German group

An area with study groups for various languages. Group members help each other, share resources and experience. Study groups are permanent but the members rotate and change.
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Black Belt - 1st Dan
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Re: German group

Postby aokoye » Thu Dec 15, 2016 6:24 am

I've studied German off and on at varying intensities since high school. I've always really loved the language and I spent 9 months in Vienna studying German and Music in the 2007/2008 school year. Right now I'm probably at a B2 in most skills though my listening is likely more like a low C1. I took German for two years in high school, then had a four year break and two it for two years when I was going to Sarah Lawrence College/in Vienna, then another break and so on. More recently I've studied German pretty for about a year and a half with most of that time not being particularly intense.

As I said earlier I have and know of a lot of resources for B1 through C2. There are references to a number of them in my log and I'll likely copy and paste some of that info from there to here this weekend or next week.

Right now I'm studying out of Studio C1, watching a lot of native shows, and not reading as much as I'd like to. People who have seen any of my posts should be entirely unsurprised by those last two points. I also listen to podcasts from Deutsche Rundfunk on a regular basis (once or twice a week minimum). I just started reviewing grammar and am currently using German Grammar in Review by Kimberly Sparks. Two summers ago I did a major grammar review in preparation for a grammar class at my university which was really helpful. Some grammar points leave my memory really quickly - naimly some prepositions and adjective declensions.

My short term goal is to study abroad in Berlin this summer doing the third session of the Freie Universität Berlin's Winter and Summer University intensive German program. I'm hoping to get into the C1 course. I am also planning on spending hopefully at least a few weeks in Vienna visiting a friend of mine and will likely take the TestDaF that summer in Berlin. Longer term I'm hoping to do my masters in Germany, either in linguistics (which I'm getting my BA in) or an MA in education focusing on teaching English. I think the logistics of the education degree would be difficult because from what I can tell a lot of the programs are consecutive degree programs which require one's BA to be in education. All of the linguistics programs I'm looking at are also consecutive masters programs but that isn't an issue. There might be some education programs that don't have that requirement but I haven't looked hard enough. Additionally I'm likely going to apply for a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship placement in Germany. If I don't get it then I probably will apply only to ling programs which will probably be easier for me to get into given my degree. While I would be very sad if I didn't get the Fulbright I wouldn't be sad if I applied for linguistics programs.

My log is here:
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Re: German group

Postby Egwene » Thu Dec 15, 2016 1:07 pm

Yes, a German group! Hopefully we all can make this a big success.

My language journey for German started at high school, second and third year (2005-2007). I was alright with the language, but I was too afraid to speak it, so I dropped the language. I picked it up again when I started to work as entertainer in 2014. I had to entertain German children with the little knowledge I had. Explaining activities, crafts they had to make, everything. It was a real challenge, but in this period I learned so much! Children are a great tool to learn a language. You can ask them everything.. "Was ist das?" and you have your answer quickly. Now, after 2.5 years of doing animation/entertainment, my level is quite well. I would guess around a B1, maybe B2 and I achieved this by making so many mistakes. I had so many embarrasing moments, red faces and failures.

But, it worked. I can comfortably have a conversation with German guests. I did my professional fitness course to get my licence in German. All the subjects, the exams.. everything was in German and I passed it. That was a big achievement for me. Now I only maintain the language by listening to Let's Plays or interesting shows/docu's on the TV. Sometimes I read a German book. I don't study grammar or follow a course. I'm happy with the level I have now. I don't need full fluency.
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Languages: ENG (N); DEU (C2+) // SWG (~C1); BAR (~C1); SPA (4/3); FRA (~C1); SCO (~C1); NLD (~B2*); LAT (Latinum Bavaricum); GRC (Graecum Bavaricum); CAT (~B2*); POR (~B2*); SWE (~B2*); HBO (Hebraicum); DAN (~B1*); RUS (~A2); KOR (~A1); FAS (still a raw beginner)
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Re: German group

Postby Systematiker » Thu Dec 15, 2016 3:03 pm

Here's the first of a number of posts I'll be making regarding native resources that are worth looking into. This won't be all, I'm sure.

