The back story

My background in education and software engineering lead me to believe there was a better way to learn and teach German than what is now available. One option would be to build another app, but I didn’t take that route. Apps are helpful to learn vocabulary. But they are not the best way. Drilling vocabulary does not allow anyone to make a coherent sentence.

My speciality from the world of software is in requirements engineering, UML and pattern recognition. My research resulted in the publication of a pattern language. I’m obsessed by patterns. For me, patterns are the key to understanding, retaining knowledge, and applying it. 

Software engineering articles (Agile Storytelling)

There are many language schools a student can attend. My experience with language schools is disappointing. Their adherence to levels (A1.1., A1.2, A2.1 etc.) and the lazy way in which classes are built around a ‘text’ book I found insufficient. I don’t enjoy knowledge being drip fed at a pace that I cannot control. Rather I recognise that German can be divided up into conceptual arenas. First amongst these arenas is the CASE (Fälle) system. I’m referring to (der, das, die, den, dem) etc. I don’t believe that tagging these concepts as nominative, accusative, dative, genitive is efficient. It’s not enough to tell a learner that ‘it’s that way because it’s accusative’. This is not a sufficiently good answer. 

The breakthrough I had with recognizing that German Fälle is really an algorithm came when I read the work from the University of Michigan. I took this work and developed a simple workshop to teach the basis of CASE in 90 minutes. This has been wildly successful. 

The rest is history. There is now a real alternative to understanding all of the necessary parts of German grammar within 2 months of learning in sessions twice a week of 90 minutes in length. This takes a student to C1 grammar. Why bother? Because when you know how the grammar works you have confidence. When you have confidence you are ready to speak. 

We don’t go from knowing the grammar directly to speaking. It takes time for the mind to strengthen the connections between neural nodes. Only by traveling these nodes does speed increase to the point where natural speech is possible. 

That’s why we write and we read. Because through writing we have enough time to let the knowledge filter through. We practice traveling across the connections between information until it is second nature. We read real simplified novels because they’re worth the effort in that they tell an interesting story and not something artificially written for students. I have no interest in reading about the Hauptbahnhof in Leipzig or Herr Müller’s upcoming trade trip to München. I don’t believe I’m alone in this. 

After two months of grammar, reading and writing, the student is ready for role play. We don’t do unstructured small talk. Small talk soon runs itself into the ground. It does not allow us to explore the rainbow of language. Our role plays are based on the speaking opportunities the learner will encounter in real life. We prepare and practice for the world of the street, commerce, bureaucracy and socializing. 

There are a lot of resources available on the internet advertising themselves to help you learn. There are however only a handful of resources you really need. 

Resources for learning German

Fiction written by students in German

You are welcome to experience this 'revolution' in language learning based on pattern hunting. It's good for programmers. It's good for anybody who likes to think for themselves.