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Ordklassramsa (part of speech rhyme)

Posted: Wed Dec 28, 2016 10:39 am
by Stefan
Went through my bookmarks and found this rhyme by Maria Bolander in Funktionell svensk grammatik (2005). It's basically a memory thing to keep track of adjectives, interjections, conjunctions, etc. Only for Swedish readers but I'm posting it here so I can return to it in the future.

Substantiv är namn på ting
såsom apa, boll och sting

Adjektiven sen oss lär
hurdana tingen är:
glada, snälla, rara
så som vi ska vara

Verb är sånt
som man kan göra
känna, kramas,
se och röra

som ett, två, tre
det är nåt att räkna mé

som den och det
används för det
man ändå vet

före substantiven står.
Det blir till jul, vid påsk
eller i vår.

används lätt
för rum, tid
och sätt.

som och, men,
för och då
kan göra meningar så långa så.

säger vad vi känner
när det värker, svider
och bränner.

Summary of 2016

Posted: Fri Dec 30, 2016 7:01 pm
by Stefan
Summary of 2016

2016 began with the plan to consume as much media as possible. I joined the German book club to read Tintenherz, subscribed to Top-Thema and watched Big Bang Theory. It worked well, albeit slow, until March when I lost my way. The book didn't progress, I had trouble understanding BBT/Futurama without subtitles and I received message about a new future project turning FSI into a high-tech modern course. The project seems dead now but back then it made me question if, just maybe, I should try a new course (FSI/Assimil). Without a conscious decision, I put my language learning on ice and focused on my interest in photography.

In august a lot of things happened at once. Due to work, I spent a lot of time driving and got bored with radio so I decided to entertain myself with FSI. Around the same time Brun Ugle revived the thread about Tintenherz, reineke posted a few studies on how subtitles can help your language learning and I stumbled upon Troldspejlet.

It revived my language learning interest and partly based on the studies, I decided to take a step back by watching beginner series (Extr@, Deutsch Plus, Jojo sucht das Glück) with subtitles and then slowly move on to native material with subtitles. During the same time, I continued reading Tintenherz and Top-Thema while ordering the books for FSI. It worked well for about a month until my computer crashed and the screen went black.

Sadly it stopped me from using LWT but since I still had my iPad, it completely changed how I use my devices. iPads main limitation is multitasking which killed my habit of surfing the web. Instead, I began going through hundreds of saved articles in Pocket, saved videos on YouTube and bookmarks in Chrome. Years of "to read" that I actually went through and completed. I also found Downcast which syncs podcasts perfectly between devices. You can store all your podcasts on the computer, take your iPad with you to listen before falling asleep and then continue on your iPhone the next day when taking a walk. It's basically everything I've wished from iTunes for years. Although productive, it wasn't language learning.

Since LWT was temporarily out of the picture, I jumped on the chance to read Englar alheimsins in Danish. I reckoned that it would be good for my Danish and I didn't need LWT so I ordered it at my library. Despite pointing out three times that it should be the Danish translation, I received the Icelandic version. Unfortunately I didn't notice until I had payed the ordering fee and returned home. After several attempts, I gave up and returned to my German.

Lately I've spent time trying to find German TV online and a few weeks ago I got my hands on a 10" laptop to use with LWT so I could catch up with Top-Thema.


As the year is over, I've watched 3696 minutes (1276 w/s) in German and translated 6319 new words which means that LWT now has a total of 16800 translated words (names excluded) of which 4694 is well-known. In the past, I had a vague rule about never marking a word as well-known when translating, only when stumbling upon it a second time. I disregarded this during the last two weeks and as a result, I almost got as many well-knowns as I had during the rest of the year combined.

Troldspejlet resulted in 584 min of Danish.

Takeaways from 2016

Naturally I'm somewhat disappointed. I had hopes of dabbling in French but ended up with a broken computer and watching Danish. With that said, I'm happy that I completed Top-Thema and there are a few takeaways.

The importance of a log: Trying to remember you goals, lessons and timeline is extremely difficult without notes. I thought I had a short return to Duolingo this year but RescueTime showed it was in 2015. I only wish that I had begun with a log sooner. It doesn't have to and maybe shouldn't be in public but some kind of notes.

Consistency: One of the most common mistakes people do. A few hours of work each week will make a tremendous difference over a year instead of running into a wall and then stop until you return months or even years later without progress. It really applies to everything in life, from exercise to studying or learning a new hobby.

