Worldwide, storytelling is one of the oldest methods of getting in touch with other people. We like to be told stories by others, of distant worlds, other points of view, experiences not yet made ourselves. And, on the contrary, we also like to tell our own stories – of our own activities, adventures, life experiences. Exciting stories cast a spell over us. In foreign language teaching, this means: The first step towards learning German has already been taken. The listeners are attentive and at the same time wish to contribute their own stories to the conversation. The participants are motivated to learn the language.
The Storytelling Method Works with Imagination and Creativity
Learners of German find it much easier to learn the language if they concentrate on what they would like to express, rather than focusing on the correct use of the language. Initially, it does not matter whether the learner can put everything into words. Facial expressions, gestures and images also make it easier to understand and communicate. The storytelling method works centrally with imagination and creativity.
Why? Because a story is more than just a hollow string of words. Stories create images in our own minds and in the minds of those around us. Images that arouse emotions and curiosity and generate excitement. Modern brain research has discovered that the pictorial representation of stories is particularly well absorbed and retained by the brain. Through ideas, inspiration and intellectual exchange, communication and language acquisition take on a whole new quality.
Through multicultural exchange, learners connect emotionally as well as socially, and the classroom becomes a space that offers more than language learning: it becomes a place of international communication where people like to go because they know each other and are connected. What makes the German Language Lab special is that this happens globally and digitally.
In a personal, varied teaching atmosphere, students succeed in moving through fiction and imagination within the new language space, in involving themselves and in finding their own identity in the new language. For every new language is, at the same time, an immersion into a new culture – something that has gained particular importance in today’s language acquisition, in times when translations have become possible via computer programs.
Language learning becomes entertainment – and it does not lose its perfection.
Without Grammar – is that possible?
Of course, we cannot avoid grammar and the practice of vocabulary. But these are learned when the student needs them – and thus this method succeeds in maintaining the fun of learning, the sense of learning and the motivation.
Grammar is a construct with which many (by far not all learners!) struggle. It is perceived as abstract and difficult to keep in mind. When learning German as a foreign language, this is compounded by the fact that German grammar is extremely diverse and bristles with exceptions. What did Mark Twain write? “A person who has not studied German can form no idea of what a perplexing language it is. Surely there is not another language that is so slipshod and systemless, and so slippery and elusive to the grasp.”
But: Often learners know intuitively what they cannot explain rationally: How word endings sound, for example, or how the tense is formed. This is not surprising if you have observed how children learn their mother tongue or how newlyweds learn the language of their partner. The love for another person sometimes seems to be enough to learn the language without much difficulty.
However, it is not quite so simple in foreign language learning. There is an essential difference between the acquisition of the mother and possibly father language and the later acquisition of the foreign language. And especially adult learners often already have a rich grammatical knowledge that makes it easier for them to learn a new language. It is the systematic approach that ultimately leads to perfection.
In the German Language Lab, learners study grammar by analyzing their own stumbling blocks or “mistakes”. At level A2 and above, learners regularly write a diary. This way they not only practice their own personal use of the language, but the teacher also has the opportunity to uncover stumbling blocks and incorporate them into the following lessons with tasks and exercises.
The same applies to the areas of vocabulary and pronunciation. The storytelling method works without a textbook, with an interactive learning platform. Learners study with a personal language portfolio that accompanies them in the learning process.
The learner is always at the center of attention and is an actor in his own language learning process. This learner-centered method picks up the learners and shows them how to learn the language so that they can use it professionally and easily in the future.