble at the Self-Access Center): beginners courses. While different courses will
feature different topics, there will be a lot of
Interaktiver Deutschkurs der deutschen
overlap. That will help you to get the necessary
repetition and keep it interesting at the same
You can use this course as a guest. When you time.
register which is free! the program saves
the work you have done. You can read the The textbooks of the Self-Access Center may
instructions and explanations in German, Eng- not be checked out nor borrowed but there are
lish and Russian. photocopiers available.

Hueber: Miteinander In Zurich, the bookshop Orell Fssli (off

t .uzh.ch/72 Bahnhofstrasse) has a wide selection of good
Self learning course for beginners with English materials. Books can be ordered in any Swiss
explanations, audio CDs, (test) exercises and bookshop and are usually delivered within two

Hueber: Deutsch Kompakt

All recommended courses are for beginners and
Self learning course for beginners with a text include varied exercise types, listening compre-
book (German) and a bilingual exercise book hension exercises, word lists and grammar ex-
(En/Ger), with audio-CDs. planations.

Cornelsen Lextra: Sprachkurs Plus

Self learning course for beginners with a text 2. Vocabulary
book (German), an additional booklet (with
English translations, an answer key, and a At the beginning, the acquisition of new vocabu-
glossary), and audio-CDs. lary in a foreign language represents the most
important but also the most time-consuming
How to find more challenge to the autonomous learner. Even
You can find more courses in our Resource when you attend a course, sooner or later you
Pool: Just click the categories Deutsch, allge- have to deal with the question of how to expand
meiner Sprachkurs and if you wish choose a
your vocabulary. The bad news is that nobody
level (Niveau).
can do the job for you, the good news is that
with a few tips and some information about how the brain works, the whole hard work can be simpli-
fied and even be fun!

First, let us have a quick look at how the brain functions. The following simplified model of the brain
will help you understand the language learning process as well as the study techniques suggested

The ultra-short-term memory receives and filters sensory perceptions. Information is perceived ex-
tremely fast and then eliminated or forwarded. The storage is physical and happens in split seconds.

The short-term memory takes the information from the ultra-short-term memory, which is then con-
verted into language and repeated slowly, internally and silently. Here the purely physical form of a
piece of information is translated into meaningful words and pictures. The information is stored in

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appropriate (meaningful) files.

This working memory compares the information of the ultra-short-term memory with the stored
knowledge in the long-term memory. This storing process can be both acoustic and visual, it lasts
about 3 seconds per object and it can store about seven objects. The long-term memory adopts in-
formation which is repeated several times. Here the different files are linked together, new search
paths are set. The storage is reached through interconnected neuronal pathways and is stored for
ever. The capacity of this third storage is almost infinite.

What does this mean for vocabulary learning and language learning in general?

To make sure that the word or word string is not immediately filtered out by the ultra-short-term
memory, which is something like an entryway, you must make sure that it is supplied with a lot of
learning energy, i.e. you should learn drawing on multiple strategies, you should absorb the new vo-
cabulary through as many senses as possible: reading (silently), reading aloud or silently moving your
lips, making a movement (real or just imaginary), imagining a smell, etc.

Example: You want to memorize the word string den Rasen mhen (to mow the lawn). You imagine
yourself in a garden, sweating, you push the lawn-mower in front of you, it drones, you smell the freshly
mown grass, on the ground you can read ich mhe den Rasen written everywhere in neon colors.

The short-term memory only retains what was structured. This means words must be fitted im-
mediately into corresponding files, semantic fields respectively. For example: Put the words lieben
(love), sich streiten (quarrel), das Paar (the couple), der Partner (the partner) in the file Beziehung
(relationship). As the short term memory has a capacity of seven to ten strings a string can be a
syllable or a whole sentence it is much more economical and efficient to learn a whole sen-
tence or a collocation than single words! E.g. ein Formular ausfllen (to fill in a form) instead of
das Formular (the form).

