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German Genius – Learning without any Effort!

Not possible? But yes, it is! And this is how you do it:

Der Nürnberger Trichter (the Funnel from Nürnberg)
There exists a method of learning in Nürnberg, Bavaria, which apparently is THE panacea for all learning challenges, dating back to the 6th century. The student doesn’t have to make any effort on his part, it’s all poured into him and we even have a word for that “eintrichtern” (equivalent: ‘to drum it in’). If you intend to learn German that way, read on. But do bear in mind that meanwhile a more state of the art modern teaching methodology has evolved which, talking from my experience, also proves to be very successful.

The device ‘Der Nürnberger Trichter’, is depicted as a funnel which pours knowledge into anyone’s head so learners can obtain knowledge with hardly any effort at all on their part. No need to swat, the Funnel makes learning German easy. True or not true, that is the question! Why is it not used worldwide? Let me tell you.
Well, the idea originates from a German poet from Nürnberg, who wanted to pour the art of German Poetry and Rhyme into any-ones head within 6 hours. As simple as that, including vocab, grammar and speaking skills. So the poet, Herr Harsdörfer of the ‘Society for the Cultivation and Improvement of the German Language’, wrote 8 booklets, with the jocular title “Der Nürnberger Trichter”, intending to imbue the ordinary person with the beauty of the German language.

Of course he didn’t intend to make a poet out of everyone in merely 6 hours but rather making his mother tongue accessible to the ordinary person, not just to the learned, who had the privilege to be taught Greek and Latin. He wanted his language to be nurtured, spoken and understood at a high level and hence forth German became an established subject in all grammar schools (I personally think bureaucracy today has taken it too far, but that’s a different story). My home city of Nürnberg has followed a long tradition of inventiveness: it is famous for the original pocket watch (Peter Henlein), the oldest globe without America (Martin Behaim), “Hydraspis” is the invention of waterski, swim belt and flippers and most importantly the first law on the size, quality and cost of the ‘Nürnberger Bratwurst’. But here is the reason why I think Herr Harsdörfer is tops: With his booklets on poetry and grammar he intended to help women to become equal partners of conversation! That was back in 1642.

In my classes I have decided not to use the ‘Der Nürnberger Trichter’ as a device, partly due to technical issues but also because I am an advocate of modern language teaching, without a funnel.

Leitkultur – Leading Culture

The German Federal Minister Dr. Maiziere has in the face of a well published influx of foreigners into Germany in the last 2 years (the refugee crisis), who may or may not stay, explained that ‘when in Rome, do as the Romans’. Who are we as a people, what bonds us together? What do we expect from non-Germans to accept?

Here are his 10 points:
1. Social habits, such as shaking hands, including women. We show all of our faces, we don’t do burkas.

2. Education does include subjects which may not be directly related to a future career, it is linear, enhancing general knowledge.

3. Achievement is a virtue as is a level of excellence. We also offer subsistence to those who are in need, we have a social conscience.

4. Following a dark period in our history we have moved to a federal system where freedom and peace are of paramount importance, as well as tolerance towards our neighbours and states.

5. Our culture is imbued with music, theatre, philosophy, it’s part of the world’s cultural inheritance. Germans promote culture and education to all of open mind and heart to partake.

6. Religious beliefs are respected and our churches stand for charitable work as well as unite people in faith. Religious communities live in peace alongside each other and the law takes absolute priority over all religious rules.

7. A civic culture determines the settlement of conflicts in Germany and violence is not accepted. Respect towards minorities is practised and encouraged.

8. We are patriotic: “And because we’ll make it better let us guard and love our home, love it as our dearest country as the others love their own,” Berthold Brecht. Our flag stand for Unity, Justice, Freedom.

9. Our country is located in the heart of Europe and we have been shaped by our neighbours over centuries. Our common language of German unites us and in its intricacies represents the German mind and soul.

10. We have a plethora of traditions and remembrances: from The Day of German Unity to the October Fest. Germanys’ 16 federal republics have many varied mentalities, foods, customs, and dialects, all essentially and uniquely defined as being German.

The complete article in English and in German

A debate in German about the need for a Leitkultur 


Carnival Time in Germany

Karneval, Fasching, Fastnacht

It’s madness, it’s crazy! Let’s get going! “Alaaf – Helau” you chant.

Year after year on the 11.11. at 11.11. o’clock Carnival starts and ends on ‘Aschermittwoch’ (Ash Wednesday).  Read more…

A Fairytale

Ich hab’ mich in dich verguckt!
(trans. The Look of Love is in your eyes …)

“The Princess and the Frog” – A German Fairy Tale
Read more…