How to work with videos

Many people watch video courses – and especially language instruction videos – like movies. They press play, let it run through, watch it and when the course is done, they are done. Okay, there might also be some stopping, pausing and taking notes, but in principle it’s similar to watching a movie.

Watching a video course should not at all be like watching a movie though. Why?

Think about a movie you watched in the past. After having watched it, were you able to explain the plot and all subplots in detail? Did you remember all the names of every single person in the movie? Were you able to recite every single line people said in that movie? Would you have been able to rewrite the script without further help? What you will have is a more or less detailed memory of what happened in the movie and who was involved. Over time, this memory will get vague. If it wasn’t a very impressive movie, your memory of it will eventually fade. And we are speaking about a movie in your native language here, something that is way more compelling than the average presentation of information in and about a foreign language.

Now think about what you want to get out of a language course: You want to be able to understand a language in writing and when people talk, you want to be able to express your own thoughts properly, you want to be able to communicate. Just understanding the content of instruction videos will never get you there. The information presented somehow has to become part of your permanent memory, every detail of it. How do you get there?

You will find different types of videos or in parts of the videos: explanation (grammar/structure, some vocabulary), examples, exercises.

Understanding an explanation is a very first basic step, and it is important, too, but it’s after this first step, that the work starts. This means you will actually have to work with the videos, with every single one, with each piece of information.

Here are some general guidelines for starters:

Watch every video clip multiple times.
Explanation videos are actually the ones, you can watch fewer times because you only need to watch them until you’re sure you haven’t missed anything and understood everything. Ask, if anything is unclear.
Make sure you understand the principle; there is no need to be able to recite grammatical rules, tables and the likes. There is actually no point at all in knowing these things by heart, and you will learn and understand why, throughout working within the German Learning Space.

Repeat every example sentence.
Say it out loud. This is something you need to do many times. Many, many times. The more often, the better. Repeat example sentences until they feel familiar to you. Repeat them until you feel comfortable saying them. Repeat them until you can recite them in your head before you go to sleep at night.

Don’t focus too much on the exercises.
The tests and quizzes will help you find out if you are on the right track in principle. They can be good for orientation, and for in-between checks. You can for example find out if you can find the answers easily or with difficulty. The latter would be an indicator that you haven’t repeated your verbs or declension or whatever it is you’re supposed to fill in  often enough. So, your main task is not getting all the right answers. Your main task is to frequently repeat example sentences from the videos over an extended period of time.

Your goal is not to get through all the videos.
Getting through all the videos will not teach you German. So, don’t rush through them. Take your time. Take a lot of time. Remember, this is a longterm project. Nobody learns a language in a few weeks. It will take a lot longer, but the outcome will be really good!