1. When we begin learning language as a child, words are associated with images, emotions, and our senses – not to other words. As a visual learner learning a foreign language, this is something that has always caused me problems. It has always been tempting for me to create flashcards with just the german words and their english translations. While this usually serves me well for the next quiz or test, I often forget what I learned soon after. while in Dresden, I found it most helpful to be able to learn new words by connecting them to new places and experiences. Rather than giving these words meaning by relating them to English, they had a meaning of their own. Even by adding pictures or a German definition of the word instead of only its English translation, I hope to somewhat replicate this experience as I continue studying German at Notre Dame.
2. Reading is one of the most important methods through which we maintain and further our language proficiency and vocabulary. Because of this, it was an important goal for me to be able to read even an elementary novel, so even while in the U.S. and after graduation, I can continue growing my German vocabulary and fluency. The question that has arisen for me as I begin reading a book that my family gifted to me is how often should I be looking up new words while reading? For me, it is tempting to look up every single word that I don’t know, but then it usually ends up taking around 5 minutes to read just one page. I hope to be able to find a balance between learning new vocabulary by looking up new words and also by using context to build my own understanding of new words.
3. More often than not, I have found that English has proven to be more of a hindrance than a help as I learn German. As a result, I often find myself initially translating what I would like to say or write directly from English to German, ending up with a mix of both English and German grammar. Similar to my last point, I have thus found it most valuable to think about what I am trying to express purely from a German language and grammar standpoint. Rather than German being a product of my knowledge of English, it becomes more of its own independent language.