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19-08-2014, 00:02   #1
pconn062
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How do you learn languages?

So, a tough question really. I have recently completed a course of German at the Goethe Institut in Berlin at the A2.2 level and have been approved to start B1. My aim for the next year is to pass the B2 exam by the end of next summer. However I will not be in a position to study in a school and will have to teach myself privately. So my question is, how do you learn a language? Obviously I can speak to people whenever I get the opportunity but the day to day learning, I am little stuck for ideas. I use a few vocab programmes and I am doing a course on Duolingo but I don't feel it is enough. Should I practice writing letters, emails etc. I am also reading some newspapers and listening to radio but at my level I am reaching for the dictionary for 1 or 2 words in each sentence so it's very slow. Any advice/tips?
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20-08-2014, 20:06   #2
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There's nothing better than an actual daily conversation. Myself I learned English at school for 9 yrs, listened to English music, watched films in English and eventually became little better than average. But spending just 2 months working in Ireland, having nobody with my native tongue around, pushed skills to next level. Think there's no really working way beside this to make big steps.
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21-08-2014, 11:11   #3
niallcon4re
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I think you need to do everything

Writing letters and having somebody correct them is the best way I learned grammar - studying my mistakes. Sometimes speaking the other person doesn't pick up that you are making little errors (they mightn't be giving you their total attention, don't want to interrupt you etc)

Reading books written for people with your level of german is better than reading articles/books written for native german speakers. I'm referring to the type of books students use in class (there's a reason schools use them).

When studying Spanish, I found "news in slow Spanish" a radio programme where they speak very slowly, for students, I could hear the various words (although many I didn't yet know). There are also programmes made for students where they speak slowly, and using basica grammar and vocab. I found "destinos" (again for Spanish).

I recommend spending even 5 minutes a day having an imaginary conversation out loud with yourself as thinking on the spot is part of a language and you can practice the new grammar and vocab you need.

I would IGNORE all advice saying to watch German TV and read German books as your german is not close to the level of a native speaker and I believe you need to go through the various steps. Maybe watching t.v designed for 5 or 6 year old germans (but that would bore me).

I waited until I had a year -18 mths of Spanish study before I met Spanish speakers for conversation (as I had very little to say before then, who wants to listen to somebody talking about their daily routine, name,age etc?)
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21-08-2014, 11:11   #4
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dw.de deutsche welle has sections for learners, and level-appropriate articles and slow news programs etc
I think they've exercises and tests with solutions too. The articles are relevant stuff. I think "jojo sucht das gluck" is B-something level, it's a mini-soap, fun to watch and learn from.

I'm not sure if you're saying you are going to do B1 with the institut? If so they will have tips too

Last edited by coffee_cake; 21-08-2014 at 11:15.
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21-08-2014, 11:19   #5
Micilin Muc
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One small thing that worked for me (for German) and for some of my students (of Irish) was to talk to yourself whenever you're doing mundane/manual activities throughout the day. For example if you're driving to or from work, or doing the dishes, name the nouns you see around you and then practice putting prepositions before them etc. Even if it's for 5 minutes, or just saying the words in your head, it'll reinforce what you've already learned.

@pconn062 As a runner you should have plenty of time to talk to yourself!
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21-08-2014, 12:26   #6
aoiferahmana
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Look up 'conversation exchange' it's a website where you can meet up with people to learn a language and help them in turn. so for example, I meet with some French people, they help me with my French and I help them with their English! I find conversation and daily use of a language so much better to help me learn than trying to remember lists of verbs or vocab.
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21-08-2014, 21:35   #7
pconn062
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Thanks for all the help guys, I was aware of the DW.de website but I didn't know there were full courses on it and they seem pretty good so will give them a go. Also, tried talking to myself while out running, looked like an idiot but actually found it pretty good!

@bluewolf, I'm just back from a 2 week course in Berlin but won't be doing a course at the GI in Dublin, just a bit too expensive at the moment. The course I did was at A2.2 level so I can do B1 but will need to teach myself.

@Aoife: I have tried conversation exchange and have contacted three different people with no luck, two never got back to me and one wouldn't speak to me because my level was too low. Might try it again.
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24-08-2014, 11:10   #8
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I can second the

'Reading books written for people with your level of german is better than reading articles/books written for native german speakers. I'm referring to the type of books students use in class (there's a reason schools use them).' from Niall.

I have a few of these and the first couple were pretty tough going but now I am going faster and faster through them. The same vocabulary keeps popping up and that helps a lot with your learning. I have read about 5 A1 level books and now onto A2-B1. Took the plunge and find it tough going again. Here is the one I am reading this one at the moment.

http://www.cornelsen.de/erw/reihe/r-.../9783589015047

I would also recommend Duolingo which is an app/online site where you can learn certain sections and have to pass each one before moving onto the next. I find it good for grammar and revision especially.

