July 15, 2015 by gemmalunn
In 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 with the hope of boosting my level a bit. The whole experience was great – 3 hours of classes in the morning then the rest of the day I was free to cycle around and explore Berlin. What follows are just some notes I took after classes about my feelings as a student as well as some aspects of teaching that I was reminded of whilst being in the student seat.
Every class is an emotional rollercoaster!
Maybe I’m just an extremely sensitive student but I’d forgotten how quickly I go from being self-conscious to super confident. How I can be extremely motivated one minute and totally frustrated the next!
Leave that bad mood at home!
My teacher was generally very professional, she knew her stuff, used a variety of good strategies, helped create a relaxed atmosphere in the class and seemed to genuinely enjoy her job. However, we all have off days and one Monday morning (after a w-e at a festival) she was clearly very tired and thus had less patience with us. This created a different and not very positive atmosphere in the class and I think it left most us feeling pretty frustrated and disappointed after the class. It reminded me what a big effect a teacher’s mood has on a class. I certainly don’t always feel 100% positive in 100% of all my classes but this reminded me how important it is not to let any negative personal feelings impact the lesson.
Keep it simple
I really enjoyed the simple activities. Especially at my level A2-2 there’s no need for fancy, elaborate games or activities; not least because we wouldn’t have understood the instructions! Vocabulary and sentence building activities with lots of repetition and opportunities to practice the language worked perfectly. I also noticed how much I appreciated a class routine; again because of the level it took away any stress about wondering what would come next or what the teacher expected of us. There was also very limited technology used – a CD player but this was fine and I definitely didn’t feel that we were missing out by not having a Smart Board etc.
How did this affect my ….
….learning – I now feel I can speak much more confidently and a bit more fluently and my general understanding of the language has greatly improved. As the main benefit came from practicing every day I am now trying to spend at least 10 minutes each day speaking German at home (with my partner) as well as continuing with Duolingo and starting to read my first (teen|) novel in German! However, as my job is quite full-on at the moment, German has had to take a back seat. This whole experience has reminded me just how much effort it takes to learn a language. I have a lot of respect for people who do this just for fun. As much as I love learning languages I’m not sure that without the motivation of moving to the country of said language I would be able to keep this up!
…teaching – Last week I started teaching on a pre-sessional course and I did feel much more aware of the students and how they might be feeling. I doubt anyone would disagree that putting yourself on the other side of the classroom / desk is always a valuable experience.
Also thanks to fellow #ELTchater Rachel Daw (@racheldaw18) for showing me some of the sights and for sharing all her knowledge of Berlin 🙂