Notes from a mini study break


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.

Plenty of time for sightseeing as well as studying

Plenty of time for sightseeing as well as studying

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 🙂

Tweetup :-)

Tweetup 🙂


2 thoughts on “Notes from a mini study break

  1. Mathew says:

    Very nice to see you journaling your experience. I went back home a few months ago, and I was invited to my old professor’s Russian class. I would have to say I was feeling very critical of her, even though I loved that teacher before. All of us should be sitting in a class learning a language. Very insightful, please keep writing.

    • gemmalunn says:

      Hi Matthew,

      Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. Yes I agree as langauge teachers we should regularly have language classes too.

      Thanks again,


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