It is impossible to become fluent in a second language, or even to reach an intermediate level, without putting in work alongside your chosen course. After all, you wouldn’t expect to suddenly grasp the anatomical structure of the human body without first learning about all of the different organs and bodily systems first, would you?
The same goes for your approach to learning German at school. Despite what you may think, and what emphasis your family and friends might place on modern foreign languages, a second language is a vehicle for learning and an extremely useful skill to have.
So, while you may have a number of other demanding subjects that you’re also trying to juggle, you should do your very best not to put German to one side and simply expect language learning to come naturally. The benefits of speaking German are endless.
Languages can be picked up quite easily by some but, for many, language learning can be very demanding as there are various language attributes to take on board before you can even start to think of yourself as a German speaker.
As such, homework and revision really do serve a purpose and, believe it or not, your teacher has most likely spent a great deal of their personal time finding useful tasks for you to complete in order to improve your language skills.
If you are studying German at GCSE, AS or A Level, you should make the effort to finish any homework assignments promptly and also be prepared to then go on the hunt for extra revision resources yourself too.
Your effort is essential to your success in learning a second language.
The best way to revise for any language is to immerse yourself in it, but if you don’t have the luxury of being able to visit Germany during the holidays, nor any family or friends in the country with whom you can practice speaking or writing with, the best way to approach your revision is to read in German and seek help from materials.
Some resources will be designed specifically for revision purposes, but others may not. However, this does not make them any less suitable as educational materials.
BBC Bitesize is a great tool for students revising for a GCSE, or higher qualification, in German as it offers help divided into topics: Listening, Speaking, Reading, Writing and Grammar.
Thanks to this categorisation, students can pick and choose which areas they focus on led by what they feel they need to improve on. As an example of the type of content you might find on this platform, the Speaking section has subcategories covering Me, Travel, Work and Home, all of which would help you get by as a beginner visiting Germany.
GermanRevision.Org, meanwhile, is a website dedicated to German revision for KS3 through to KS5. As well as offering key areas of revision, like Out and About, it features Grammar and Vocabulary help as well as useful guides to download and complete in your own time.
To make revision a little bit more fun, a site called German-Games.Net has been developed to provide puzzles, games, lessons and tests for free online. The website boasts fun activities for beginners of all ages plus a range of tutorials designed to help you through the learning and revision processes.
If you feel that you have exhausted every avenue when it comes to online revision materials, then don’t forget that there are other ways to revise other than sitting at your computer or laptop. Although it may seem a bit “last century”, you can still walk into a book shop and find a range of educational books that might help you to improve and progress your skills.
The truth is that, it doesn’t really matter what type of revision tool you use, however some kinds of materials simply work better than others for different people.
For example, you might personally find it hard to concentrate when sitting in front of a computer or laptop, due to a number of distractions at your fingertips, or you might even find that the glare on the screen hurts your eyes after a short while.
If this is the case, going back to what some might say are “old-fashioned” books might in some way enhance your revision experience. There’s also something very appealing about sitting at a desk with nothing but a book and a notepad in front of you: the book has but one purpose and it can really help you to stay completely focused on the task at hand.
Shops like Waterstones stock a wide range of educational books adapted for students on numerous courses. They usually have dedicated areas within their shop too where you can go and flick through the pages and see if there’s anything that takes your fancy.
In addition to books produced by exam boards for specific syllabi, there are a number of other educational books written by independent authors designed to provide interesting and entertaining facts about subjects that you might be studying. For German, these include books written about the history of Germany, memoirs from soldiers or Holocaust survivors, and German language dictionaries.
In addition, students might find further useful information in German travel guides, which provide details about historical monuments and places of significance across the country. German short stories might also provide a more entertaining way to revise for a German Language course.
While physically going into a book store can help with your mental motivation as a result of being in an environment surrounded by books, you can just as easily order books online to arrive on your doorstep, often the very next day. Amazon, for example, with its Prime service, can allow for books to be purchased online and then be delivered the following day, meaning that you can get straight onto revising.
As you would expect from a huge corporation like Amazon, there are hundreds of options for you to choose from, many more than might be available to you in a book shop. For this reason, you can find books that might perhaps be more relevant or more to your taste without any limitations.
Amazon stocks books of all types, so you can find novels related to your course content, grammar and vocabulary guides, as well as revision materials adapted specifically for your German syllabus.
If you already have all of the resources you need but wish to find a particular revision book (maybe one that has been recommended by your teacher), then you can find certain study guides on independent websites, like CGP books for example. CGP Books is said to be the UK’s favourite independent publisher for educational books and stocks revision guides from Primary to A Level to help you to practice for your exams.
The website is ordered in a very user-friendly way with a section dedicated to students. When browsing their products, you can find colour-coded categories (with green signifying Languages like German), which will take you to your chosen area. The German revision sections include revision guides, study guides and workbooks, all of which are usually affordable at under £15.00 each.
Finally, although your effort is required to revise for exams, your money isn’t. You don’t necessarily have to spend lots of money on books to get ahead with your studies, as a range of educational books (including those specially-adapted revision guides) can be borrowed from libraries in your nearby towns.
If you have never set foot in a library, do not fear, they are not so scary! Upon arriving, you might be taken aback by the quiet and relaxed atmosphere and the vast amount of books on display. Don’t forget to go to the welcome desk and register your details so that you can start taking books away immediately.
Your local library will offer a range of educational books. Photo via VisualHunt.com
Of course, you won’t be able to make notes in the books, as they are officially the property of the library, but you can take the materials away to read or even to photocopy (many libraries offer photocopying services on site too so you could even have the opportunity to copy certain articles, exercises or definitions to put in your revision folder and go back to at a later date).
Remember also that libraries are excellent places to revise, with dedicated study spaces and infinite resources.
Most libraries are open for quite long hours so you can usually find a suitable time to visit around your busy educational schedule. As mentioned, you can read and photocopy relevant materials and even try to recall items that someone else has borrowed. In addition, many libraries now offer modern digital platforms, whereby online data can be accessed and viewed.
Your school, college or university may also have their own library, however you might find that the study areas get quite busy in the run up to exams.