As exemplified above, linguistic and neurolinguistic insights suggested that foreign language learners
should move away from stubborn learning of single words and their translations. It is more motivating
and above all more efficient to use more creative, varied methods. Therefore, become a creative vo-
cabulary collector and organizer! Do not learn and repeat the vocabulary stubbornly, always following
the same pattern, but vary your style and order the collected words. By reorganizing, you do not
memorize the words in a meaningless order; you integrate the words into your individual pattern of
thought. At every discovery of links, we learn more than just the single words. With the reorganizing
principle we simultaneously learn a recall mechanism. Please find below a few examples of such
reorganizing principles:

Series of actions, e.g. the morning ritual:

Ich wache auf Ich steige aus dem Bett Ich gehe ins Bad Ich mache mir einen Kaffee Ich schal-
te den Computer ein.
(I wake up I get up I go to the bathroom I make myself a cup of coffee I switch on the comput-

Text: Anja Gredig, Cornelia Steinmann / bersetzung: Christine Martinez Seite 3/15

Gradations, e.g.

nie selten manchmal oft meistens immer

(never) (seldom) (sometimes) (often) (mostly) (always)

Hierarchical structures, e.g.

Eltern erziehen Kinder
(parents) (bring) (children) (up)

Lehrer bilden Schler/Studenten aus

(teachers) (educate) (pupils/students)

Arbeitgeber stellen Arbeitnehmer ein

(employers) (hire) (employees)

die Lebensmittel (Pl)


die Frchte (Pl) das Gemse das Fleisch

(fruits) (vegetables) (meat)

der Apfel ..........

(the apple)
die Zitrone ..........
(the lemon) .......... ..........
die Banane ..........
(the banana) die Papaya ..........
(the papaya)

Causal structures, e.g.

stimulus and reaction
e.g.: der Witz das Lachen (the joke laughter)

action and result

e.g.: schreiben der Text (to write the text)

producer and product

e.g.: der Bcker das Brot (the baker the bread)

Text: Anja Gredig, Cornelia Steinmann / bersetzung: Christine Martinez Seite 4/15

Opposites or similarities, e.g.

e.g.: hell dunkel (light dark)

e.g.: sprechen = reden (to talk = to speak)

You could also buy an exercise book in which you stick pictures and label them (pictures and graphs
support the visual memory), in which you draw, organize your vocabulary thematically or following
other principles and in which you also freely associate the vocabulary you already know, i.e. you
create spidergrams or mindmaps.


Mindmap for Train station

der Fahrkartenschalter Fahrkarten kaufen

WKHWLFNHWRIFH (to buy tickets)

viele Menschen Was macht man da? in einen Zug steigen

(many people) (What can you do there?) (to get on a train)
Was gibt es da?

das Geleis, -e warten

(What is there?)

(the track) (to wait)

der Zug, - "-e sich verabschieden

(the train) (to say goodbye)

der Fahrplan, - "-e sich begrssen

(the railway schedule) (to welcome someone)

der Kiosk, -e Im Bahnhof winken

(the newsstand) (At the station) (to wave to someone)

den Zug verpassen

der Reisende, -n (to miss the train)

(the passenger)
Wie ist es da?

der Bahnbeamte, -n laut

(How is it there)

Wer ist da?

der Lokomotivfhrer, - voll

(the engine driver) (crowded)

der Schaffner, - hektisch

(the train conductor) (hectic, bustling)

Text: Anja Gredig, Cornelia Steinmann / bersetzung: Christine Martinez Seite 5/15

Spidergram for Switzerland

die Kuh
(bad weather) der Kse
die ETH (hiking)
(the Swiss Federal
Institute of Technology)
die Schweiz
die Berge
die Arbeit
die Uhr
(watch) die Alpen
(to work) (the Alps)

Create your own exercises with the words you want to learn. From texts you can create your own
cloze exercises. bungen selbstgemacht is a handy tool to create cloze exercises out of webpages
etc. Vocabulary training exercises (in books or computer programs) offer the possibility to repeat vo-
cabulary creatively and therefore efficiently.

Research-based teaching promotes learning with flash cards as the most efficient method. Different
publishers (Hueber Verlag and Pons) sell pre-printed flash cards and sometimes also flash-card box-
es in which you can collect the cards, as shown in the picture on the next page. The biggest ad-
vantage of flash cards is that you can carry a small bundle with you anywhere you like and do short
vocabulary repetitions during breaks, in public means of transport, on your way to work. The Lan-
guage Center Uni/ETH also has vocabulary flash cards for sale for the levels A1-A2.

