https://www.duolingo.com/Kajo76

Can you correct my english, please?

I have a lot of hearing/reading-experience and want to level up my writing (at the end the speaking, too). I read on the forums and have written a reply here: https://www.duolingo.com/comment/2112975

It was a lot of fun :-) I would like to get replies from native speakers (american, british...)

Thanks in advance!

This was my post:

I, on the other hand, DON'T think that these people are egoistic. Maybe some of them are, but not the majority. They aren't trained in speaking and aren't really interested in this language.

In my own experience: In school I HAD to learn (british) english. When I haven't got a say in what I want to learn, learning is difficult and isn't fun most of the time. So I learned what was mandatory, but nothing more. So it came, that speaking english isn't very advanced in my case. I have trouble finding the right words. Especially if someone stands before me, aks a question and waits for a response.

In writing it's a lot easier - I have time to think what I want to say. If I have trouble finding words I can look them up.

My english only got a lot better, since I got to love a series on TV. At first I couldn't understand a word (american english). So I used subtitles in german. Some time later it irritated me to read german and hear american english simultaneously. So I switched to english subtitles. Nowadays I only watch movies/series in english :-) I LOOOOVE english - whereever it comes from (America, England, Scotland or Australia).

The last years I have "worked" (not really!) on my hearing and reading skills. Now I have the work to do: writing more in english, get to know how grammar works correctly and last but not least: speaking english :-) The icing on the cake would be: Losing my horrible german accent ;-)

August 17, 2016

23 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/Luscinda

'So it came, that speaking english isn't very advanced in my case.' I think you mean 'As a result, I can't speak English very well/at a very high level.' Or 'As a result/Because of this, my English isn't very advanced.'

I would say 'If someone stands in front of me...' rather than 'if someone stands before me' in this context - it's less literary and more usual and appropriate in this sort of context.

When we talk about language skills we usually talk about listening rather than hearing.

And obviously, yes, capital letters for all languages, nationalities and nationality-related adjectives.

August 17, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/Larkspire

English, British, American, German etc should always be capitalised.

So it came, that speaking english isn't very advanced in my case.

(Luscinda has covered this better than I did, and their suggestions are better than mine, but here's what I originally said: Would be better as something like

So it turned out that I couldn't speak English very well

Or if you want to emphasise that this is still the case,

[Therefore/This is why/So it turns out that] I can't speak English very well

but you might want to add something like ", although I can understand it", to emphasise that it's just speaking that gives you trouble.)

aks a question

It's "asks", but that's probably just a typo.

My English only got a lot better, since I got to love a series on TV.

Would be better as

My English only got a lot better when I [became interested in/started following/fell in love with/became a fan of] a TV series.

I can't explain why, sorry - as a native English speaker, it's just a matter of what sounds better to me. "Improved" would be more "proper" than "got a lot better", but your formulation is still fine in my opinion.

"Wherever" doesn't have a double e.

Now I have work to do: .... speaking English

(Aside from it being just "work" without a direct article,) this sentence reads a little awkwardly because you mix -ing with "get to know" - it's a little like mixing tenses. I'd leave the rest, and change "get to know how grammar works correctly" to something like "learning correct grammar" or 'improving my grammar".

August 17, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/jmaddoxII

Are you a Blackstar, Larkspire? ;) I love Bowie and was curious so I thought I'd ask.

August 18, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/jmaddoxII

Since everybody has already addressed your errors in your writing above, I will just lend a word of encouragement. You did really well here overall. In fact, the first couple paragraphs were perfect with exception of a couple spelling errors. It wasn't until the last couple paragraph that things got a bit shaky regarding grammar. Nonetheless, you seem to be progressing very well. Keep at it and you will speak like a native English speaker in no time! Viel Gluck or as in English, good luck! ;)

August 17, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/rolfejr

I am a native American English speaker. I see nothing wrong with what you wrote other than what has been mentioned previously. Your written English is great and that will help you with speaking English correctly. Many American English native speakers have horrible grammar, especially when speaking. You will get the hang of it with practice, especially if you have the chance to speak with native English speakers regularly. Keep up the good work!

