Thank you Duolingo and Duo Community!
Hey all, I wanted to write a quick thank you note to the makers of Duolingo and the Duo community. About 2 weeks ago, I had some close family friends come over from Germany. They speak German and Russian, and the rest of my family speaks Russian. So, I am the only native English speaker in the crew, and I was very nervous about speaking (still waiting for the Duolingo Russian to come out).
Anyhow, I have been self studying German for 1 year now. I use Duolingo everyday (though somehow my streak got wiped out even though I did my exercises). I listen to Pimsleur in the car as well as Michel Thomas (not a huge fan of Michel Thomas recordings, but it certainly was useful at times). About 2 months ago, I started watching movies and TV shows on German Netflix. What I lacked though, was people to practice with. So, for an entire year, the only time I would get to speak German, was if I was in the car talking to myself.
I was very nervous when everyone arrived, and there was no English being spoken at all. Most of the family doesn't, and won't, speak English. I understand some Russian, but can't speak. But as soon as German was being spoken, I could understand just about everything that was being said! When I built up enough courage, I actually started adding to the conversation Before I knew it, I was three hours deep into a conversation, only in German. I stumbled on some words, but was able to keep up for the most part. It was an amazing experience.
Our guests stayed in the US for about 2 weeks. I was translating for them on excursions, talking about my job and family, and just exchanging humorous stories. All in German. I would have never experienced any of this if it wasn't for Duolingo and the supportive community. In about a year, I was able to reach a B1, starting to push B2, level. In speaking with our guests, I probably learned more in 2 weeks than I did in the last 2 months. But to simply get to the level of conversational is amazing. It has opened a whole new world for me.
I had a few takeaways from my experience that I wanted to share. The first thing I learned is that being persistent payed off. Every day I practiced, and learned. It is fun, rewarding, and frustrating at the same time. There were days that I forced myself to practice, and I am glad that I did. Secondly, and this may be the biggest takeaway, do not be afraid to speak to native speakers. I was so afraid of saying "der" instead of "den" or "die" instead of "das". This may be the hardest part of German. And it is important to learn, but I needed to remember that it's OK to make a mistake. No one thought I was stupid for attempting to speak a language that was not my native tongue. Most native speakers are more than happy to help you, and appreciate you even trying. Americans all should learn more than one language, but they really don't have to. Our guests told me that effort is always appreciated, and they would continue to help me learn. I made a lot of mistakes, but learned a ton. Lastly, I found it very helpful to expose myself to as much German as possible, and to try to think in German when I could. When I walk to my car after work, I will look at things, and try to plan my evening out in German. This little exercise helped me a lot. It sounds silly, but it worked for me. All of this may go without saying, but I wanted to share what worked for me.
I can confidently say that I speak German now. I want to achieve B2/C1 within the next year, and I will be putting the time in to do so. I will be trying to learn Russian at the same time, so most of my free time will be spent either listening, watching, or studying another language. I am super excited about it too! Thanks again Duolingo, and thanks to all of you in the community who have been helping each other learn. It's a wonderful thing to speak a second language. Best of luck to everyone in their language learning endeavors!
Bis zum nächsten Mal!
☺ Wow! I'm very glad to hear Doulingo and it's community have really helped you and your relatives come closer together--in their native language!! I'm pretty sure you have now inspired other people to push in whatever language they're currently learning because you certainly have for me! Here's a Lingot while I'm at it :D Viel Glück auf deiner Reise Deutsch zu lernen! (Correct me if I'm wrong XD) #BeAwesomesauce ☺
Hey, freut mich, dass du das Deutsch, dass du mühsam gelernt hast, anwenden konntest :-) Weiterhin viel Spaß! Liebe Grüße aus Österreich
Super, dass Du uns an Deinem Erfolg teilhaben lässt.
Und ich gratuliere Dir wirklich herzlich dazu !! Und danke auch den duolingo Machern!
Gruß aus Wien