Archive for the ‘German’ Category

Modern Languages Make a Difference

Posted on August 25th, 2013by Melanie
In French, German, Spanish | Leave a Comment »

GCSE 2This week has seen the release of GCSE results all over the UK. It´s been a mixed time for students with feelings of nerves, excitement, disappointment, relief and happiness. The subject of the GCSE grading this year has been under controversy due to the new tougher grading system put in place mixed with an increasing re-sit culture and more pupils being entered for their GCSEs a year early.

Teachers, parents and employers disagree with this new system as, instead of promoting higher grades, the new system caters for a certain percentage of passes (40% of students must achieve 5 GCSEs including English and Maths in grades C or above), without fairly grading all students across the board in comparison with previous years. Students this year are not necessarily getting the grade they deserve or expect as lower grades are being handed out in contrast. Teachers feel that accurate comparisons cannot be made with the levels of students´ capabilities from year to year, employers believe that pupils´ employment prospects are being damaged, and parents are now encouraging their children to do resits in order to obtain the grade they need.

This year’s results have seen a 1.3% decline in A*-C grades since last year, the biggest decline in grades in the 25 years that the GSCE system has been in place. Many students have been left feeling disappointed with their results and believe, as do their teachers, that their grades would have been higher had the new system not taken affect.

It´s not all bad news, however. Reports show that in this new system of learning, and possibly due to the introduction of the English Baccalaureate, the level of candidate entries for modern languages has increased significantly. The increase of students taking French rose by 15.5% and German increased by 9.4%. The entry levels for Spanish, however, had a whopping rise with 25.8%. So, despite other dips in the GCSE debate, languages are proving to be increasingly popular with pupils, and that will open numerous doors in their futures!

Going Back to Our Roots

Posted on August 7th, 2013by Melanie
In English, German, Historic | Leave a Comment »

Germanic languageHave you ever considered the origins of languages? How did they start, where did they begin, how have they changed and been influenced over the years?

Our modern day European languages belong to the Germanic family of languages which originated in Europe and include about 60 languages and dialects all originating from Proto-Germanic, which was spoken in Iron Age northern Europe. As the Germanic tribes moved southwards from northern Europe, different variations of Germanic sprang up.

Three main groups occurred: the West Germanic languages, North Germanic and East Germanic languages. The North Germanic branch consists of Danish, Swedish and Norwegian, amongst others. The East Germanic languages are now extinct. The West Germanic languages, however, are the most widely spoken of the Germanic family of languages and include the two most popular ones of English and German as well as other major languages, including Dutch and Afrikaans.

The English and German languages of today occurred due to shifts in speech patterns resulting from influences such as the Vikings and Anglo-Saxons which led to the demise of Old English grammar and the start of Middle English in the 12th century, and to the High German consonant shift which resulted in Upper German, Low Saxon and Central German strains.

Our languages are still evolving today with the integration of popular foreign words and phrases from other languages. Languages are intriguing, from their concept, to their development, their usage and their ever-changing form. So be intrigued: get back to your linguistic roots and learn a new language from the Germanic family tree!

Reunited At Last

Posted on August 4th, 2013by Melanie
In English, German, Speech | Leave a Comment »

Hugging 3Chris had spent a few years in his late teens and early twenties living in Germany, in the army barracks where he served. After his tour had ended, he moved back to the UK with his German wife to start a family. They had a beautiful baby boy called Sam and life in the UK was good for a while.

But, as sometimes happens, life changed course and Chris and his wife sadly decided to end their marriage. She moved back to Germany with their young son while Chris stayed in the UK. His ex-wife soon remarried and started a new family, and gradually it wasn’t just the distance which kept Chris apart from his son as she cut all forms of communication with him.

Years later, having never given up searching, Chris found his son again. Now a teenager, he still lived in Germany but with his girlfriend rather than his mother. Sam spoke good English but, having lived in Germany for so long, often lapsed into German without thinking. Chris still remembered bits of German but his memory of the language was vague since his army days. As an effort to show willing and an understanding for Sam´s life so far in Germany, Chris enrolled in a German language course to refresh his memory and to make quick progress so that he could speak to his son properly.

A year later, they are still catching up and getting to know each other, albeit by speaking in an amusing form of Denglish! The separation of time and distance may have been long, but the bond between father and son has been mended in no time at all.

