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German: massive input in Berlin

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emk
Diglot
Moderator
United States
Joined 3831 days ago

2615 posts - 8805 votes 
Speaks: English*, FrenchB2
Studies: Spanish, Ancient Egyptian
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 Message 265 of 295
04 June 2015 at 1:55pm | IP Logged 
patrickwilken wrote:
My daughter, Lucy, is now eight weeks and two days old. It's amazing being able to spend time with her, but there is no question that she's taking a lot of energy away from German.

Congratulations on the wonderful news! And yes, small children do eventually learn to sleep through the night. :-)

patrickwilken wrote:
I am able to watch a couple of TV shows in the evening once she sleeps, but beyond that I am only able to read in bits and pieces here and there.

Even though my kids are now much older, you can probably understand why I'm trying to make French media as effortlessly accessible as English media. :-) Sometimes, I just wanna flop out on the couch with a brainless new book or a fun TV show, and the idea of going through some complicated process is just too exhausting.
4 persons have voted this message useful



iguanamon
Tetraglot
Senior Member
Virgin Islands
Speaks: Ladino
Joined 3561 days ago

2224 posts - 6708 votes 
Speaks: English*, Spanish, Portuguese, Haitian Creole

 
 Message 266 of 295
04 June 2015 at 2:32pm | IP Logged 
I'm still catching up on sleep I missed 10 years ago when my son was born. OK, that's a bit of an exaggeration, but emk is right. They do eventually figure out how to sleep through the night. Congratulations on your new addition to your family, Patrick!

Edited by iguanamon on 04 June 2015 at 2:33pm

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

1546 posts - 3200 votes 
Studies: German

 
 Message 267 of 295
04 June 2015 at 11:40pm | IP Logged 
emk wrote:
Sometimes, I just wanna flop out on the couch with a brainless new book or a fun TV show, and the idea of going through some complicated process is just too exhausting.


I completely understand. ;)

I am mostly just watching TV shows on Netflix.de and Amazon Prime between 9pm and 11pm before I go to bed, but I also get a chance to read a bit in the morning before Lucy wakes up.

iguanamon wrote:
I'm still catching up on sleep I missed 10 years ago when my son was born. OK, that's a bit of an exaggeration, but emk is right. They do eventually figure out how to sleep through the night. Congratulations on your new addition to your family, Patrick!


A full nights sleep would be very welcome sometime soon. Though I have to say I am amazed that I am not more tired then I am. Somehow it helps that we are moving into mid-summer. The nights are long - sun set is after 9pm now and dawn closer to 4am - so I move in a pleasant tiredness surrounded by light.


Edited by patrickwilken on 04 June 2015 at 11:43pm

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

1546 posts - 3200 votes 
Studies: German

 
 Message 268 of 295
05 June 2015 at 10:40am | IP Logged 
I just finished the first chapter of Hammer's German Grammar and Usage. At this rate I think I'll have to aim for one chapter every couple of days.

My first impression is that it really is a remarkably detailed and useful book.

My second impression is that there is absolutely no way you can rote learn more than a small part of German grammar via reading about it. The only proper way to learn is lots and lots of exposure, plus lots of targeted output (writing).

I suspect grammar is a lot like vocabulary. It's easy to get to 80% correct very quickly, and even 95%, but that last 5% will take a very long time.

The plan at the moment is to read through the grammar once to get a refresher/overview and then to start writing on a regular basis.

Edited by patrickwilken on 05 June 2015 at 10:41am

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

1546 posts - 3200 votes 
Studies: German

 
 Message 269 of 295
07 June 2015 at 11:01am | IP Logged 
I've now finished the first two chapters of Hammer's German grammar (on nouns and cases) and was pleasantly surprised at how many interesting facts I have learnt along the way. The description of how the Dative is used in different contexts was really helpful. For instance, that the dative could be used to show that someone was being personally affected by an action. For instance:

Sie strich dem Jungen übers Gesicht [she stroked the boy's face]

vs

Sie strich über das Gesicht des Jungen [only possible if the boy were unconscious/dead]

This is a dense grammar book, with lots of untranslated examples in German, and so not really suitable for beginners, but it's a lot of fun. It feels like a very good book for me now that I have done a lot of preparatory exposure to the language.

Edited by patrickwilken on 07 June 2015 at 11:03am

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

1546 posts - 3200 votes 
Studies: German

 
 Message 270 of 295
07 June 2015 at 1:15pm | IP Logged 
I was surprised to learn quite a few interesting facts even in the noun chapter. For instance, I have known for a long time that in older formal German that regular masculine and neuter nouns, especially nouns of one syllable, added an 'e' in the Dative case.

The most obvious case for me is the inscription above the Bundestag "Dem deutschen Volke" (to/for the German people).

