Welcome to the Language School Blog.

This is the place where we are blogging weekly-ish about all things related to our language school, from kids to adults, and grammar to culture. Stay tuned for new content (you can subscribe via the RSS button).

  • Tuesday, December 22, 2020 1:43 PM | Anonymous

    Liebe Leute,

    all of us from the Language School want to wish you a very Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and, as we say in German (literal translation, ouch), a good slide into the new year 2021!

    We're looking forward to seeing you all next year, perhaps eventually even in-person?! *explodinghead*

    To be with our families, and enjoy the Holidays together, we will be off the Blog until the start of next year. Actually, a little unplug-detox will probably do us all some good after the many Online-Meetings and hours in front of the screen during the most unusual year of 2020? #guteVorsätze2021 #NewYearsResolution2021

  • Monday, December 14, 2020 10:25 AM | Anonymous

    “A” is for apple and “Z” is for zebra - just like in the US, Germans have spelling tables like this. And of course, in Germany you cannot have just any table, but it is standardized through the DIN (Deutsches Institut für Normung) and can be found as DIN 5009, so that you don’t suddenly get an apricot instead of an apple.

    But, the last time the table has seen any reform was right after WWII and not much actually changed then.So, what is the point, you’re probably asking now, does it matter if there is a zebra or a zebu? Well, it is in German, because the table mostly has names, instead of things. So, “A” is for Anton and “Z” is for Zacharias. Still wondering what the point is? The answer, as it often is in Germany, is: the Nazis. There could be no Jews, and no memory of Jewishness anywhere, and so the Nazis struck many “typically Jewish” names from the list, such as D for David. But, a name is a name, right? No, actually not, when despite everything, anti-semitism is growing again in Germany.

    So Michael Blume, from the anti-semitism department in the state of Baden-Württemberg, has recently asked the DIN to change the list back to the pre-Nazi words. Pre-Nazi? That is, like, thousand years ago, isn't it? Well, not quite, not even 100 years (if you want to learn more about German history, take a class with us ;) ) , but it does seem a bit outdated, even if the list is from the good old Weimarer Republic. And indeed, the change has a strong symbolic character, as a completely new list will be developed and will become standard in 2022. But until then, the official list is the Weimarer one, and I wonder if K is for Kaiser.

    Click here for more on the Buchstabiertafel, and also an interview with Michael Blume

  • Thursday, December 10, 2020 10:55 AM | Anonymous

    Happy Hanukka, Frohes Chanukkafest, Chanukka Sameach - whichever way you say it, we are glad to be able to have and support this Familienfest. And while this is a time of happiness and togetherness (as much as we can these days), it also a time for somber reflection. And because of that we are also proud that Germany has come to light Germany's biggest Menorah in Berlin, where Nazis once came close to destroying everything Jewish. Watch the ceremony here:

    Menorah Lighting Berlin 2020

    We wish you all safe and happy holidays, be sure to enjoy the little things and reflect on the good in life.

  • Monday, December 07, 2020 8:34 PM | Anonymous

    Lustig, lustig, trallallalala - OMG, this song just won't go away, even if Nikolaus is over now! Even if good old St. Nik visited the kids at home AND at school, because their shoes were so....clean??

    If you feel it too, and the traditional Christmas songs are starting to sound a little shrill, try this children's CD: "Giraffenaffen 4 Winterzeit". They take the usual holiday songs and give them a more modern twist, and also translate them loosely into German, so that "Jingle Bells" has the refrain "Schlittenfahrt im Schnee" , for example. You can find some of the songs on Youtube. And the best part: even though they are made for children, they are a pleasure to listen to - think Laurie Bergner, but different bands.

    You can also find one (yes, not a typo) German eMusic CD at the digital library of the Goethe Institut (it's free to join, and they do have a lot of other stuff). Another good way to listen to German holiday music is is this radio station - it gives you a good insight into what counts as typical Christmas music in Germany (Wham's "Last Christmas", anyone?) and you choose what you like from acoustic to kids to Schlager.

    Enjoy listening, and happy holidays!

  • Monday, November 30, 2020 11:52 AM | Anonymous

    We heard that some of you are exhaaausted by trying to figure out if it is der/die/das DANK Haus, der/die/das Klasse und der/die/das Verzweiflung! What are the rules? Tell me how to figure it out! Germans are all in for rules, so give it to me!

    Well... there are only few rules, but some tricks and tips will help you to decide on the right article.

    First of all, separate the grammatical gender from the perceived gender of something: the girl is "das Mädchen" (neuter), the stereotypically very masculine saw is "die Säge" (feminine), while the perhaps rather neutral lawn in front of your house is "der Rasen" (masculine). See, they don't correspond, so don't go down that rabbit hole!

    Secondly, while there are only few rules (read this for a more comprehensive collection), a very stable one is that words that end in "-ung" will always be "die" (die Verzweiflung).

    And finally, make a best guess: the most used article in German is feminine (used with almost 50% of nouns), your second-best guess is masculine (about 34% of nouns), and least used is the neuter article (only about 20% of nouns require this one).

    Oh, and here is a bonus-tip (don't tell your teach!): all plural forms take "die", so if in doubt simply use the plural form: der/die/das Klasse ist super  ➡️ die Klassen sind super!
  • Wednesday, November 25, 2020 1:40 PM | Anonymous

    Happy Thanksgiving to all of you. Even if everything is soooooo different, so anders this year.

    But, who is better known for grand humor than the Germans?! Uhm... weill, we rounded up some Witze (jokes) anyways, all about food and eating. Smile on! Maybe.