Flash cards
Front side: Flip side:

die Tasse, -n cup

Ich htte gern eine Id like to have a cup of
Tasse Tee. tea.

reservieren book
er reserviert, er reservierte,
er hat reserviert.
We would like to book
Wir mchten einen a table.
Tisch reservieren.

If you work with pre-printed cards and complete them with your own vocabulary or if you write and
collect your own cards from scratch, it is important that you stick to some criteria.
The flash cards should allow self-assessment: Use both the front side and the flip side (German
on one side, the translation into your first language on the other).

Text: Anja Gredig, Cornelia Steinmann / bersetzung: Christine Martinez Seite 6/15

Check the entries on your flash cards accurately for correctness with the help of a dictionary to
avoid memorizing mistakes.
On each flash card write an example sentence in which the new word is used in a meaningful way.
Write down the main forms of the verbs on the card (e.g.: gehen sie ging sie ist gegangen).
Write this additional information in such a way that you can test yourself. If you are a beginner,
you can write just the infinitive form and the simple present to start with, but do leave some
space so that you can add the other forms later.
Also write down the gender and plural form to each noun, in such a way that you can also test

Flash card box:

Instead of flash cards you can also use sticky slips of paper Flash cards for levels A1 to A2

(Post-it ). Write the name of objects in your room, your flat or can be bought from Martin Amann
your office on the slips. To every word also add important
additional information, just as on the flash cards. When you
Content: 832 words with English
see an object with a slip, think of the word for the object in
translation and information on word
the target language or say it aloud. Do not forget the addi-
stress, approx. CHF 25.
tional information.

Instead of labelling the object with its own name, you can write other words you want to learn on the
slips and hang them around your living areas. The position in the room can be an additional learning
help. You memorize for example Das Auto hngt am Khlschrank (The car is hanging on the fridge)
and you try to visualize it.

With sticky slips of different colours you can also support the learning of articles. Take a different col-
our for every gender. It does not matter which color; you just have to be consistent.

If you buy a hard-copy dictionary, make sure that it contains the following information: gender, plu-
ral forms, the perfect and past tenses of irregular verbs. A very good dictionary also has information
on pronunciation.

Examples for gender labelling

das Haus; Haus (n); s Haus
die Frau, Frau (f), e Frau
der Mann; Mann (m), r Mann

Examples for plural forms

Huser: Haus, --er
Frauen: Frau, -en
Mnner: Mann --er

Text: Anja Gredig, Cornelia Steinmann / bersetzung: Christine Martinez Seite 7/15

If you find two abbreviations after the noun in Langenscheidt: Wortschatz Intensivtrainer A1
your dictionary, then the first is for the genitive, t.uzh.ch/74
the second for the plural form: Vocabulary teaching material for students at A1
e.g. Haus (n), -es, --er level, with lots of different exercises, a key and
(gender) (genitive) (plural) downloadable audio files for the words.

Example for main forms Languages Online, Deutsch

kommen: kommt, kam, ist gekommen
Online games and printable worksheets with key,
wordlists (English-German) and a lot of audio mate-
Example for word stress rials.
Information on word stress combined with length
symbols: Mond (long), kommen (short), Language Guide Wortschatz
vergessen (short) t.uzh.ch/76
Illustrated online dictionary with audio.
Just word stress:
Mond, kom men, verges sen Karteikarten mit Spreadsheetprogrammen
When you are already a little bit more advanced, t.uzh.ch/77
Excel template to create your own flash cards.
you should also own a monolingual dictionary
(German-German), more specifically a German
Langenscheidt Vokabeltrainer 6.0
as a foreign language dictionary, in which the
definition of words is paraphrased and put into Vocabulary trainer with lots of different exercise
context in a meaningful way with many exam- types and audio files for many words. You can
ples. also record your own words.

