Maggie's Melodramatic Monologues (German Studies)

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MaggieMae
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Maggie's Melodramatic Monologues (German Studies)

Postby MaggieMae » Sun May 15, 2022 6:28 pm

I'm intrigued by these logs, so I suppose that I can start one, too.

Since I'm so new here, I figure I can put a more in-depth intro here. Hi, I'm Maggie, and I find languages fascinating. :D Before I changed my entire life, got married, moved to Europe, etc, I had a goal: to learn hello, goodbye, please, thank you, and the numbers 1-10 in as many languages as possible. I have since added the word cheese to that list, but that's because the Swiss always laugh when I tell them I only know the important words in French and end the list with "fromage". I still think it's a great goal, I've just had to put it to the side for a while now. I think I stopped somewhere around 10 different languages, but that also assumes that I still remember it all. :lol:

But I've always shown a fascination for languages, ever since I was little. I learned songs in Spanish, checked out a French course on cassette tapes (remember those? :lol:) from the library, tried and failed to remember my semester of German in middle school, and took Latin in high school and most of my first year of college, and I'm a fairly strict subtitle anime watcher. Dubs bother me, but I understand that they're useful for others.

Unfortunately, I never got even to A1 level in any language, ever. I would get distracted and switch languages, then forget everything I ever learned. Until the aforementioned complete life change, I thought I was super cool knowing bits of lots of languages... I was so American... :lol: But then I did a one month study abroad in Sweden, met my husband, moved to Switzerland, and started my first REAL language journey. Needless to say, the rose colored glasses got shattered into pieces. Especially when I took a free, online language placement test for Spanish (which was my best language at the time) and didn't even score A1. I was heartbroken.

But, as luck and circumstance would have it, I had the time, money, and motivation to start intensive German courses a couple months after I moved here. Thanks to a year of Duolingo before I moved (I actually hate Duolingo now because of this time period), a few months of being forced to speak only German to two people I was living with (during Corona lockdowns, even), a small grammar book, and pure stubbornness, I tested into the second half of A2 classes in April 2021.

Now, 9 successfully completed intensive classes later, 1 dropped class (because the teacher was horrible), 2 months of self study, and 2 months with a combination private teacher and a semi- private, semi-intensive class later, here I am, somewhere around a very low, very weak C1. (Aka, I failed the exam, but only by 2 points, and I don't actually want to take it.)

This is getting way too long, so I'm going to skip ahead to my goals. My ultimate goal is to return to teaching with a Swiss Lehrdiplom. Unfortunately, the degree recognition process requires that I have a C2 certificate and a non-expired teaching license. My US license is no longer renewable and will expire July 2024, so I'm definitely under a time crunch. My classes are currently working me through C2 level course material, and my teachers say I should be able to pass the C2 exams by the end of the year. Being the overachiever that I am, I'm trying to aim for Autumn. We'll see how that works out.

Why the log? I'm really bad at remembering how crappy I was when I started out, and being able to objectively see how far I've come. I'm also not one to be able to achieve set goals of, "I'm going to study an hour a day." I routinely suffer from executive dysfunction, procrastination (case in point: I should actually be doing my homework that's due tomorrow, but I'm writing this post...), perfectionism, overbearing expectations, and imposter syndrome. If I didn't have my classes, that I HAVE to attend, I wouldn't have been able to get even half as far on my own. You self learners are gods, I swear. I don't know how you do it, and I give you major kudos.

Part of this log is me just holding myself accountable, part of it is giving me a place to scream my frustrations to the world, and part of it is me forcing myself to listen when people tell me, "Don't be dumb, it doesn't work that way!" On that last note, I'll be the first to admit that sometimes I get butthurt when I find out I'm wrong about something, but when it finally sinks in, I'm also fairly quick to admit I was wrong and apologize. I do appreciate getting called out if I mess up or hurt someone, as sometimes (especially in a text based environment) I miss normal cues and the like.

I also love talking, especially about myself and my own experiences, so I have a tendency to ramble on or post a lot. Feel free to tell me to shut up if ever necessary. I just get overexcited sometimes. And on THAT note, this ramble has REALLY gone on long enough, and I'll wish all y'all a fantastic day/night/clocktime!
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MaggieMae
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Re: Maggie's Melodramatic Monologues (German Studies)

Postby MaggieMae » Wed Jun 01, 2022 5:12 pm

Two weeks have just really flown by! I've had so much going on lately.

My German classes kinda hit a rough patch. I take C2 lessons twice a week in person with another student, then I do three times a week online with a private teacher. Well, my private teacher had a couple visitors during the month of May, so we ended up taking a couple weeks off during that time. And then my partner in my C2 class got a fairly serious illness (needs surgery and everything), so now it's unknown how many classes she's going to be able to join us for.

