I have always heard this sentence: “In a certain exam, if you scored higher than someone else, then this does not necessarily mean that you know better than that person. It might be only that you mastered certain tips and tricks for passing the exam. In other words, you knew what is tested in the exam and how is that tested“.
This is the same situation with my passing Goethe’s B2 Test. I took a mock test (sample test) of this exam in Goethe Institute in Amman, Jordan (My experience is in this post). I was shocked to find that only 20% of its questions are grammar-related. It is like the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language). TOEFL has “zero” grammar questions and tests your knowledge of grammar indirectly through speaking and writing (Link to official sample questions for TOEFL). The 20% grammar-related questions of Goethe’s exam are represented by two questions: (1) To correct a written letter and (2) to fill in blanks. Their marks are only 20 from the total of 100 marks in the exam. Even these two questions do not require a good knowledge of grammar and test common expressions and grammar. For example:
– “Im Jahr” not “In Jahr”
– “Ich freue mich ___ eine Antwort” –> auf.
– “Ich bedanke ___ bei Ihnen” –> mich
– “Das Buch würde drucken” –> gedruckt
– “Ich freue mich auf eine schnellen Antwort” –> schnelle
– “mit neuen Büch” –> neuem
– mit den besten Grüße –> Grüßen
– “…, weil ich fahre nach Deutschland.” –> weil ich nach Deutschland fahre.
– “Deutschland hat die beste Universitäten” –> besten
I myself was, and still, very bad in grammar. I did not concentrate a lot on grammar as I liked the theory that grammar comes with time. One need to read and listen a lot and then a person can, like native speakers, speak with grammar without actually knowing the reason. During my experience of language exchange with native German speakers, I was told many times setences like: “I do not know why den Patienten NOT den Patient. It just sounds better when you say the first“.
To further support this point on not concentrating on grammar, I like the following paraphrasing from two famous publihers. It is from a book called “Polyglot: How I learn languages”by Kato Lomb (1909-2003) (Wikipedia article); a Hungarian woman who has been called “possibly the most accomoplished polyglot in the world”. I highly recommend her book (The book is freely available for download from this link).
Source: “Polyglot: How I learn languages”, page X (Roman numeral), link to download the book.
Therefore, after setting for this mock test and discovering what is actually tested in this exam, I decided only to collect the largest amount of vocabulary. This is what is mostly needed to pass this exam. This worked and I passed the B2 exam with a mark of 77.5%. I scored more than 70% in the grammar-related questions.
What is the secret to learning the largest amount of vocabulary in the most interesting, quickest, and easiest way possible?
I spent at least one month just reading articles on the internet. It was the most interesting and useful part of my German language learning. This is mainly because I started reading about topics I like and not being restricted with boring topics in books. Moreover, it saved me a lot of time from searching for the meaning of new words in dictionaries and the meaning of sentences and structures I do not understand. It saved my time because I did not have to type them as I used Google Chrome Extensions that show the meaning of words and sentences when you double-click them. I used, and still using, three extensions simultaneously:
– Dict.cc: This is a Chrome Extension of the great online free dictionary with the same name. This extension gives you the gender of words and their plural forms. Moreover, you can click “more” to go to their websites where you can find plural forms, conjugation of verbs and examples. In the screen shot below, you can see dict.cc in action. It translation is in the bottom. The translation in the top is from Google Dictionary Extension. Read about it next.
– Google Dictionary: This is useful because it functions as translator of all languages. If you click on a English word, then it will shows its English-English translation. Moreover, if you click on the name of famous person or place, then Google translate will give you explanation. This is not available through Dict.cc’s extension. In addition, you can highlight short sentences and this extension could translate them.
• ImTranslator: Google Translate: This is useful as it allows you to translate sentences. You can notice below the translation by this extension to the right. Google Dictionary extension also translate sentences (right). Hoover, you can see that the size of translation box is small and the text overlaps.
• The two important sources that I used to find interesting things to read:
– Google news in German: The advantage of Google news is not in that it categorises the news into different useful categories (Health, Politics, Technology, etc.), but that it shows the most famous pieces of news. Therefore, you can stay up-to-date with the top news each day.
– Wikipedia in German: I read a lot of articles about topics that interest me. The only problem with Wikipedia is that there are a lot of words that contain hyperlinks. Double-clicking these words will not show a translation and will cause your browsers to open new pages. You can, however, change the settings of Google Dictionary to show translation also when words are highlighted. This solves this issue, however, translation becomes harder.
A friend of mine was not convinced of this method and thought it is best to write down the meaning of new words on his book. After I convinced him of just trying this method, he liked it and started preparing to his B2 exam by reading about topics that interested him on the internet. After passing the B2 test, he told me:
“After I tried this method, I will tell anyone that learns the German language that this is the best and most interesting way to learn German vocabulary”.
Give it a try! It will take your minutes to install the extensions and start learning. You are simply reading… Reading about topics that you like not boring topics that does not interest you or would help you in your job!