what I learned from a vacation to Germany!
Woo Hoo! We went on vacation in Germany last week. I had been using Duolingo for a year trying to learn German. I am at level 16 xp= 10214. I also used Memrise for vocabulary drill, FluentU for comprehension and a book for grammar. Here are the results 1) My pronunciation is dreadful. After any sentence I tried they would politely respond in English. 2) My understanding was pretty spotty too; but better than my speaking. Many people would speak softly, or mumble, or really fast. 3) I could read many important things: menus, autobahn signs, and the airport information. I felt that was my strongest ability. I could puzzle out many written items, even with words I didn’t know. My conclusion: although I didn’t finish the German tree yet, I felt comfortable traveling. While I couldn’t always follow a conversation it also didn’t sound like gibberish. We went to church on Sunday and I somewhat followed the sermon. Definitely Duolingo was worth the time and effort. However, the fluency number is a laugh. I rate my fluency somewhere around 2, not 46.
"However, the fluency number is a laugh. I rate my fluency somewhere around 2, not 46." Haha, genau!
If it might cheer you up a bit, Germans love speaking foreign languages and love "training them" on you. I'm lucky, no one can pinpoint my accent, therefore no one can guess which language(s) I speak ;-)
which FluentU plan do you have (if any)? Would you recommend it?
For those who haven't seen FluentU, it is a website that has short videos of all sorts of thing (ads, movie trailers, children's shows) with the words below. If you hover your cursor over the word it is translated. Then there is a learning session for each video. I have the plus subscription. I really like the videos, my favorite is a toss up of an Indian Jones trailer and the Supergeil Woman. Did you realize they are planning to drop the free version soon?
Yes, that's why I'm asking. I don't use the flashcards etc., I'm just interested in watching videos with subtitles. Do you know if the basic plan offers subtitles? It's not clear, they say "unlimited video watching" but nothing about the subtitles and hoovering part!
I believe this Fluency number, is not Fluency! but it shows simply progress of software, no more.
I hadn't though of it like that. If that's the case, I wish they'd call it Progress Percentage or something, because I definitely could believe I'm 16% through the course, but it's laughable to say I'm 16% fluent!
Thanks for sharing your experiences.
When someone switches to English, counter with the same look of "I have almost no idea what you just said." ;-). I realize most people are just trying to help (but also save time) but the instant switch to English makes learning a new language very difficult and is also discouraging. We know you probably know English. It should be obvious the person wants to improve his foreign language. Spare a minute and be patient.
I've pieced together some of the worst English ever and tried to help people by replying a bit more slowly and using more basic words. I find it hard to believe that other languages are that much more inscrutable. You had NO idea what I said? C'mon.
I agree with that frustration, and have been on the receiving end of that treatment (French, Icelandic, German- no one wants to listen to me try!) I think of it like this: England has so many different accents and immigrants that it's normal to hear a trillion different ways of saying one thing, and America has the same situation (less intense regional dialects, but so many accents!) that learning how to listen to many versions of English is normal. For example, in Iceland they have so little immigration that it's rare to hear people speak broken Icelandic and even when I repeated back a mere three word sentence they declared it absolutely unintelligible. I mean, if it's true that German has a bunch of different accents then I don't get what the deal is with them though, haha.
You make a good point that I hadn't thought of--maybe some places aren't used to having to figure out what was said. Their default mode is an instant switch to English.
I'm glad someone else feels the same way--frustration!
I still think, though, that if you're a native speaker you should be able to analyze a sentence instantly--parsing it through your brain--and come up with a 95% likelihood of what was said. Even if it's awful like, "I ned know whens store tame." (brain--ned is probably need, tame is a word, but in sentence context he surely meant time) Oh, you need to know the store's hours. And that's without any context. If someone's talking with you directly and gesturing (like pointing to the closed store, then pointing to a watch and shrugging) it should be fairly easy.
I'm to the point with my French that Google Translate from microphone almost always understands me. Next time I'm in France, I don't want any quizzical looks. :-D
This youtube video was huge for me: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hI2Pso1dDjM Maybe there's a good one out there for German?
Gabriel Wyner who made that video also has a few videos on learning German pronunciation (and other languages).
German Pronunciation Video 1: The German Consonants and the IPA https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mzrLZi6fipA
German Pronunciation Video 2: The German Vowels and the IPA https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kEHfUKJ_yms
German Pronunciation Video 3: The German Spelling System https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pg2NMEONKxk
His site at http://fluent-forever.com/videos/ has more on the IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet).
