Conversational German in Two Months | My language mission and my log | Forum

Conversational German in Two Months | My language mission and my log | Forum

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Conversational German in Two Months
Tags: German
January 13, 2013
02:48
alexf

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Forum Posts: 7
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January 13, 2013
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Hi All

My name is Alex, I'm new to the forums but a long-time reader of Benny's blog. I'm a native English speaker (Australian), and also speak Spanish (fluently at one point, but it has atrophied a bit since then) and basic Thai.

My mission is to be able to speak basic conversational German in two months, when I'll be moving to Berlin (currently in Thailand). I'm aiming for what the CEFR calls "B1":

  • Can understand the main points of clear standard input on familiar matters regularly encountered in work, school, leisure, etc.
  • Can deal with most situations likely to arise whilst travelling in an area where the language is spoken.
  • Can produce simple connected text on topics that are familiar or of personal interest.
  • Can describe experiences and events, dreams, hopes & ambitions and briefly give reasons and explanations for opinions and plans.

I was learning German briefly (for about a month) until a few months ago when I came back to Thailand, so I have a very basic understanding of the language already (subconscious only) but am more or less starting from scratch.

My approach will be:

- 20 minutes per day of Assimil German Without Toil.

- 1 episode (approx. 45 minutes) per day of dubbed German television. 

- German podcasts/audio (native materials, any topic) on my phone whenever I have spare time. (probably about 30 mins per day.

- Start incorporating daily grammar study later. (similar to Benny's approach, using grammar study to refine what I already know, rather than to learn from scratch)

- Start writing later, using Lang-8 to have natives correct me. (focus is on speaking, and reading/writing are secondary)

- Start speaking with natives (language exchange) over Skype after one month.

I'm going to update this log every night with what I've done that day and any thoughts on my progress etc. Every Sunday I'll also post a more comprehensive update on my progress and focus for the next week.

Any questions/comments/suggestions welcome.

Alex

 

Fluent: English (Australia) Non-fluent: Spanish (Spain), Thai Learning: German
January 13, 2013
09:02
Senuloj

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October 5, 2012
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Hopefully the imminent move to Berlin will help motivate you to study, eh? :P

My only suggestion, as someone who has struggled with trying to reach goals for most of my life, is to write up a plan breaking your current plan into smaller, more concrete steps.  I'm currently in my last gasps of life in Japan (5 more days and I'm going home), and my plan has simply been, "Spend as much time studying and experiencing Japan as I can), and because it's so vague I've wasted several precious hours on days where I feel satisfied, but I haven't accomplished as much as I could have.  If you have goals to meet each day, each week, and you can't start on your other goals, it will motivate you to put that extra 15 minutes in before bed - not to slack off when right when you get home - so you can meet those goals.  Also, when you meet your goal, it gives you the confidence to know you can meet the next one - but if you have no small goals, the path to your big goal just seems long and impossible and you'll give up or lose interest, even if you've made a ton of progress.  

Like, for me, my goal for my past few months in Japan has been to study as much as I can with an eventual goal of "fluency." Because of that, my progress seemed so tremendously slow that it frustrated the heck out of me.  I felt like I was spinning my wheels but going nowhere.  But, after taking two weeks off from all Japanese study and coming back, I realize how much I've improved since I got here.  I can watch TV / Movies in Japanese, whereas before it was mostly noise.  I've learned nearly 1000 kanji and 1000 + words, I went from being mostly illiterate to being able to read and understand 70% of most non-technical things - and I can tell my host dad that I've been wondering if the bike accident I got into was really my fault or if the guy on the moped wasn't breaking any laws by not stopping before pulling into the sidewalk, without having to search for any words while climbing a mountain.  But since I only had my one big goal, I couldn't see all of the improvements I'd made.

So, having goals to meet each week (which can only be met by meeting certain goals each day) would be a very good idea - it'll make you more efficient and, most importantly, it will make the adventure more fun because you can SEE the steps you're making on the journey, instead of walking forward without even knowing it.  

