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German: massive input in Berlin

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61 posts - 95 votes 
Speaks: English*, GermanB2
Studies: French, Spanish

 Message 281 of 295
17 June 2015 at 3:38pm | IP Logged 
patrickwilken wrote:
Actually working out what to write about is one of my stresses! I
just want to write enough each day to fine tune grammar. I am lucky in that I don't
have to pay a tutor - my wife Kristina is happy enough to read and correct a short

Have you thought about writing this log in German? Or maybe even some entries on your
photo blog? (which is awesome by the way). Apart from that, there was a thread a year
or so ago bouncing about with topics for written exercises (around the time the Super
Challenges emerged).

patrickwilken wrote:
Lucy and Papa at the playground

Cute kid!

patrickwilken wrote:
I am reading a pretty dense grammar at the moment

Out of curiosity, which grammar are you reading at the moment?
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Senior Member
Joined 2832 days ago

1546 posts - 3200 votes 
Studies: German

 Message 282 of 295
17 June 2015 at 9:50pm | IP Logged 
rtickner wrote:
Have you thought about writing this log in German? Or maybe even some entries on your photo blog? (which is awesome by the way).

Writing German in a public blog is sort of my medium term goal. I am not sure I will get there late this year or early next year, but it's definitely a nice idea.

Basically I stopped blogging/photographing some months ago to focus on German before the birth of Lucy. Now that she's born I don't really have time to do both the blog and learn German, so it would be ideal to start writing the blog in German as soon as my writing is fast and good enough.

rtickner wrote:
Out of curiosity, which grammar are you reading at the moment?

Hammer's German Grammar and Usage. I am really enjoying it. It is pretty dense, and should be a really useful guide when I start writing.

Edited by patrickwilken on 17 June 2015 at 9:52pm

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Senior Member
Joined 2832 days ago

1546 posts - 3200 votes 
Studies: German

 Message 283 of 295
22 June 2015 at 11:30am | IP Logged 
Android newspaper & magazine apps

Inspired in part by EMK's search for better French content I have been playing around with various German newspaper/magazine apps.

I have had the excellent 'die Zeit' app for a long while my Android phone. I recently added the following free apps: (Süddeutsche Zeitung), Spiegel Online, FOCUS online, (Frankfurter Allgemeine).

There are quite a few others that look interesting, ARD for instance, which I haven't had a chance to check out yet.

Perhaps the easiest way to find content is to switch the language of your phone to German, then in the Google Play Store, look under the App Kategorien for 'Nachrichten & Zeitschriften'. There are a lot of paid apps available, but the free apps probably provide more than enough good quality content for reading purposes.

Most (all?) of the apps can also be setup to Push alerts for interesting stories as they come in, so you can be notified of content that is of particular interest to you even without having to open the app. For instance, die Zeit pushes breaking stories to me, and Speigel alerts of new science stories.


I also use the free Flipboard app, which I find really helpful for parsing feeds from Twitter (and can be used for FB and Tumblr). In addition to feeds you follow, Flipboard has a 'best of section' of stories culled from sources you are following. I noticed that since I switched my phone's language to German, the 'best of stories' have also switched to predominately German ones.

Feeds in Flipboard could for instance be as large as your whole Twitter feed, or the feed of an individual person (I follow various news agencies as well as particular people I find interesting), or a hashtag (I follow #berlin and #neukölln which brings up lots of stories about areas I live in German). You can also follow other curated feeds, created by other users. I am, for instance, following a feed devoted to Greece.

Edited by patrickwilken on 22 June 2015 at 11:34am

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Senior Member
Joined 2832 days ago

1546 posts - 3200 votes 
Studies: German

 Message 284 of 295
24 June 2015 at 11:12am | IP Logged 
More apps

I am starting to think getting a tablet would be an excellent way to learn more German.

In addition to the magazine/newspapers above, I have added the following TV sources to my phone: Das Erste (Tatort auf das Handy!), ZDF, Mediathek, and ARTE. As far as I can tell all these should be available for streaming outside of Germany (though no guarantees).

I am not a very big fan of Deutsche Welle. I know that it's the one thing that everyone recommends for people learning German, but really once you get to a certain point (B2? or sooner) you can switch over to much richer and better media, that actual Germans consume.

Edited by patrickwilken on 24 June 2015 at 11:14am

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Senior Member
Joined 2832 days ago

1546 posts - 3200 votes 
Studies: German

 Message 285 of 295
24 June 2015 at 4:05pm | IP Logged 
So apparently I live in the hippest part (or hipsterest part) of Berlin: Zwischen Kreuzberg and Neukölln. Come and visit!

[Despite the title, it's actually all Neukölln.]