Back to School (Part 1)

Posted on July 10th, 2013by Melanie
In Education, German, Spelling | Leave a Comment »

It´s not just pupils who have to study hard, revise and do homework. Teachers are having to go back to school too!

Back to school 2The government has set the wheels in motion for a new school curriculum to be put in place, with a starting date of September 2014. Following a decline in the level of teaching standards relating to the national curriculum, the government is looking to give it a complete overhaul to reverse the fallen standards of the last decade.

Current subjects will be improved no end to include more detail and more challenging aspects for the children, and these will be taught to children at a much younger age. For example, maths will have a greater emphasis on longer division, mental arithmetic and fractions, whilst English lessons will include harder spelling and will focus more on grammar. New subjects will be introduced such as climate change and computer programming. It will be compulsory for schools to teach children as young as 5 years old a foreign language.

For teachers, these new lessons can be a very daunting prospect, particularly the latter one of teaching a foreign language. Knowing a foreign language doesn´t necessarily mean having the confidence to teach it to others, and some teachers may just be out of practice as far as languages are concerned due to a previous lack of necessity in a primary school environment. Some schools may not currently offer foreign language lessons to their pupils so are not yet in a position to cater to these new demands. However, there is time to prepare. The details of the new national curriculum are set to be finalised this autumn, giving schools and teachers a year to make provisions for the changes.

If, like the teachers, you feel the need to brush up on your foreign language skills, why not start with some German lessons in Nottingham to get ready for the future.

Lazy at Learning Languages?

Posted on June 19th, 2013by Melanie
In English, German, Speech | Leave a Comment »

LazyWhen speaking with people of other nationalities, it´s very noticeable how fluent they all seem to be in English, with usually another couple of languages tucked under their belts as well. They have a firm grasp of the language and are confident when speaking it; there are no embarrassed looks or pauses, no awkward moments, they can joke around in English and have a vast knowledge of the vocabulary. And then you have the Brits….

Whilst not wishing to stereotype people, Brits on the whole seem fairly content at just belong able to speak English. They may have learned French or German at school, some may have tried their hand at Spanish, Italian or Russian, but those who take it further and become fluent in a second or third language are fairly rare in comparison with their European counterparts.

So why is this? Are Brits just lazy at learning languages, or maybe just reluctant? Is the British educational system letting them down or is the curriculum just not promoting the benefits of language learning enough? Or are the British just complacent, being satisfied with just speaking English with no need to have a knowledge of other languages?

Well, perhaps it´s a mixture of all of them. English is so widely spoken around the world that you´d be hard pushed to go to an area where someone didn´t speak it. Even in countries where English isn´t commonly spoken, there always seem to be people around and to hand who can speak it, if only a little, who always seem willing to help if need be or eager to strike up a conversation.

In 13 member states of the EU, English is compulsory as the first foreign language and is still usually chosen in those countries where it´s not compulsory. Whilst languages are included in the UK´s national curriculum, not as much emphasis is placed on their necessity as is in other countries and pupils aren´t actively persuaded to choose languages over other, more academic subjects. Learning a foreign language in school is not actually compulsory in the UK or Ireland. The benefits of being able to speak more languages aren´t highlighted to pupils and the options this skill could give the pupils later on in life are not necessarily promoted.

The attitude of many Brits is that there is not as much need to learn a foreign language as there is within other countries as English is such a widely spoken language anyway and that, being British, that automatically holds an advantage. Historically, English became the spoken language in many parts of the world and people needed to be able to converse in it to be able to advance in society. Nowadays, it´s an internationally recognised business language.

Despite this lack of foreign fluency, British schools actually offer the highest range of languages available to learn in the EU. Further education establishments, independent language classes and adult education language centres offer an extremely diverse selection of languages, particularly minority ones, and these classes are on the rise. As more people travel or meet new people from other countries, the interest in learning new languages is increasing. More and more people are enrolling in language classes in their spare time, whether it´s to learn the more “common” options such as French, German, Spanish or Italian, the increasingly popular language of Mandarin Chinese, or more obscure languages such as Polish, Danish, Turkish or Russian. This escalation in foreign language learning in the UK will only increase more as people discover a love of other countries and more opportunities for language learning become available to them.

You, too, can join the ranks of linguistic masterminds by taking part in some German lessons in London, or a city near you, and demonstrating your flair for foreign languages. This enthusiasm for linguistics, post-school education, just goes to show that the British aren´t lazy at learning languages after all!