August 18, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/emak02

Hi, I'm not a native speaker and most of your writing looks okay to me, but the word English is written with a capital E. Just like all other languages in English :) Hope this helped!

August 17, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/DonMartin1

I am a life-long speaker of English. Your writing looks very good to me!! The word English has a capital E, as emak02 noted. At the end of your second paragraph, aks should be asks. In the last paragraph, after the colon your verbs are writing, get, speaking. You probably should have them parallel in form by changing get to getting. And after last but not least a comma rather than a colon. But overall very good.

August 17, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/Kajo76

Oh, wow! Thanks guys :-)

Yes, I had the feeling, some things are not quite right, but most of the post could be "not too bad". As I read your suggestions (hearing vs. listening, capitals and so on) I thought: "Right! Ouch!" Funny: "aks" was in fact a typo lol How could this happen to me?

Question - how would I say a sentence like: "Wie konnte mir das nur passieren?" dict.cc is giving me the words "only, merely, just, solely, mere, but". I have the feeling, it could be "just", but I'm not sure...

"writing, get to know, speaking" - thanks for pointing that out! Yes, I have to work on the tenses, too :-) These are besides grammar my weakest spot.

"if someone stands before me" - I think I have translated it in my head German to English (wenn jemand vor mir steht). The word "before" means "vor" - but in a completely different context.

I had the biggest laugh here: "So it came, that speaking english isn't very advanced in my case." It could have been so easy (-> Because of this I can't speak very well...) :-) But if I wouldn't make mistakes, I couldn't learn something... (this sentence feels a little awkward to me, but why?)

I corrected/tweaked my former post - would be great if you could take a look again (or: again take a look?). Is this correct?


I have a lot of listening/reading-experience and want to level up my writing (at the end the speaking, too). I read on the forums and have written a reply here: (see above)

It was a lot of fun :-) I would like to get replies from native speakers (American, British...)

Thanks in advance!

This was my post:

I, on the other hand, DON'T think that these people are egoistic. Maybe some of them are, but not the majority. They aren't trained in speaking and aren't really interested in this language.

In my own experience: In school I HAD to learn (British) English. When I haven't got a say in what I want to learn, learning is difficult and isn't fun most of the time. So I learned what was mandatory, but nothing more. As a result of this, my spoken English isn't very advanced (whereas I understand almost everything). I have trouble finding the right words. Especially if someone stands in front of me, asks a question and waits for a response.

In writing it's a lot easier - I have time to think what I want to say. If I have trouble finding words I can look them up.

My English only improved because I fell in love with a TV series. At first I couldn't understand a word (American English). So I used subtitles in German. Some time later it irritated me to read German and hear American English simultaneously. So I switched to English subtitles. Nowadays I only watch movies/series in English :-) I LOOOOVE English - wherever it comes from (America, England, Scotland or Australia).

The last years I have "worked" (not really!) on my listening and reading skills. Now I have work to do: writing more in English, getting to know how grammar works correctly and last but not least, speaking English :-) The icing on the cake would be: Losing my horrible german accent ;-)

August 18, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/jmaddoxII

"They aren't trained in speaking 'English' and aren't really interested in 'the' language." Your sentence made sense but wasn't specific enough in my opinion.

"In my own experience',' in school I learned 'British English'. When I don't have a say in what I want to learn, learning 'becomes' difficult and 'isn't fun'. 'Therefore', I learned what was mandatory but nothing more. As a result of this, my spoken English isn't very advanced 'whereas, I can understand when someone talks to me or writes something'. 'However', I have trouble finding the right words 'especially when someone stands in front of me, asks something, and waits for a response'."

"'When writing', it's a lot easier 'because' I have time to think 'about' what I want to say 'and' if I have trouble finding words I can look them up."

