Register  Login  Active Topics  Maps  

German: massive input in Berlin

 Language Learning Forum : Language Learning Log Post Reply
295 messages over 37 pages: << Previous 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 ... 11 ... 36 37 Next >>
patrickwilken
Senior Member
Germany
radiant-flux.net
Joined 2832 days ago

1546 posts - 3200 votes 
Studies: German

 
 Message 81 of 295
24 January 2014 at 9:22am | IP Logged 
Advice to an imaginary person moving to a Germany in a year or so, who wants to learn the language before arriving

It's perhaps useful to think of language learning as having a relatively short-beginning, long-middle, and really-long-end.

In my mind the only point of the beginning is to get you to the middle part. The middle part is where can start on a daily basis interacting with native materials (reading/listening) and over time communicate more and more (writing/speaking).

At the start you need to get an overview of the grammar, get a feel for the sound of the language, learn some basic vocabulary.

The beginning does not need to take too long. Your main task is to get to the point where you can pick up a book and start reading. This took me six months in German, but redoing things I probably could have got to this point significantly sooner.

To read a book you basically have to have enough grammar to know how the language works, but you don't need so much that you can generate the grammar yourself. I read a basic grammar book over the first month and that worked fine for me.

You also need to have enough of a feel for the sound of the language so that when you are reading the voice in your head is generating at least approximately the correct pronunciations. German is relatively easy in this regard, English not. I would recommend starting to watch TV shows almost from day one so you can start getting a feel for the way the language sounds.

And finally you need to get some basic vocabulary to read with. There is no absolute number here. Perhaps 3000 words? Find a frequency dictionary or some basic reader and start adding words to Anki. I could learn about 30 words/day. On that basis you'll need about 100 days to learn 3000 words.

Note: All three of these objectives might be achieved by doing an Assimil course or the like, which I haven't tried.

Once you have some basic vocabulary and some feel for the language after 3-4 months, buy a Kindle, install an appropriate L2->L1 dictionary, and start reading! Harry Potter or the Percy Jackson books are good starting points. Look up the words you don't know as you read, but don't worry about trying to remember them; if they are important they will keep coming up and you will remember them naturally.

Now just keep reading books and listening to shows on a daily basis until you arrive at your destination.

My advice, which other's would probably disagree with, is not to worry too much about speaking/writing. If you only have two hours per day to study, I wouldn't "waste" one of those hours speaking - I would spend one hour a day reading and perhaps one hour watching a TV show.

Once in Germany, you'll have plenty of opportunities to speak, and from my experience the better your understanding of what people are saying, the easier it is to communicate. Once there you can do a local language course and really work on your spoken/written skills, and the course will be *much* easier if you have a strong background already.


Edited by patrickwilken on 24 January 2014 at 10:36am

10 persons have voted this message useful



Bakunin
Diglot
Senior Member
Switzerland
outerkhmer.blogspot.
Joined 3429 days ago

531 posts - 1126 votes 
Speaks: German*, Thai
Studies: Khmer

 
 Message 82 of 295
24 January 2014 at 9:53am | IP Logged 
patrickwilken wrote:
My advice, which other's would probably disagree with, is not to worry too much about speaking/writing. If you only have two hours per day to study, I wouldn't "waste" one of those hours speaking - I would spend one hour a day reading and perhaps one hour watching a TV show.

Once in Germany, you'll have plenty of opportunities to speak, and from my experience the better your understanding of what people are saying, the easier it is to communicate. Once there you can do a local language course and really work on your spoken/written skills, and the course will be *much* easier if you have a strong background already.


I agree with you. I didn't start speaking Thai until I was able to watch TV and listen to the radio. In the first few months after I finally started speaking, I couldn't really express myself, but nevertheless I had many interesting conversations with people. Because I understood most of what was said to me, I could readily pick up those words and expressions and use them back. I felt a bit handicapped to express novel ideas or change subjects, but I could very well stay on topic and have meaningful conversations. Over time my active skills have been catching up and are now pretty solid.

Moreover, the approach suggested by you allows one to develop a pretty good feeling for what's right and what's wrong (Sprachgefühl, grammar) as well as which words tend to go together.

Edited by Bakunin on 24 January 2014 at 9:54am

2 persons have voted this message useful



patrickwilken
Senior Member
Germany
radiant-flux.net
Joined 2832 days ago

1546 posts - 3200 votes 
Studies: German

 
 Message 83 of 295
24 January 2014 at 10:21am | IP Logged 
Bakunin wrote:

I agree with you. I didn't start speaking Thai until I was able to watch TV and listen to the radio. In the first few months after I finally started speaking, I couldn't really express myself, but nevertheless I had many interesting conversations with people. Because I understood most of what was said to me, I could readily pick up those words and expressions and use them back. I felt a bit handicapped to express novel ideas or change subjects, but I could very well stay on topic and have meaningful conversations. Over time my active skills have been catching up and are now pretty solid.


