„Ich bin schwul“ – ein Film ohne Untertitel

Using the psychology of the brain to learn German: In what is known as the Stroop effect, people take longer to identify the colour of a word when the colour of the print contradicts the word’s actual meaning. For instance, if you need to identify the print colour of the word purple below as red, you will experience some conflict. You cannot stop yourself from reading the word „purple“ and this slows you down when you want to answer „red“. Your performance of the non-automatic task is slowed down by your brain’s insistence that you do the automatic task.

An illustration of the Stroop Effect, which shows that it is almost impossible to suppress automatic processing (reading) in order to carry out a non-automatic task (identifying the colour of the print).

This finding about how your brain works is worth remembering when you are watching a film in German with English subtitles. You cannot stop your brain from doing simple, automatic processing and force it instead to do complex, deliberate processing. So you can’t stop yourself from reading and processing the English automatically and giving it your attention, and this detracts from your ability to listen to and interpret the spoken German.

When you turn off the subtitles on a film (or watch a film that doesn’t have any) and take a figurative step into the dark, the lights come on. You hear German words and understand phrases that you never would have expected to hear or understand.

Of course, this involves getting right out of your comfort zone. Suddenly you’ll be listening to a foreign language with no aids to help you. But remember, even if you only understand a tenth of what you hear, you are still learning something. If you listen to a short film like the one below 2 or 3 times, you will pick up more each time. 

To make the film below easier to understand, there is a summary of the vital vocabulary from the film, which will help you to understand what’s going on. There are lots of other clues too, in the way people talk with each other and what happens on the screen. As you watch and listen, your brain will be teasing all those strange words and phrases apart, which is ideal practice for your auditory understanding. You’ll be learning a lot more than if you were just sitting there reading English subtitles. For you, that is way too easy and dangerously automatic!

Task 1: Click here first to read a simple introduction to the film in German from www.neuneinhalb.wdr.de

Task 2: Read through the vocabulary relating to the film (see below the embedded video). Guess or piece together what the film is about.

Task 3: Watch the film and listen for the new vocabulary you have learned. Can you identify the words and phrases in the list? Can you hear any words or phrases not mentioned in the list?


VIDEO – Ich bin Schwul. Tobi steht auf Jungs



  • das Gefühl (e) – feeling
  • der Unterschied (e) – difference
  • das Coming-out
  • der Begriff (e) – term, concept, expression
  • die Gemeinsamkeit (en) – something in common
  • die Gesellschaft (en) – society
  • das Geheimnis (se) – secret
  • die Parade
  • die Partei (en) – political party
  • die Party (s) – social party
  • die Reaktion (en)
  • das Herzklopfen – thumping heart
  • die Liebesbeziehung (en) – love relationship
  • die Ehe – marriage
  • das Recht (e) – right
  • das Gefängnis – prison
  • die Todesstrafe – death penalty
  • die Innenstadt  (ä-e) – inner city
  • die Regenbogenfarben – colours of the rainbow
  • der Zuschauer, die Zuschauerin – viewer, spectator
  • der Politiker
  • das Symbol (e) 
  • das Erlebnis (se) – experience

  • schwul – gay
  • homosexuell
  • lesbisch – lesbian
  • sicher – certain
  • ungläubig – incredulous
  • entschlossen – determined, resolute, fest entschlossen sein
  • erleichtert – relieved
  • wichtig – important
  • toll – great – ein tolles Erlebnis

  • anvertrauen, jemandem etwas anvertrauen – confide something to someone
  • bekommen – get, gain, obtain
  • reagieren – react
  • kämpfen – struggle for, fight for
  • protestieren
  • demonstrieren
  • behandeln – treat
  • unterstützen – support

  • am Straßenrand – at the roadside
  • doofe Sprüche – stupid comments
  • die gleichen Rechte – the same, equal rights
  • ein schönes Gefühl – a lovely feeling
  • ähnliche Probleme haben – to have similar problems
  • ein mutiger Schritt – a brave step
  • auf jemanden/etwas stehen – like or fancy somebody, something
  • vor dem Gesetz – before the law

  • Verliebt hat er sich in ein Mädchen noch nie. He has never been in love with a girl.
  • Tobi steht auf Jungs. Tobi likes boys.
  • Er traf sich kaum noch mit Freunden.  He hardly ever met up with his friends (any more).
  • Ich hatte gar kein Problem. I had really no problem at all.
  • Ich hatte eine kleine Ahnung, was es sein könnte. I had a bit of an idea, what it could be.
  • Er hat Angst, angestarrt zu werden. He is afraid of being stared at, he is afraid that people will stare at him.
  • Diese Angst will er überwinden.  He wants to overcome his fear.
  • Tobi hat uns beiden Sorgen gemacht. We were both worried about Tobi.
  • Doch die gleichen Rechte wie Mann und Frau haben sie noch nicht. Yet they still don’t have the same rights as a man and woman (who are in a relationship).



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