December 31, 2013, by Guest blog
A rapidly expanding vocabulary list
Although I wanted to experience as much culture as possible and meet new people, my main goal going into my year abroad was to improve my linguistic skills in both German and Spanish. Even though being in Germany and being surrounded by native speakers would obviously immerse me in the language and would naturally improve my language level, I knew that I would have to do extra activities as well.
One of the areas that I felt needed most improvement was my vocabulary, therefore when I first arrived I bought a note pad to write down any new vocabulary, that I came across. However, I wasn’t able to carry this notepad around with me everywhere so if I saw a word that I didn’t know whilst I was out and about, I would write down the word in my phone and then when I got home I would search for the translation of the word and then write it down in my vocabulary list. Obviously, with the list expanding rapidly there was a high chance I would probably forget most of the words I had written in the note pad a week later, so I tried to read through my list when I had a spare 10 minutes and test myself to see if I could still remember the new words.
I also wanted to ensure that I didn’t forget all of my German grammar and formal language whilst on my year abroad so I enlisted in the local Volkshochschule, which is an evening school for anyone that wants to learn a new language/skill or meet new people. I was extremely tenuous at first about whether to go ahead and take part in this class as it was 6 hours a week and I was already working 40 hours a week with my internship – so it was intense but I knew it was important. After doing a written evaluation and oral test I was placed in the C1.1 class. The first lesson was very challenging as I was in a class with people, who had been living in Germany for several years and therefore they knew a lot of the interesting vocabulary that I had never come across before. However, it was great to be challenged and put in this high level class because my fellow students helped expand my vocabulary and I helped them with some of the more complicated grammar topics, of which I had previously come across at university.
Overall, I have to say that, although it was challenging to take an active role in really learning the language with the little free time I had it definitely made a difference in my language level. When I go back to university I will already have an extensive list of new, interesting, weird and useful vocabulary that will be especially useful when I have to do translations.
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