To top it all off, it's teacher application season, in preparation for the next year. This is the first time I've had even a slight chance at applying to the public schools vs only international schools, so that has been a terrifying endeavor. I don't know what I would've done if I didn't have my husband to correct my resume and cover letter.

Turns out the teacher shortage is particularly bad this year, and I might be the only applicant for both of the jobs I applied for. That means 2 interviews in German, and then I'll be almost completely immersed in the language every work day (other than when teaching English).

It also means I need to retake and pass the C1 exam, though. :? I'm going to take the TELC Exam this time instead of Goethe Institut. It's got more multiple choice. :lol: I'll do the Goethe Institut C2 exam, though, since that's the level I ultimately need at the end.

I mean, this is actually really good news. Starting in August, I'll finally be able to work regularly, AND I'll be learning technical terms and academic language WITH my students. I'm just feeling a bit overwhelmed with how fast all of this has happened.
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MaggieMae
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Re: Maggie's Melodramatic Monologues (German Studies)

Postby MaggieMae » Tue Jun 14, 2022 11:35 pm

So, I start in August, teaching English, Music, PE/Sports, Math, Science/Social Studies, and :shock: German! to mostly native German/Swiss German speaking 9-12 year olds. The principal at this school was super excited about how I could use my experiences as a foreign language learner to explain grammar concepts that native speakers just do automatically, but don't understand. I'm super excited about how fast my German skills are going to increase once I'm in a highly academic setting. :D

My test prep is... not going well. I need to get my hands on more practice tests. Honestly, I feel like I'll have an easier time taking and passing the C2 exam instead of the C1... part of that is because the C2 exam is modular, so if you pass any section of the test, you don't have to redo that section in order to pass the whole thing. The other part of that is I have something like 15 different practice tests and exercises for C2 that I don't have for C1. I really didn't plan on trying C1 again, much less switching test companies, but here we are.

However, getting my writing up to level is likely to be the hardest part of both exams. My vocabulary just isn't there. It's not. Like, not at all. And it's finally making a HUGE difference in quality. I don't feel like I'm acquiring words as quickly, or as thoroughly, as I used to in lower levels, and it really bothers me. If anyone has advice for actively (and quickly) learning vocabulary that's not vocab cards, writing out endless sentences, word lists, or anything else quickly forgotten, I'm all ears. Most of what I've learned up until now was just stuff I needed and spoke regularly, which is the best way I've found to hammer words into my skull. Unfortunately, that doesn't work so well once you get into academic language.

I just want to pass these dumb tests so I can learn real German, without worrying about tests and scores. And so I won't feel guilty that I just downloaded the Assimil Chinese App... I need to feel like I'm progressing with *something* after all, right? Right?

It'll be my first time using Assimil. Any advice? I'm trying to find something less excruciating than Duolingo.
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Herodotean
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Re: Maggie's Melodramatic Monologues (German Studies)

Postby Herodotean » Wed Jun 15, 2022 3:37 am

MaggieMae wrote:If anyone has advice for actively (and quickly) learning vocabulary that's not vocab cards, writing out endless sentences, word lists, or anything else quickly forgotten, I'm all ears. Most of what I've learned up until now was just stuff I needed and spoke regularly, which is the best way I've found to hammer words into my skull. Unfortunately, that doesn't work so well once you get into academic language.


Can you create opportunities in which you're forced to use the academic language that you're trying to learn? For example, you could read academic or newspaper articles on relevant subjects and then summarize them and/or discuss them with a conversation partner. The act of re-articulating the information or arguments will force you to reach for the vocabulary and constructions you just saw in the text and incorporate them into your own speech. It may be a bit contrived, but I enjoy doing that more than writing out sentences or creating Anki cards (which are even more contrived activities).
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Re: Maggie's Melodramatic Monologues (German Studies)

Postby BeaP » Wed Jun 15, 2022 4:52 am

The written tasks are usually very similar to the oral tasks. I've collected the topics from C1-C2 books, and I'm doing revision sheets with the most important vocabulary (collocations, half sentences rather) connected to them, if possible grouped under questions. I'm talking about the topics to myself or write essays. I check the revision sheet, and I do the exercise again. The topic pool of exams is smaller than people usually think. Even if you get a different (new) question, you'll be able to do it with the help of the other question you've studied for the topic.

Some examples for the topic 'Cities':
- bikes vs cars
- safety in traffic (drunk driving)
- problematic neighbours (airbnb)
- life in the city vs in the country (moving to the country)

I'm doing the exercises I've found in the test prep books, but after a while you can make your own exercises. They're very similar.

I also try summarising newspaper articles (out loud to myself) and reacting to them. (Agree, disagree, question.)
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MaggieMae
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Re: Maggie's Melodramatic Monologues (German Studies)

Postby MaggieMae » Wed Jun 15, 2022 7:12 am

Herodotean wrote:For example, you could read academic or newspaper articles on relevant subjects and then summarize them and/or discuss them with a conversation partner.


