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Twitter as a tool to learn German May 26, 2008

Posted by Paul Rees in german.

Today it was pointed out to me on Twitter that learning German using Twitter is ‘…that learning German in Twitter is very ambitious – like learning to drive a car by starting with motor racing.”

Another person also suggested that there is a lot of “bad German” on Twitter. True, just like there is a lot of bad English on Twitter. I think I can live with the bad. In time I should be able to differentiate between the bad and the good.

I take these points. However, what I am trying to do is collect a group of followers who are either native German speakers or advanced learners. By twittering these people I hope that they will come to realise that I am a German learner. I further hope that some Twitterers will be the type of person who is willing to help. So, for example, I make a tweet in German and it is wrong. Somebody responds with the errors corrected. I can learn that way.

Also it should be noted that Twitter is only a small part of my overall learning strategy. I also do many other learning activities and spend a lot of time doing them.

If you see me on Twitter say hi. If you see me posting incorrectly in German on Twitter; correct me. (I will usually put “KW” at the end of my posts to indicate that “corrections are welcome.

Oh, and if you are a German who is learning English I am happy to help you with that too.



1. sackgasse - May 26, 2008

Okay, wie lange lernst du schon deutsch?

I will try to use correct German in twitter from now on and if I see anything that’s wrong in one of your tweets I’ll try to correct it.

2. Unfassbar « Sackgasse - May 26, 2008

[…] The Lab – Blog […]

3. madam - May 26, 2008

Ich habe für ein Jahr lernen.

I can understand a lot more than I can speak or write.

And thank you. Please correct me.

4. Jessi - May 26, 2008

Yes but oviously most of the people understand more than they can actually wirte themselves. You know certain words from other languages and therefore you can imagine what they mean. When you want to write yourself you have to think about grammar and vocabulary…

The sentence you wrote is gramatically incorrect, but I understood what you were talking about and this should be your goal when you talk to other people: Make them understand what you want to say.

Wir würden sagen: Ich lerne Deutsch seit einem Jahr.
In German there is a difference between “seit” and “für” as well as there is a difference in English between since and for. (It’s not exactly the same, but it can held you understand…)

And if you want to use “haben” in a past tense, remember:

I have done. (do, did, done)
Ich habe gemacht. (ich mache, ich machte, ich habe gemacht) –> Think this correct (you can look it up to check.)

5. madam - May 27, 2008

Thank you Jesse. Your grammar points are helpful.

The complexity of the grammar is exactly why I can’t speak. By the time I have processed in my head 10 grammar rules the moment is lost and nothing comes out of my mouth.

Same with writing. It takes hours to write one paragraph and then I will (at least) get the word order wrong.

The main problem here is I am trying to fast track this. After one year I am really annoyed that I can say or write anything of substance. I have put a lot of time and money into this for little result. Well, that’s not entirely true I have learnt to understand and there are results there.

What do I have to do to be able to speak? I’ve tried everything and come to the conclusion that at my age (50) I need to set my expectations lower. It’s just really frustrating.

6. sackgasse - May 27, 2008

I see your point. I tried to learn Latin and it was pretty frustrating becuase I couldnÄt translate all this. I gave up (I didn’t take Latin in school anymore) after 2 years.

It’s also difficult to me to understand German grammar. I use it everyday, but still I can’t explain why I use it the way I do. I will think about any tips to learn German grammar and use it properly when speaking….

Do you listen to German music? Die Ärzte is a good band if you like rock music. Sing along to music can improve your pronounciation and if you have a look at the lyrics you may see even more how the grammar is used… Try it out if you didn’t already.

7. madam - May 27, 2008

Well yes, I have listened to some music and others have suggested this to me before.

Just the other day a friend (thank you Torsten) reminded me of Kraftwerk http://www.kraftwerk.com/. This German group had hits in the 70’s and 80’s. Of course the lyrics released in English speaking markets were in English. Now I have the German version.

I think you might be too young to know Kraftwerk. They were really unusual and different in their day; I mean electronic music and from Germany. It was wonderful and weird.

8. Jessi - May 28, 2008

I know kraftwerk. Try pornophonique it’s in english but you may like them. They describe themselves as game boy meets Lagerfeuer. Just google their name and you can download their music on the homepage. You’ll either hate it or love it – it’s the same with Vegemite ;)…

9. Jessi - May 28, 2008

Why does this damn blogging system (which is apparantly the same as mine) register me as Jessi AND Sackgasse oO I don’t understand that. I am logged in as sackgasse and the post contains the name Jessi Oo … I’m technically lost.

10. madam - May 28, 2008

Jessi. I don’t know for sure, but I suspect the problem is somewhere in your WordPress settings.

11. sackgasse - May 29, 2008

yes probably… I surrender, no idea what the problem is.