Public Stations
Nearly everyone has heard of the Tatort, but what you may not know is that ARD has an entire Mediathek, full of quite a few programs. Their app is not bad, either, and one can sort by genre. Here you can also watch the Tagesschau, a 15-minute evening news program. I don't watch that daily any more, but I used to. You can get the audio from it as a podcast as well. There's a lot here, enough for most interests. Anne Will is the talk show that I think replaced Gunther Jauch, so for a discussion-panel type show I guess that's where I'd go.

Other public TV senders that have a decent app and that I have experience with are
SWR (if you like animals, don't miss the continual reruns of the show from the Stuttgart zoo)
BR . You should also be able to get to BayernAlpha here, the classical/fine arts channel. The Sunday-morning roundtable discussions from BR are nice, as well, but be prepared for unabashed Bavarian. (also, for soaps, and if you like Bairisch, Dahoam is dahoam

All of these also have several radio stations, and a whole slate of podcasts on offer.

Other Shows (various ways to find these)
Most people have heard of a couple that get recommended to learners, so I'm giving you different stuff
Doctor's Diary - a relatively cheesy romantic-comedy medical show. I wasn't a huge fan, but language-wise it should be accessible, and it's probably perfect for some.
Der letzte Bulle - A young police officer ends up in a coma, and wakes up 20 years later...and remains a cop. It kind of pretends that he's straight out of the 70s. Quite funny.
Gute Zeiten, Schlechte Zeiten - an endless soap-opera, but surprisingly addictive. Shows are short, and not terribly complex.
Alarm für Cobra 11 - a long-running semi-humorous cop show. Not at all gritty, and relatively easy to understand. I watched a lot of this learning German.
Danni Lowinski - I might have the name here slightly wrong. A lower-working-class woman, whom no one expects to do more than be a hairdresser, makes it through law school and works as a lawyer. After being too "lower class" to land a job, she opens her own "practice" at a folding table in a low-end shopping mall, helping the working-class clientele and her friends at the other storefronts. A comedy that also deals with class and social distinctions.
A bit harder
Der Bulle von Tölz - You can find these sometimes on ARD, or elsewhere. Ottfried Fischer plays in this police-comedy show that often makes jokes with Bavarian culture and language. The dialect can get pretty thick.
Pfarrer Braun - Ottfried Fischer again, in a distinctly German comedy twist on G.K. Chesterton's Father Brown novels. The priest solves crimes, and always manages to irritate his bishop enough to send him somewhere new...some dialect, but since Braun is rarely in Bavaria, it's more for comedic effect.

Genial Daneben - if you watch nothing else, watch this. It's a quiz show, where a panel attemtps to answer questions sent in, and where they also try to come up with hilariously wrong suggestions before settling on an answer. It takes a bit of ability to follow it all, maybe a strong B2 is where I started, but it's funny even if you're missing parts. You can find most of the episodes on YouTube
Mario Barth - but his earilier stuff, like Männer sind Schweine, Frauen aber auch. After a while he assumed he was the funniest man in Germany, and, well, he stopped being so funny.
Cindy aus Marzahn - cutting working-class comedy delivered from a Hartz IV Berlin perspective.
Bülent Ceylan - Comedy from Mannheim, with a healthy dose of German-Turkish culture jokes.

Everyone always finds the FAZ first, but I never liked it.
Die Welt - a general newspaper that tries not to be regional, and not overly intellectual. A good place to start reading the news, and if you get a physical copy, it's made to be easy to read on the UBahn. The breadth of articles and intentional non-complexity make this a good one for learners.
Die Süddeutsche Zeitung I like the SZ, even if it is mostly for the south and centered in Munich (hey, that's where I lived). Lots of content available online for free, and their FB page posts many articles as well.
Die Zeit - the "intellectuals'" newspaper, this may be hard until your're B2 moving to C1. The physical format is also not made for reading anywhere but at a table (I swear, they do that on purpose), it's huge. Great and insightful perspectives on culture, society, politics, etc. Politically balanced, despite the occasional reputation otherwise.
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Re: German group

Postby Ogrim » Thu Dec 15, 2016 3:56 pm

Great initiative Cavesa. I am pleased to see that the idea of language groups is gaining ground. :)

I am not studying German as such, but as I have been living on the border with Germany for the last nine years I have had to revive and improve the German I learnt in school many many years ago. It means I read a lot in German, watch German news from time to time and have the occasional conversation when in Germany, which is practically every week. My spoken and written German could certainly still need improvement and perfection, but I have not time for active studying, so I am content with what I can do improving slowly through practice.