Finally one more encouraging tip: You will un- Pons Vokabeltrainer-App
derstand a lot of words you did not learn con- t.uzh.ch/79
sciously. In the German language there are App for Android and iPhone/iPad, linked to the
countless words with Latin or Greek origin, corresponding Pons dictionary app. It collects all
which sound more or less the same in many the words you look up with the dictionary, and
languages. Next to Dutch, English is the Indo- you can add words yourself. Free download, but
European language which is most closely relat- you need to register.
ed to German. Many words are written in a
Langenscheidt: Wrter Bilder Situationen
slightly different way but once you say them
aloud, you recognize them immediately. If you
With the aid of pictures about different topics you
activate your own vocabulary and pluck up can improve your vocabulary of mostly nouns.
courage to draw parallels, you can guess the
meaning of many German words without having bungen selbstgemacht
learnt them before. t.uzh.ch/7b
Create your own cloze texts from any text.

How to find more

You can find more materials to learn vocabulary
in the Resource Pool if you click the following
categories: Deutsch, Wortschatz, bungen and
the level if you wish.

Text: Anja Gredig, Cornelia Steinmann / bersetzung: Christine Martinez Seite 8/15

Spotlight Verlag: Deutsch Perfekt 3. Input: reading, listening and grammar

Magazine for learners of German with topi- A good language learner distinguishes him/herself in
cal texts on culture and customs. Difficult that s/he creates him/herself as many inputs in the
words and expressions are explained. foreign language as possible. This does not always
have to happen at home at the desk in a serious
Langenscheidt: Lesen & Hren A1 work situation. Try to integrate the German language
into your daily routine as much as possible, become
3 books with audio CDs where you can
an observing German reader and listener in every-
read and listen to short illustrated stories.
With exercises and key at the end. day life.

Hueber: Lesen & Schreiben A1 Set realistic goals, which are achievable and therefore
t.uzh.ch/7e motivating for your purpose. The objective should
Reading and writing exercises for begin- always be to approach the language step by step.
ners, with key. The idea is that you learn to understand texts or
dialogues in everyday situations and notice that by
How to find more: activating your experience and your general
Go to the Resource Pool of the Self- knowledge, you can often guess the meaning of
Access Center for more reading materials. what you have heard or of written text, without
Choose the categories Lektre, Deutsch knowing the grammatical structure or every sin-
and the appropriate level (A1 or A2).
gle word.

Use every opportunity to read. Preferably read shorter
Canoo.net: Grammatisches Wrter-
texts more often rather than a longer text only once, pos-
sibly failing to understand it and therefore feeling frustrat- t.uzh.ch/7f
ed after that. For example, we recommend regularly read- Enter any word in the search box. The
ing the free newspapers, and with increasing progress you program finds the possible main forms.
will also dare to read more challenging texts. Watch out for Under inflection you can find all the
advertisements in magazines, billboards, on TV and ask a forms of the word. In the top right cor-
German speaking colleague or friend if you do not under- ner, there is a direct link to LEO and
stand them, look at picture books with little text, read PONS.
comics perhaps you already know Asterix and Obelix in
your first language and you could now try and read it in LEO Online-Wrterbuch
German. When selecting a text, pay particular attention to t.uzh.ch/7g

choosing something Dictionary with translations into many

that you find interesting, e.g. an article on your
PONS Online-Wrterbuch
that you already know, e.g. texts on a known fact, t.uzh.ch/7h
reports or announcements on your subject, short Dictionary for many languages, with
foreign learners. IPA transcription. There is also an app.
When you read texts online and would like to look up
words, you must find the principal form of the words. For example, the online grammar reference site
Canoo suits this purpose and it is directly linked to the online dictionaries LEO and PONS. LEO pro-
vides translations from English, French, Spanish, Italian, Portugese, Polish, Russian and Chinese into
German and vice versa. PONS offers those languages including Greek, Latin, Slovenian and Turkish.

Text: Anja Gredig, Cornelia Steinmann / bersetzung: Christine Martinez Seite 9/15

