Better German Podcast with Susi

Susanne Schilk-Blümel

Episode 28 - How Much Practice do We Need when Learning German

2024-03-20 13 min

Description & Show Notes

In this episode of the Better German podcast, Susi Blümel discusses the significance of practice in learning German. She stresses the need for a balance between theory and practice, providing examples and guidelines for effective practice. Susi emphasizes that consistent and substantial practice is essential for mastery of the language, and she offers practical tips for learners to improve their speaking abilities.

In this episode of the Better German Podcast, Susi Blumel discusses the importance of practice in learning the German language. She emphasizes the need for a balance between theory and practice, suggesting a ratio of 20% theory to 80% practice. Susi provides examples of how to effectively practice new vocabulary and grammar, highlighting the crucial role of practical application in language learning. She also addresses common pitfalls in traditional language courses and stresses the significance of consistent and thorough practice. Susi Blumel's approach focuses on ensuring a deep understanding of theory while prioritizing ample practice to achieve fluency and proficiency in German.

Topics and Bullet Points
Primary Topic: Importance of Practice in Learning German
- The ratio of theory to practice (20% theory, 80% practice)
  - The significance of understanding theory and putting it into practice
  - Practice techniques such as speaking the words aloud, making sentences, and writing examples
- Discrepancy between theory and practice in language courses
  - The potential lack of speaking ability despite completing language courses
  - The need for a balance between theory and practice in language learning
- Calculating the amount of practice needed
  - Estimations for the amount of practice required based on hours spent on theory
  - The importance of practice in developing fluency and proficiency
- The approach in the Better German courses
  - Emphasis on understandable theory, need-to-know basis for grammar, and abundant practice
  - The positive impact on students' ability to speak earlier in their learning journey
Primary Topic: Practice Scenarios and Techniques
- Application of practice in specific scenarios
  - Integrating practice after attending a German class or watching educational videos
  - Identifying the required hours of practice based on hours spent on theory
- Techniques for practicing language skills
  - Suggestions for practicing phrases with a friend, making mixed sentences, and writing examples
  - The importance of continuous practice until language skills are easily applied
- Conclusion on the ideal percentage of theory and practice
  - The recommendation for a balance of 20% theory and 80% practice
  - The assurance that understanding theory and sufficient practice lead to progress in language learning
Primary Topic: Additional Resources and Support
- The availability of Better German courses and private lessons
  - Information about courses providing a good balance of theory and practice
  - Invitation to visit the Better German homepage for private lessons or to schedule a free introductory lesson
- The promise of further insights in the next podcast episode
  - A preview of the next episode focusing on the duration of learning German to set expectations for learners embarking on the language learning journey

- Interactive Movie Guide to help you find German movies with subtitles on your level.