"My English 'has' improved because I fell in love with a TV series (you should say the name of the series to make things interesting for your readers ;)). At first I couldn't understand a word 'of American English so I used subtitles in German.' Some time later it irritated me to read German and hear American English simultaneously 'so' I switched to English subtitles. Nowadays I only watch movies/series in 'English.' I 'really like' English 'no matter where' it comes from (e.g., America, England, Scotland or Australia)."

"The last 'few' years I have worked on my listening and reading skills. Now I have work to do 'on my' writing 'skills', getting to know how grammar works correctly and last but not least, speaking English."

Corrections are in the apostrophes. I omitted the very last sentence of the last paragraph because you shouldn't feel you have to "lose" your German accent to be understood. You can sound German and speak English at the same time and you should take pride in coming from Germany. Viel Gluck!

August 18, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/Kajo76

Thanks to you, too! A lot to look through... My first sentence sounds a lot (more?) clearer now. The ":" (colon?) could be a "tick", I use it in German quite often.

"whereas, I can understand when someone talks to me or writes something" This sounds ok to me, but... I don't know... Is there a phrase I could use which lies in between "understand" and "understand perfectly"? Perfectly sounds a bit too much and "understand" the opposite. - would love to use another word for opposite, but didn't find one. The writing part is a bit overwhelming at times.

When I watch movies I often use subtitles, but in "real life" I don't need them. If I watch videos on youtube or stand in line in the supermarket and listening to Americans I can understand them clearly. I live in a town with lots of Americans. Unfortunately most of them are in the military. Not at all my area of interest :-(

Yesterday I watched the movie "Limitless". For a while I could understand perfectly, but then... I don't know why there is a gap between real and scripted dialogues. For the first I don't need subtitles, for the latter I need them at times. Strange...

Ah, the TV series I fell in love with is LOST. As soon as I started watching in American English in 2005/2006 I didn't want to switch to German ever again. In the last few years a lot of interesting TV series came along. For example Prison Break, Fringe, Battlestar Galactica... Fringe had also some characters who were "speaking" German. One of them was really good! The others not really. It's a pity if you happen to be a native speaker of this language and you can't understand their spoken German! Or someone plays clearly a German politician, but sounds totally not German ;-) If I would produce such a TV show, I would make sure that these spoken lines where actually good. They spend so much money on special effects, why not in correctly spoken languages?

Oh, I forgot something... Thanks for your kind words on my accent. I don't feel I have to lose him, so I could be understood. I don't like how the german accent in general sounds like. In my answer to Luscinda I gave an example of it :-)

August 18, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/jmaddoxII

Colons are generally used in English, or at least American English when you are going to list items when writing. I can't think of an example right now but you could probably find one with a simple Google search.

There isn't really anything as far as a phrase between understanding perfectly and simply understanding. You could distinguish by being more specific about how much you understand or you could just use a superlative or something similar "I understand better/more/most/well but not perfectly/completely/entirely."

I agree. No reason to learn military terms unless you plan to use them.

I don't know if you have Netflix in Germany. I would assume you do. If so, watch The Office. There is a character on there who is supposed to speak German and he comes from one of the religious separatist groups that settled in Pennsylvania (the show takes place in Scranton, Pennsylvania) and therefore speaks Pennsylvania Dutch, as it's called. It's an hilarious show and you might find the German references funny. If you watch it you'll have to let me know what you think. It's modeled off of the British show called The Office.

Keep practicing and you will get there in no time. You're pretty advanced already in English. Keep it up!

August 18, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/Kajo76

Before I go to bed... Is "The Office" a sitcom like "The Big Bang Theory"? It's titled as "Comedy". When does the German character come into place? Or better: How is the characters name? Then I can look it up on imdb.

I hope, I can sleep now...

Good night, Kirsten

August 18, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/Kajo76

I have just looked it up. It's indeed hilarious :-D I hope he speaks a lot more of German, although he has clearly an American accent. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SYhNsj3megk

August 19, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/jmaddoxII

It is indeed a comedy. The character's name is Dwight Schrute. Look him up on YouTube and you'll find a bunch of stuff. Let me know what you think!