Like, for example, I'm going to study French this summer because dangit I'm going to make gurgly 'rrrr' noises from my throat if I darn well please.  It's a little premature, but I wrote up this plan for what I want to ideally happen.  (I'm using my knowledge of Spanish to inform my decisions on what constitutes more or less complex)  Of course, if it doesn't work out, or I get behind, I either push things back or rewrite my plan.  But at least I have a map of where I'm going, and something to base the new, better plan off of :)  

"

Month I) Broad: Get through all basic grammar rules + 1500 words and be able to "converse"
Week 1) Self Introduction (present tense) (Name, where I'm from, what I'm studying)
Week 2) What I did today (past tense)
Week 3) What I did as a child (past tense)
Week 4) What I like and want to do in the future

Month II) Broad: Finish out the grammar rules + 1500 words and be able to converse.
Week 5) My opinion and some basic arguments (sentence length)
Week 6) More complex argument (paragraph length) + conversational connectors
Week 7) Work on weak point + subjunctive
Week 8) Work on weak point + subjunctive

Month III) Broad: Finish three books, learn 1500 words, be able to converse WELL, reduce accent and listen.
(Most important is conversing and finishing the books, formal listening can wait)
Week 9) Conversation practice + read Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Week 10) Conversation practice + different book
Week 11) Conversation practice + listening for accent reduction and comprehension
(replace accent reduction with reading or more conversation as necessary)
Week 12) Conversation practice + listening for accent reduction and comprehension + 3rd book
(replace accent reduction with reading or more conversation as necessary)"

 

And then the only other thing I would suggest (I know I said only one <.<) is that you talk with somebody (anybody is good, really) before the 1 month point.  The sooner you start talking, the quicker you cement words and grammar into your brain.  Especially if your goal is talking, why not start as soon as you can say, "Hello, my name is Handsome.  I live in Thailand.  It's nice to meet you."  I was sort of worried about where I was going to find the time to practice speaking without any natives around (living with a host-family is really quite nice), but I was inspired by the post Benny made on the lifehacker site.  If you were to use italki, you can easily get 30 minutes of free talking practice for 30 minutes of speaking in English - and you can really get a lot done in that thirty minutes if you know what you want to talk about.

Good luck! I'm looking forward to seeing your progress over these next two months!

And remember, you don't have to listen to anything I say, just do what works for you :)

January 13, 2013
20:39
alexf

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Forum Posts: 7
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January 13, 2013
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Hey Senuloj

Thanks for taking the time to read and comment. 

Your suggestions make sense. Actually this whole "mission" is a smaller step, my greater goal is fluency by October, when I'll probably be leaving Germany. I decided to start with "conversational in two months" because a 9 month goal can be a bit overwhelming.

But you're right about breaking it up further into smaller goals. This is something that I need to think about more, and will start with weekly goals every Sunday. 

Cheers

Alex

Fluent: English (Australia) Non-fluent: Spanish (Spain), Thai Learning: German
January 14, 2013
10:01
alexf

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January 13, 2013
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Day 1

 

Started the day with 20 minutes of Assimil, and I immediately understood a few words which was nice. I really like the Assimil way of learning (used it briefly at one point with French). Also did one episode of television (24, which works well for language learning for me and is still somewhat entertaining even when you don't understand the words), and about 30 minutes in total of podcasts in German while walking around. If anyone is reading this and can recommend any German podcasts (for natives, not learners) please let me know.

 

 

Fluent: English (Australia) Non-fluent: Spanish (Spain), Thai Learning: German
January 15, 2013
09:22
alexf

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January 13, 2013
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Day 2

Did my Assimil, podcasts (around 20 mins) and an episode of television. Also found a top 1000 word frequency list which I'm going to start working through:

 

http://wortschatz.uni-leipzig.de/Papers/top1000de.txt

Fluent: English (Australia) Non-fluent: Spanish (Spain), Thai Learning: German
January 16, 2013
08:20
alexf

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January 13, 2013
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Day 3

Another day and more of the same. Starting to understand more of dialogue on the television show that I'm watching already which is nice. 

Fluent: English (Australia) Non-fluent: Spanish (Spain), Thai Learning: German
January 18, 2013
07:30
alexf

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January 13, 2013
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Days 4 and 5

Forgot to check in last night, but otherwise everything is on track. Not much else to add.

Fluent: English (Australia) Non-fluent: Spanish (Spain), Thai Learning: German
January 20, 2013
06:31
alexf

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January 13, 2013
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Days 6 and 7

Couldn't post last night because of internet issues.

Anyway, I'm happy with where I'm at after week 1. I'm up to lesson 15 in Assimil's German without Toil, so am moving through them at a good pace, but this will probably slow as the lessons become longer and more complex. I can understand the earlier lessons pretty well, besides some of vocabulary which I haven't focused on as much. Also am finding that I'm understanding a lot more the television episodes that I'm watching now, but am obviously still missing the vast majority.

Going to start working on some very basic grammar this week in addition to what I'm already doing.

 

Fluent: English (Australia) Non-fluent: Spanish (Spain), Thai Learning: German
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