That's interesting that this worked for you with a much more difficult language like Thai. I absolutely agree that you can have very interesting conversations so long as you understand what the other person is saying. You can always use mime if all else fails. What I do in German is sometimes simply throw in an English word into a German sentence, though I try to avoid that where possible.

The other day I was at the doctor's for a general check-up and the examination and discussion of my blood tests etc were all done in German, with only once/twice words being translated into English (I didn't know the word for 'kidney'). I could communicate fine with my 'bad' German, and the doctor was happy to be able to speak in German.

I have had similar experiences setting up an account in a bank.

My impression is that people really don't mind you speaking badly in their language so long as you can understand what they are saying. They generally try to switch to your L1 when they think you don't understand. If they think you can understand they'll keep chatting in their L1 quite happily.

Bakunin wrote:

Moreover, the approach suggested by you allows one to develop a pretty good feeling for what's right and what's wrong (Sprachgefühl, grammar) as well as which words tend to go together.


I am not necessarily against more systematic grammar learning, but I agree it makes much more sense to get Sprachgefühl first.

I have been in language classes and seen how frustrated people are when they are forced to speak at A1/A2 level without any real vocabulary. It's really sort of useless only being able to say your name and where you are from and nothing else - who has a conversation like that anyway? Especially when you have no idea what the person is saying in reply. And once you have Sprachgefühl learning grammar formally (as necessary) becomes much much easier.

Edited by patrickwilken on 24 January 2014 at 10:42am

4 persons have voted this message useful



patrickwilken
Senior Member
Germany
radiant-flux.net
Joined 2832 days ago

1546 posts - 3200 votes 
Studies: German

 
 Message 84 of 295
24 January 2014 at 1:56pm | IP Logged 
So this week I have started to try to read 2000-3000 words from die Zeit each morning, before I read my novel of the day. Today I read a 2000-word essay on the proto-programmer Ada Lovelace. It's crazy how much harder it is to read these essays than the standard novels I am reading - I'm sailing through Jo Nesbø's second thriller at the moment, for instance (though admittedly I know there are tons of German books that I couldn't sail through yet - so far avoided novelists like Christa Wolf and need to wait a while before I tackle Berlin Alexanderplatz). And while I know this is mostly a question of vocabulary, the relative differences in difficulty still surprises me.

On the bright side (and please don't dissuade me of this view) my wife assures me that when I have gained transparent mastery of die Zeit, I will have achieved mastery of German, at least as far as it is reasonable for any foreigner to do. There are no more levels after this one. Or so I like to think. :)

One hot tip I'd like to share, die Zeit has lots of short 2-3 minute news videos online that are actually pretty easy to understand, and I find them much more interesting than the somewhat more pedagogic videos at Deutsche Welle (Z: child slaves in Nepal (disturbing) vs DW: the importance of bee-keeping in Germany (yawn) OR Z: A review of Jim Jarmusch's new film 'Only lover's left alive' (a must see apparently) vs DW: a large outdoor ice ring in Switzerland (double yawn) etc). They are a helpful warm-up when I need to start re-thinking in Deutsch after reading too many HTLAL posts. I leave it as an exercise for the reader to find the cool video of the clunky robotic gorilla being developed in Bremen.

An index can be found here: Die Zeit videos.

Edited by patrickwilken on 24 January 2014 at 5:22pm

4 persons have voted this message useful



Bakunin
Diglot
Senior Member
Switzerland
outerkhmer.blogspot.
Joined 3429 days ago

531 posts - 1126 votes 
Speaks: German*, Thai
Studies: Khmer

 
 Message 85 of 295
24 January 2014 at 5:23pm | IP Logged 
patrickwilken wrote:
That's interesting that this worked for you with a much more difficult language like Thai. I absolutely agree that you can have very interesting conversations so long as you understand what the other person is saying. You can always use mime if all else fails. What I do in German is sometimes simply throw in an English word into a German sentence, though I try to avoid that where possible.

The other day I was at the doctor's for a general check-up and the examination and discussion of my blood tests etc were all done in German, with only once/twice words being translated into English (I didn't know the word for 'kidney'). I could communicate fine with my 'bad' German, and the doctor was happy to be able to speak in German.

I have had similar experiences setting up an account in a bank.