For intermediate and advanced learners, I would like to recommend Der Spiegel, which is considered Germany's most influential publication and one of Europe's most serious news magazines. Its in-depth and investigative journalism is in my view of great quality. Be aware that the website and the print magazine have very different content and are editorially separate, although a few or the articles in the print version may appear on the website. The print magazine can also be bought in e-format through the Spiegel app, which is what I mostly do. It is great to read on an iPad, and you also get audio and video content embedded in certain articles. In fact, some of the articles are reproduced word for word in audio format, so great as a listening exercise.
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Re: German group

Postby Ogrim » Thu Dec 15, 2016 4:25 pm

Systematiker wrote:Die Zeit - the "intellectuals'" newspaper, this may be hard until your're B2 moving to C1. The physical format is also not made for reading anywhere but at a table (I swear, they do that on purpose), it's huge. Great and insightful perspectives on culture, society, politics, etc. Politically balanced, despite the occasional reputation otherwise.

I sometimes fly from German airports and there I can often pick up a copy for free. You're right though, better read it at home at a table. I tried reading Die Zeit on the plane once, but I either pushed the paper in the face of my neighbour or I blocked the aisle when turning the pages.
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Re: German group

Postby gsbod » Thu Dec 15, 2016 7:09 pm

Some resources for people in the beginner to intermediate range:

Textbook: Begegnungen

I really like the Begegnungen series of textbooks. There is one volume for each level of A1, A2 and B1. The textbooks are well structured so you feel like there is a real sense of new information building on things you have already learned and plenty of repetition of newly introduced but important vocabulary. There are also plenty of practice exercises. The "optional" section of each chapter is also a nice touch as it tends to incorporate texts which are at a slightly more advanced level, continually nudging you forward. It offers great value for money because you don't have to splash out extra for workbooks, CDs, answer books or anything else.

The downsides are that it can be a bit dry at times, and the voice acting for the listening exercises can be a bit stilted at times. However, you can supplement with the free audio materials from to keep developing your listening skills.

The other issue to be aware of is that the course is 100% German, so you will need to be prepared to look things up. I've found that this actually helped me to learn things better, however I appreciate it won't suit everybody and might be off-putting if German is your first foreign language.

Grammar: Grammatik Aktiv

Grammatik Aktiv is a grammar practice book suitable for levels A1-B1. The explanations are brief and to the point, and probably more suitable as a reminder of things you have already studied. The books strength is that it offers plenty of practice exercises for all the important grammar points, with all the chapters/exercises marked to show what level they are aimed at. A lot of the chapters also come with audio drills, which is nice to help practice automatising some of the important grammar. And with a language like German, I don't think you can ever get too much grammar practice.
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Black Belt - 4th Dan
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Re: German group

Postby Cavesa » Sat Dec 17, 2016 3:58 pm

Perhaps it's time for the founder of the thread to make my first member post. :-D

I started learning German in 2012, having hated it for my whole life. You guys helped me a lot to overcome all those bad experiences with Germans, and with Czechs treating Germans differently than other Czechs, and with all those people criticising my language choices with the stupid arguments showing their only interest in the language was money.

So, having spent some time on htlal, I found out about the huge book market, about the fact German can actually sound good, and that it is in general a pleasant culture in many ways.

I was studying a few months, than went for two weeks of "intensive" classes to Berlin, which were quite disappointing. It was very easy to be among the best in class, as usual, most people had worse pronunciation, and much less initiative. What kept me there was one unknown tense. And total discouragement from self-studying during the time. But I loved the two weeks in Berlin otherwise, there were many different situations improving my Neandertalisch :-) From shopping, to culture, to bits of talking with my host family or other people. Curiously, my family believes that any German skill of mine comes from those two weeks, not from the months of my own work.