Although this grammar rule is not longer really used in either writing or speech what I hadn't realized was that its usage is preserved in lots of common expressions:

* im Jahre 2015
* auf dem Lande
* nach Hause
* zu Hause
* am Tage
* in diesem Sinne
* im Falle, dass...

or my favorite:

* das Kind mit dem Bade ausschütten (to throw the baby out with the bathwater).

Edited by patrickwilken on 07 June 2015 at 1:25pm

5 persons have voted this message useful



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

1546 posts - 3200 votes 
Studies: German

 
 Message 271 of 295
11 June 2015 at 1:25pm | IP Logged 
Three years German

Yesterday, I passed the three year mark in my efforts to learn German largely through reading (mostly books) and listening (mostly TV/movies). Yay!

To date I have watched 922 films and read 24907 pages.

A year ago today I had watched 462 films and read 13799 pages; a year before that I had only watched 163 films and read 2756 pages. In other words 50% (460) of all the films I have seen, and 45% (10930 pages) of all the reading (by volume) has occurred in last year. In comparison, in Year 2 I watched 299 films and read about 11043 pages; in Year 1 I watched only 163 films and read only 2756 pages.

My movie watching seems to be approaching some sort of natural limit. It's just not really possible to watch on average more than a film or so a day. Although I haven't read more pages this year than last year, my reading has definitely improved a great deal. I still have a long way to go before the ease by which I read in German approaches that of English, but certainly for simpler books (e.g., some sort of standard scifi novel) my reading is much more fluid than a year ago.

Where I still have trouble is with more academic or literary works, but this is clearly just a matter of practice and I just need to keep chipping away at the language. My big surprise in the last few months was that I could (for instance) pick up a copy of the weekly newspaper die Zeit (my benchmark for good written contemporary German) and work my way through it without a dictionary without too much difficulty.

A big change in the last year is that although there are still lots of words I don't know, the gaps I have also don't seem to matter so much anymore. I will look up words if they keep repeating in a text and seem critical for understanding, but in general I just read and have lost a previous obsessive need to find out the meaning of all the individual words I didn't know in a text. At this point something like doing SRS just makes no sense to me as I have no desire to learn words more quickly than I already am simply by reading. I think this has something to do with my vocabulary passing a certain threshold.

About six months ago I noticed that I was essentially understanding +99% of most of the dubbed TV shows/movies I have been watching. I still struggle with native German movies. I think in part that is partly an accent thing; in part sometimes the sound quality can be lacking a bit in independent German film; in part sometimes regional expressions creep in which are probably obvious to most Germans, but not to someone who has learnt via Hoch Deutsch dubbing. I intend to start systematically watching German cinema now that my level has improved sufficiently that to enjoy and understand German films properly.

My productive skills are definitely no where near as good yet, which is perhaps not surprising as I have made little effort, other than sporadically talking to my wife, to improve them in the last year. However, when I have had a chance to use them (e.g., when having coffee with other parents with new children) I have been able to communicate effectively, and have been told my spoken German really is quite good (though with minor grammar errors). On the other hand, I find my spoken German almost drops to zero when I get nervous and start self-monitoring; and of course some people are just not very flexible and cannot understand what I am saying if I deviate only a little from standard speech.

I have yet to systematically do any sort of writing and that is something I want to really focus on in the coming year. Towards that end I recently bought a really good, comprehensive grammar (the fifth edition of Hammer's German Grammar and Usage by Martin Durrell). I am currently working through it reading a chapter every couple of days. Once I've gone through it once I'll start writing on a regular basis, which my wife will correct. I have thought about doing grammar drills, but that seems like too much work, and prefer to simply try to write as well as I can. Although Hammer seems like a particularly dense grammar, I find it intuitively quite clear, which is an advantage of having had so much input prior to starting more formal study. Most of the grammatical points being made just make sense of what I already know from experience.

I may also hire tutor for speaking practice sometime in the coming year, but it probably makes more sense get my writing first under control before worrying too much about any grammatical problems I have speaking.

So overall I am pretty pleased with my progress. It is frustrating not to be able to communicate more effectively, but this is something I am sure I'll be able to make really significant improvements on in the coming year. On the positive side I feel good about my progress in listening and reading, and although I am not at the level I want to be yet, I know now that it is only a matter of time before I get there.
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smallwhite
Pentaglot
Senior Member
Australia
Joined 3607 days ago

537 posts - 1045 votes 
Speaks: Cantonese*, English, Mandarin, French, Spanish

 
 Message 272 of 295
11 June 2015 at 1:43pm | IP Logged 
Thank you for the detailed information. I hope you can reach your goals soon.

Edited by smallwhite on 11 June 2015 at 1:44pm



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