My impression is that people really don't mind you speaking badly in their language so long as you can understand what they are saying. They generally try to switch to your L1 when they think you don't understand. If they think you can understand they'll keep chatting in their L1 quite happily.


I don't think it depends much on the language, actually. It's probably pretty universal that people are happy to talk to you in their language as long as they see that you can understand what they are saying. I think that observation of yours is spot on.

In contrast to many other approaches to language learning which focus on speaking a lot right from the start, I'm happy to develop comprehension skills first (listening, reading) to a high level. It suits my character, but it also allows me to have meaningful conversations with natives without being restricted to the usual textbook topics. Your experience at the doctor's is a good example of that.
3 persons have voted this message useful



patrickwilken
Senior Member
Germany
radiant-flux.net
Joined 2832 days ago

1546 posts - 3200 votes 
Studies: German

 
 Message 86 of 295
24 January 2014 at 5:52pm | IP Logged 
Bakunin wrote:

In contrast to many other approaches to language learning which focus on speaking a lot right from the start, I'm happy to develop comprehension skills first (listening, reading) to a high level. It suits my character, but it also allows me to have meaningful conversations with natives without being restricted to the usual textbook topics. Your experience at the doctor's is a good example of that.


I had a similar experience at a party with a lot of drunk and excited and nerdy students a few weeks ago, where everyone was chatting quickly and passionately about diverse political topics (e.g., Israel, EU crisis, human trafficking). What I found interesting was that I could not only follow what was being said, but also take part in the conversation. They were very happy to make affordances for my level of German because they knew that I understood what they were saying.

One of the best pieces of language advice given to me was that I didn't have to start speaking immediately in order to learn the language.
4 persons have voted this message useful



patrickwilken
Senior Member
Germany
radiant-flux.net
Joined 2832 days ago

1546 posts - 3200 votes 
Studies: German

 
 Message 87 of 295
01 February 2014 at 1:43pm | IP Logged 
January 2014

January was a good month.

My goal this year is to read another 10000 pages of novels. So my aim for January was to read 833 pages (i.e., 10000/12). I ended up exceeding this goal (1007 pages) by reading three books.

It's not that I feel I can either read/listen so perfectly yet, but it does feel like I have passed some sort of hurdle, where I can now really focus on getting a grip on full-blown German.

This month I enjoyed reading books by Kerouac, Nesbø, and Murakami - a welcome relief after a full year of children/young-adult literature. 2014 will be the year of adult literature!

I am still not reading "German" authors yet, but I not too worried about that. I am reading what adult Germans read - the bookstores here in Berlin are piled high with Murakami and Nesbø - and in point of fact both authors must be read in translation in English as well.

The Murakami I read was the second translation of this work in German. The first, that came out some years ago, was surprisingly a German translation of the English translation. Talk about Chinese - or perhaps in this case Japanese - whispers!

I have also started reading 2000-3000 words in Die Zeit each morning. I find the text really quite difficult compared to the novels I am reading, but things are getting rapidly easier. And as I've given up reading any English newspapers (or other media sources) I have a strong incentive to read to simply find out what is going on in the World. I have a subscription so a new issue appears as if by magic each Wednesday on the Kindle. Each week an exciting new German challenge! I am not counting the newspaper towards my yearly reading goals - this is just something extra I want to do.

My film viewing is getting much stronger. I watched 49 films this month - a new record - and now feel I can basically go to see any film and understand it enough to enjoy it. That's not to say that I don't find some films difficult, but there is no impediment to me going to the cinema or renting a video from the library or local video store now.

The stand-out films this month were: The Wolf of Wall Street; Only lovers left alive; Imagine; Lunchbox. All of these were dubbed from English (though I think Lunchbox was originally a mix of Hindi/English - all German dub though). My favorite by far was Imagine, a story set in a school for the blind in Lisbon, when a teacher attempts to teach his students to really hear.

The new film by Jim Jarmusch "Only Lovers Left Alive" has a very nice scene for polyglots, where the ancient vampire played by Tilda Swindon is packing her favorite books for a trip, and you see her finger running across the pages of truly beautiful books in Chinese, Arabic, English, French, Spanish and so on as she quickly reads a page or two before packing them away.

The thing that is absolutely crystal to me now is that the only thing really limiting my understanding of German is vocabulary, not grammar.

I am going to be spending most of February and part of March in Australia, which unfortunately will take an inevitable hit to my German, but I'll just have to suck this up and bear it.