Listening t.uzh.ch/7i
To learn a language you need listening inputs. Streaming Radio which takes you from one
Through listening activities you absorb the intona- artist or group to similar songs. Start with a
tion, you learn to identify words, you hear fixed German band or artist you know.
phrases and expressions, as well as short and often
used everyday language forms. There are even Audacity
learner types who learn almost exclusively through t.uzh.ch/7j
With this program you can record and edit
listening they listen and try to imitate.
audio files. It is free, open source and runs
on Windows, Mac and Linux.
Listening inputs are particularly important in the spe-
cial language situation of the German part of Swit-
Auralog: Talk to me
zerland (diglossia). If you are learning German in t.uzh.ch/7k
Switzerland, you will surely have noticed that the This is a language course with which you
Swiss Germans speak their dialect mainly in the can record yourself and also do some in-
private domain, whereas they use High German or teractive oral exercises.
Standard German as their official language or at
schools, universities, in the press, for scientific re- Step into German
search and of course when speaking with foreign t.uzh.ch/7l
people or learners of German. This means that you Listen to German music online, watch mu-
cannot rely on getting enough High German listening sic videos, read the lyrics in German or the
inputs in everyday life and that ideally you should English translation, and you can also use
the worksheets.
find additional audio materials.

Klett: Schon mal gehrt?

There is a wealth of audio materials especially de-
signed for learners: In the box to the right you can 10 German songs on an audio CD and a
find a selection which is available online or in the book with the lyrics and exercises for dif-
Self-Access Center. ferent levels.

There are further possibilities to listen to German: Hueber: Hren & Sprechen A1
watching movies (movies you already know in subti- t.uzh.ch/7n
tled German synchronization), watching and listen- Exercise book with audio CD to improve
ing to the news and listening to German songs. The your listening and speaking skills.
choice is almost endless! Among the most famous
German artists we could mention: Herbert Langenscheidt: Bilderbogen D-A-CH
Grnemeyer, Fettes Brot, Roger Cicero, Nena, die
DVD with short video reports about Ger-
fantastischen Vier, Juli, Christina Strmer, Annette
many, Austria and Switzerland. You can
Louisan, etc. At the Self-Access Center you can also
practise your listening skills with exercises
find a small selection of films and German songs. (pdf on CD-ROM).

Cornelsen: Studio d A1
How to find songs and movies: t.uzh.ch/7p
Choose the option Lieder to look for music and DVD for beginners, with exercise book.
songs in the Resource Pool.
Combine Filme und Videoclips with DVD to get How to find more:
a list of the films we have at the Self-Access To find audio materials with transcripts,
Center. At the end of each entry you can find open the Resource Pool and click the cat-
the available languages under Audio details. egories Deutsch, Hrmaterialien, mit Tran-
skription and possibly also the level.

Text: Anja Gredig, Cornelia Steinmann / bersetzung: Christine Martinez Seite 10/15

Try to get your friends and colleagues involved. Arrange Audiobooks for beginners
for example that one of your colleagues at work speaks Hueber: Lese-Novelas
German to you at least 15 Minutes a day. You can still t.uzh.ch/7q
answer in English or ask questions when necessary. Langenscheidt: Lesen & Hren
If you would like to combine listening and reading, we Edition bi:libri
can recommend our audiobooks for different levels. The Cideb: Lesen und ben
audiobooks suitable for beginners are listed in the box to t.uzh.ch/7r
the right. Cornelsen Lextra: DaF-Lernkrimi
Finally there is one more learning tip we would like to
How to find more:
share with you, which is good for both reading and listen-
In the Resource Pool of the Self-
ing. For each activity, it is a good idea to try and predict
Access Center you can find further
the content. This means to make reasonable guesses
suggestions for suitable audiobooks.
about a reading or listening passage, which will help you
Choose the categories Deutsch,
understand. Because when you expect a certain piece of Hrmaterialien, Lektren, CD and
information, you then have less problems understanding or the appropriate level (A1 or A2).
finding it. This is a strategy we adopt automatically in our
first language when we read or listen to something. Most people must practice this first in the foreign
language. To do this efficiently we suggest the following procedure:

1. Choose a reading or listening text which corresponds to your level. Read the title first and
perhaps also the introduction.
2. Think about which information could be found in the text and take some notes.
3. Note down some questions which the text could answer.
4. Start listening or reading the text only after these considerations and check your hypotheses and
find the answers to your questions. See which hypotheses were correct and what you could not
find in the text although you assumed you would.