12. Sue - January 27, 2009

This is a great idea. How has it been going since May? I’m interested in doing the same thing.

13. madam - January 27, 2009

It works, but as I said it needs to be part of an overall learning strategy. The success will depend on how much effort you are prepared to put in.

In practice it means that I have a continuous stream of short messages in German generally on subjects I am familar with. This provides reading practice and is primarily how I use it. I am quite lazy and I haven’t used it much in an active way. I rarely write in German, but when I do my German speaking followers are always willing to help with corrections.

The best, and quite unexpected, outcome is that I have now met several people (in Germany and here in Australia) in person via this Twitter connection. Really rewarding.

14. Sue - January 28, 2009

Oh. Of course. I’m currently following an audio program and reading lessons online. I was looking toward Twitter to augment my learning and to encourage myself to practice in the “real” world.

I’m very new to Twitter, so right now I’m not “public”. I was just wondering how you found German followers to help you practice.

15. madam - January 28, 2009

I found followers mostly by using Twitter Search http://search.twitter.com/ searching for German words or terms like “deutsch lernen”. Then I would just start following anyone I found. In turn they would sometimes follow me and come to know that I was learning the language. Those that were willing then started to respond to my requests for help. Of course many didn’t want to get into helping, but that didn’t matter. They provided me with “reading material”.

16. Annik Rubens - January 28, 2009

Hey there – I am a podcaster but just today I started a twitter-feed for students of the German language. I think Twitter is a great tool to keep informed in so many ways! I thinks it’s great that you guys out there are using the Web 2.0 technology to brush up on your language skills. I myself am listening to French podcasts to learn the language – it is hard, but I think it will pay off. And I heard of lingq.com – have been wanting to check it out for a long time but didn’t find the time, yet… All the best from cold Germany!

17. madam - February 20, 2009

The Twitter client TweetDeck has now introduced a translation feature. This makes it easy to tranlate German Tweets into English using Google translate in the background. You can get TweetDeck here http://www.tweetdeck.com/beta/ and the feature is explained here http://is.gd/jgTK.

18. Sue - February 26, 2009

Check out http://www.livemocha.com/
I think it’s exactly the kind of interactive help I was looking for.

19. Pete @ Double Translate - May 21, 2010

Using Twitter to Learn German or any language is a good idea. You can get a great conversation going with other twitter users and it’s very relaxed and informal.

I personally have been learning German for 2 years and my girlfriend is Native German. We have setup a website dedicated to learning German and also have a twitter account @doubletranslate where you are welcome to talk to us or connect with our other followers that are also learning German.

We have a facebook group too, just search for “Learn German with Native Germans”

Hope this can be of help :-)

20. madeleine - June 1, 2010

This really helpfull,I’m new and I started to learn german language by my self,I already follow doublelaguage,please help me more,:) thx all :) I love german language

21. droelf - July 27, 2010

how could anyone love german? why would anyone want to learn this horrible language? it must be one of the hardest languages to learn, if you’re not dutch or something like that. just try to learn spanish or french. german sounds terrible and i hope we (i’m german ^^) will adept and speak a language which sounds nicer, in 100-200 years.

22. madam - July 27, 2010

I wouldn’t say that I love the German language.

Yes, it is very difficult, even impossible for a non-native, and some of the sounds are unusual. I think some of the sounds we make in English are strange too.

Learning German started out for me as an intellectual challenge. However I unexpectedly found that I made some really great friends along the way. My friendships, which have their basis in language learning, keep me going with the language despite the difficulties.

23. Pete @DoubleTranslate - July 28, 2010

I have to say before I started learning German, I did think it was a pretty harsh language. However, now I have a good understanding of it, I find the language itself is much nicer to listen to. Granted it doesn’t have the same flair as something like Spanish, but I certainly wouldn’t say it’s horrible.

I think Germany as a country are becoming more and more prominent in the World markets and will one day be the most important European language to learn (except for English).

p.s. Our facebook group has moved to facebook.com/LearnGermanDT

24. pjpayne - January 2, 2011

Ive noticed spanish and german people on message boards (namely a resident evil message board I frequent) speaking very bad english. I think its cute. They’re trying real hard to express themselves and they’re learning in the process. The observation has motivated me to try and use Twitter to practice my own VERY VERY rusty, terrible German. As they say, if you dont use it you lose it, so i dont think i have anything to lose giving it a try. Its nice to know that someone else had the same idea.

(I studied german 5 yrs ago in college and Ive probably forgotten alot of it from lack of frequent use.)

25. Tom Horne - April 22, 2012


I’m also experimenting with social media in my attempts to learn German (and maintain some Italian!). May I ask which tweeters and FB sites you recommend? I’ve found quite a few Italians who write well (i.e., good grammar, complete sentences), but am having more trouble with Germans so far.

Thank you fire your

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