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German: massive input in Berlin

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Senior Member
Joined 2832 days ago

1546 posts - 3200 votes 
Studies: German

 Message 137 of 295
09 June 2014 at 2:53pm | IP Logged 
I have been recently playing around with Goodreads. Although the site is mostly in English, there seems to be a reasonably active German language reading community, and the reviews seems quite pointed and useful. Another nice feature of the site is that you can become a fan of authors to keep up to date with new works, find out if they are speaking locally etc.

If any of you become/are members let me know and I'll be able to follow the books you read and what you like. It's very easy to push recommendations to other users, which is another nice feature.

My German book list can be found here German books read or you can just look at the pretty covers.

I like how the covers gradually change from children's books to adult novels as my reading level has progressed.

You also check out some of the books I am planning to read. Any suggestions welcome!

Edited by patrickwilken on 09 June 2014 at 3:40pm

4 persons have voted this message useful

Senior Member
United States
Joined 2921 days ago

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

 Message 138 of 295
10 June 2014 at 2:23am | IP Logged 
I have messaged you on goodreads, and look forward to checking out your recommendations.
2 persons have voted this message useful

Senior Member
Joined 2832 days ago

1546 posts - 3200 votes 
Studies: German

 Message 139 of 295
10 June 2014 at 9:13am | IP Logged 
BAnna wrote:
I have messaged you on goodreads, and look forward to checking out your recommendations.

Cool. I've added you as a friend. Look forward to getting some good recommendations from you.
1 person has voted this message useful

Senior Member
Joined 2832 days ago

1546 posts - 3200 votes 
Studies: German

 Message 140 of 295
10 June 2014 at 11:48am | IP Logged 
Two years German

Today marks the end of my second year of intensive German study.

My approach from the very beginning has been to take a largely input-based approach to language learning.

I did very little explicit grammar study at the start, perhaps 20 hours in total, to give me enough understanding of the language to parse the text I saw/heard. This is a much lower level than what is actually needed to output the grammar correctly. A simple example would be that all I needed to know was that "der/die/das/die" referred to the definite article. I did not need to know what gender words had, or how declinations worked precisely. Likewise I needed to recognize the genitive (for instance) when I saw it, but didn't need to have to output it correctly. The hope being that a lot of grammar would be picked up implicitly by being exposed to massive amounts of input.

For the first year I did an hour a day of Anki to develop my vocabulary. I think in the end this was probably too much and I could have stopped after six months. I stopped using Anki a year ago, and my vocabulary has continued to naturally increase at a rapid rate.

It would seem like a huge advantage if your partner is a native speaker in your TL. However, I think the reality is that it's actually quite difficult to switch over to your TL, without a lot of effort, if one of partners is very weak (A1) and the other is very strong (C2) in the L1. It's only since I have really become a a strong B2 for listening that we have started to use German on a regular basis. So my German speaking has not really been very systematic until a few months ago.

Overall I have probably done:

* 20 hours grammar study
* 340 hours of Anki
* 300-900 hours speaking - this figure is very hard estimate
* 700 hours of films (assuming 90 minutes/film)
* 700 hours reading (assuming 20 pages/hour)

So in the +2000 hour range for study if you include conversation.

To date I have watched 462 films and read 13799 pages. A year ago today I had watched 163 films and read 2756 pages. In other words 65% of the films I have seen, and 80% of the text I have read, has occurred in the last twelve months. In addition I am sure that +90% of all conversation has occurred in the last year.

I would not expect such a big increase in the amount of input over the next year, but certainly would expect to see a big increase in my output of German (in particular speech).

Where are I now?

When I started learning German, despite having lived on and off in Germany for a number of years, and being married to a native-German speaker, my level was no more than A1+ - and even that might be a generous assessment. A year ago today I assessed my level as B1+, and today I would assess it as B2+.

More specifically:

* listening: I am approaching C1 level - I have no trouble following conversation in films across broad range of genres. My vocabulary for news is a bit weaker, but catching up. I would expect to be C1 within six months.

* reading: I am a solid B2. I can pick-up a contemporary novel in a bookstore and read it now without a dictionary. I need to build my vocabulary to read more advanced texts comfortably. It's a bit harder to predict when I will get to C1 for reading, but I expect this to occur at the current rate within six-to-twelve months.

* speaking: I am probably a low B2 for speaking. My vocabulary is extensive so I can understand and express myself quite well. However, I still make basic grammar mistakes and mispronounce certain words. However, I have only really been speaking German (mostly with my wife) for a few months now (since January 2014). My sense is that if I pushed my speaking, via private tutoring for instance, I could really improve my level quite quickly. However, at this point I am going to let my speaking develop naturally as my reading/listening level improves.

* writing: Probably B1+. I have made no effort to write in two years. I can certainly write if forced, but I've been lazy here. Again I have no doubt that my level would improve very quickly with a few months concerted practice.

Where to now?

So overall after two years I am approaching C1 for input and B2 for output.

Not only is my input getting much stronger now, but my output is naturally increasing and I feel could easily be converted to a significantly higher level with a little bit of concerted work. As hoped my implicit understanding of grammar has developed quite naturally from all the input I have received - though this is not to say that I don't still make plenty of mistakes. I would expect my grammar to improve a great deal in the next year if I continue to exposure myself to lots of high quality input.

My strategy now is more or less to keep doing what I have been doing: lots of reading (1000 pages/month), and lots of watching of films (1-2/day), and continue to speak German whenever the opportunity naturally arises. I am not going to worry about my writing for the moment, but probably should start systematically writing sometime in the next six months.

Edited by patrickwilken on 11 June 2015 at 12:24pm

11 persons have voted this message useful

Senior Member
Joined 2381 days ago

818 posts - 1189 votes 
Speaks: English
Studies: German

 Message 141 of 295
10 June 2014 at 9:30pm | IP Logged 
Wow, great progress Patrick!!
3 persons have voted this message useful

Senior Member
Joined 2346 days ago

905 posts - 1262 votes 
Speaks: Italian*, Spanish, French, English
Studies: Dutch

 Message 142 of 295
15 June 2014 at 11:21am | IP Logged 
That sounds like a great achievement!
2 persons have voted this message useful

Senior Member
Czech Republic
Joined 3308 days ago

3277 posts - 6778 votes 
Speaks: Czech*, FrenchC2, EnglishC1
Studies: Spanish, German, Italian

 Message 143 of 295
15 June 2014 at 11:43am | IP Logged 
Wow! Awesome!
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Senior Member
Joined 4851 days ago

734 posts - 1036 votes 
Speaks: Latvian*, English, German, Russian
Studies: Korean, Finnish

 Message 144 of 295
16 June 2014 at 1:54pm | IP Logged 
I'm awed by the number of books you have read in German. I think it's amazing! Excellent work.

2 persons have voted this message useful

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