Language REFRESH 101 – Week 14

by Corey · 2 comments

We are almost at the end of Language REFRESH 101. Can you believe it? I have learned so much about what works for me in keeping German alive as well as a bunch of tips from Melissa Dedina’s posts (you can find all of them under the Language REFRESH 101 link).

Week 14 Video
In this week’s video I have a specific question for you. Please give it some thought and let me know what you think in the comments below. It is about how to make our reading of books as enjoyable and as beneficial (from a language-learning perspective) as possible. What do you think?

Note: In the video I say that “sich interessieren” is an intransitive verb but I meant to say that it is a reflexive verb. That is what I get for pulling out a sentence on the fly and analyzing it on camera.

Nearing the End
Now that we are just about at the end of Language REFRESH 101, I have been giving some serious thought to what has been working for me. Here is my assessment:

  • Reading, reading, reading:I have always loved to read. I enjoy the way sentences are formed and the way images are created with a certain sequence of words. Reading also gives me the chance to stop, think about what I just read, reread sentences, underline them and perhaps even memorize them. Reading also gives me the excuse to spend some quite time alone with a good book.
  • Grammar: I am an academic at heart. I love learning about how language works and how different languages use words to express meaning. There is a limit to this, of course, but language learning is more enjoyable if I can learn about a target language as well as using it in daily life.
  • Writing: This has been the best language learning tool of all for me! When I have to write out a sentence, then I can’t get away with incorrect articles or incomplete conjugations. Often I would find a passage in a book or in a magazine and write out the whole thing, word for word. I would notice each word and how it connected with the other words to form a sentence. I did not type it out on the computer! I used a pencil and a piece of paper and wrote out each passage slowly and carefully, paying full attention to every detail.
  • Speaking: The only way I seem to learn through speaking is when my husband corrects me and I write it down. When speaking I am completely into what I am trying to say and I don’t think about what the correct words or grammar might be. However, it is through speaking that I really use my German. My brain is on its own and I can almost watch it construct sentences right before my eyes. The more I speak German, the more I can work on my accent as well and hear how it compares to native speakers.
  • News and conversational audio: Just sitting back and listening to an audio program is a great joy for me, especially if I can rewind it and listen to parts of it again. Deutsche Welle has been great for this as have been the activities that use DW audio at If I were really dedicated (or a masochist), I would do a Textwiedergabe (writing in my own words what I listened to) for each audio that I listened to, but I don’t see that happening. I had to do those all of the time in my German language classes in Germany. Those were the most brutal experiences ever. Talk about full anxiety!
  • Helping my kids: My children are at ages where they are writing all the time: stories, notes to one another and us, signs for their door, homeschooling work, etc. Through helping them with spelling and sentence structure, I can identify where I have the most difficulties with the language. Their dad corrects what they write each evening and I learn where my weak areas are as well.

Here is what doesn’t work for me:

  • Flash cards: I said at the beginning of Language REFRESH 101 that I was going to have to pull out the flash cards and start going through them. It just doesn’t work for me. Maybe I am a slacker, as Melissa points out in her posts about herself. But I think it is more than that. I think that the flash cards don’t work as well for me as learning words in context.
    This doesn’t mean that I don’t practice which article goes with with noun or practice certain declensions. It means that I do it in a more round-about way that sticks in my head more: I say the word wrong, my husband corrects me, I write it down on a pad of paper that is in the living room which I see each day. Or I can take out my husband from the equation and when I’m not sure about a word, I write it down and look it up via Leo or the next time I’m at the computer.
  • Drills: My husband enjoyed walking around with index cards when we were learning Spanish for Language Challenge 101. He’d learn sentences that way by drilling them into his head. That doesn’t work well for me. I get so bored that I end up not doing any language learning at all. This just goes to show that different people benefit from different methods.
  • Audio language learning programs: I can stand about a day of the standard CD language learning programs that speak sentences and then have us repeat them. After a day, I get so bored that I want to smash the CD player. Again, my husband thrived on this kind of learning with Spanish.

Another German Language Learning Site!
First of all, thank you everyone for voting for Multilingual Living in the Language Lovers 2011 competition! We won! We made it in both the top 25 for Language Learning Blogs as well as the top 100 for Language Lovers Blogs overall! It was a ton of fun and we are ecstatic that you helped make this happen.

The wonderful thing about this competition is that it highlighted some fantastic blogs that I hadn’t heard of before. One of them I want to check out very soon: Ein Blog für Deutschlerner in aller Welt.

Language Challenge 101 – Part Two?
For whatever reason, summer makes my whole family want to learn Spanish (again). I feel like I am in a good German language learning groove and now want to join my family to get back into Spanish. We got some of the Ardilla Miedosa books from the library spontaneously the other day (my kids requested them) and I have a feeling it is time for Part Two of Language Challenge 101.

I wonder if we should call it Language Challenge 102 or just call it the same as before and continue where we left off. I’m not sure. What do you think?

Each week my children and I will share our experiences strengthening German (one of my children’s first languages and my second language) in our Language REFRESH 101 posts and videos. Come join us by signing up at the Multilingual Living Forum to refresh any language!

If you are interested in learning a brand new language, check out our Language Challenge 101 posts and then head over to the Bilingual Families Perth site to join their Language Challenge 101 which is taking place right now!

Corey Heller is the founder of Multilingual Living and the Editor-In-Chief/Publisher of Multilingual Living Magazine. Multilingual Living is the place where she shares her knowledge about raising multilingual and multicultural children. Corey, an American, and her German husband live in Seattle where they raise and homeschool their three children, ages 14, 12 and 10, in German and English.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Aaron June 6, 2011 at 11:11 am

I came to your site because I see you on Twitter and because of the Top 100 contest. Congratulations on that. I am an expat raising bilingual kids in Turkey and trying to help people learn language myself. Anyway, what you are doing here at the blog is really great. Wish I had stopped by earlier and I am excited to look around. Your language refresh and language challenge ideas are fantastic! Thanks for doing great work.



2 Corey June 8, 2011 at 1:08 am

Aaron, what an absolute delight to see a comment from you here! I have been following you on Twitter for some time and love what you are doing! It is so wonderful to be connected with others who love languages as much as I do – and to share that love with our families, so great! I look forward to us staying in contact and hope we can find some way to collaborate along the way!



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