August 18, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/Luscinda

But if I wouldn't make mistakes, I couldn't learn something. = If I didn't make mistakes, I wouldn't learn anything.

The didn't/wouldn't and something/anything issue is very common in non-native speakers who are pretty fluent, and people will always understand what you mean.

You were right the first time about vor/before but it's a question of register/tone (Sprachebene?). You stand before a judge/court/bench or God/your Maker but I forget all my German when there's someone standing in front of me trying to talk to me. Before sounds more significant.

Your accent is probably better than you think.

August 18, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/Kajo76

Thank you. I think I translate too much in my head and therefore these mistakes happen again and again. Could you give me (Which is) the term of those sentences, please? So I can look them up and practice them.

You're absolutely right - "stand before a judge/God" is totally different to "stand in front of" a wall, a person or a car.

Do you forget all your German, too, if nobody would be standing in front of you i.e. in a chat or over telephone/skype? :-)

My funniest moments of learning English were: I wanted to write: "I am confused" and have written: "I am irritated" (from the word "irritiert" in German) I was learning "I am hot" means "It is really warm" (Mir ist warm/heiß). In German there's the expression "Er/Sie ist heiß" (Er/Sie ist sexy, attraktiv) which I first thought about when I heard this -> I am hot? No, I don't think so ;-)

I don't know if my accent is better than I think. Maybe...

When I listening to Americans speaking German, I fall in love with the American accent of this person. The same is true for a French speaking person speaking German or English. I just love the accent. But if I listening to a German speaking English it sounds horrible to me. I found a very funny video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tVeR8V9naKk), where you can listen to a horrible accent (of course she's not speaking this accent in real life). In the end of the video she's linking to another one which explains the speaking part and why Germans don't really know how to pronounce American English. Which is my goal.

The last time I worked on my speaking skills I was quite irritated. I didn't get some of the pronounciation right, but the program insisted I should try again and again. If the program tells you, you haven't got the word i.e. "blue" right and this happens 5 times in a row, that's really frustrating.

August 18, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/Luscinda

I'm afraid my German is non-existent and I forget everything if I need to use it! I'm going next week, maybe I'll manage to use it this time.

Do you need information about the 'if' sentences - conditionals?

http://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/grammar/british-grammar/conditionals-if

https://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/en/category/grammar/grammar-if-sentences-present-future-meaning

There are some exercises here if that helps. https://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/en/search/apachesolr_search/conditional

I do think we distort the way we pronounce words when we sing, but swing probably is better than some of the alternatives. If you like the Beatles, I think the words are quite clear in a lot of those songs. Obviously most (but not all) opera is written in Italian, French and German but you can get recordings in English and there are classical singers who sing other songs in English.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Katherine-Jenkins-Ultimate-Collection-Standard/dp/B002RHDYAM/ref=pd_sim_340_8?ie=UTF8=1=F453E7HHA4B4C1HMFG6R

https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Ddigital-music=Kiri+te+Kanawa+in+english+

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B001RTP82S/ref=sr_1_11_rd?_encoding=UTF8=B001RTUX3M=1471597579=1-11

https://www.amazon.co.uk/West-Story-Remastering-Original-Soundtrack/dp/B006NA5YUM/ref=sr_1_1?s=dmusic=UTF8=1471597756=1-1-mp3-albums-bar-strip-0=west+side+story

Or there's always Gilbert and Sullivan? https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gilbert_und_Sullivan

August 19, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/Kajo76

Oh cool. Do you go on vacation, a little holiday? Or is it a business-trip? Anyway, have a great time in Germany :-) Try to use your skills this time, it could be a lot of fun.

Last night I can't sleep and so I read a English book. But this time I read it out loud. Not really though, I whispered. But I had a lot of fun :-) At first I read very slow. With time I read some paragraphs much faster, but not so fast I would read in German.