Just in time (JIT): You don't need to collect hundreds of books at once. You don't need to figure out the difference between kein and nicht before you know how to say hello. I believe it's related to our fear of missing out but most of the time you don't end up using the material anyway. Don't plan for your third language if you've just started with your first. Get the material just in time for when you need it.

There's no magic bullet: This year I spent more time reading about language learning than actually reading in German. The same goes for exercise where I spent more time reading about studies than actually exercising. The more I learn, I come to the conclusion that it's more productive to stick with the basics and get 99% than spending countless of hours trying to find the optimal method.

Language log 2016


FSI German - 1 unit
Slow German - 10 episodes (text + audio)
Top-Thema [B1] - 194 episodes (text + audio)

01 Der Bankraub (s) - 10 ep. á 8 min
02 Big Bang Theory - 89 ep. á 22 min
03 Futurama - 11 ep. á 22 min
04 A Million Ways to Die in the West - 116 min
05 Spirited Away (s) - 125 min
06 10 Cloverfield Lane - 104 min
07 Extr@ (s) - 13 ep. á 24 min
08 Deutsch Plus (s) - 20 ep. á 14 min
09 Erste Wege in Deutschland (s) - 8 ep. á 7.5 min
10 Das Experiment: Ein Monat ohne Internet (s) - 43 min
11 Jojo sucht das Glück (s) - 8 ep. á 3 min
12 0797 Tatort: Jagdzeit (s) - 89 min
13 0995 Tatort: Der König der Gosse (s) - 86 min
14 0996 Tatort: Zahltag (s) - 89 min
15 0997 Tatort: Die Wahrheit (s) - 88 min

01 Tintenherz by Cornelia Funke - 205 / 566 pages


01 Troldspejlet (s) - 11 ep. á 25 min
02 Troldspejlet Nyt - 103 ep. á 3 min

Re: Stefan's log [DE] [DK]

Posted: Sun Jan 01, 2017 10:19 pm
by Stefan
The ultimate tool when watching movies online

IFI Irish Film Archive

If you accept dubbed streams, then there are sites with German material that will last a lifetime. If you want matching subtitles, then it's suddenly near impossible to find.

You could use a Mediathek such as ARD (German public service) which often has nearly identical subtitles but unfortunately, there are several drawbacks. Most movies are only available between 20:00-06:00, they are removed after a few days and some videos are geo restricted.

The solution is a VCR. Well, not your old one but a modern digital version. Find a show you enjoy such as Tatort and whenever a new episode is released, hit record and add it to your personal archive. It takes a few minutes and then you can watch the episode whenever you want without the limitations Mediathek gives you.

I played around with a few different alternatives before finding JDownloader which works without installing extra libraries or having to use the terminal.

If you know what you're looking for, then I'd recommend MediathekView Web which is a search engine that constantly index videos at ARD, ZDF, Arte, 3Sat, SWR, BR, MDR, NDR, WDR, HR, RBB, ORF and SF. You can also subscribe to RSS feeds for some shows (ARD has for Tatort) so you get notified whenever a new episode is released. If you don't know what you're looking for, you can usually follow broadcasters on Twitter for recommendations with the risk of being overrun with unrelated tweets. Ideally, there would be a service that keep track of all new uploads and make recommendations. I know of Empfehlung but that's a lot of Netflix and Amazon.

The most important thing is to be patient. Don't jump on every movie, trying to catch all. ARD currently got season 6 of Der Tatortreiniger and several movies with Kommissar Wallander (originally English, taking place a few minutes from my home in Sweden and then dubbed into German). Small world. German learners might appreciate the Türkisch für Anfänger movie from 2012. Every week they release a new Tatort episode. It's a long term project and as long as you keep up with it, I'm sure you'll find more high quality movies than you can consume. For example, if you had been with it from the beginning, I'm sure you'd have all six seasons of Der Tatortreiniger now.

What about legality? In Sweden, public service claim it's fully legal to record if you have the right equipment and Copyswede use downloading from Swedish Radio as an example of what's legal. In America, sites are referring to a case from 1984 saying "...time shifting was a fair use, represented no substantial harm to the copyright holder..." and in Germany PC Welt claim "..stellt jedoch keine Urheberrechtsverletzung dar."

