Who are Lingoda’s German teachers?
It’s now time to meet another Lingoda German teacher. You may remember Moritz from our Lingoda Live series. He’s also featured on our Instagram where he gives hints and tips about learning German. We met with Moritz to discuss life as a Lingoda teacher and why learning German can be fun!
Moritz, please tell us a little about yourself!
I am a PhD student in German Studies and work as a freelance instructor, editor, and translator, while currently finishing my dissertation. I am originally from Berlin, where I grew up during the years of German reunification, enjoying the experience of an ever-changing and sleepless city with a strong emphasis on historical memory, multicultural life, and the world of the arts. After a vocational career in theatre and stage lighting, I turned to academic life and the field of education. I have studied Cultural Studies at the German-Polish border and German Studies in the United States. Since my mid-20s, I have worked and lived in various countries, among them Turkey, the US, and Italy – all countries with languages that deeply fascinate me. What do I do in my free time? I like to do sports, follow cultural and political history, and have good meals with good people!
What does the average day look like for you as a Lingoda teacher?
I schedule my classes mostly in the morning and spend my afternoons writing and editing. A quick breakfast usually makes me a better teacher. I prepare classes based on the number of students and the lessons’ content. I like to teach a few classes in a row, which gets me into a certain rhythm. After class, I quickly summarise the lessons and send my feedback to the students. The various moments and stories from my morning lessons often stay with me throughout the day.
What is it that you like the most about the platform?
I enjoy being able to select classes at different times, based on my own schedule. The Lingoda platform works really well, the technology runs smoothly. I find lots of advantages in being able to teach from various places. Besides the flexibility, I really enjoy the methodological and didactic opportunities that come with online instruction: features like script-supported conversation or camera-supported pronunciation training are features that the traditional classroom cannot offer in the same way. Most of all, I enjoy Lingoda’s students. It’s really energising to see so many highly motivated students from all over the world and learn about their perspectives on the German-speaking world.
What is it about learning and speaking other languages that you enjoy?
Language learning is something very humbling and elevating at the same time. It shows you the limits of your own world and the challenges of transgressing it and, at the same time, it exposes you to the incredible richness of human expression and how it has developed. Language always travels and it’s fascinating to learn a bit about the steps of that journey. For me personally, it was a very important experience to start reading newspapers in different languages and learn about how the same topics are presented often very differently in different language contexts.
Why do you think people should learn languages?
There are tons of reasons why someone should learn a foreign language. You might want to learn about a different culture or be able to work in a different country. Some people want to brush up what they have learned as a child, others just like the challenge. Whatever the reason is, at some point of diving into the concepts of a new language, you realise that your own language has become somewhat foreign to you, or at least you wonder about its concepts. From there, there is no chance of return.
What do you like most about the German language?
The formation of German as a widely circulated language of literature and philosophy in the eighteenth century is a fascinating story. Modern German emerged independent of a centralising state power, as the German-speaking territories were fractured for most of the time. Nevertheless, German became a crucial language for European history, spoken in larger cities in France as well as in regions of the Russian Empire. German remained important throughout the modern era and shaped the history of the twentieth century, for many years also in catastrophic ways. Since the end of WWII, German has become the new language for millions of immigrants over the last 70 years.
Interesting for learners are the grammatical characteristics: German has a very flexible syntax, more flexible than many other European languages. We are relatively free with where to place the elements of a sentence, but in order to make clear how all the words relate to each other, we use a large number of case endings on pronouns, adjectives, and nouns. That makes German a very flexible and, at the same time, a very restricting language – a dynamic that has attracted many learners of German.
Why do you think people should visit, or even live, in a German speaking country?
The German-speaking world is multifaceted, of course. Life in cities like Hamburg or Rostock differs tremendously from life in Zürich or Vienna. Germany has fascinated tourists for a long time, not least for being a very organised country. As it is reflected in the vocabulary and the various dialects, Germany, Austria, and Switzerland have been strongly influenced by other countries. Today, people from all continents live and work in German-speaking countries. In a city like Berlin, you can hear a large number of languages when strolling through the streets and find food, people, and stories from all over the world.
If you had any tips or advice for a language learner, what would they be?
My advice is to regard language learning as a form of sport. Do it regularly and allow yourself breaks. Most importantly: make your body a resource of memory. Pronunciation is a muscle job, not a brain job! Like a dancer on stage remembers her/his moves mostly through the body, we let our muscles do the work of pronunciation (it’s actually funny once you start thinking about the details of pronunciation when speaking your native language). Embrace the foreign sounds and train them in the same way as you would do laps at the gym.
What words of wisdom do you have for anyone who may be thinking about taking the leap into language learning?
Language learning has to be fun. Find the strategies that work best for you and allow yourself to keep smiling. Of course, organised input is crucial. However, it does not help you to know the vocabulary of all possible types of fruit and vegetables, if you cannot name the objects and conditions in your closest environment. Learn the words that concern your life, your needs, and your interests! From there, you can go in all directions, back and forth, and back again. Use all digital gadgets available, but don’t forget handwriting, which means –again– involving the body in language learning. On your way, check out Lingoda and see how you like learning with native-level speakers in live online classes selected by you from a well-organised curriculum, working at your own pace and times that work for you.