2010s, culture, education, In My Opinion, inspiration, music

IMO: Teaching German with Songs and Pretzels

Guten Tag!

I have 90 German students this year. Like many World Language teachers, it’s a no-brainer to implement the song of the week. I picked Peter Fox’s “Haus um See”. Students get parallel texts and link favorite words or lines as a fun way to associate what they’ve learned in context. Educating aside, as a lover of music, I’m having a fun time finding new artists with catchy melodies and beautiful lyrics. Not only does Peter Fox’s song sound like a whimsical revisit to the 1960s, but the lyrics also describe his idea of the perfect life capturing like a snapshot with images in words.

Here I was born and I run through the streets
Know every house, every store, and every face
I need to leave; know every pigeon here by name
Thumb’s out, waitin’ for a snazzy lady with speedy wheels
The sun’s blinding, everything flies by
The world behind me gets slowly undersized
Still, the world in front of me is made for me
I know she’s waiting – I’ll go pick her up
Have the day on my side, got a tailwind too
A roadside women’s choir sings for me, they do
I’ll sit back and look into the deep blue
Close my eyes and simply walk straight ahead

And at the end of the lane, there’s a house by the lake
Orange tree leaves lay on the way
I have 20 children, my wife is beautiful
Everybody drops by, no need to go out

I’m looking for a country with unfamiliar lanes
Unfamiliar faces – where no one knows my name
Win everything I play with cards that are marked
Lose everything – God’s left hook is actually quite hard
I dig treasures from the snow and sand
And women rob me of any sense I have
Someday that luck will follow me home
And I’ll come back with both pockets full of gold
I’ll invite the old folks and relatives over
And they all begin to cry tears of joy
We’ll barbecue, the mamas cook, and we slam some schnapps
And party for a week every night

And the moon shines brightly on my house by the lake
Orange tree leaves lay on the way
I have 20 children, my wife is stout
Everybody drops by, no need to go out

Here I was born; here I’ll be buried
Have lost my hearing, have a white beard; I sit in the garden
My 100 grandkids play cricket on the lawn
If I think about it, I can actually hardly wait…

Haus Am See>House by the Lake

Hier bin ich gebor’n und laufe durch die Straßen!
Kenn die Gesichter, jedes Haus und jeden Laden!
Ich muss mal weg, kenn jede Taube hier beim Namen.
Daumen raus ich warte auf ‘ne schicke Frau mit schnellem Wagen.
Die Sonne blendet alles fliegt vorbei.
Und die Welt hinter mir wird langsam klein.
Doch die Welt vor mir ist für mich gemacht!
Ich weiß sie wartet und ich hol sie ab!
Ich hab den Tag auf meiner Seite ich hab Rückenwind!
Ein Frauenchor am Straßenrand der für mich singt!
Ich lehne mich zurück und guck ins tiefe Blau,
schließ die Augen und lauf einfach gradeaus.

Und am Ende der Strasse steht ein Haus am See.
Orangenbaumblätter liegen auf dem Weg.
Ich hab 20 Kinder meine Frau ist schön.
Alle kommen vorbei ich brauch nie rauszugehen.

Im Traum gesehen, das Haus am See

Ich suche neues Land
Mit unbekannten Strassen, fremden Gesichtern und keiner kennt meinen Namen!
Alles gewinnen beim Spiel mit gezinkten Karten.
Alles verlieren, Gott zeigt seinen harten linken Haken.
Ich grabe Schätze aus im Schnee und Sand.
Und Frauen rauben mir jeden Verstand!
Doch irgendwann werd ich vom Glück verfolgt.
Und komm zurück mit beiden Taschen voll Gold.
Ich lad’ die alten Vögel und Verwandten ein.
Und alle fang’n vor Freude an zu weinen.
Wir grillen, die Mamas kochen und wir saufen Schnaps.
Und feiern eine Woche jede Nacht.

Und der Mond scheint hell auf mein Haus am See.
Organgenbaumblätter liegen auf dem Weg.
Ich hab 20 Kinder meine Frau ist schön.
Alle kommen vorbei ich brauch nie rauszugehen.

Im Traum gesehen, das Haus am See

Und am Ende der Strasse steht ein Haus am See.
Organgenbaumblätter liegen auf dem Weg.
Ich hab 20 Kinder meine Frau ist schön.
Alle kommen vorbei ich brauch nie rauszugehen.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

Hier bin ich gebor’n, hier werd ich begraben.
Hab taube Ohr’n, nen weißen Bart und sitz im Garten.
Meine 100 Enkel spielen Cricket auf’m Rasen.
Wenn ich so daran denke kann ich’s eigentlich kaum erwarten.

Image result for pretzels

I was raised with the notion that a way to a man’s heart was through his stomach. To catch a man, it helps if you make him something delectable from scratch. It’s a perk in his estimation. Much the same way a man who can fix anything makes him more valuable. For example, my cooking helped Jim decide I was a worthy catch much as Jim being able to fix anything helped me decide I wanted to share my life with him. What is a good pair, after all, but the ability to share talents so that life is better for both parties? Okay, I digress.