Re: Stefan's log [DE] [DK]

Posted: Mon Jan 02, 2017 11:25 am
by Stefan
Alene i vildmarken


The American TV show Alone is currently in its third season. Ten participants try to survive as long as they can in the wilderness, carrying only what can fit in a backpack, while recording themselves. They are individually isolated and you win by staying alive when the others break down and call to get picked up.

I like that it's real. There's no crew and the area isn't stocked up with animals, they truly are alone in the wilderness. I also like that they are alone so you get rid of all the arguments other shows are filled with. Sadly it comes with the consequence of surviving being a lot about handling the mental parts of not having anyone to talk with, which is a bit repetitive in the long run. The third thing is that they know what they are doing. Sort of. They know how to build a shelter and make a fire so it's more about watching them handle the situation than watching them trying to sleep on the beach because they don't know what a shelter looks like.

Denmark has now made their own version and named it Alene i vildmarken. The only major difference is that the participants are placed in northern Norway instead of Canada. I've only watched the first part so far and it's promising even though they also went for a rainy location. I understand the point about making it a challenge with harsh weather but often you end up with video of participants just sitting in their shelter and waiting out the rain. There's a total of 10 episodes with each being 30 minutes.

You can watch the show at

Re: Stefan's log [DE] [DK]

Posted: Thu Jan 12, 2017 3:01 pm
by Stefan
The ultimate tool for watching German movies online


Less than two weeks ago I declared JDownloader to be the ultimate tool for watching movies online but everyone learning German is spoiled with something even better; MediathekView. It's a software that crawls every mediathek available, listing all the videos with details such as geo-restriction, plot, playtime, title, source, date and makes it possible to search and record. So instead of having to visit 18 different sites to see what's new, you simply open MediathekView and scroll through the list with all kinds of filters available.

I've played around with it in the past but it lacked important features. You couldn't filter videos with subtitles so it felt like trying to find a needle in a haystack and it doesn't support proxies so it seemed impossible to access geo-restricted content (e.g. Kommissar Rex and Wallander). Then someone else took over the development and released v13.0.0 (changelog) with several improvements such as being able to filter videos with subtitles.

There's still the issue with geo-restriction but a few days ago I finally decided to get a VPN. I'm not going to mention the name because I'm a bit sceptical but couldn't resist $35 (offer + coupon) for "lifetime access". It seems to be to good to be true but the company launched 2010 and I reckon that everything past four months is profit compared with other services I considered. Anyway... By using a VPN and making it look like my computer is located in Austria/Germany I don't need to spend time hunting for public proxies (real pain) and taking the detour with JDownloader.

A few things to make the most of it

Abos: Short for Abonnements I assume and is a place for all your subscriptions. You basically save keywords and whenever there's a match, the video is listed under Downloads so you can decide if you want it or not. I'm not only tracking recurring series such as Tatort but also long shots such as Deutschland 83 and Unsere Mütter, unsere Väter.

Blacklist: There are currently 165 767 indexed videos which makes it overwhelming. By turning on blacklist and creating a permanent filter, you can hide everything you know you're not interested in. For example, there are 575 videos with DW Nachrichten and I'm not interested in listing news so I added "DW Nachrichten" to my blacklist and hid all of them. I'm ruthless but it's a long term project so don't waste time trying to add everything you're not interested in.

Filterprofile: You can save up to three different filter profiles so you don't have to redo the settings. I'm currently using two and the first one is to keep up with new releases (screenshot). It shows all new (Neue) videos with subtitles (UT) from the last 6 days (Zeitraum) that are longer than 24 minutes (Mindestlänge) and doesn't match my Blacklist. It's the goto whenever I launch the software. The second filter profile is all standard (everything unchecked) but with Zeitraum increased to alles so I can search through the whole archive without missing anything.

Lastly, I must mention that ORF recently began broadcasting season 1 of Kommissar Rex. They are a few episodes into season 2 and hopefully they'll send all 10 of them. 119 episodes á 45 minutes with crime, humour, dogs and subtitles. I'm also keeping my eyes on Sedwitz which is a comedy set in 1988 in the DDR. Sadly there's only 6 episodes á 30 minutes but it seems to be well-produced.

