Guest post* by Heike Reinhart – InternationalGermanTeacher@gmail.com
When you are hesitant to speak German
This is for all my students who are sometimes hesitant to speak German because they might confuse the prepositions or the accusative and dative endings. I share my skiing angst with all of you as an example of working through grammar anxiety.
I always liked to ski when I lived in Germany. I would schedule ski trips in the Northern part of Italy or Austria in late winter. It was a time when the sun would warm my face and the snow was at its best. No need to adjust gloves, hat, goggles. No time to think about the steep slope in front of me. No need to worry about keeping up with my friends who were better and faster skiers. But my anxiety sometimes made me afraid to go down the steep, long, mountain.
That was when a found Josef, an experienced, professional ski teacher who uses his interest in psychology to help his ski students overcome their fear. I was relieved to know that I was not the only person with skiing anxiety. In two hours, Josef taught me some simple trips including how to always be able to stop. After two hours my fear was alleviated – even at the top of a red slope.
When speaking German produces anxiety
Speaking German can be equally anxiety producing for students. But there are a few tricks which can help any student get past their fear of mixing up “Akkusativ” and “Dativ” prepositions. I remind my students that the reason they are learning German is so they can communicate with other German speakers and to start to go down the difficult slope of learning a new culture.
They can choose simple words to express their wishes and be understood. They won’t be judged because they use the wrong preposition. In fact, my students quickly discover how positively German speakers react to their efforts to communicate in German.
My teaching approach gets results for even the newest German student. And just like learning to ski making fun an integral element of learning in order to built confidence without fear.
The purpose of language is to communicate. As soon as you realized that, you will relax and just get the idea out.
Heike Reinhart is a German language instructor and intercultural trainer. She works with internationally mobile professionals who want to speed up their learning process and pass test (Goethe and TELC) faster.
*This post was first published on Heike Reinhart’s website.
GPT Tip: Check out Heike Reinhart’s German Pronouncation Class 5.2016 starting on 1 June 2016 in Basel.