-----
JANUARY 2014 - BOOKS

25. Südlich der Grenze, westlich der Sonne. Haruki Murakami. 223 Seiten. Nice, straightforward read.

24. Der Fledermausmann. Jo Nesbø. 432 Seiten. It's surprisingly how fast my reading ability has improved; only a few months ago I found Nesbø too difficult to comfortably read. There are still passages that I had difficulty with, but by and large it was relatively easy.

23. Gammler, Zen und hohe Berge. Jack Kerouac. 352 Seiten. Relatively easy, and enjoyable read.

-----
JANUARY 2014 - MOVIES

354. The Wolf of Wall Street (2014). Kino. 8/10.

353. The Exorcist (1973). 7/10

348-352. Sons of Anarchy - Season 3. 3/10.

347. Only lovers left alive (2014). Kino. 7/10.

346. Tampopo (1985). 8/10.

345. Pusher (2012). 5/10.

344. The Mothman Prophecies (2002). 8/10.

339-343. Sons of Anarchy - Season 2. 7/10.

338. Strange Days (1995). Surprised how well I could understand the dialogue. 6/10

333-337. Sons of Anarchy (2008) - Season 1. 8/10.

332. Chinatown (1974). Trouble with the dialogue, but could enjoy the film. 7/10

327-331. Spartacus: Vengeance. 8/10.

326. Tatort. Munich-based team. 6/10.

325. Der Medicus (2014). Kino. 6/10.

324. B. Monkey (1998). 4/10.

323. Watchmen (2009). No trouble following it; though there were still parts that eluded me. 9/10.

322. Walter Mitty (2013). Kino. Stupid info-commercial for an online dating service with some nice shots of Iceland (probably got money from Icelandish tourism come to think of it). 1/10.

321. Knight and Day (2010). TV. 4/10.

320. Imagine (2012). Kino. Charming Polish film set in a school for the blind in Lisbon. Edward Hogg plays an amazing performance as a teacher helping his students learn to "see" in the world. 8/10.

319. The Lover (1992). 8/10.

318. Tatort: Der Eskimo. Frankfurt based team with a drunk Kommissar on the search for a transexual Ami psychokiller. 6/10.

317. The Lunchbox (2013). Kino. Very nice romantic comedy set in Mumbai. I had no trouble understanding 95% of the dialogue.

316. Riddick (2013). Understood the dialogue much better this time around, but still had some difficulty.

315. Das Geheimnis der Bäume (Il était une forêt - 2013). NS. Nice French documentary exploring the life-cycle of a rainforest, narrated by Bruno Ganz. I has some fears that I wouldn't understand so much, given the somewhat specialized vocabulary, but these proved ungrounded.

314. Tatort: Türkisher Honig (1/1/14). Tatort set in Leipzig. Kommissarin Eva Saalfeld erhält einen Anruf ihrer Halbschwester Julia, die sie noch nie gesehen hat. Kurz bevor die beiden sich treffen wollen, wird Julia entführt, und dann geshient ein Mord. I like the Leipzig team a lot: one older male somewhat rough German cop and his Turkish partner and ex-wife. Good episode involving black market debt. Understood much of the conversation, but got lost at times. The difficulty with Tatort is that if you miss a little bit you can get really lost in the show. 7/10.

305-313. Nikita (2010) TV series - 22 episodes. Somewhat boring show, but easy enough to follow and understand. 6/10.

Edited by patrickwilken on 01 February 2014 at 7:04pm

5 persons have voted this message useful



BAnna
Triglot
Senior Member
United States
Joined 2921 days ago

409 posts - 615 votes 
Speaks: English*, German, Spanish
Studies: Russian, Turkish

 
 Message 88 of 295
01 February 2014 at 11:48pm | IP Logged 
Great advice for a language learner, and thanks for the reviews. It's not so easy to get films in German here in the US, so I am slightly envious...ok, a lot envious.

I just finished "Kitchen" by Banana Yoshimoto translated into German and found it to be surprisingly easy to read. I wonder if there's something about Japanese sentence structure that leads to easily comprehensible German?

Often I watch Tatort on the ARD Mediathek website with the German subtitles for the hearing-impaired put on. It helps a lot to avoid missing a key element of the story or if you want to take notes on a particularly interesting bit of slang.




1 person has voted this message useful



This discussion contains 295 messages over 37 pages: << Prev 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37  Next >>


Post ReplyPost New Topic Printable version Printable version

You cannot post new topics in this forum - You cannot reply to topics in this forum - You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum - You cannot create polls in this forum - You cannot vote in polls in this forum


This page was generated in 0.3750 seconds.


DHTML Menu By Milonic JavaScript
Copyright 2020 FX Micheloud - All rights reserved
No part of this website may be copied by any means without my written authorization.