Re: Stefan's log [DE] [DK]

Posted: Tue Jan 24, 2017 1:09 pm
by Stefan
My goals for 2017


I find it difficult to plan a whole year in advance because you never know what will happen. Lingvist released their German course a few weeks ago, MediathekView went from being dead to releasing their best version so far and last week I got my hands on Assimil's workbook for false beginners. I didn't plan for any of this and that's why I postponed writing my schedule for 2017. At the same time, a goal without a plan is just a wish.

One major change this year is the amount of German movies I watch. I'm already well above the minutes I spent watching with subtitles last year and I'll pass the total amount in February if I keep it up. As a result, I'm constantly questioning if I'm learning or if it's just an excuse to watch movies. It felt great when I watched Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children but I felt lost a few hours later when watching Gefragt – Gejagt.

I'm somewhat overwhelmed with material so instead of scheduling the whole year, I'm going for the habit of daily studying. As long as I do something related to my German material, then it doesn't matter if I complete a course or book during the year. For example, I dislike using LWT on my 10" budget laptop but if I buy a new one, I'm sure I'll do a lot more reading. FSI isn't in my plan right now but it might change if I get a new job involving a lot of traveling. The important thing is to avoid wasting time looking for new tools or courses.

Will be finished during the year

- Assimil German False beginners
- DW Top-Thema (about 104 episodes)
- Tintenherz by Cornelia Funke
- Movies from TV (100+ hours)

Additional material

- Harry Potter und der Stein der Weisen
- Grammar flashcards
- Slow German
- FSI German
- Lingvist

Re: Stefan's log [DE] [DK]

Posted: Sat Mar 25, 2017 7:58 pm
by Stefan


Sedwitz is a comedy mini-series (6 episodes) about a fictional border town located in both West and East Germany during the cold war. One day Ralf Pietzsch (main character and border guard in DDR) gets a key to the other side which creates all kind of opportunities and problems. I don't want to give away the story (it's only 3 hours) but it's well-produced and it's fun to see a theme I haven't seen before. Abrupt ending but I'll probably watch it again in the future. A bit tricky to understand at times which I believe is due to the Bavarian accent.

Watch it on Das Erste.

Re: Stefan's log [DE] [DK]

Posted: Wed Mar 29, 2017 12:05 pm
by Stefan
Professor T


Professor T is the same old crime drama with a smart consultant helping the police to solve crimes. You've seen it before in The Mentalist, Monk, Lie to Me, Castle, Elementary, Numb3rs, John Doe, Sherlock, Psych, etc. In this series, Jasper "T" Thalheim is a professor in criminology and teaching at Universität zu Köln with the twist that he (like Monk) is terrified of germs. There's little to no character development and they play melancholic music every other minute which bored me from feeling anything. I appreciate that they went for a more "modern" TV series but they ended up with a cheap and poorly executed copy of existing series.

Watch it on ZDF.

Re: Stefan's log [DE] [DK]

Posted: Mon Apr 17, 2017 5:21 pm
by Stefan
In the thread about placement tests, I stumbled upon Goethe Institut online placement test which took me a few minutes to complete. Reading and listening was alright but I failed completely with "fill in the blanks" and couldn't even figure out which word they were looking for..

Ziemlich gut! Sie können sich in vielen Situationen des alltäglichen Lebens zurechtfinden.

It recommended B1/B2 exams which probably is about right but in general I don't trust placement tests.

Re: Stefan's log [DE] [DK]

Posted: Fri May 26, 2017 4:11 pm
by Stefan
Reading foreign languages on a Kindle


I fell for the temptation and bought a Kindle Paperwhite earlier this week which highlights my thoughts on long-term goals. By having a Kindle, I'll spend a lot more time reading than I originally had planned this year.

I'm 65% through my first book and so far I'm genuinely surprised by how terrible the user experience is. I tap on a word to get the translation but the device jumps to the next page. I go back and tap on the word again. This time Wikipedia opens and tells me it has no page for the word. So I click on Wikipedia -> dropdown -> Translation to get Bing Translate which sadly detects it as an English word. So I click on Language -> dropdown -> scroll (because German is hidden on the next page) -> German. These are the steps you have to go through over and over again. At this point I'm asking myself "how important is this word?" to avoid going through it all. There's a thread on Amazon from 2014 highlighting the issue and asking for the option to disable Wikipedia. That's 3 years ago and it makes me question if the developers are using their own product.

With this said; when a word is in the standard dictionary, it seems to work great.