Edited by patrickwilken on 24 June 2015 at 4:05pm

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Senior Member
Joined 3429 days ago

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

 Message 286 of 295
03 July 2015 at 6:44pm | IP Logged 
patrickwilken wrote:
I guess my own language learning philosophy is simply that I learn best by doing rather than studying. So rather than studying grammar or vocabulary out of context, I prefer to read/listen, and now that my skills are more solid speak and write to improve my grammar. I am not pure, I am reading a pretty dense grammar at the moment, and I am not against using SRS to improve vocabulary at the start, but I am most comfortable just using the language as much as possible to learn. not going to do drills, just start writing as soon as I read through it once, and try to fine-tune output as a go along. This desire not to "study" is why I have focussed so strongly on input at the start so I could minimize the amount of explicit grammar study later, which for me was definitely the correct decision.

I ultimately don't really care how effective this sort of approach is (so long as it works at some point). It's really an aesthetic judgement of how I want to approach learning the language. It just feels right to grow into it slowly overtime.

I've been thinking a lot about these lines over the past few weeks (is it weeks already?), and I think it's quite an important point. What's the use of an 'optimal approach' if you can't stand it, if it bores or frustrates you? Chances are that you won't be able to see it through. It's much better to go with something you enjoy. Sure - it is important to experiment and learn from others, but ultimately you have to find your own way. For some this entails the study of grammar and frequency lists, for others like you it's extensive reading, etc. In the long run, only the method(s) you can stick to will be efficient, irrespective of their short-term efficiency when compared to other methods (if such a comparison is at all possible... I actually doubt it). It's good to see you being confident about your approach!
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Senior Member
Joined 2832 days ago

1546 posts - 3200 votes 
Studies: German

 Message 287 of 295
04 July 2015 at 2:37pm | IP Logged 
June 2015

In June I read 702 pages and watched 22 films.

Another month and my daughter Lucy is now three months old. It's crazy how much she tries to imitate sounds around her. In the last couple of weeks she has started to make a very specific grunting sound which she directs at someone when she is unhappy with them. A proto-word/phrase? As someone who has been observing her development on a hourly basis for months it's amazing that she can now direct her unhappiness (and happiness) at specific agents in the world.

Three months old today!

Adding all these newspaper apps to my phone has had a very positive impact on my reading. After finishing the scifi book "Das Haus der Sonnen" I have switched over my reading to online newspapers. In particular, I have started a two-week free subscription to Suddeutsch Zeitung, which I'll happily convert to a full subscription for 20 euros/month after the trial period ends. I find SZ a little easier than die Zeit to read, and it has the advantage as a daily paper that I always have lots and lots of new and interesting content to read (e.g., Greek crisis; asylum seekers; investigative series on gentrification; stem cell research in Japan etc). I am finding it really helpful to get a better handle on German culture/thinking as well - it's surprising how little I know given I have lived in Berlin for years and am married to a German. I am currently reading it on my phone, but the SZ app is probably ideal to read on a pad. It's a great resource for those in the upper-intermediate range for German. If you have the Google translation app installed you can use this too look up individual words, but it's probably too much of a hassle to use if you need to look up more than the occasional word.

My movie viewing has been pretty easy this month. I will give a shout out to Fritz Lang's 1933 film noir 'Das Testament des Dr. Mabuse'. Banned by the Nazis, it was the last film made by Lang before he fled to the US. For those of you studying French, Lang simultaneously filmed a French version, replacing actors that didn't speak French. Such was the World before dubbing!

I will give another shout out to the online streaming service Mubi, which is a great resource for German cinema.

I spend the first part of this month reading German grammar, but in the end found my heart wasn't in it. Yes. I know. I'm lazy. In practice, I found I was spending way too much time thinking about the language, rather than actually using it. At this point I want to focus renewed efforts on reading German (mostly via news media which I will not list in my stats). I am continuing to watch movies and TV. My understanding of simpler dubbed films (like Guardians of the Galaxy) is close to 100%. I now feel ready to start tackling German cinema properly.


57. Das Haus der Sonnen. Alastair Reynolds. 702 Seiten. Ebook. Mostly read without dictionary. 7/10.


941. Inherent Vice (2015). Amazon. (4€). Still some gaps, but much easier to understand at home. 8/10.

940. Das Testament des Dr. Mabuse (1933). Mubi. 8/10.

939. Captain America (2011). Netflix. 7/10.

934-938. The Vikings - Season 2 - 10 Episodes. Amazon Prime. 7/10.

933. Thor (2011). Netflix. 5/10.

932. Pacific Rim (2013). Netflix. 6/10.

931. No Escape (1994). Netflix. 6/10.

926-930. Banshee - Season 3 - 10 Episodes. Amazon. (25€). 8/10

925. Jupiter Rising (2015). Amazon. (4€). 4/10.

924. The Great Gatsby (2013). Netflix. 7/10.

923. Two Guns (2013). Amazon Prime. 4/10

Edited by patrickwilken on 04 July 2015 at 3:33pm

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Joined 2040 days ago

32 posts - 36 votes
Speaks: English*

 Message 288 of 295
05 July 2015 at 9:13pm | IP Logged 
Out of interest, when you were reading the grammar were you making notes or just reading? I ask because i feel like
for me to get the most out of study i should be making anki cards to jog my memory. Problem is, i absolutely hate
making the anki cards so i indefinitely put off reading the grammar/working through exercises, etc.

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