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Welcome to the Better German podcast. My name is Susi Blümel, and I will teach you German and everything around the language , the countries and the culture. Hello, and welcome to this new episode of the better German podcast. And in this episode, we're going to talk about practice. How much practice is necessary. And I'm going to give you some guidelines on, so for you to really estimate how much practice do you need, and also some ideas on how you can practice. Actually, the episode for this week was supposed to be, "How long does it take to learn German" It's recorded, it's done. And I was in the middle of the edit. And while I was editing it, I realized that I want to record another episode before this which is this one, about practicing, because the information I'm going to give on how long it takes to learn German, I'm going to give you an estimation of how many hours you can expect, depending on your individual talent, or you're learning speed. However, I'm still going to give you a rough estimation, But all of this is true or has a lot to do with practicing. So, if you only ever learn theory, the numbers I'm going to give to you in the next episode will not hold true. So that's why I decided that we needed this episode first. And I needed to give you a few information about practicing. So roughly, these are ballpark numbers, okay. So roughly, you should have maybe 20% theory, and 80% practice. So, what does it mean? Let's say, You're learning a couple of new words. So let's say, you're going to learn a list of 20 new words. And maybe you were spending about 20 minutes, to write them down in your book and to look up the meanings and figure out what exactly they mean. If it's not totally obvious, maybe you spend a little time looking at a picture. So whatever theory you're learning, you do want to make sure. That you really understand it and you learn it well. So, and then roughly you could say if you spend. 20 minutes. Doing that. You should spend about 80 minutes to practice those words. So, what do we mean by practice? So the different things you could do for practicing would be, to say the words loud or to repeat them, like if you're doing a course with me, how we start is we, have this word list and then we start practicing it relatively fast and I will say them, and you will say them after me, that's already practice. And we will maybe do it that a couple of times and you will do it until you have no problem to say that word. The next thing we'll usually be, we will use this word in some way of a practical thing, we will make sentences or we make a conversation exercise, usually we will make sentences with these words. And then next thing is, you're going to write examples for these words. So, and all this together will probably roughly be 80 minutes for these 20 minutes. And that will mean that you don't just have heard this word once, but you will actually be able to understand, not only understand the word, but also use it, it will come into your mind when you need it. Let's look at a course. For example, I've just, that's also one of the reasons why I decided I want to do this episode. I've just seen a couple of postings on social media, like two, three that were almost the same thing from different people. And they said, okay, they have been doing German courses. And they are ab B1, which is a certain level. If you want to learn about the the levels of German courses, I made an episode about that. But anyway, if the person is at B1, It means that they're at the third level. This person wrote, she's at that level, but she cannot speak because she's never been speaking and she's never practiced speaking. Unfortunately that's a typical course, very often when you go to school or when you take a language course, it will be like that. I'm not even going to go into the fact that the theory is probably not 100% understood, because I think there's way too much grammar and it's too complicated. So if they're doing the B1, they have probably done an, A1 course and they have probably done an A2 course, part one and two, and they're now in a B1 course. So they have done at least three courses, and a course typically has maybe 50 hours of teaching. So they have done at least 150. hours of lessson so far and probably hardly any practical. Let's give them some credit and say maybe, maybe of these 150 hours, maybe 50 hours, they actually practiced. So that means they've done maybe a hundred hours of theory and 50 hours of practical in the course. So that in my experience, in my calculation, would mean that they're about 350 hours short of exercises. And if they, would do those 350 hours of practice, actually practice everything she or he learned there, they would probably be able to speak. So let's take another example of practicing. Let's say, you're you are in a course. And you've gone through your lesson. And, you've had some words and you've had some grammar and so on. So what can you do, in order to improve that. Let's say you were in a course and you spent two hours that day in the German class. So first of all, as a ballpark, you should remember for those two hours of theory, you should have about eight hours of practice. Maybe it's just one and a half hours of theory because you practice a little bit in there. So you should at least have five hours of practice. So that's one thing to consider. So you did 60 hours and out of the 60 hours, 50 hours were theory. Then plan out to do those 250 hours practice all of this particular thing you learned, and then you will be at the point, where you have a chance to actually apply what you've learned. Of course, you also need to understand the theory, and that could be another thing. If you follow my podcast, I'll try to make it as easy as possible for you, and I'll try to help you with that. Of course, if you want to do a course where this whole thing is already in there, you can look at my courses. I have a beginners course, you can also do individual lessons, but the principle is always the same. So you will get theory, theory that is understandable, not too much theory, but you will really understand it. Exactly the theory that you need. Grammar on a need to know basis. And you will have lots and lots and lots of practice. And that's what happens to my students. They actually are able to speak. You will be able to start speaking way earlier than you would think. Good. Let's take another example. Let's say. you're sitting down and you listen to a YouTube video about certain phrases that you can use. Let's say it's a 20 minute YouTube video with different phrases. So very good, it's 20 minutes of theory, write them down, maybe you need a little more because maybe you want to write them down and really make sure you get it, and then practice those phrases. You can practice them. You can practice them with a friend, make sentences, use them in sentences. Don't worry if the sentences are not perfect yet. If you've just started to learn German, you can even do, mixed sentences. Like, if you make a sentence with a word, like "lamp", and you don't know enough German to make a complete German sentence, - lamp in German is "die Lampe". You can say something. "The 'Lampe' is very beatiful." Use it in sentences, or touch things, if it's nouns touch the things, say the word, point at them.. Write. them up, so just practice those things. Do it with a friend, do it with a partner, if you can. And then you can also write sentences and you should, in order to practice them. So what's the conclusion. The rough estimate of a percentage, is about 20 to 80. Generally many courses probably give you more theory than you even need. However, whatever theory you're learning, as long as you make sure that you understand it and you then practice it enough, you will be fine. And you will be certainly doing much better than you have been doing so far. Is there such a thing as too much practice? No, I don't think you can ever have too much practice. How long is the ideal? How, like, how do you know that you really practice it enough? You know that you've practiced enough when you can use them. Like, for example, when you have a word, and you're going like, "okay, give me a second. I have heard this. Yes.... I know what it means", then you haven't practiced it enough. If you want to say that word and you have to like, go like, okay, what was the word again? What was it? What was it? Then you haven't practiced enough. So you know that you have practiced it enough, when you can do it without taking a long time to think. Same thing with grammar. If you have a rule, you need to find examples for it. And you know that you have practiced enough, when you can find examples easily, and when you can use that rule easily. And as I said, roughly in my experience, 20% theory, 80% practice is a good percentage. Don't get discouraged when you think, okay, I've spent 150 hours learning German, but I can speak yet. It's probably not because you're bad. It's probably just because you didn't practice enough. So make sure you understand you theory, put in the practice. And if you want a course, where this is already in place. Then you can look in my homepage, If you're looking for private lessons, you can make an appointment right there. For free introductory lesson. And I hope to see you in my next podcast, and as I said, this is going to be about how long does it take to learn German? So you know what to expect when you embark upon this journey.


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