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Olaf Böhlke

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German Practice Online
How can I join this project?

Last update on 8 September, 2012

Thank you for our interest. First, check out the interactive exercise on relative pronouns. You need a browser with "Shockwave", a browser plug-in that makes webpages interactive.

If you like what you see, and believe that your students can benefit from this, consider contributing to this collaborative project. Often times, teachers have good ideas but lack the knowledge to program web-based exercises. If many teachers contribute just a tiny bit, this collection can grow fast.

The development process is represented below. The teacher initiates the process by proposing an idea or submitting an item, which will be reviewed and edited, if necessary. The result is more items and more exercises of various grammar topics at any level.


The intent for programming this software is to give students feedback when they make a mistake. Good software has to teach the student. A simple "No, try again" can be frustrating. Users, who receive feedback with an explanation, suggestion, or a hint toward the correct answer will most likely learn from their mistakes. It takes a lot of time to program the predictable wrong answers with the appropriate feedback. If you want to help, please read on.

To actually produce usable script modules for a program like 'relative pronouns', you simply edit an already existing Word document. You don't have to know anything about programming. You can download an example here: *.doc or *.rtf format. Open it in your word processor (preferably WordPad, located in Start=>Program=>Accessories - but other programs like the free Microsoft-compatible may work too as long as they have colored fonts) and copy and paste the script a few times. Then you edit it with your own content. I prefer WordPad because it doesn't use "smart" quotes, and in programming, simple quotes like ==> 'these two'<== is all you need.

If you understand how the *.doc or *.rtf templates work, then you may download a less annotated document which still has all the necessary code, but lack the red descriptions. Download the mini.doc or mini.rtf versions.

Instructions for *.doc file:
0. Write your own sentence just above the first red line (editable region), e.g. "-- Da steht mein neuer Schreibtisch, ....... ich gestern bekommen habe. --den"
1. Fill in the "Losung" (i.e.= "den").
2a + 3a etc. Supply the correct answer and give appropriate, detailed and helpful feedback. This section is the most important one. It is better to create 3 excellent script modules than 20 script modules with useless feedback. Quality and correctness matters!
4. Give feedback for the correct answer. Only feedback needed here. You already told the computer what the correct answer is in step 1.
5. Give feedback for any other answer that you could not predict. The formula "garbage in --- garbage out" should not apply. Students who are lost should receive a pointer into the right direction. Let's be so helpful that the student will enter at least a predicted wrong answer the next time. Don't give the answer away. Step by step coaching is important.

Please email me if you have questions:

Once your are done editing your colorful *.doc file, send it as an attachment to me. I will review and, if necessary, edit it for integration into the program. This will still take some time from me, but you have already done the biggest part, i.e.the script modules, so the overall process of writing the program and creating the content goes much faster in this collaborative setting.

This is a functional program, it lacks any "eye-candy" that may even distract the learner. The strength of this program is in the feedback on two levels: The dash e.g. "mit de=" tells the student what is still incorrect. Whatever is correct is not deleted. And the feedback will guide the student towards the correct answer. This program seeks to combine the best features of "Dasher" and "Spanish Partner". The first one gives students graphical feedback by replacing incorrect characters with a "=", the latter provides students with context sensitive feedback, which our Spanish students at Creighton University like very much. Unfortunately, none of these programs can be used over the web, so I hope to fill a gap with the German Practice Online. If you teach Spanish or other languages, and are interested to write a few exercises like this, contact me. Currently, I can't invest any more time into programming completely new units. Therefore, whatever you want to submit should follow the model of the relative pronouns program, i.e. one blank in one sentence with one or two words missing.

Q. I don't have Internet access in my classroom. Can I download your programs?
A. Of course you can. This is freeware, and as long as you don't change the program, you can download it and use it on your computer. Go to my GPO/sw page . Then download the appropriate *.dcr and *.htm file to the same location on your harddrive. The *.dcr file is automatically called when you launch the *.htm file with your browser. Remember that, whatever you download, will not be updated automatically, while this website always has the newest version.