Using this principle with teenagers, students discovered that making food with friends, and then eating it, is as much fun as any event they can think of. Yesterday, they made pretzels. At lunch, twenty German students were curious and stopped by my room. I set up workstations with the ingredients in the center. We had previewed the day before what was going to happen. They had their recipe. Many had no idea how to measure or follow a recipe. They thought it was fun to knead. Ah, the magic of yeast, warm milk, and a little sugar!

Covered in the corner of my room, the dough “babies” rose all afternoon. At 3:30, we took our bowls to the cafeteria where the school kitchen staff generously allowed us to complete the final steps. I ran the oven while students rolled out their dough into ropes and twisted into pretzel shapes. Then they dunked them in hot baking soda water, placed them on cooking sheets and sprinkled their creations with sea salt. Presto! Ten minutes later they were buttering and devouring them. “Das Smeckt gut!”

Making people happy with food may be called emotional eating, but I am of the mind it is celebrating life.

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” ― Maya Angelou



43 thoughts on “IMO: Teaching German with Songs and Pretzels”

    1. Hi Michael. Me, too. That quote always stuck with me. I can’t remember any lesson I had during high school, but I remember the teachers who made me feel good. As a teacher, I have to remember that. It keeps my ego in check.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Beautiful write up, Cindy. I can tell you are a great teacher. I’d like that recipe.
    It’s refreshing to read something that is not shackled to political correctness. I wasn’t a good cook when my husband and I married, but I was only twenty. He taught me to cook. I’m a better cook now than he is…But he’s still pretty good. He can fix just about anything too. I love that.


    1. Pam, when I was sharing my old-fashioned views on cooking to catch a man, I shook my head knowing feminists might night like it. I grew up in a kitchen and all cooks are proud of their abilities in the arts of seduction. I proudly bake and cook as a gesture of love. Jim and I have the girth to prove it. 😉
      Honestly, I don’t think it is gender specific. Like your husband–I know lots of men who enjoy cooking–including Jim. I will say food is a powerful way to make connections and memories.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Absolutely. I have some strong feminist tendencies and I’ve taught my daughters many precepts of feminism. That said, I want to be treated like a lady and I treat my husband like a man. There are many differences and “vive la dif·fé·rence”. It’s all about respect and appreciation.


  2. Guten Tag to you also. My wife is Hungarian but most of her memories are of Bavaria before they migrated to Australia after the war. So most of the music videos we watch in the evening are from Germany and while I’ve never formally learned the language I’m being slowly brainwashed that is normal music and recognizing more each session. 🙂 Sigrid and Marina, the Hoffman Sisters and all that stuff you probably have in your collection too. The internet is amazing finding more and more for us each day. Loved the music video above. Never heard that group before. Super cool. You are such an interesting person Cindy.


    1. my collection…ha! I’m starting from scratch, my friend. This is the first year I’m teaching it and the previous teacher left fifteen years ago. So, actually, no, I had not heard of Sigrid and Marina. They have beautiful harmonies. I’m glad you liked the video I posted. I created a german hits station and it plays a variety of contemorporary singers. When one appeals to me I’ll go investigate and that’s the easiest way for me to “find” songs. Your Hungarian wife has done you a fine service. Do you put the subtitles on, too? That helps if you see the word as you hear it. Anyway, thanks for commenting today, Ian.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. In that English is primarily influenced by Latin German and French I like to look at German words on the screen and see if I can decipher them not having learned the language. You can see the influence with some words but I’d be lost on the grammar. In that we spent 30 years in Asia we also like to watch Asian movies with subtitles in English. I enjoy learning about other cultures.


  3. Great post Cindy 🙂 I am back 🙂 90 German students, wow 🙂 I must say the pretzels in that photo look tasty 🙂 Love the song you use here too 🙂 Anyway, keep up the great work as always 🙂


    1. Hi John. Thanks for stopping by. I should have remembered to take pictures of the event because our creations did not look much like the photo! Many were blobs on the baking sheet. Who cares, they were delicious.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Funny translation, calling the world: “she” sounds strange in english although the world IS female in german.
    Hi there, my name is peavy and I think I´ll follow you. Speaking (or mostly writing) english is kinda hobby to me. In school you learn some type of english that helps you all around the world. To make a fool out of yourself. I´ve been to forums and blogs in english for years and I still learn something new nearly every day. Like the words: “orly” and ” fandabidozy”.
    Or what sloppy seconds are. Ew.
    To make a long story even longer, hope I will learn more here. And I really don´t like Peter Fox. Just sayin, gnomesayin? 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Welcome Peavy. English is difficult. I appreciate you for trying! Watch out for idioms. Remember not everyone says them and often times they make a person sound stupid. Where are you from?
      I agree about Peter Fox. This pop song sounds great so I researched other songs of his and I wasn’t too interested.
      It is nice to meet you, Peavy. 🙂


    1. You are kind songladder. I struggled in high school, too. It helps me as a teacher. I do lots of scaffolding and revisiting the concepts. There a lot of fun games out there now which makes reviewing tolerable, too.


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