Since then, I have spent more time not learning German than learning it. During the active times, I have gone through the first third of several resources, but a lot has been forgotten. But it is easier to relearn every time.

My level? Laughable. I am starting to read books in German with a dictionary (or readlang), which is good and that is my most advanced skill. I understand a bit here and there while listening to German, but not that much. My active skills are touristy. Perhaps active A1 and passive B1? Perhaps.

I need to pass a B2 exam next year. If I don't get through the exams to a job in France or Spain, (or should my boyfriend wish me to), I will take something in Germany or Austria. I'll need to know the language. A certificate is usually not obligatory to get the work, but it could help me against the competitors for a good job.

My learning plan: I'll finish my courses and move to more advanced ones. The Super Challenge. And I'll make a more accurate plan in a few months.

I know it sounds crazy, that I could get to B2 in eight months or so. But I need to believe that and work for it. I won't have that much free time during my last academic year, so I need to do as much as possible during this one.
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Re: German group

Postby Keth » Sun Dec 18, 2016 8:36 pm

Amazing idea Cavesa, thank you very much for creating this group!

My relationship with this language has been quite peculiar. I decided to study it in college, mainly because we had to study a foreign language and German seemed like a cool option, but I didn't pass the course. Looking back, I think that the main problem was the teacher as she didn't follow a plan and the classes were REALLY chaotic. After finishing my degree I was kind of lost (like pretty much everybody) and, since I couldn't find a job, I signed up for a German class in a language school; the main reasoning behind this was to prove myself that I could learn the language. I passed the first year with no problems, which was an amazing boost to my damaged self-confidence, and I'm currently on my second year (A2 level). Interestingly enough, now I seem to have the opposite problem: the classes are so easy and the progress is so slow that I'm beginning to feel really bored.

I tried some self-teaching materials when I was in college (Assimil, TY, etc.) but didn't stuck with one long enough to see any results. Now that I'm wiser (HA!) and I have more time, I'd like this self-teaching thingy again. I hope to get better results this time!

Material Suggestion

Schloss Einstein - It's a soap opera for teens that started in the 90s and is still running. I discovered it on youtube and saw a couple of chapters right away. As far as I can tell, the story is easy enough to follow, but it might be a little childish for some people (I actually don't really mind that). The only problem I have with it is that I couldn't find any subtitles in German... shame :(
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Re: German group

Postby WalkingAlone13 » Mon Dec 19, 2016 3:40 pm

I can finally give a proper introduction as well as recommend some materials now that I have "reliable" internet again, plus I know approximate levels of the rest of the team now. I still stand by the fact that my recommendations probably will not be of much use to the current team, but perhaps they will be of use to future team members.

Anyway, a little bit about me. I never really had any interest in German. Okay, that probably sounds bizarre and it is rather bizarre, but needless to say I definitely developed a very fond relationship with German very quickly. I finally took the plunge to attempt entry to a university...I'll spare the blah blah in between, but let's just say I am not from an academic family, and by most peoples' definition we would be considered poor. Poor health in the family is unfortunately the reason for this. So, I was always told not to bother trying, and just get a generic job as soon as possible. This was exactly what I did, until I realised that I should at least try, despite what I have always been told and the extreme pessimism I was always encouraged to have.

I was accepted to uni on the understanding that I reach the same level as the equivalent to a GCSE in German. I had not learnt any German previously and a GCSE is approximately two years worth of German. I was more determined than ever to succeed despite the fact that deep down I thought the task was going to be near impossible. I had to get very serious with a study plan, very quickly. I had roughly 4 months to reach the required level otherwise I would not meet the requirements and would unfortunately not be able to go to university.