Where do you come from? From your amazon-links I think Great Britain, am I right?

Yes, I meant the conditionals but wasn't sure if this was the right term for it. Thanks for the links :-)

Tomorrow I will sort through (is this right?) your music-suggestions and try to find some of it via youtube. I don't have a creditcard so I can't order from amazon.co.uk or amazon.com anymore. And a creditcard from amazon? I don't know...

August 19, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/Luscinda

I'm visiting people. I'm sure those singers are all on youtube or spotify or somewhere else if you like any of the samples.

Sort through is absolutely right!

August 19, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/jmaddoxII

All you can do is constantly keep practicing. As we say in English, it isn't going to happen overnight. What this means is you aren't going to learn English really fast. When I am practicing German, I will often say the sentences and mess up the pronunciations. Honestly, a lot of German words can be tongue twisters--really hard to pronounce. But one just has to keep practicing. Learning a language is probably one of the hardest things you can do but the feeling when you've finally all but mastered it is probably amazing (I haven't gotten there yet ;)).

Kajo, listen to American music. That will help you with pronunciation. It has helped me with learning to pronounce German words.

August 18, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/Kajo76

Hey Jeff, in the next days I am going to train my speaking skills again. The last few days I read a lot of postings and found a British pronounciation-skill video series on youtube. Not exactly what I was looking for, but it came really close. Do you know about the IPA (International Phonemic Chart)? As I was watching the video series it gave me lots of aha moments. For example Germans and Americans have totally different sounds they produce in their mouths with lips/tongue and so on). You are using sounds I don't and vice versa. So we must learn new ways to produce the wanted sounds instead of using the usual, which we know our whole life. It has the touch of speech training :-)

Yes, I know this feeling... I haven't mastered English completely yet and it costs me a lot of time to write a reply lol But it's a great feeling to know that if I practice it constantly I will get better and better.

To listen to music would be a good idea, but... The majority of music has such bad songtexts, especially the songs in the charts. I mostly listen to soundtracks of movies or classical music. Do you have a suggestion for me? :-)

August 18, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/jmaddoxII

What do you mean by "songtexts?" I do have plenty of suggestions. Look up Morrissey, The Smiths, David Bowie. These types of artists are good places to start and they use a lot of slang so you should be able to understand them for the most part. If you have questions about their lyrics fill free to ask me. I know basically all of their songs. For your information, these artists are British so you will have to deal with British English. For American artists I suggest The Killers, Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, The Temper Trap. Start with those ones and see what you think. Also, Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra are what is called "Big Band Swing" music from the forties and fifties. I particularly like Arrivederci Roma (despite its title, it's in English) by Dean Martin and My Way by Frank Sinatra. They go really well with a martini. :) And no, I am not familiar with that chart.

August 18, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/Kajo76

Ouch! With "songtexts" I mean lyrics, of course. Here in Germany we speak sort of "denglisch", an abbreviation of "deutsch-englisch". We have a lot of English-sounding words, which we are constantly using. For example for "mobile/cellular phone" we use "handy" or for lyrics we use "songtext" instead of "Liedtext". The next thing is, English is everywhere, sounds a lot cooler. So you can see a sign (Schild) called "coffee-shop" instead of the German word "Kaffeehaus" or something like that. The band "Wise Guys" has created a song called "Denglisch" in which they addressed this issue. It's hilarious to listen to this song :-) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xlQI0mfJbCc You can find the lyrics here: http://www.songtexte.com/songtext/wise-guys/denglisch-43c7ebdf.html

Thanks for your suggestions, too. I will look for the artists tomorrow :-)

If you are interested in the chart, here you can find it. http://www.macmillanenglish.com/pronunciation/interactive-phonemic-charts/

The video-series for British English is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vm3T5rCp5E0&list=PLbEWGLATRxw_2hL5hY164nvHdTpwhEOXC&index=1

A quick search for the German language has brought this video to light: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mzrLZi6fipA

August 19, 2016
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