Getting Fit in German — Weekly Planner to Improve your German

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Getting Fit in German — Weekly Planner to Improve your German

Three years ago when we started Marathon Sprachen, we chose the name because we knew that learning a language is very similar to learning to run a marathon. Language learning is not based on learning facts, but learning skills. Like learning to run long distance, one needs to practice daily. Learning German means learning a new way of thinking and using different facial muscles. 

Just like many may go out and find a personal trainer to help them learn to run a marathon, some language learners will visit a language school or find a language trainer. Your trainer or teacher should be helping you to speak your newly chosen language. If you are writing more than speaking, you might want to consider another language school. I’ve decided to put together a weekly training schedule that will help you learn German faster. Please note that I strongly suggest that you find a language school or language instructor to take lessons with at least once a week for a minimum of two hours. Of course the more you train the better you’ll get. Before we start watch this video from an experienced language teacher. Afterwards, watch one man’s success learning German in one year.

Okay. Now you’re ready to start the programme. Los geht’s!

Day 1:

  • Learn new verbs. Verbs are very important to express what is or has happened. In German I highly recommend learning the verb in all its conjugations in the present form and additionally learning the perfect form.
    • You’ll need to find three new verbs.
    • Use the chart like the one I’ve provided to systematically learn the conjugations.
    • Use a website like Wiktionary or Duden to see how the verb is used in sentences.
    • Write at least five sentences using the verbs that have some sort of relevance to you.

German Verb Learning Chart

Day 2:

  • Listening and vocabulary. Even if you have a great teacher, you might get used to German spoken a certain way. As we consistently encounter there are many German dialects beside the standard “Schriftsprache”. It’s good to get used to listening to proper German.
    • I highly recommend the Langsam gesprochene Nachricten from “Deutsche Welle.” The news is spoken slowly and you can follow the transcript of them. Hereby you can practice your listening and even pronunciation. You might need to listen to this a few times.
    • When you do this though it’s important to listen for purpose. If you cannot yet understand German fluently, you want to listen to shorter pieces and listen for gist (the general idea).
    • Try to answer the wer, wie, wo, wann, warum.
    • Each time you do this identify ten (10) new words that you want to learn. With the use of a good Dictionary find the meaning and then Wiktionary and Duden to find common collocations or sample sentences.
    • Separate nouns into der/die/das in three different books with different colours or use the Moleskine App and enter the words in three different “books”.

 Day 3:

  • Revisiting the verbs. Using the verbs once is not enough. Remember we’re training.
    • Go back to them and rhyme the verbs from Day 1 off.
    • Write a few more sentences.
    • Try to use the verbs in spoken conversation at some point in the day. Chances are if you are learning German you are either in a class or in a German speaking environment. Engage with German speakers. Tell them that you want to improve and that correcting you is allowed.

 Day 4:

  • What were words you learned on Day 2? Chances are that you’ve forgotten at least 4 of them. Well that’s not 100% true, but they are not yet in your active vocabulary. You need to review.
    • Review Day 2 vocabulary.
    • Read a shorter article in free daily news paper (20 Minuten / Blick am Abend) or in Deutsch Perfekt.
    • Isolate one or two phrases or collocations — that is words that fit together.
    • Check the phrase or collocation using Google or Linguee.
    • Quickly review the verbs you set out to learn.

 Day 5:

  • So you’ve been working on building up your vocabulary and adding phrases to better your spoken reproduction. Whenever you can you try and speak German. This is equivalent to taking the stairs when possible instead of the lift. Every little bit helps.
    • Write a page or so recapping what you have done in the past week. By doing this you’ll:
      • Practice your past tenses. Remember in German we generally use the perfect.
      • You’ll probably be looking up words that are relevant to you, which should help you learn them faster.
    • Recap your list of ten words.
    • Pick a topic for which you have a limited vocabulary and make a word web of related words.
    • Check you’re verbs.

Day 6:

  • Unlike a fitness routine there are no planned rest days in language learning. Day 6 though is a good chance to practice your listening again.
    • Listen to a news report.
    • Answer the W-questions.
    • Find 5 new words to learn.
    • Sum up the news in your own words for someone. Try starting with: “Ich habe eben gehört, dass…” (Don’t forget that the verb goes at the end of a “dass-clause”).

Day 7:

  • If you’re taking German lessons you’re learning formal grammar, if not then you’re probably using some sort of Grammar book to learn German.
    • Do your homework
    • Read this blog and try the exercises
    • Review your vocabulary
    • Review the verbs
    • Have a small discussion in German with someone from your class, an acquaintance or someone online.

The more you engage yourself in any language you are attempting to learn the faster you will see results. The above plan should give you something to do every day and can be mixed up. It is important that you do a little every day, but do not try and bite off more than you can chew. There is no point in setting 100 new words a week as a goal, if your schedule will not give you the time required to learn them. Language learning is the equivalent of two triangles. Concentrate on understanding the gist. When you go to speak use the vocabulary and the grammatical forms you have and you’ll be surprised how much you can say.

Understand the gist. With little you can say a lot.

The more German you learn, the more confident you’ll get and the more you’ll use it and the better you’ll get. There is an upward spiral to learning German too. See how one guy learned German in one year!

This is what it looks like to learn German in one year

  1. Servicios SEOServicios SEO04-02-2012

    Thanks on your marvelous posting! I genuinely enjoyed reading it, you happen to be a great author.I will ensure that I bookmark your blog and will come back sometime soon. I want to encourage yourself to continue your great work, have a nice weekend!

  2. Manuel CarroManuel Carro06-28-2013

    And on the seventh day, he rested. und am siebten Tag ruhte er.

  3. SophiaSophia07-24-2013

    Hi there, thanks for these great tips. I am learning German and I post a vlog each week. Here you can watch one of my videos:

  4. QueensDawnQueensDawn09-09-2013

    Thank you, I will really use this to improve my german and additionally I thought it will be a good thing to write a blog in german.

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