How could I get to B1 German without using conventional resources?

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GermanIsHard
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How could I get to B1 German without using conventional resources?

Postby GermanIsHard » Fri Jun 18, 2021 9:36 pm

I apologise in advance, because I know that German is a very common second language to learn, so it has plenty of learning resources - however, I am stuck on how to proceed. For context, a few years ago I got to lesson 30 of German with Ease (which unfortunately got lost as I moved house), watched Nico's Weg, had a few hours of German tutoring, watched some Easy German videos on YouTube and there was a few hours of memrise/Anki thrown in there. I've probably spent 50 hours or so on these different things combined, but I've never tried to keep track of time so it is probably wildly inaccurate. I would say my speaking is below an A1 level (because my grammar sucks), but my passive vocabulary is of course bigger. I went on to the Goethe Institut website and listened to the samples of the A2 exam, I could understand 80-100% of what was being said.

My goal over summer break is to actually try and work towards achieving an intermediate level of German, as I want to move to Germany after I graduate. I do like structured learning, but I can sometimes feel quite restricted by it e.g using Assimil. Does anyone have recommendations of what resources to use please?

Thanks
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Re: How could I get to B1 German without using conventional resources?

Postby Chung » Fri Jun 18, 2021 11:37 pm

I'd think of your situation as trying to figure out how to pass the exam for B1 be it from Goethe Institut, telc or any other organization.

I'd read up the following (among several results found via Google)
- I passed the Goethe Zertifikat B1! Some thoughts and tips on what worked (and what didn't).
- Hack your B1 German Exam
- How to pass the B1 exam! I passed the B1!
- Achieve B1 German in 6 months

So in addition to the usual advice about studying to the test (i.e. do lots of practice exams), you'll need to build up your speaking, listening, reading, and writing abilities to an acceptable and grammatical level.

Knowing what I know now, I recommend looking into the following:

- Work through both volumes of FSI German Basic Course for drilling in private. Do the substitution, transformation and variation drills so that you get comfortable with speaking and hearing fairly basic German.

- Work through one dedicated textbook for B1 that's adaptable for self-study. The Begegnungen series is a good example of a no-nonsense book. You don't need a dedicated workbook for grammar or vocabulary unless you feel especially weak in those areas and aren't building your "muscles" in German by venturing outside textbooks.

- Read short stories or even comic strips (some examples given here) to get authentic text without the risk of getting overwhelmed or bored

- If you want fairly easy non-fiction, try reading articles on Klexikon which is like German Wikipedia for kids up to age 12. The prose isn't that complicated or lengthy but you'll get exposed to some technical vocabulary as appropriate.

- Work through Jojo sucht das Glück B1/B2

- Watch broadcasts of ZDF's logo! - die Kindernachrichten in case you want an alternative to DW's "Langsam gesprochene Nachrichten" (scroll down to "logo! - Sendungen"). The nice thing about logo! is that its broadcasts are short (maximum 10 minutes), and can be watched with or without German subtitles to accommodate deaf children. For learners this is obviously useful as I usually watch a broadcast without the subtitles once or twice and then watch it a third time with the subtitles to check how much I really understood the broadcast - my reading comprehension is better than my listening comprehension.

- Keep this vocabulary list by the Goethe Institut for B1 handy. I figure that if you can use at least 90% of the words in this list quite easily and actively, you stand a good chance of being able to pass yourself off as someone with a solid grasp of German at B1.

- If you have the money and time, consider getting a tutor if you want to get comfortable speaking German in the presence of someone. Speaking via drills or just talking to yourself doesn't work that well when you're a beginner in my experience. My comfort with speaking German (and Polish and Slovak and Hungarian) has improved sustainably only when I've been in regular contact with native speakers be it in a class or social settings. Before the pandemic came along, I had a solid and steady core of Czech and Slovak friends whom I'd meet every couple weeks or so, so I had enough chances to speak Slovak for a few years and thus incrementally improve my speaking and listening abilities. Grammar was less of a problem since a lot of my textbooks were grammar-heavy while vocabulary was easy enough to improve passively by reading and writing a lot.

Any reason you don't want to use conventional resources, though?
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Re: How could I get to B1 German without using conventional resources?

Postby iguanamon » Sat Jun 19, 2021 12:58 am

Even though I am not fond of courses, I have to start somewhere. To me a course is better than re-inventing the wheel on my own. The times I have been somewhat successful without courses have been with related languages- coming from Haitian Creole to Lesser Antilles French Creole; and to a certain extent coming from Spanish and Portuguese to Ladino/Djudeo-espanyol. I had many advantages because neither target language was my first second language and they are closely related to languages I had already learned to a high level.