You have surely already wondered why grammar has not Langenscheidt: Grammatik Inten-
been mentioned yet in these guidelines: Many of you must sivtrainer A1
have memories of your foreign language learning at school t.uzh.ch/7t
with lots of memorizing grammar and going through end- Practice book for A1 students, with-
less drill-exercises. This is typical of many countries. Have out grammar explanations, with key.
you ever learned speaking a language in this way? Pos-
sibly not. But also in this case, we can draw on findings in Langenscheidt Grammatiktraining
Second Language Acquisition. Deutsch
Practice book without grammar
Research shows that mastering grammar rules cannot
explanations, with key.
prevent mistakes when speaking. This means, there is
something like a grammar knowledge in ones brain, which
Schubert: A Grammatik
is nevertheless almost entirely disconnected from the ac- t.uzh.ch/7v
tual language used, especially at beginners level. At first Grammar book with exercises, key
sight this appears to be a bit disappointing, but actually and audio CD. For beginners.
this is extremely good news. Good grammar knowledge
is not an absolute requirement for good language

Text: Anja Gredig, Cornelia Steinmann / bersetzung: Christine Martinez Seite 11/15

skills. Nevertheless to learn the language at the be- Grammatikbungen online

ginning, but above all to really understand the language t.uzh.ch/7w
at a higher level, it is helpful and sometimes even nec- (German Academy Vienna): Multiple-
essary to know some grammar rules. Grammar helps to choice exercises. You can choose
better understand the structure and rules of a language. exercises according to level or topic.
You have to register before using this
Especially at the beginning, we recommend practicing site.
the grammar with a learning partner. This will help your
understanding process and is more fun! In addition to Canoo.net: Grammatisches Wrter-
the grammar explanations you will find in the courses for buch
autonomous learners mentioned above, we can also
German dictionary and grammar. You
recommend the grammar practice books listed in the
can find information on word formation
as well as a comprehensive word and
sentence grammar. English version
4. Production / Interaction

In the long run, the aim of most learners of German is to

be able to express themselves in German. The best is to t.uzh.ch/7x
tackle this skill right from the beginning. It is important to On deutscheaussprache.com you can
speak a lot, even when you make mistakes and there is practise your ability to differ between
nobody to correct you. Speaking increases your fluency minimal pairs (Aal All etc.).
and it also increases your capacity to learn more by
showing you what you cannot do yet. Phonetik-Simsalabim
Those who want to speak in the foreign language have On this webpage you can practise the
to be active and take the initiative. You have to over- active and passive spoken German in
come fears and inhibitions. One idea might be to start 10 sections with different phonetic
speaking for oneself at home, to get your mouth round
the language, before plucking up courage to do so in
Phonetiktricks online
public. Here are some ideas with which you could start
at home: This website consists of 17 videos with
Sing along to songs. You can find the texts of most tricks about how to improve your pro-
songs on the internet. nunciation of German.
Repeat dialogues of listening materials. In the Re-
source Pool you can look for materials which have a Schubert Verlag: Einfach Deutsch
transcript. The videos mentioned in the listening aussprechen
section are also suitable for this kind of exercise. t.uzh.ch/7A
Work with language learning software. Introduction to the different aspects of
Read texts aloud, learn them by heart and recite German phonetics. In German, with
them. You could for example record yourself with exercises, key and English-German
Audacity and then listen to how you sound. word list at the end.
Repeat expressions you come across often aloud.
Learn phrases which you might need to communicate in typical daily situations.

You should pay attention to your pronunciation right from the beginning. Good pronunciation is im-
portant to be understood without difficulty. Most native speakers intuitively assess the competence of a

Text: Anja Gredig, Cornelia Steinmann / bersetzung: Christine Martinez Seite 12/15

foreign speaker not according to his/her grammar skills but through his/her pronunciation. Therefore it is
worth taking the time to learn to pronounce the words correctly. This does not mean that you have to
sound like a German or Swiss person. A foreign accent is no problem as long as it does not impede

Good pronunciation starts with listening. Sounds which you cannot distinguish from one another or
intonation patterns which you do not recognize or perceive cannot be reproduced correctly. For a
good pronunciation you do not only have to master the sounds of the German language; word stress,
rhythm and intonation are equally important. Try to listen a lot and to pay attention to the sound of the

where the speaker takes a break.
where words are emphasized.
which words in the sentence are emphasized.
where the voice goes up and where it goes down.
where you can hear specific sounds, for example the voiced s ([z]).

