Practicing what I preach: Learning German Part 1


December 31, 2014 by gemmalunn

The tables have turned. I am back in the language student seat again! Ahead of a possible move to Switzerland in September 2015 I have decided to start learning German. This is the first of hopefully many some posts exploring this journey and assessing different tools to see how effective they are. It feels very exciting but also a bit overwhelming right now so I’m hoping that blogging about it and sharing the experience make it less so! This post outlines the tools / strategies I’ve started with:


Michel Thomas

I opted to start with Michel Thomas (more to come on this soon), rather than numbers and colours, which threw me straight into sentence building and verb conjugation. The feeling of progression with this method is apparent from the start and you certainly feel like the goal of mastering another language is not so impossible. However, I needed some other forms of input.


I researched some group classes but outlines such as below didn’t entice me much: I should be able to learn more than that in 10 weeks! Plus I’m not too interested in making hotel reservations, who does that in person now anyway! So I decided to try private one-one classes (more to come on this too soon).

German course

I also thought I should put into practice all the tools I always explore with students –

Vocabulary mind maps:

Vocab mindmaps

Labelling objects in the house:


Setting short and long term goals:


Long term goals

So, now I’ve done all this time to start learning and see if these tools actually work….


13 thoughts on “Practicing what I preach: Learning German Part 1

  1. Rose Bard says:

    Hi Gemma, how exciting! 😀

  2. Hana Tichá says:

    Hi Gemma,

    I’m thrilled to hear that your plans are similar to mine. Not that I’m going to Switzerland and any other German speaking country :-). This year, apart from some skills I’d like to refine, I’m planning to brush up on my German again. However, my motivation is not as strong as yours and I kind of envy you. Anyway, I can’t wait to hear all about your learning experience. I’ll watch every step you take 🙂 Good luck.


    • gemmalunn says:

      Thanks so much for the comment and encouragement Hana. I’m hoping I can maintain my motivation! We’ll have to keep encouraging each other! 😉

  3. Hello Gemma,

    You’ll certainly find it useful in the German speaking part of Switzerland although it’s local Swiss-German dialect that you’ll hear on the streets, as well as a number of other languages. It really depends on the area.

    I moved to Switzerland 24 years ago and took 6 months of private German lessons to get me started (twice a week, as there was no internet back then). Simultaneously, I was learning Swiss-German dialect from engaging with neighbours, work friends and hearing bits and pieces of conversations on public transport etc. So two languages at once, which initially got a bit jumbled. It’s interesting to note that I picked up the dialect much faster because this is what I was immersed in on a daily basis. So if you make the shift don’t be surprised if your ears are hearing something else. The Swiss are very accommodating and will converse in German and even English in some parts, particularly Zürich and Zug (central Switzerland).

    Good luck with the language learning. I’m going to be doing something similar except with Spanish. I think it’s a useful way to test out our own methods. I’ll pop in and see how you’re managing 🙂

    • gemmalunn says:

      Thanks for the comment Patricia, great to hear about your experience. I thought I’d try and reach a decent level of German before attempting Swiss-German, hopefully I’ll pick that up once I’m there. Good to know the Swiss are accommodating.

      Buena suerte con tu español 🙂

  4. Sandy Millin says:

    Hallo Gemma,
    Du sollst neuen Wörter (Substantiven) auf blau (männlich), rot (weiblich) und grün (neuter) schreiben. Du kannst auch Quizlet benutzen.
    Viel Glück!

  5. Vicky Loras says:

    Hi Gemma!

    What super amazing news! Patricia’s tips are superb – the people here are really wonderful and help out a lot, even at the supermarket with a million people waiting behind you in a line ; )


  6. […] have just started learning German and decided to start with my favourite language teacher – ‘the language master’, polyglot and […]

  7. […] January I’ve been having weekly one-to-one German lessons. As previously mentioned I decided to go for one-to-one classes as the curricula for local group classes didn’t inspire me […]

  8. […] June I spent 3 weeks studying German in Berlin. I’ve been learning German since January through a variety of tools and was lucky to have the time to take an intensive course […]

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