I began with Pimsleur 1, I listened to two tracks a day, one in the morning and one in the late evening. Once I had completed the first ten lessons, I started Michel Thomas German and would fit it in in the middle. I was already a big fan of Memrise after contributing a lot of my passable Finnish to using Byki and then Memrise in the past. There also just happened to be a challenge going on with Memrise at the time - something like who could learn the most in a month, effectively. I do not really remember now to be honest. I went into Memrise overload while continuing my Pimsleur and Michel Thomas. I picked up my pace with Pimsleur and Michel Thomas, with help from the vocab I was learning from Memrise.
I discovered a series of readers by Andre Klein (I will check his name later, but I think that's correct.) I integrated this into my routine and would experiment with how best to use them. I had never used a reader before and was unsure how to go about it. I ended up reading the same chapter over and over until I could pass the chapter knowing every word and being able to answer the questions. I would add any words or phrases I had trouble with to Memrise. I received an email telling me the book we would be using should I get in would be Menschen, so I went ahead and ordered it to try and see what sort of thing I would be facing and how much more I needed to improve to not be out of my depth.
It was daunting when it arrived, I knew bits from certain chapters but others I had no idea what was going on. I picked up my pace again with everything I was currently doing. I started watching dubbed tv with subtitles as well in the evenings and also Kirby on youtube. I was also using Hueber Lesen und Schreiben and completed Warum Nicht by DW as well as another of their audio courses.

Fast forward 4 months. I had around 4.5k words on my main vocab course on Memrise, and several other courses with varying numbers. I actually won the competition on Memrise and received my goody bag. Whoo. I finished Pimsleur 1- 3 and all of Michel Thomas German, the latter more than once... I had got reasonably good at the readers and could read all of them with good comprehension, same applied to my tv series, but it was my favourite series ever, so that helped. The real test was still to come. I had two exams to pass and then a spoken exam with the head. Amazingly I passed the exams and was accepted.

My love of German developed along the way, once I started discovering artists that I liked.
Christina Stürmer
We butter the bread with butter
And for pop there are too many to mention. If you follow Warner Musik DE on Youtube you come across a lot of reasonably good pop.

I was also amazed by the amount of media and resources available. I was so used to having nothing available from my previous experiences with Polish and Finnish. My idea of German had changed several times along the way, and now it is at a point where I love German so much I am already thinking of scenarios that would enable me to settle down over there. My Erasmus year is mid to late next year, so I need to get my studying back to a similar level of intensity as back then so that I can enjoy my time in Germany as much as possible and enhance my opportunities to eventually settle there.

My favourite resources at a beginner level would obviously be the following;
Pimsleur 1 to 4
Michel Thomas
Andre Klein readers (They, most of them at least, now have audio to accompany them)

I tried several textbooks, but my favourites were;
Schritte neu
Schritte international
Menschen (Reluctantly at first, but grew on me)
Hueber Lesen und Schreiben
Assimil (I could not get used to these at first, but I am getting better at using them how they were intended to be used)
Assimil German workbook
Klipp und Klar by Klett

There is actually a lot of dubbed tv to choose from, which is great as you may have dvd series that you never even noticed have German audio. I was pleasantly surprised by Charmed, for example, which has German for every season. Living in the UK, the postage buying from is barely any different than that of the UK variant. I have since picked up some great bargains pertaining tv series, some of my favourites were under a tenner during offers. Speaking of, and for any who wish to follow in EMKs footsteps, Zavvi currently have the complete boxset of Avatar the last airbender for twelve quid. I purchased it after discovering that all three have dubs.

Not really sure what else to recommend. I can only second or third previous recommendations, especially Turkish für Anfänger. I found it boosted my confidence quite a lot as it is not overly difficult to follow. Doctor's diary is a little harder, mostly as I find it has a faster pace. I recently heard about another medical series based in Erfurt, which I am going to find the name for and give it a try, mostly due to interest in the city. :) I'll post here once I have rediscovered it.

*Apologies for errors, typos, etc...
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Black Belt - 1st Dan
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Languages: English (N), Swedish (C1), French (Massively Atrophied) German (lowly beginner, somehow learnt to read)

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Re: German group

Postby Elenia » Mon Dec 19, 2016 3:55 pm

I'll join too, despite the fact that I think I've spent even more time not learning German than Cavesa! I've found it impossible to stick to any German courses, and most of my study has been reading Tintenherz. I can just about string a few words together when necessary, but little else than that.

Here's my log. German doesn't often get mentioned, though...
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