The closest I've come to learning a language without a course was Catalan and LAFC. I just started reading. Still, I felt the need to consolidate my Catalan by doing a conversational course "Le Catalan" by Assimil. I am not an Assimil fanboy. While I think it is a decent course, I find its lack of sufficient opportunity for repetition and drills to really internalize grammar to be annoying. Still I needed it because reading and grammar study on their own just weren't enough. LAFC is similar enough to be almost mutually intelligible, but there are major differences in many grammatical aspects, vocabulary and idiomatic speech. I read twitter; the Bible; folk tales. I speak from time to time here with native-speakers and I get better. There just simply aren't enough resources available to me to progress to C levels on my own, and I can't/don't speak/write enough to get me there.

When learning Catalan, I started off by reading familiar translated from L1 novels- "Alice in Wonderland" ; "Gulliver's Travels"; "Robinson Crusoe"; the novels of Dashiell Hammett. I watched a series- "Plats Bruts". I read the international news in Catalan. I have a good grammar and a good monolingual dictionary. The Catalans want people to learn their language and they make it relatively easy to do so.

I've thought about learning German. I may do so at some future date. I'd probably use the same multi-track approach that has served me well. I like the fact that there is a German DLI Basic Course available and Pimsleur. DLI Basic is the most thorough, useful course I have done in any language. It's an old school audiolingual course with plenty of drills, no humor, and it doesn't dumb-down what it tries to teach. This has been a combination that has worked well for me in the past (Portuguese; Haitian Creole). DLI is free and legal. Pimsleur is not. Deutsche Welle has a plethora of courses available that fall outside of traditional course approach... and they are free and legal to download.

There are ways to use books with which you are familiar- make your own bilingual text; read short snippets- a page or a few paragraphs. My experience though is that without working with the language by drilling grammar (ala DLI/FSI) simultaneously, I don't think you will be able to do much more than be passive with the language using this approach.

So if by traditional you mean youtube/assimil/app... I think going old school with DLI German Basic and/or the DW offerings would be non-traditional. i don't know of anyone here who has used the DW German resources nor the DLI German Basic Course. DLI, like FSI is out of date by 50 years, but I wouldn't let that stop me. Exposure to enough modern German will show you what you need to know. It worked for me with two languages.

If it's that you can't deal with any course... then the LR Method combined with reading; grammar study and something to do with conversational language may help you. Good luck!

Edit: cleaned up grammar mistake
Last edited by iguanamon on Sat Jun 19, 2021 4:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: How could I get to B1 German without using conventional resources?

Postby tiia » Sat Jun 19, 2021 7:30 am

GermanIsHard wrote:My goal over summer break is to actually try and work towards achieving an intermediate level of German, as I want to move to Germany after I graduate. I do like structured learning, but I can sometimes feel quite restricted by it e.g using Assimil. Does anyone have recommendations of what resources to use please?

Thanks

First, welcome to the forum!

If you like structured learning, I do not really understand, why you don't want to use a normal textbook. There are plenty of different ones available, even free ones (as the FSI, that iguanamon mentioned. However, there's always a debate in this forum about that specific German course - I wouldn't recommend that one for German.)
Especially if this is your first foreign language I'd recommend that you would use (at least) one course to guide you further.

That doesn't mean, you should feel restricted to only using this one book/resource! Using youtube videos and other material next to it, is absolutely useful.
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Re: How could I get to B1 German without using conventional resources?

Postby Beli Tsar » Sat Jun 19, 2021 9:54 am

GermanIsHard wrote:My goal over summer break is to actually try and work towards achieving an intermediate level of German, as I want to move to Germany after I graduate. I do like structured learning, but I can sometimes feel quite restricted by it e.g using Assimil. Does anyone have recommendations of what resources to use please?

I'm nowhere near as experienced as others who have commented so far, and they've given really helpful advice. But here are some thoughts on structured learning and feeling limited by it:

Firstly, it does feel limiting - but if it is limiting you to what you actually need to learn to hit a certain point, that's ok. It means your learning is far more efficient and will get you to the point of standing on your own feet faster. The value of courses is one of the things I've learned from this forum, and the further I go on, the more I see it. Studying from a textbook daily will help you make rapid progress.

Secondly, making sure you have daily contact with the real language, or easier non-textbook materials, really helps with the feeling of being restricted. Try and read a small snatch of German daily in addition to study, and it will satisfy a lot of the longing for something more free-form. Read something you want to read, but use a tool like Oplingo/LingQ/Learning with Texts + online dictionaries, and you'll be able to enjoy it slowly. If you can do something with audio, it's even better - especially if you can combine intensive reading + listening with building up a small library of real texts you know to listen to.