Es ist prima, dass Du ein bisschen verstehen hast! Mit der Zeit kann Deine Kenntnisse der Sprache nur verbessern, wenn Du weitergehst. :) I lived in Munich for 7 months after studying German for just over a year in university, and it was a big shock at the beginning. You realise that people don't actually speak like what you learned in text books (e.g. "ich hab", the "weil" rule being sometimes loosely used, etc) and there is also the different dialects. In Munich, you still have some Bavarian words that are preferred, such as "Semmel" instead of "Brötchen". Also I know that in Hamburg you'll hear "Moin Moin", while in Munich "Servus". The best way I found in learning German was by living in a WG (Wohngemeinschaft) with people who speak German as their first language. This way, you're given a great opportunity to speak the language. Of course, I was also given the opportunity to speak English all the time as almost all my housemates could speak it and loved to show me how good they were, but once you insist on German, they will stand down. ;) Using the language in an informal setting is the best, as it isn't seen at all as "studying" and it becomes normal.
I've had occasion in the past to speak a little German (I studied it in college many years ago, so duolingo is just a refresher for me). I must have had a pretty good accent, because one woman I spoke German to asked me what part of Germany I was from! But generally, I was too timid to speak it, and when a young man I knew fairly well had his German girlfriend visiting, she (knowing I had studied German) would speak German to me, and I would respond in English). A good many years ago, I had a neighbor who was from Germany, and her mother lived with them for a year or two. Her mother couldn't speak English, and I was afraid to try my German on her. But another friend of my neighbor was in her home at the same time that I was, and she spoke fluent German. I was pleased that I understood a lot of what was said in a conversation between her and my neighbor's mother.
Congratulations on your vacation. The most important thing is to try and you did that. German is a difficult language and tricky, since there are so many dialects. I think for you and me and many people here the most important thing right now is to talk to real people, online or in person, in a class or in a informal setting. What cities did you visit?
We saw Frankfurt, Koblenz, (good military museum) Münster (best bike city ever!), Munster (Lower Saxony, best tanks!) and Wolfsburg (VWs obviously). We are much more into Fahrzeuge than Schlösser. And yes, I would love to take a live class with a live teacher to practice my pronunciation.
Yeah, some features like fluency are ridiculous, but I suppose it makes people feel better.
Thank you so much for sharing your story!
I am laughing about it. I just started the German course yesterday; as mentioned elsewhere, I'm doing it just as a refresher course. Anyway, I'm already up to 24% "fluent."
Das klingt schon ganz gut, aber nicht so gut wie erhofft. ;) Sounds just OK for one year practice. I don't mean its your fold but I just hoped a better experience for myself. Can I ask you something if you don't mind?
How much time a day did you spend learning german? Are you able to understand "very easy" videos like this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yhP3OT2hxAE [More german - eventually you know it from fluentu already]
I'm learning french for 4 months right now and I hope to understand [at least with subtitles] this kind of videos when finishing the tree.
Ich wünsche Dir noch viel Glück und vor allem Spaß am Lernen.
oh my goodness, that video! Extreme 90's corniness aside- I swear I watched a Spanish version of this! Is this just a plot and a set they used for multiple languages?
Yes there is a french version too. ;) It is easy to understand an comparable for there is an english and german version. So one can find mistakes very easy.
I tried to study about at least a half hour a day, using different sites depending on my mood. Doulingo was slow because I try to keep it all gold. Obviously there were days I had no time and other days I could spend an hour or more.
Yes, I could follow the video, the actors speak much more clearly than a guy at the Imbiss.
I went to live in Austria 1 year Ago, I study not so hard, but what makes the real difference is living the language. Just for a change i'm learning Japanise with Memrise... and I take it just as a game... It's really possible to learn such a complex language only with Memrise or Duolingo Tools?
I don't think Duolingo or Memrise is enough. If only because it doesn't really teach pronunciation.
I also believe the vocabulary is a strange mix. I suspect Duolingo starts with the most common few hundred words taken from a source like Google. But these are words from newspapers etc. not everyday conversations. There is no other explanation for teaching numbers going up to twelve and then skipping to million ( or what ever). There are 24 hours in the day. Coffee costs €1.75. My room number was 516. How is one going to survive without numbers?
yes, it is a huge stereotype that german=hard, rough sounds.....truth is, austrian and bavarian german are so soft, that czech and slovak both sound harder...and learning the dialects is a challenge on its own....