Friday, 19 June 2009

When Jan Comes Marching Home

In the last blog I said I need to hear things three times before I can learn them. That's why I like songs. You sing songs more than once. You sing them gently and you sing them loudly. You sing them quickly and you sing them slowly. You also sing them in your head. Here is my version of 'When Johnny Comes Marching Home'. It is one more way of learning about helping around the home.

Ich sauge Staub
Ich mache mein Bett
mein Bett, mein Bett

Ich decke den Tisch
Ich füttere den Hund
den Hund, den Hund

Ich wasche ab, ich trochne ab
Ich gehe einkaufen
Ich wasche das Auto
Ich koche das Abendessen
Ich koche das Abendessen

Bis bald

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Listen for the clues

When I was observing a German class a couple of days ago, I could see clues in sentences that some of the class could not see (they were year 7). I think they soon understand ich mache das Bett and the clue was in the title of the lesson 'what I do to help at home' and Bett is bed. It doesn't take much to work out that the sentence means I make the bed. Ich wasche ab has a clue with waschen very close to wash. You still have to know it is washing the pots and not clothes.

If you can see the clue that Auto is car then you will know that ich wasche das Auto is I wash the car. Garten is close to garden but if you don't know the verb then you have to learn the sentence 'I work in the garden' - Ich arbeite im Garten. One method of getting the class to learn the vocabulary was through mime. Later in the hour there was a game, and some of the class would mime the answers to their team members. It was great to see because I think that I can concentrate quite well but I still need to hear new things three times. The mime gave them one more chance to learn the vocabulary. There are lots of clues in German. It's just a case of hearing (or seeing) them.

Bis bald

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Separable Verbs and household chores

You can tell if a verb is separable by looking at the prefix. Then look in a grammar book and see if the prefix is in a long list of separable prefixes. Have you fallen asleep yet? There is a much easier answer. If you hear the verb and the emphasis is on the prefix then it is separable. So if you hear abwaschen and notice the emphasis on the ab then you know it is separable. This means that you say Ich wasche ab not ich abwasche. Of course it is much better to hear the sentence a few times and recognise that it means I wash up.

Why do we use the adverb 'up' when we are washing pots. Ab is normally translated into English as 'from' or 'off' but now you know in this sense it also means up. Similarly if you want to say 'I dry up' you would say ich trochne ab. I dry the dishes is ich trochne das Geschirr ab. If you want to tidy your room then we can say tidy the room or we can tidy the room up. In German the adverb is auf and the sentence is ich räume mein Zimmer auf.

Learning German makes you think about the use of English adverbs. Often they are nonsense but because we are used to them they are accepted. If a word looks strange in a foreign language then don't worry about it - there are plenty of strange words in English.

Bis bald

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

When does one dine?

I was observing a year 7 German class today as an introduction to me doing some voluntary work. The Lernziel was 'to be able to say what I do to help at home'. The pupils were keen and enthusiastic. However they do need repetition (as does everyone) to remember the vocabulary and the simple grammar.

The vocabulary included sentences like Ich gehe einkaufen, ich mache das Bett and ich koche das Abendessen. You may already know the words for 'I am going shopping'. You can almost guess the words for making the bed and I am cooking dinner. Hoever it matters whether you dine in the evening or dine at midday because in German you would have to say das Mittagessen for the midday meal and das Abendessen for the evening meal.

The good thing about learning a foreign language, apart from the obvious benefit of knowing that language, is that it helps you learn about your native language. I come from Manchester and dinner time is midday, but I also know that 'one dines in the evening'. The important thing in any language is to communicate, so as long as the person you are talking to knows what you mean then you have succeeded in communicating. Mittagessen and Abendessen are obvious in German. In English you need to make sure that you are understood when you say 'dinner'.

Bis bald