German Language Courses

Continuing Language Learning Through Course Building

Enhanced German language acquisition and cultural understanding via Middlebury Interactive programs

May 6, 2014

Whether you want to speak to a long lost German relative, or finally be able to pronounce the names of your favorite German soccer stars (including but not limited to Bayern München), the inspiration for learning a new language is always worthwhile. As a course builder at Middlebury Interactive Languages, I have had the distinct pleasure to witness firsthand the transition of many people, from tepid speaker to near fluency. Each course, lesson and even activity that I build has been meticulously selected utilizing Middlebury’s pedagogical approach down to the very last Umlaut. Trained writers and language speakers chose from dozens of culturally valuable stories, design methods and tools for learning vocabulary, and even help demonstrate language concepts through audio and visual tools. 

At Middlebury Interactive, it is my job to make sure that the data and research that has gone into each activity is conceptually and thoughtfully outlined and presented. The great thing about being in my position is that through our proven design method used in our courses works, I am not only learning more German but also the incredible German culture that I already knew!

One of the best parts of my jobs is getting to work with our illustrators in helping to conceptualize and implement multimedia resources in our software. From elementary to fluency, each one of our courses is built with various interactive elements to not only represent authenticity, but also to integrate cultural and country specific norms and values. Since I started building some of our German content, not only have I had a chance to expand my vocabulary, but I have learned more and more about the German culture itself. Why and when do men wear lederhosen? What kind of food and dances do the German people celebrate? How is their Christmas different? Needless to say, while construcing these courses, I’ve come to appreciate not only learning about how to communicate with others, but being able to understand their culture and backgrounds as well.

The immersion in our courses is not only something that students experience, but something we as builders experience as well. During building and designing activities, I’ve had a chance to listen to several hundred pieces of audio recorded by our authentic speakers. Because of this I’ve been able to learn more and more that my pronunciation of the German words I loved and cherished was, to sugarcoat it, bad. Listening to these pieces of authentic audio as I placed them in our activities was fun for me as I strived to talk along with what I was hearing; imitating and practicing my accent. With these new skills, I even learned how to correctly pronounce words like Handschuhschneedballwerfer (which means someone who throws snowballs with gloves instead of using their hands).

Although language acquisition can seem challenging, that doesn’t mean that it cannot be enjoyable! Trust me, if someone such as myself can even learn to write legibly in my own language, everything will turn out fine for the rest of you! Language learning is an opportunity to open doors and expand our minds to something greater than ourselves. With the celebration of differing languages seen in many worldwide events, such as the Olympics or the World Cup, my appreciation to be part of such a wondrous movement teaching about language and culture has only been strengthened through being a part of the building and constructive process of our immersive language software.

Have you had an enhanced language learning experience via classroom or coursework instruction? Let me know in the comments below! 

Ben Simmons
Just as the proverbial Phoenix rises from its own ashes, so has Ben Simmons risen as a beacon of hope to all those around him. But seriously, he was born and raised in North Carolina where he spent most of his days. A graduate of Brigham Young University, he is a big fan of non-fiction books, video games and an avid soccer fan.
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