This is one advantage of Iguanamon's multi-track method: his post on it is really worth reading, in addition to his post above (http://www.language-learners.org/2016/02/07/the-multi-track-approach-to-language-learning-guest-post-by-iguanamon/), and if you want to get into interesting listening quicker then Smallwhite/Ari's Chinespod method (https://forum.language-learners.org/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=5711&p=72231#p72231 is a helpful addition.

The reason this is relevant to your question is not just that this is a really good way to learn, but also that it satisfies some of the frustration and boredom that you get just working through a textbook.
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Re: How could I get to B1 German without using conventional resources?

Postby gsbod » Sat Jun 19, 2021 11:08 am

I really didn't get on with Assimil German. A good part of this is that I probably am not suited to the Assimil "method" in general (and so a viewpoint from an Assimil fan might provide a useful counterweight here), but I think the main problem with the German course in particular is that it doesn't do a great job of introducing the cases, which is a really fundamental aspect of German grammar which you have to start dealing with from the very beginning if you want any hope of making a grammatically correct German sentence.

I would second Chung's recommendation of the Begegnungen series, or its latest incarnation which is called Spektrum. It's a bit dry, but the way that the case system (and other essential grammar elements) are introduced in a structured, progressive way is absolutely brilliant. This would be the only main course you would need, and you could then supplement with, for example, the free courses and learning materials on Deutsche Welle.

In terms of the grammar, I think this gives German a different kind of learning curve to, say, the Romance languages, for a native English speaker. It feels a lot harder to start with, but if you're reasonably dilligent about learning the grammar it gets a lot easier from the intermediate stage onwards.
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Re: How could I get to B1 German without using conventional resources?

Postby sirgregory » Sat Jun 19, 2021 7:06 pm

Interesting that you felt too "restricted" with Assimil. I myself find Assimil to be somewhat lacking in structure, although I do find it immensely useful as a source of graded input.

Having gone through the first 40 something lessons of the Assimil German, I can say I don't think the first 30 lessons will get you very far. The earliest lessons are quite short (often only 5-7 lines) and it gradually ramps up. A lot of the meat is in the later lessons. If you still have the audio, you might be able purchase the book by itself which is a lot cheaper than the whole course. As an alternative to repurchasing Assimil, you might take a look at Cortina which is available for free on the yojik site. It has 20 lengthy dialogues whereas Assimil has 100 short dialogues. But they are essentially the same thing: dialogues with parallel translation, grammar notes, and audio.

Stuff like Nicos Weg and Easy German are fun and useful but imo they are no substitute for regular study, especially if you want to make efficient progress. I would use them only as a supplement to your "real" studies. And I think you will get more out of them once you've established a basic foundation in the language.

If German is your first foreign language, I think it would be especially advisable to use "conventional sources" to help guide you through. A textbook, a lecture series, an app, something. Consider a compromise: 50% structured, boring stuff and 50% unstructured, fun stuff. Self-studying is hard enough to do even with structured materials. Without them I feel like you really have to know what you're doing (e.g., Iversen) or you will just flounder around studying things at random. The first language I tried to self-study was French. At the time I already spoke Spanish (not from self-study) and I had found the How-To-Learn-Any-Language website which had loads of information on how to self-study a language. Even with those enormous advantages I still managed to bungle it.
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Re: How could I get to B1 German without using conventional resources?

Postby GermanIsHard » Sat Jun 19, 2021 9:51 pm

Thankyou so much to every single person that has replied, all of your replies have been incredibly detailed and insightful. I don't know how to individually quote people in order to respond back to every user, however, a couple of people have queried how I can like structured courses but not like using Assimil. I think I worded my initial post quite poorly so I am going to clarify. I do like structured courses e.g Assimil, and found that working through the book (and audio) using the Luca Lampariello method was quite effective. It seems that the general consensus from the responses in this thread, is to use Assimil as a means to assimilate basic vocabulary and grammar before I dive into other materials. On that basis, I have re-ordered it on Amazon, and it hopefully will arrive tomorrow so that I can start using it once again. I think I will also incorporate other resources into my routine, to make my learning experience more fun, as solely using Assimil become somewhat monotonous. The LR method was mentioned, and after a bit of research, it definitely sounds like a method I would enjoy, so thanks for the suggestion!

On a side note, I will also look at the resources that people have kindly listed in this thread, when I get the chance tomorrow.
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