For this kind of exercise take a listening text with transcript (see section Listening). First read and
listen to the text and look up unknown words. After that you can fully concentrate on the pronuncia-
tion. Highlight what you find interesting, either before or while listening. Try to read the text aloud to-
gether with the recorded voice, or record yourself and then compare your voice with the original re-

By the way, reading along is not only good for your pronunciation, it also helps you with your spelling.
In German there is a strong relationship between letters and sounds. When you know how to write a
word, you can also say it and when you know how to say it, you can often also write it correctly.

Should you have particular difficulties in one area, you can find teaching materials on phonetics and
other materials in the Self-Access Center, with which you can systematically practice single aspects
of pronunciation.

Try to speak German right from the beginning.
Always order your coffee in German, greet your
Tips for successful Tandem-learning.
colleagues at work and ask them how they are.
Seagull: Lernmaterialien fr alle Sprachen Perhaps you can also arrange with a colleague
t.uzh.ch/7C to speak German 15 minutes a day. Another
A lot of tips and suggestions what to do with very successful method to practice speaking is
your tandem partner as well as communication Tandem Learning. Two people with different
exercises. The worksheets are sorted into dif- first languages work together to improve their
ferent topics and levels. foreign language skills. Ideas and materials, as
well as important rules for a successful Tandem
Prsenz-Tandem Learning session are to be found in the Lan-
guage Center as well as in the Self-Access Cen-
Students and staff of the University and ETH
Zrich can fill in the form and send in their ap-
plication. We will then look for a suitable Tan-
dem partner.

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Distanztandem Uni-Bochum Unlike a Tandem partner, whose first language

t.uzh.ch/7E has to be the target language, a learning part-
They offer assistance finding e-mail partner- ner can have any first language. We have al-
ships for Tandem learning. ready mentioned that it is worth learning gram-
mar with a colleague or friend. A learning partner
Deutsch zu zweit can be of great help and support to learn vocab-
ulary (e.g. testing each others vocabulary), to
In this book your German speaking Tandem
discuss linguistic difficulties, to practice speaking
partner can find basic knowledge on study
and above all for the motivation. By meeting
techniques, the German grammar and instruc-
tions for different exercises which s/he can do regularly you can try and maintain the discipline
with you. needed to make progress, which is so difficult to
bring up when learning autonomously.
Games in the Self-Access Center
In the Self-Access Center you can find different
games you can play with your Tandem partner.
Click Spiele and Deutsch in the Resource Pool.
You can take out a game for the day and play it
where you like.

5. Timetable and final tips

Finally, once more the most important tips in short, as well as recommendations for your timetable.
We would like to encourage you to look for help when you get stuck with your project. In the Self-
Access Center you can find assistance and help to make best use of the resources available. In addi-
tion, the Language Center also offers a counseling service: please contact us for an appointment.

Reserve enough time every day or every week for German: the rule is, better short ses-
sions on a regular basis than rare longer sessions.
Intensive learning, our recommendation: every day, 15 min vocabulary, 15 min
course, 30 min input, later also production.
Alternative for busy students: distribute the learning phases over the week.
For example 15 min vocabulary learning on Monday, 30 min course on Tuesday, 15
min vocabulary learning on Wednesday, 30 min input on Thursday

Integrate German into your everyday life. Speak German during your coffee break, while
you do the chores, write your shopping list in German and send simple emails.

Set realistic goals. These goals should not be grammar-bound or textbook specific. De-
cide to learn a certain number of words per day or to have a short conversation in German
at the office or at the bakery.

Be patient! It takes time to learn a language.

We wish you lots of fun and success learning German!

Wir wnschen Ihnen viel Spass und Erfolg beim Erlernen der Deutschen Sprache!

Text: Anja Gredig, Cornelia Steinmann / bersetzung: Christine Martinez Seite 14/15

Robert Kleinschroth: Sprachen lernen. Der Schlssel zur richtigen Technik.
Rororo Sprachen. 3. Auflage September 2003.
Ernst Appeltauer: Grundlagen des Erst- und Fremdsprachenerwerbs.
Fernstudieneinheit 15. Langenscheidt 2001.
David Crystal: die Cambridge Enzyklopdie der Sprache. Zweitausendeins,
Campus Verlag 1993

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