From the Beginning

Posted on June 8th, 2013by Melanie
In German, Language acquisition, Speech | Leave a Comment »

Nature vs NurtureIt has long been debated as to whether language acquisition is innate (something we are born with) or learned. Are we all born with the genetic capability of speaking our own language? Do we recognise speech patterns immediately? Is it possible to begin structuring language compositions in our brains from such an early age? How can we separate language from other external audio stimuli when we are babies? Do we tune into the most commonly spoken words around us and gradually learn them subconsciously? There are many questions on this subject matter with the aim of discovering whether language is an innate or learned skill. The answer is it that it’s actually a bit of both.

Our brains have the innate ability to comprehend, interpret and to produce language. Several studies have shown that infants, from birth until six months old, can distinguish between the phonetics of all languages. They hone in on the most commonly spoken words and sounds used by others around them, resulting in them being able to choose their native language. After six months old, however, they can only detect the phonetics related to their chosen language. Young children of just a few years old have a grasp of the grammatical rules of language without having been taught them. A child progresses though different stages of learning their native language until, usually when they reach puberty, they are able to learn a foreign language. The ability to learn a language is innate, but actually speaking a specific language is learned. These specific languages are learned from the environment and from experience.

For example, you have the innate ability to learn German, but that doesn´t automatically mean that you can speak German. To do that, you would need to actively learn the German language. So now that you know you have a natural disposition to learn languages, book some German lessons in London or whichever city is nearest to you and put your linguistic skills to the test.

The Key to Unlocking your Future is Language!

Posted on May 26th, 2013by Melanie
In German, Language acquisition, Speech | Leave a Comment »

Unlock your futureRosa was from southern Spain and, having spent a year in England in her twenties, spoke fluent English. At home, that opened up more opportunities for her as a large number of companies on the coast were British run. She´d joined one such company and had enjoyed working there for the next nine years. It was a large travel company with a mixed nationality staff including British, Spanish, German, Danish, Russian, Swedish, Finnish and French. Rosa loved working with so many different nationalities and enjoyed the travel opportunities that it opened up.

Unfortunately, like many other companies during the recession, this travel firm had gone into liquidation and Rosa found herself out of work. With so many people facing unemployment in Spain and with no companies hiring new staff, Rosa had decided to travel to Germany, like many of her Spanish friends, on a 3 month intensive language course with the intended outcome of finding a job there at the end of it. But, as no work was forthcoming, and with no work available back home, Rosa had to look carefully at what options were open to her.

She´d stayed in touch with her ex colleagues and many of them had returned to the UK, opting to work for the sister company of the one they had all worked for in Spain. The perfect job was available for her there, to deal with their Spanish clients on a daily basis, so Rosa flew to the UK to begin her new job. But she didn´t want to give up on her idea of working in Germany one day either, so looked to find some German courses that would enable her to keep up her new linguistic skills. She found the ideal course which enabled her to have lessons near her workplace and was taught by a native German speaking teacher. The teacher quickly assessed Rosa´s level in the German language and structured the lessons to continue from that point. Rosa´s confidence grew not only in her ability to speak the German language, but in the fact that there would now be so many more possibilities open to her in the future, and she looked forward to whatever they might be!

If you´ve ever dreamt of living and working abroad, as Rosa has, then broaden your horizons and learn German in Liverpool. You never know what your future holds!

A Plethora of Knowledge from a Young Polyglot

Posted on April 23rd, 2013by admin
In Education, German, Idioms | Leave a Comment »

If a 17 year old polyglot can do it, with 23 self-taught languages under his belt, then anyone can. Starting with Hebrew as his first foreign language, Timothy Doner memorized lyrics from Israeli hip hop songs and repeated them to other people until he was able to construct sentences. Talking to taxi drivers, street vendors, and people across the world on Skype, he has mastered each individual language in just a few weeks. A huge fan of the internet, he finds that being able to contact people from all over the world at any time is a great learning tool. He uses online forums to talk with other people and flashcard apps on his iPhone to help him with the learning process. As well as the usual, expected, European languages such as French, German and Spanish, this amazing teenager has learned obscure languages such as isiXhosa which is an official language of South Africa and is comprised of clicking noises specific to that language.

