What is GermanZone.org?
GermanZone.org: An Online Workbook for Learning German, is a collection of free online activities for learners of German, especially English-speaking learners of German. The interactive activities can be used for independent study by individuals or it can be implemented by instructors to complement and supplement any course. Learners can hone their reading and listening comprehension, enhance vocabulary acquisition, and practice structural accuracy in a culturally and linguistically relevant context. Each activity provides the learner with meaningful feedback to aid understanding and bolster skills. The website is not just a series of quizzes, but is meant to be a robust learning tool.
Germanzone.org first launched in January 2017 and is a perpetual work in progress. Currently available activities are for the A1/A2 (novice) range. New activities are added weekly and B1/B2 activities are on the way.
GermanZone.org is a project of TheGermanProfessor.com.
Who can use GermanZone.org?
Anyone with a web browser and an Internet connection can use the activities on this site for learning and practicing German. There is no need to register and there is no cost. However, registered users can opt to email the results of each quiz to themselves or somebody else. Registration is free.
How does it work?
There are several different task types: multiple choice, multiple response, dropdown, matching, ordering, true-false, fill-in, and short answer. Each activity provides specific instructions for the user.
If you are a registered user, you have the option of emailing the results to the address with which you registered and/or to a different email address. For optimal functioning, the email addresses you send to must be able to receive messages that are HTML-formatted. You must choose whether to email the results before you have the opportunity to view your score and results.
A green checkmark () will appear beside your chosen answer if it is correct. A red x () will appear after your choice if it is incorrect. Correct answers are in boldface.
When no answer is selected, there is no user answer to mark and the and indicators are absent. But the correct answer is still in boldface.
I cannot emphasize enough: READ THE FEEDBACK to understand why the right answer is the right answer, especially if your answer was incorrect. If you would like further clarification, use the Comments section following each activity to ask. Making mistakes is part of language learning. GermanZone.org gives you the opportunity to turn your mistakes into learning experiences and thereby ultimately to improve your language skills.
For German instructors:
About using GermanZone.org in your classes
This Online Workbook can be used to supplement any course you are teaching. I originally created activities like these for my own students as a homework supplement for my language courses. I have found the website supplements associated with textbooks to be too costly and configuring them for use too time consuming. I have also found the feedback given by these sites to be inadequate. And I have seen learners game the system by submitting empty activities for feedback to obtain the right answers and opening the activity in a fresh new tab and copying over the answers without even reading the questions. With this in mind, I have created a site that is free to students, requires no back-end configuration on the part of the instructor, provides users robust feedback and delivers a unique question set to learners for nearly all activities. GermanZone.org thereby attempts to provide a simpler, more practical, and more effective learning tool.
How to use it in your classes
Your students will first need to register to turn on the email function. Registering will enable them to email themselves (and/or you) the results.
Students can email results to themselves and then forward them to you. Or they select another address and have the results emailed directly to you. Or they can choose both at the same time. If receiving these results in your main email account seems too unwieldy, you can set up a separate email address for receiving activity results only. For best results, the email address should be able to receive HTML-formatted messages. In addition, you should add germanzone.org to your list of safe email senders. If students are sending you results emails and you are not receiving them, they are quite likely in your spam folder.
Note that hitting the submit button shows the results and simultaneously emails them. Therefore, students cannot know the activity results or their score before emailing them. If you want to increase the motivation to do their best work, you can have them email directly to you. If you want them to send you only their best work, then you might opt to have them send results to themselves first and forward their best scores to you.
I personally grade these on a credit/no credit basis, giving credit for scores 70% and above and no credit for scores below that. In my courses, I emphasize that these activities are meant to be a LEARNING TOOL. They are not meant to assess how perfect a student’s language skills are, but rather to give him/her the practice and feedback that result in improvement in language skills.
I envision assigning activities to an entire class, but also individually on an as needed basis, particularly for students at a more advanced level who may benefit from review or additional targeted practice in certain areas.
There are various ways to go about setting up class or individual assignments. I use my campus content management system (Blackboard) to communicate course info to students and I link to the assignment pages on a week by week basis, choosing whatever assignments align with the material we are covering in class. Alternatively, you could use the social media share tool at the bottom of each activity. If you use any kind of social media for administering your classes — whether that is email, Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Reddit, or something else — you can use the tool to share the activities you want students to do.
The site will continue to grow and I heartily welcome your criticism and feedback in order to make GermanZone.org a better learning environment for our students.
Who is The German Professor?
My name is Christine Goulding. I am a Professor of German at California State University, Chico. I have a PhD in German Language and Literature from Penn State University and have been teaching German for over 25 years. I also teach in my department’s M.A. program in Teaching International Languages. I am the co-author of a number of books and projects, including Surf’s Up! Website Workbook for Basic German (Jeffrey Norton, 1998), the interactive classroom murder mystery Mord in Mainz (Heinle, 2003), and two major textbooks: Alles klar: An Integrated Approach to German Language and Culture (Prentice Hall/Pearson, 2004) for first year German instruction and the intermediate-level book Mittendrin. Deutsche Sprache und Kultur für die Mittelstufe (Pearson, 2012). I have created audio programs, print workbook supplements, and web-based book supplements. And I created thegermanprofessor.com in 2009. I am also a wife, a mom, an avid traveler and a lifelong learner.