How To Revise for GCSE German
Learn our top tips for GCSE German revision.
Learning a new language can be fun, inspiring, and useful, and GCSE German is an excellent opportunity to explore a very different European culture to our own. German is spoken in five European countries: Germany (obvs), Austria, Switzerland, Luxembourg, and Liechtenstein. In fact, it’s natively spoken by more people in Europe than any other language.
So having the ability to communicate in German is a valuable skill for business travel.
German has lots of compound words which can be immensely satisfying to say:
It’s lovely, isn’t it? Guttural, visceral, and direct. There are umlauts and esszetts. And words pronounced almost exactly as they're spelt. And English and German share the same Germanic root, so there are lots of similarities in words: Water is Wasser; Father is Vater; Chin is Kinn. It all feels quite exotic and somehow quite familiar, doesn't it?
Germany has fantastic cities like Berlin, Munich, Hamburg, Frankfurt and Cologne, sporting inimitably Germanic architecture. And they sure know how to celebrate October and throw a Christmas market. So, learning German - you could say - is the key to Europe.
Read on for our top tips for revising for your GCSE German exams, where we’ll take you through loads of fun ways to practice speaking, listening, reading, and writing in one of Europe’s most colourful languages.
Most people consider listening the most challenging part of learning a new language. And the only way you ever get good at it is to practise. And practising can be really great fun.
Get yourself on Netflix
Yes, you did read that correctly. One of the best ways to practise your listening comprehension is to listen - and there's loads of quality German programming on Netflix.
First things first:
- Log on to Netflix,
- Find the search bar,
- Type "German".
And hey presto (or "simsalabim!" if we’re sticking with Deutsch) you'll find tons of German content. German drama is often really exciting. Have you seen "Dark" yet? It's totally mind-bending and brilliant, and offers an excellent opportunity to practise your listening comprehension.
Alternatively, search for "Audio in German" for English language content that allows you to listen with German voice-over.
Slow German mit Annik Rubens
Podcasts are becoming the go-to destination for language learners; offering free programming to download and enjoy at any time. Slow German mit Annik Rubens is an excellent resource to help you revise for GCSE German. Annik speaks slowly and with super-crisp diction so that you'll be able to understand most of what she says, all the way through.
She has quite a restful voice, so this podcast could be a good choice to listen to as you drop off at the end of the day.
News in Slow German
News in Slow German offers more challenging vocabulary, but it's spoken slowly enough to follow most of what's being said. There’s a new episode nearly every week, so keep up to date with the world from the German perspective.
Have you tried speaking to Siri in German yet?
- Go to "Siri & Search",
- Find the "Ask Siri" menu.
- Under Language, choose "German (Germany)"
and you'll be chatting away in Deutsch in no time. Google Assistant is also available in German - just say “Talk to me in German” and it will obey.
Quizlet offers a wide variety of ways that you can revise your listening comprehension, including flashcards, spelling games, arcade-style games, and lots of ways of adding to your vocabulary and understanding of GCSE German grammar.
You haven't really learned a language until you've built up the confidence to converse and get yourself understood. German certainly has its challenges: the super-long words and the language-specific letters, for example. But German is much more phonetic than English, and there are lots of similarities in the sounds of words.
There's nothing more satisfying than learning new German vocabulary, is there? The joy of getting that colossal word out of your mouth: it needs some considerable repetition to get your head around the full word, but once it's there, it tends to stick.
The only way you can revise spoken German is to speak it - building up your confidence by having conversations in the language. Speaking and listening are indelibly linked, so it's a good excuse to get together with classmates and practise together.
Have phone calls in German
When you ring your classmates, how about planning your trip to the cinema or out shopping in German? Stick to German all the way and struggle your way through. The more you practise, the more you’ll find confidence in your speaking ability.
It's not so difficult to get the accent in German because it's very phonetic and the word itself seems to carry the accent. Other European languages feel like you need to adopt the accent to make it sound authentic, but German words feel a little like little packets of German-ness, don't they?
Some of our words just don’t look like they sound:
Like “thought” -
Who’d have thunk, where the “gh” got found?
Because fort fought its way, it was thwarting and caught
And when it was caught it was hurled up in court.
Because thwarting, of course, has a similar sound;
But the art sounds like ought when it’s put into thwart.
And how did they catch the “gh” in our caught
By squeezing it, of course, into jury; in court.
And where did the “a” go, it ought to have stayed
Perhaps it delayed. Some said it was staid.
And don’t get me started on knowledge:
The “k” only stays
just because of always
And English is harder to say than German
which leaps off the page;
spelt as it's said
(not spelt as in bread)
Their words are said as they’re arranged.
Wie saft man?
One of the most useful phrases for conversational German is “How do you say (English word) in German?”
“Wie saft man (English word) auf Deutsch?”
So, "how do you say "record player" in German" would be
“Wie saft man “record player” auf Deutsch?”
And we love that the word for "record player" is “Plattenspieler”. What a fab word! German has such a matter-of-fact tone, doesn't it? It literally translates as "plate player". Brilliant.
Have a German party
How about throwing a party with your classmates where the only language that’s allowed is German? All of your normal conversations in German! One of the things about learning a language in school is the emphasis on getting things right. And, of course, when you're revising for GCSE German, you're working towards getting the top grades. So, precision is essential in that context.
But speaking in another language is really about just getting understood and understanding each other.
Non-native English Speakers
Whenever you listen to a non-native English speaker, you'll probably find that they, perhaps, get their words the wrong way round and sometimes their turn-of-phrase is slightly different. They get expressions somewhat wrong, and occasionally their language sounds very formal.
But the important part is that you understand them. They might not have got their conversational skills to fluency yet, but you understand them, and you can hold a conversation with them. Speaking another language is just about getting understood. The precision comes with practice and fluency comes at a later stage.
Don’t be afraid to get it wrong
Don’t be afraid to get it wrong when in conversation - it’s just about getting across what you want to say. Sometimes you’ll have to think tangentially to find the right words - but consider the good you’re doing to your brain. Learning a new language is a fantastic feat of fitness for your neural pathways. People who can speak more than one language tend to have better memories as they grow older.
Reading and writing
There are tons of resources online to help improve your reading and writing skills in preparation for your GCSE German exams.
Each exam board has its individual repertoire of vocabulary, but they're mainly the same. The AQA website, for example, has an excellent list of words and phrases that you’ll need for your GCSE German written exam.
In the reading exam, you'll be asked to answer questions in English during the first part of the exam, and in German in the second part.
Read the entire German text first, then read the questions. Then read everything over again and look for the answers to the questions within the German text. Look out for tenses: can you recognise the difference between past, present, and future tenses?
The writing exam contains two tasks:
- Write on a topic relating to the reading passage
- Select a task from a choice of three and write in a specific style: narrative, discursive, or descriptive.
Use appropriate tenses and aim to demonstrate a wide vocabulary. Use Quizlet flashcards to broaden your vocab.
So, revision for GCSE German can be really entertaining. Fall in love with the guttural twang of the spoken word, and you'll find that your revision is the most fun you can have in front of a book. Viel Glück!