    Veganer essen nicht. Sie grasen. (Vegans don’t eat. They graze.)

    "Deine Zähne sind wie Duisburg und Bochum." "?"  "Da ist noch Essen dazwischen!" (A word play on the city of “Essen” - don’t make me try and explain!)

    ‍ "Schatz was gibt es zu essen?"  "Nichts!"  "Das gab es schon gestern!"  "Ich hab auch für zwei Tage gekocht!" (“Honey, what’s for dinner?” “Nothing!” “We had that yesterday already!” “I did cook for two days.”)

    ️ Ober: "Wie fanden Sie das Filetsteak, mein Herr?" Gast: "Ganz zufällig, als ich das Gemüse beiseite schob." (Okay, another word play, this time on the word “finden”, which can mean to find, but is also used in sentences to show that you (not) like something.)

    Fressen zwei Kannibalen einen Clown. Da meint der eine: "Der schmeckt aber komisch!" (Two cannibals eat a clown. Says one cannibal to the other:”This tastes funny.”)
  • Saturday, November 21, 2020 10:26 AM | Anonymous
    The results are back, and our kids made it onto the presidential honor roll of the National German Exam (NGE) hosted by the American Association of Teachers of German (AATG). How cool is that! Click here to see for yourself! Our teaching philosophy is to have children learn with heart, hands, and brains, and we are so excited to see that this is paying off! Of course, we could not have these results without our parents supporting their childrens’ learning. Vielen Dank!

    And today our Deutsche Sprachdiplom students are writing a test-like essay to prepare for the real DSD test next year. This will help the teachers and students idetntify in which areas the students already excel and in which we might focus a bit more on. I suspect it might be capitalization, verb placement and prepositions, but who knows! :D

    Interested to learn more about the test and how to learn modern, authentic German? Contact us at kinderschule@dankhaus.com, or click here.
  • Tuesday, November 17, 2020 10:15 AM | Anonymous

    If you have followed German news, you know that, just like in the rest of the western hemisphere, Corona Virus cases are surging. And just like everywhere (well, almost), the government wants people to stay home as much as possible. To this end they recently released


    - watch and see if you can figure out why Germans might think it's funny!

  • Saturday, November 14, 2020 3:02 PM | Anonymous

    Laterne, Laterne, Sonne, Mond und Sterne! Who has this song stuck in their head? Certainly everyone who takes part in our Kinderschule! Yesterday, we upheld the tradition of Laterne laufen to bring some light into these darker days, and fill the crisp air with joyous childrens' song! It was great fun watching the older Eulen lead the way in song (and running) while the younger Sternenschnuppen watched with big eyes, and even tentatively sang along with the big kids!

    Thank you all for coming (and wearing masks, and being socially distanced, and using hand sanitizers)! See you again next year?!

  • Thursday, November 05, 2020 1:47 PM | Anonymous

    Chicago, IL — November 4, 2020 — 

    For over 50 years, the DANK Haus has provided German language classes on Saturday for children of all ages as well as cultural events such as Fasching, Laternenfest and St. Martinstag. 

    The DANK Haus Kinderschule is part of the PASCH initiative ("Schools: Partners for the Future“) which is a global network of more than 2000 schools that maintains a close relationship to both, Germany and German language. Amidst our popular preschool, kindergarten and elementary school classes on Saturday, the demand for a weekday German immersion program became apparent in the previous year.  

    After several months of working with the Illinois State Board of Education, the DANK Haus Kinderschule is now formally registered as a nonpublic school in the state of Illinois. “The DANK Haus is honored with this news as it sets the framework for expanding our school to the upper grades while being a cost-effective option to our community,” states Monica Jirak, Executive Director DANK Haus German American Cultural Center.

    he DANK Haus is happy to provide an alternative affordable option for our community and remains committed to COVID-19 regulations by following the strict guidelines set forth by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the Illinois and Chicago Department of Public Health (IDPH & CPDH). “The health and safety of our students and our community is of utmost importance and a top priority, “ explains Danica Polanski, Language Program Director at the DANK Haus. 

    Polanski further highlights: “People are understanding that raising children bi- or multilingual builds a strong foundation for all learning. Speaking a second language improves memory, problem-solving and critical-thinking skills, enhanced concentration, the ability to multitask, and better listening skills.”

    The Kinderschule program is a German immersion program. It is a play- and project-based program where students have time for open play with the other children, along with structured projects that incorporate different themes of the seasons. The students work on seasonal or cultural projects during the year which will cover science, reading, mathematical concepts, music, art, and crafts. All of these activities take place in German.

    The kindergarten and elementary school programs also prepare the students for first grade by offering Language Arts and Mathematics in English every day to ensure a smooth transition to first grade. All other subject areas take place in German to foster German bilinguals in the classrooms. 

    Our DANK Haus Kinderschule teachers have extensive teaching experience in early childhood and in teaching German as a second language. Their knowledge of child development  fosters our students’  intrinsic motivation in all areas of academic and social emotional development to become a life-long learner!

    “Being a registered school by the Illinois State Board of Education truly opens the doors for our transformation efforts at our school and we are thrilled for the future possibilities,“ states Polanski.


4740 N. Western Avenue

Chicago, IL 60625

DANK Haus German American Cultural Center is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.DANK Haus German American Cultural Center does not discriminate based on race, color, sexuality, national origin, sex, disability or age.

©2018 DANK Haus German American Culture Center - All rights reserved.

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