It’s believed that there is a universal grammar which underlies all languages but there is no doubt that a simplistic and positive approach has definitely helped Timothy conquer his linguistic abilities. Through sheer determination he now holds the title of ‘hyperpolyglot’ being one of a select demographic of linguists who have this capability. Living in the cultural melting pot that is New York, Timothy has access to numerous languages from different nationalities and is clearly determined to use this wealth of knowledge to his advantage. With the two languages of Sudanese and Malay next on his agenda, this talented individual clearly doesn’t intend to stop learning any time soon.

So, you can see how it can be done, that it has been done, and now it’s your turn. Learning a new language is easier than you think; you just need the right motivation and perseverance. An obscure South African language is probably not the greatest choice to start with, so how about something a little closer to home. One of the more traditional languages learned, why not enrol in some German classes in Edinburgh to start you on your linguistic journey!

A New Language for a New Lifestyle!

Posted on April 9th, 2013by Melanie
In German, Language acquisition | 1 Comment »

After getting married, Steffi and Simon decided to move from the UK to Steffi’s home town in Germany. They wanted to start a family there and to raise their children near her relatives. For Simon, who was originally born in Venezuela, this meant the unnerving challenge of taking on a new language as German immigration and residency regulations state that it is compulsory for any non-EU citizen who wishes to reside in Germany to provide proof of a basic knowledge of the language when applying for the visa. A daunting prospect at 34 years old, the trepidation of learning German was mingled with his excitement at starting a new life with his bride in a new country. After a lot of thought, he decided to beat his nerves and get a head start with some German classes in Edinburgh where they lived.

He opted for the individual classes rather than the group lessons as he felt that one-to-one training would be more intense and beneficial for him. Besides, he had Steffi to practise with when he needed to do his homework! His teacher was a native German and listening to their accent helped him to pronounce the words in the correct dialect and enabled him to tune in to the German accent fairly easily when practising his verbal lessons. As he lived so near to the learning centre, Simon was also lucky enough to benefit from having his German classes at home which not only saved time and travelling expenses but also removed some of the nervousness from being back in an educational environment. It wasn’t long before he’d picked up the basics of the language and felt calmer and more confident at the prospect of moving abroad.

Now, three years later and still living in Germany, there are no longer any awkward silences or embarrassing moments when Simon tries to communicate with Steffi’s family. They happily converse with him and teach him new phrases as the situations arise. Having studied the German language full-time when he first relocated, Simon now takes part-time courses which help to build his vocabulary as well as his confidence. His written skills have improved no end and he even writes his Facebook messages in his native language of Spanish, in English and now in German to make sure that he doesn’t miss any of his friends out (and to show off a bit, naturally!). With a full-time job as a chef in a local bar, close friends and family, and a lovely baby daughter, it just goes to show that Simon’s hard work and determination at learning a new language was worth it as he now enjoys a very happy and fulfilling life in Germany.

German Faux Pas

Posted on January 16th, 2013by jake
In German | Leave a Comment »

DW has an interesting article about the German language and the faux pas contained within it. Each year a group of prominent linguists choose The Unwort des Jahres, or “German Faux Pas Word of the Year”. This year the award went to Opfer-Abo which translates into “victim subscription”.

The term was used by celebrity weatherman Jörg Kachelmann in several interviews to describe the way in which women in German society could further their own interests by making false accusations – including the charge of rape – against men. Kachelmann had been accused by his ex-girlfriend of raping her. Though he was later acquitted in court, the accusation destroyed his reputation.

Although in Kachelmann’s case it was found that a false accusation was made, the word entering the German vocabulary is a dangerous game meaning women who make truthful claims could be dismissed. The article also reveals what many would deem as discriminatory language being used to order beer and name party confectionery.

In pubs across Bavaria, people order “Negroes” or “Russians,” and receive a wheat beer mixed with cola or lemonade.

“Negro kisses” or “Moor heads,” a German adaptation from the French tête de nègre, or “negro head” – referring to candies made from marshmallows, chocolate and wafers – remain firm favorites at children’s birthday parties.

Many words were coined when racism and sexism were rampant and wide spread. It’s strange to see words left behind in the German language from those days. When one is brought up using these words it’s difficult for people to see the harmful effect they can have. This is why the “German Faux Pas Word of the Year” was founded. To make people stop and look at the language they are using.

via: DW