Ich Lerne Deutsch (I’m Learning German)

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I’m learning German. Here’s a recap of my history with the language.

Classroom Instruction

When I was fifteen years old I decided to take German in high school and mostly because I made some friends in that class that were going to keep taking it and because the instructor was a true lover of all things German, I decided to stick with it throughout high school. So I graduated after four years, fluent in German, right? Not exactly. I learned a lot of German, but like all new languages, the only place I ever spoke it or wrote it was in class. So it never really took root. I still have a partial grasp of the rules of grammar for German and a surprising number of vocabulary words have stuck with me. I’m certain that if immersed in the language I would pick it up quickly.

Books

I’ve never completely lost my interest in learning the language. Ten years ago I was in a Half Price Books store in Dallas and found a copy of one of the German text books and work books I had used in high school. I bought it and started reading it and working through the studies, but eventually I would stop. Then I’d pick it up again, retread old grown, make a little new progress, then stop.

Websites

The internet opened up an entirely new way to learn German. For free, I could go to any website written in German and learn by reading. This is hard work though. Google translation helps, but it’s still tough sledding. I still do this from time to time. The ‘Der Spiegel’, which in English means ‘The Mirror’ by the way, online newspaper is particularly good for this activity.

Email

I do have some friends and family who like me are or have learned some German. Sometimes I would email once or thrice to one or more of them exchanging emails in German. Just one more way to get an opportunity to practice.

Podcasts

A few years ago I started listening to podcasts during my morning and afternoon commutes. I soon found a German language podcast on itunes called GermanPod101.com which was new, fun and also intimidating. I stuck with that for a while, but then fell away from them. Something about the format just didn’t click with me. Recently I found Stephan Wiesner’s website and Android App and his blog www.german-podcast.blogspot.com/ This is much less professional and Stephan may or may not be working on this project any more, but the app has a thousand vocabulary words and a method for learning and reinforcing them which I like. I’m just fine with monotonous, relentless, plow forward repetition.

Sharing What I Am Learning

So that brings me to where I am today, taking what I think is the next step in learning and that is sharing what I am learning. Using the share-learn-grow (repeat) process, I should get many more chances to learn and grow in my use of the language. What I really need is another German language speaker at home and at work. We could have German only days which would drive everyone else completely bonkers.

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