I did the opposite of what a normal student would be required to do and it was a refreshing way to approach learning. I read both texts without engaging heavily in the exercises. My motivation was to gain a conceptual overview of the subjects to open up German learning in a number of fields for which the sciences are more or less Grundwissen. I majored in physics in undergraduate and haven't had a chemistry course in more than 20 years, so some of the learning was review but much of it was brand new. The first text by Mortimer may already be considered a classic in the field with a strong translation from Ulrich Müller. The hardest part of the book was the molecular orbital theory section which didn't make much sense until I read a comparative definition of it and its main rival:
- Valence bond theory - too good to be true
- Molecular orbital theory - too true to be good
The orgo text would have been a bear in a college class and I can see why what little exposure I had 20 years ago didn't lead to much learning. They hit you with a metric ton of chemical equations, many of which are quite complex and ultimately end up getting memorized rather than learned carefully. From reading, I gained a decent first-pass understanding of the concepts and terminology, but would currently be unable to work the spatial reaction problems without a lot of practice. To aide in the study, I found studyflix.de - organische chemie which provides good quality videos/visuals along with textual explanations. I found it by looking for something comparable to khanacademy but with German audio and a full set of courses. I have only watched about 30-40 short videos so far and have some catching up to do there.
What I liked most about the experience of both books is how they exercise the brain differently while being exposed to a foreign language at the same time. Chemistry has a very geospatial feel to me and I am constantly bouncing molecules about in my head. Instead of looking up unknown standard German vocabulary, I am looking up chemical terms and concepts. There are a lot of parallels to language and it has been fun learning. I have new alphabet to learn as well (the periodic table). My Greek letter identification is embarrassingly rusty. Lucky for me and anyone around me, I am not drawn to the lab aspects of chemistry and have no plans to mix anything that leads to sehr schnell ablaufende, stark exotherme Reaktionen.
It has mostly been about Damals und Heute for me lately. The presenters of this podcast have a subtle but witty sense of humor and they tend to bounce off of each other quite a lot. I enjoyed almost every episode but only had about 25 hours or so of content here. I made up for the difference by listening to Zeitblende. I enjoyed it as well even though there weren't many hours available and will probably take more from srf.ch/audio in the future.