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Am Telefon: Language Learning Over the Phone

Published: January 8, 2020

It’s one thing to speak a foreign language with someone in-person, face-to-face, and it can be a completely different experience to speak to someone in a foreign language over the phone. In person, body language, facial expressions, and gestures can help convey meaning. Over the phone, you only have the sound and tone of someone’s voice, which can be much harder for language-learners. Even though villagers are not allowed to keep their personal cell phones on them at Waldsee, we have a few fun opportunities to practice speaking German over the phone!


The first week at Waldsee, villagers have Hausabend (house evening) instead of a typical Abendprogramm (evening program) so that they can get to know the other villagers in their house. Their Hausbetreuer (house counselors) pick a fun activity to do during and after eating dinner, from watching a German movie in the Kino to having a Nagellackparty (nail painting party) or Lagerfeuer (campfire). In order to have more time to enjoy with their Haus (house), villagers have to order pizza from the Waldsee kitchen to be delivered for dinner. 

Haus Abend

At the beginning of the day, each Haus receives a Speisekarte (menu) with almost two dozen varieties of pizza. Everyone picks what flavor they would like, and during Pause (break) or Betreuungsstunde (afternoon rest hour), the villagers have to place a call to the Waldsee kitchen to order their pizza. They have to provide their house name, where the pizza should be delivered, and the pizza order itself -- all in German!

LKT Pizza Party

During the last week of camp, it’s time to make reservations at the Restaurant! Every two weeks, the Waldsee kitchen transforms into one of a variety of different restaurants -- from Italian to Argentinean to Russian cuisine. The Waldsee Restaurant is a popular place and requires making a Reservierung (reservation) in advance over the phone. Villagers call in to make a reservation for 2-6 guests at their preferred time, and one of our Lehrlinge (high school apprentices) is on the other end to take down their information. Calling someone on the phone in German can be pretty intimidating at first, but there’s a great reward at the end: delicious food!

Practice your phone etiquette and learn more German in Summer 2020! We can’t wait to see you, whether it’s your first time at Waldsee or coming back after decades for our Alumni Weekend, July 17-19.

Restaurant und Disko [6.7.19]

Have you spent nearly a decade or more at Waldsee over the last 60 years? We would love to hear from you for a future blog post! Please fill out this form here if you are interested.

Additionally, we are collecting and digitizing photos from alumni in honor of our 60th anniversary this summer. If you have any photos you would like to share (particularly from the 80s and 90s), please send them to betreuerschaft@gmail.com.