My husband keeps telling me to start reading the newspaper, but I never thought about finding a discussion partner. I have a couple friends here who are also right around my level, so maybe I can give that a try.

BeaP wrote:I also try summarising newspaper articles (out loud to myself) and reacting to them. (Agree, disagree, question.)


That's definitely an alternative to finding a partner. If my friends are too busy, I might have to do that.

I also just thought of getting different colored highlighters and marking when I see things like Nomen-Verb Verbindungen (what's that in English? :lol:), new words that I'm seeing repeatedly, or words that I'm trying to focus on.

BeaP wrote:The topic pool of exams is smaller than people usually think.


Truuuuuuuuuuuth!
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Re: Maggie's Melodramatic Monologues (German Studies)

Postby BeaP » Wed Jun 15, 2022 8:10 am

MaggieMae wrote:I also just thought of getting different colored highlighters and marking when I see things like Nomen-Verb Verbindungen (what's that in English? :lol:), new words that I'm seeing repeatedly, or words that I'm trying to focus on.

I've been doing this, and I find it very helpful. For example, I know that linking words and connectors (consequently, on the other hand, to sum up) are very important, and I mark them in an article with blue. If I look at the article and concentrate on the blue words, I see the whole structure, how it's built up. You can also number the arguments and write on the margin the key word for each. Newspaper articles are usually good models for essay questions, so it's useful to observe them. I highlight the 'topic words' with another colour. I print 4-5 articles for each question, observe them, and make the revision sheet. Later, when I come back to a topic, I only use the revision sheet.
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MaggieMae
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Re: Maggie's Melodramatic Monologues (German Studies)

Postby MaggieMae » Wed Jun 15, 2022 9:06 am

BeaP wrote:For example, I know that linking words and connectors (consequently, on the other hand, to sum up) are very important, and I mark them in an article with blue. If I look at the article and concentrate on the blue words, I see the whole structure, how it's built up. ... Newspaper articles are usually good models for essay questions, so it's useful to observe them.

You're an absolute genius! I've been super struggling with those words lately! I'm going to give this suggestion to my private teacher, too, and maybe we can do that whenever I have to read a text for class! Thank you! Thank you so much!
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Re: highlighting selected text parts, e.g. connectors to illustrate structure

Postby mrwarper » Wed Jun 15, 2022 12:14 pm

Hi, I wanted to drop a line here as well, but the time I can spend writing on forums is becoming even scarcer than time to read them lately :)
MaggieMae wrote:
BeaP wrote:For example, I know that linking words and connectors (consequently, on the other hand, to sum up) are very important, and I mark them in an article with blue. If I look at the article and concentrate on the blue words, I see the whole structure, how it's built up. ... Newspaper articles are usually good models for essay questions, so it's useful to observe them.

You're an absolute genius! I've been super struggling with those words lately! I'm going to give this suggestion to my private teacher, too, and maybe we can do that whenever I have to read a text for class! Thank you! Thank you so much!
This is an interesting idea indeed, I can see how it could have been beneficial for many learners that studied with me, so it is good to incorporate it to my arsenal and test it in the future, thank you.

I'm not sure it will be particularly useful for my own study because I never needed to do anything similar myself, but I may be overconfident about my own skills, as we all change over time. German is next on my list of languages to get to C, though, so we'll definitely see ;)

Cheers,
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MaggieMae
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Re: highlighting selected text parts, e.g. connectors to illustrate structure

Postby MaggieMae » Mon Jun 20, 2022 7:32 am

mrwarper wrote:Hi, I wanted to drop a line here as well, but the time I can spend writing on forums is becoming even scarcer than time to read them lately :)

I feel you! I wish I could read this one every day, but I can't seem to do anything daily anymore! I'm too busy!

mrwarper wrote:This is an interesting idea indeed, I can see how it could have been beneficial for many learners that studied with me, so it is good to incorporate it to my arsenal and test it in the future, thank you.

I'm not sure it will be particularly useful for my own study because I never needed to do anything similar myself, but I may be overconfident about my own skills, as we all change over time. German is next on my list of languages to get to C, though, so we'll definitely see ;)

It could also be because of what languages you've studied in the past. I don't know which ones you have studied, but the German language is full of exact forms and structures that need to be followed, words that are translated as the same in English, but mean different things and cannot always be used interchangeably, etc. There are 3 different words for "why?" And 3 different responses, that all mean slightly different things. I can never keep them straight, but it's "for what reason", "for what cause", and "for what purpose". The usages in modern German are (thankfully for me) starting to blur in this specific case, but there are others that are very strictly separated along similar lines.

And these types of words just so happen to be the favorites in German academic writing. :lol:
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