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Learning German : An update April 16, 2008

Posted by Paul Rees in german.

I haven’t written here for sometime about learning German so here’s an update.

This year I have continued attending a weekly three hour class. My progress is extremely slow, however I realise that I am actually learning, particularly understanding of written and spoken German. I will mention this later.

Speaking is still next to impossible, although some phrases do occasionally pop out of my mouth. Recently I have tried to practice more with native speakers (thank you Stefan and Lars). They have been great, considering how boring it must be for them as my conversation is very limited. It’s not easy, on the one hand I want to speak, but on the other I can’t say anything. The only way to learn is to talk… but where to start?

The class concentrates on teaching grammar. This is good, although I find that paradoxically it makes speaking more difficult. This is because when I try to speak my brain has to process several complex grammar rules for each sentence with the result that speaking doesn’t actually happen because it is too difficult. Next week my German teacher says that we must not speak any English during the class. I said “good luck”. If we do speak any English we must pay $0.10 each time. I will just give her 50 bucks (500 instances of English speaking) and be done with it.

I feel that some of the grammar I will never learn. Take for example my homework this week, “Artikelwörter in Nominative oder Akkusativ”. As an English speaker I find this to be an insurmountable challenge. I suspect the only way one can learn this is to speak German every day for many years. I don’t, and won’t ever, have that opportunity. Therefore I have decided to put that one in the too hard basket and move on. If I dwell on it I will get angry and frustrated and give up.

On a more positive note; last week I picked up a travel phrase book that I had not looked at for a long time. To my surprise I found that I could read and understand  a good deal of the German. I found this encouraging to keep going with the learning.

Nevertheless, I feel that actually being able to speak the language may well be beyond my ability. Some people have a talent for language and others don’t. I’m a don’t.



1. Murph - April 16, 2008

It’s pretty hard to learn a foreign language. Also for me as an non-talent English speaker.
Always I want say a whole sentence I’m thinking what of the hell is the right grammar and time.

Don’t care about German grammar. After 37 years of speaking German I can’t say this is a “Akkusativ, Dativ or bloody Nominativ”.

On a business trip in England I jumped into a cab and the ALgerian taxt driver want practise his German language knowledge and asked me some bloody stupid questions about “Akkusativ, Dativ or bloody Nominativ”. I jumped out at the next corner.

Paul speaks better as he think. Pronaunciation is good.
— hope I made not too many mistakes

2. madam - April 17, 2008

Thank you Torsten for the encouragement.

You are right about the grammar, but at the school we have to learn it. And it does help with understanding written and spoken German.

I have reached the point today where I don’t care too much about the grammar. It’s too hard and that’s that.

What is more important to me is to have fun. If it’s not fun (eg studying boring grammar) I stop it and just laugh.

Anyway you guys in Germany watch out. I will be there in September and you will have to listen to me speak bad German :)

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