I also agree what others said about talking to native German speakers. It didn't help me much in the beginning at all because their English was 1,000 times better and I was only able to ask simple questions. Now it is at the stage where I can speak okish but I need correction because everything is 'die' to me and I know that's wrong. So try to get to a certain level first and then chat to someone. Language exchanges are great for writing for sure especially if the other one gives you advice on how to phrase certain things that make it more natural.
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26-08-2014, 19:44   #9
TheBoss11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pconn062 View Post
So, a tough question really. I have recently completed a course of German at the Goethe Institut in Berlin at the A2.2 level and have been approved to start B1.
Did you find the Goethe good? Is it worth the money?
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26-08-2014, 21:46   #10
pconn062
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Did you find the Goethe good? Is it worth the money?
I only did a summer course, 2 weeks long, "language and culture". Personally I loved it and would thoroughly recommend it. The classes were excellent and there were plenty of culture activities such as museum visits, guided walks, stammtisch etc. Berlin is a great city too. I will probably go back next year, but will consider a 4 week course over a 2 week one.
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29-08-2014, 12:53   #11
galwaycyclist
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluewolf View Post
dw.de deutsche welle has sections for learners, and level-appropriate articles and slow news programs etc
I think they've exercises and tests with solutions too. The articles are relevant stuff. I think "jojo sucht das gluck" is B-something level, it's a mini-soap, fun to watch and learn from.

I'm not sure if you're saying you are going to do B1 with the institut? If so they will have tips too
DW do a radio series called Alltagsdeutsch which covers various topics of everyday life.

http://www.dw.de/deutsch-lernen/alltagsdeutsch/s-9214

You can download the shows as MP3s and also get transcripts in pdf. They also have news broadcasts that are spoken slowly.

The problem with using ordinary (non-learner) books and newspapers is they tend to be written in the simple past tense and this is not as common in spoken German.

http://german.about.com/library/verbs/blverb_past.htm
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13-09-2014, 19:34   #12
Zed1
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If possible, get some Penpals who are native German speakers. There will always be someone that will be willing to help you. When I made my first German Penpal, I spoke absolutely NO German and she was near fluent but she was willing to help me all the time! Have Skype conversations with your new penpals to improve your aural and oral skills. Write letters/emails to them, ask them to correct your grammar and tell you better ways to phrase your sentences.
Write a piece of German every day, it can be about anything, just something to get your mind going and improve written skill.
Speak to yourself in German. Write your to-do lists in German. If you know anyone else who learns German, speak to them in it. Write to them in it.
Get a bunch of post-it notes and stick them up on things in your house - if possible - like put der Kühlschrank on the fridge and die Toilette on the toilet. I did this for a while until a surprise visitor came around and was very confused and has been treating me funny since, haha.
Duolingo is a nice software to use but I think it's rather basic and personally I always forget the information I learned there immediately. And I also tried to do French there and flunked...
Read German newspapers, or German children's books! Even just English children's books translated into German. You'd be amazed at the vocabulary you pick up. I love reading Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, the German is very hard but I welcome the difficulty because it makes me think and it strengthens my language skills.
Listen to German music! If you need recommendations, I listen to a bunch of German music. In my own experience listening to German music greatly improves my pronunciation and strengthens my vocabulary.
I would also recommend watching German movies (if only because German movies rock). Try them with subtitles at first but over time turn them off and see what you understand. Like with children's books, there's children's movies that would be worth looking into.
If you can go back to Berlin or any German city for a bit, PLEASE PLEASE *PLEASE* do! The BEST way to learn a language is to surround yourself with it because you're forced to learn it as nobody will be babying you and speaking English all the time! I learned more German when I was on an exchange there than I ever did in a classroom or doing it on my own (I've done both for years!).

Learning a language on your own with textbooks and audio files is doable, but in my honest opinion the best way to absorb languages is to be in the country. I wish I could go back to Germany to improve my German lol.

viel Glück!!
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16-09-2014, 14:04   #13
munchkin_utd
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Lots of great tips there.

The one thing that made the breakthrough for me in understanding the language was simply listening to the news on the radio in the evening when going to bed.
Grand, its boring enough stuff and some of the vocabulary might be a little too much politics or finance specific, but if they are talking about something that you've already heard about in English then you can follow it fairly easily.
Another positive about the news as a learning tool, it'll be proper standard german with little or no coloquail words in it as they are only reporting facts.

just like the previous poster mentioned being available in spanish, theres news spoken slowly in German too.
Heres todays one with accompanying transcript.
http://www.dw.de/16092014-langsam-ge...ten/a-17923781
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