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“Easy German” Teaches Language with Real-World Approach

The+Easy+German+group+take+a+picture+at+a+location+they+traveled+to.+The+group+is+known+for+traveling+and+producing+YouTube+videos+as+they+go.+
The Easy German group take a picture at a location they traveled to. The group is known for traveling and producing YouTube videos as they go.

The Easy German group take a picture at a location they traveled to. The group is known for traveling and producing YouTube videos as they go.

The Easy German group take a picture at a location they traveled to. The group is known for traveling and producing YouTube videos as they go.

David Misyura, Reporter

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Manitou Springs High School has quite the diverse and fleshed-out foreign language program, and its German department recently got the exciting opportunity to meet with the Easy German group. Easy German is a YouTube group dedicated to teaching German in an applicable and realistic manner. The group does this by taking a unique twist at teaching the language, with them going onto the streets of Berlin every week and interviewing people in German. The videos are subtitled in both German and English to assist in learning the language, and because the conversations are done between real people in real life, the conversations are much more realistic than what may be offered in textbooks. “In the book, you always have the perfect German and artificial dialogues, but in our videos, you can see how people talk in slang, abbreviations, and dialect,” says Carina*, one of the members.

The ultimate reason for producing the videos is to help others learn German in a fun and realistic way. Ben, a member, said, “The goal is to give the learning of German an extra resource to supplement normal school books and lessons, or what people learn from home, so that people can learn how the language is really spoken in real context, rather than how sometimes school books have conversations that are important to start learning the language, but you don’t really hear in the streets.” Students taking foreign language classes may relate to what Ben and Carina said, with conversations in textbooks that wouldn’t occur frequently in real life. Realistically, no one is going to ask how another person gets to school, as just an example. So for Easy German, by interviewing random people on the streets of Berlin, realistic conversations immediately spring up, thus giving students an in-depth look at how German is actually spoken in daily life. Ben said that it’s usually a high level of German, so while beginners most likely won’t be able to understand all that much, it becomes a really useful tool for the more adept. “It’s all about edutainment and gaining more language experience,” said Janusz, another member of the group.

Aside from producing videos on a weekly basis, they also do a lot of activities on social media, and they’ve also just started to develop a book so that people can actually deepen their learning without the videos. Likewise, they just had their first summer school this summer, where people came from all over the world to learn German with them. It was amazing because they watched their videos all the time, but they really wanted to have the experience of speaking German in a casual environment where it’s called school, but it’s not actually school. They would go shopping, cooking, play games, and go on bike tours and treasure hunts, among other things, and all of those activities were in German, so it was a really immersive experience for everyone.

Easy German mostly operates in Berlin, but they also move around Germany to show different places and dialects. They sometimes go abroad to meet with their audience, such as with Batson’s German class, as well as with individuals that learn with the groups’s videos. They’ve even been invited by several schools and universities all across the US. Furthermore, with all the movement done by the group within Germany, another goal of their’s is to display German culture from the streets, where a tourist would first come in contact the culture.

The idea for Easy German came from a gift the group once gave. “A teacher told us he’s going to visit a family in Vietnam, and in this family, there were two girls who were learning or trying to learn German. So we thought it was a good occasion for us to make a nice gift, and we produced a video to help those two girls learn German. We took a mic, went to the city (Berlin), and we were shouting at people ‘Hello’ and watching their reactions. It was so funny because Germans aren’t really used to it, […] and this video got very popular, so it gave us motivation to make it again and again.” An interesting thing is that because they made it as a gift for somebody, it was very private, they felt more free. Normally you are really pressed with self censorship, you censor yourself because you think oh I need to be nice and good, but this was a private thing, so it set them free, they were acting very free.

The project was started out of fun and curiosity, but it’s now become a full-time job for the group. Three years ago, YouTube contacted them and asked if they wanted to make a professional program out of it. YouTube said their content was great, and that people obviously liked it, but in order for them to become professional YouTubers, they needed to consider a few more things than just uploading occasional videos. So YouTube actually gave them training and assistance because they didn’t know anything about the platform. They didn’t even know that people could earn money with YouTube at the time, let alone that there were people whose full-time jobs was producing YouTube videos. Since then, they have started producing videos on a regular basis, which is essential to growing one’s fanbase. Within these three years they have grown from 20,000 to over 300,000 subscribers, and the number continues to climb higher.

“One benefit of YouTube,” Carina said, “is that if you do a few things right on YouTube, then they will advertise for you automatically.” Of course, they have to consider things like choosing good titles and tagging the videos with the right keywords, but if they have a certain number of subscribers and views, then their video will be ranked higher in search on Google and YouTube. It’s actually how Batson found them two years ago. “The way I found them, and it was about two years ago that I started watching their videos, was that […] I was looking on YouTube all the time for German learning videos, and they came up, and their videos were just awesome and fun. That was the big thing. There’s a lot of bad learning videos out there too, but there’s also good videos, and they were one of them.” Amidst the sea of German-learning videos on YouTube, the fact that Batson found out about them is a testimony to Easy German’s quality and YouTube’s ranking of videos. Everyone in the group is dedicated to providing the most fun and informative learning content possible, and it shows in the quality of their content. Their work is greatly appreciated by not only teachers, but also individuals wishing to learn the language. Easy German has a promising future in store for itself, and it’s hundreds of thousands of viewers can’t wait to see it.

*Last names are not used in this video production to protect the identities of the producers.

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“Easy German” Teaches Language with Real-World Approach