What Are the Benefits of Offline Learning?
Offline interactions can provide a sense of connection with other people who speak your target language. Real-world conversations can also provide exposure to important body language and nonverbal cues that accompany language.
Physical learning experiences reinforce your memory by linking new phrases with experiences and relevant context.
Freedom from the internet eliminates problems with connectivity and other technical difficulties.
Experiment with these activities. Your learning success also depends on how well you match your offline learning activities to your individual learning style. Not sure what your learning style is? This article identifies 13 different learning styles and the activities that work best for each one.
1. Start a Vocabulary Log
This is a great offline learning technique for people who are visiting or studying in an German-speaking country. With a vocabulary log, you can turn everyday experiences into language learning opportunities.
Every day, you’ll encounter unfamiliar vocabulary. Make it a practice to quickly write the word or phrase in a small journal or notebook. Then, every evening, spend some time looking up the definitions of the words and phrases. Record those definitions in your journal.
There’s strong evidence that the act of physically writing something helps us to remember it, so your vocabulary log should help you quickly memorize these new words. The best part of this method is that you’ll end up with a personalized dictionary with vocabulary that’s relevant to your experiences.
Take this one step further and create flashcards for additional practice (here are some free flashcard templates that you can print out).
2. Take Advantage of the “Offline Learning” Mode on Your Apps
If you like using online German learning apps, you can get some “off screen” time by taking advantage of the “offline” mode. For apps where this mode is available, it’ll allow you to listen to audio lessons, stories or dialogues even if you aren’t connected to the internet. You can use this when you’re out for a walk or commuting to work. For example:
Duolingo made an offline learning mode available in 2013, offering most of the app’s functionality without an internet connection.
The learning website and app 50Languages also offers MP3 audio files that can be downloaded and shared on any device.
FluentU offers awesome, authentic English audio dialogues for offline listening. You’ll get to hear how German is used by native speakers, along with dedicated lessons on German vocabulary and grammar. Just download and listen while you’re driving, doing chores or hanging around the house! You can also download PDF transcripts of FluentU’s videos and audios for further offline learning.
When you’re back on Wi-Fi, you’ll have access to FluentU’s library of real-world German videos. These videos all have interactive captions that’ll teach you any word you don’t recognize, plus exercises and flashcards to make sure you remember your new vocabulary. It’s a world of German learning, all in your pocket, with or without internet!
3. Join a Meetup or Conversation Group
Take a courageous leap toward language immersion! Too often, fear of embarrassment holds us back from using a new language in real-life scenarios.
At the same time, real-life scenarios often provide the most effective and meaningful places to learn, as any new phrases that you learn are connected to a situation or context that is relevant to your life.
The only way to get over the fear of embarrassment is to practice. If you join a conversation group, you’ll be able to interact with others who are also making mistakes and learning from them.
How do you find German conversation groups? Here are a few tips:
Public libraries often organize language exchange groups.
Look for groups on Meetup or on social media (local Facebook events are often a good place to start) by searching for a German conversation group.
Of course, you can always start your own! Recruit members for your conversation group by advertising at local coffee shops, bookstores and language schools. If you’re not sure what to talk about, start with a few simple small talk conversation topics.
4. Start Reading German Books Regularly
Dedicate time to reading a real book—not just social media posts and quick online news articles. Reading an entire German book will increase your stamina—in other words, you won’t get overwhelmed or tired so easily the next time you try reading in German. This is especially important if you plan to study English in an academic setting.
You can increase your motivation with fun, exciting materials to read.
Reinforce your learning by marking unknown words and making your own vocabulary list as you go. You can take this activity to the next level by starting a German book club (either online or in-person) with other English learners to help you stay motivated.
5. Download German Music for Offline Listening
That’s right! There are plenty of popular German songs that are great for learning the German language. Using music is a powerful way to learn German, because matching the vocabulary with a familiar tune can help you memorize it more easily. The repetition in music make its a good resource for practicing specific vocabulary or particular grammar structures.
Have a look at a few popular German songs that are excellent choices for learning German vocabulary and grammar. To download for offline listening, here are some options:
Spotify Premium lets you download thousands of songs on up to three devices.
YouTube Red also lets you easily download songs if you’re a member.
Of course, you can always go the old-fashioned route and get CDs or records!
6. Play a Board Game
Board games create an environment where you can focus on specific vocabulary and grammar structures. There are usually key phrases that need to be repeated throughout the game, which can teach you important German words.
If you already have a favorite game, challenge yourself (and a few friends) to play it in German.
Whatever you do, it’s never too early (or late!) to start the habit of learning offline.
Offline learning isn’t always easy, but it’s a surefire way to improve your language skills—and you’re likely to improve your social life as well!
With these offline learning ideas, you’re ready to create your own personal curriculum to keep learning German unplugged and off the grid!