Help a fellow struggling lingoer: What drives you?

I'm losing steam in my quest to learn German. I'm seeking motivation: Please share why you chose German.

I would love to hear how you got through the nominative/accusative/dative case mess. Repeating the lessons hasn't worked for me, what worked for you?

February 20, 2014


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My motivation: My girlfriend and I spent 2 weeks in Germany and Austria last May (very long trip from Australia!!!) and both totally fell in love with the country, the culture, the history and the people. I promised myself at that moment that I would learn to speak the language so we can go back and become totally immersed. So I guess you could say passion is driving me - and it's a GREAT motivator! I learnt German in school for a few years and was so bored I couldn't pick up anything. But with a driving passion and a month on Duo, I've far surpassed where I was after a few years in school.

As for those horrid Nom/Acc/Dat grammar modules - they were by far the toughest to get through for sure! I kept repeating the lessons over and over to get it to sink in. I also researched about a dozen other websites until it all kind of just clicked.

And in my really desperate times, when I felt like giving it all away, I just remembered the reason why I started this in the first place, remembered all of those great experiences we had in Germany and what my ultimate goal was. The memories always bring a smile to my face and give me the motivation to click on that $#@%$#$!! dative module one more time!!! :)

Another tip is try starting the English for German speakers course as well. It's pretty much the opposite of what we're learning but for some reason, I tend to pick up a few more ideas earlier in that course.

I also use Flash Cards that I create as I do each module. I use Quizlet so I also have it on my iPhone. Great for those times when you only have a few minutes to refresh the memory.

And finally, get a few friends on your list. That's a great motivator when you see they've overtaken your weekly score.

But I guess the most important question here is - why are YOU learning German? What was your passion to start learning it in the first place? Would love to hear your story too :)

February 20, 2014

Thanks SharkPig, You're pretty awesome.

I'm including my comment on Fenix's post. Here is why I started German:

"I didn't know what I was getting myself into! Haha. I love to learn and have been embarrassed about only speaking one language for ages. Some part of me marveled at the excellence of German engineering, and organization. BMW, for example. I also love Bach, Beethoven, & Mozart. I have some secret hope that learning German will make me think more efficiently, & will make my music more profound. It sounds silly to say out loud, but there it is. That's my motivation."

February 20, 2014

Thanks mate :) Careful, i might get a groß Kopf! hehehe

I can totally relate to your motivation, ticks a lot of my boxes too. And it wasn't until you mentioned it that I suddenly realised that Bach, Beethoven Motzart are my fave composers too. Spooky.

Oh, and did I mention the Bier??? Mmmmmm mmmmmmmm! I could move to Munich tomorrow! (I've actually got a Weihenstephaner Hefe Weissbier in my hand right now - totally addicted to it)

And I hope that reading all of these wonderful posts has given you back your German Mojo :)

February 21, 2014

It totally did. fifty plus comments!! So many excellent reasons to learn this challenging and handsome language.

I just passed the Dative case course! I feel like I almost understand the dative case. Super excited!

As for Bier, Weissbier was the first bier I ever liked. Ich mag Weissbier!!

Cheers, Sharkpig.

February 25, 2014

Well, even if it did nothing else, you'd be able to understand the European Anthem in its full glory :)

February 20, 2014

Love your suggestion about the English for German speakers course. Definitely going to give that a go!

February 21, 2014

Cheers :) It's a bit hard to wrap your head around at first but I find it really helps picking things up from the reverse perspective.

February 21, 2014

I love reading this. My future bride and I are planning our Honeymoon in Austria right now, and that is driving me to learn German, I understand they speak a different kind of German there but that most understand the "High German" spoken in Germany. It is so great to hear that other folks have had great experiences abroad. My family is being "Debbie Downers" about it, telling us it wont be safe, and we wont be able to relax and enjoy ourselves, but we both feel it will be a great time.

I've always been in love with the European lifestyle, being in the states, and having never traveled Europe is my main goal, and that keeps me fired up to learn a new language, German just happens to be first on my list. Thanks for your suggestion about flashcards, I've been creating a running study guide in word and referencing that for verb conjugations and a vocabulary list.

Good luck on your studies!

February 23, 2014

As far as the "safety" factor goes, if my brief experience is anything to go by you've got nothing to worry about. We felt perfectly safe in both Germany and Austria, even when we went to some pretty "gritty" parts of Berlin late at night and catching trains back to the hotel at 2 am. To be honest, in some respects we actually felt safer there than in some "nightspot" areas back home in Australia.

You do have to keep an eye out for pick pockets (there are signs everywhere) but that's really just common sense.

Enjoy the honeymoon, I'm sure you'll have an AWESOME time! Austria is simply breath taking :)

February 23, 2014

Here in Austria I think this is the safer place on Earth. I mean, places with inhabitants... ^^

February 24, 2014

I had a friend freak out when I went to Mexico. But I didn't let it stop me. As for Europe, how could I not go? German and Italian cars and motorcycles, Paris (I'm a romantic), Ireland, French and Italian food, wine, cheese... I consider it a great personal failure that I haven't been to Europe yet. Soon! You have a great trip!

February 25, 2014

Always a great question.

First, I'm learning because I've writing about the German Bundesliga (football/soccer league) for three years now (itself a long story) and I was sick of not being able to understand German TV broadcasters, folks on twitter I follow, as well as German-language media and football sites. Learning German will dramatically enhance what is possible for my writing and interacting. Plus, all our other editors know German already! Moreover, my love for German fussball has led to a broader love of German history and culture.

Second, yy wife promised an eventual trip to Germany (with some Bundesliga thrown in!), if I can complete German and do something like join a conversation group :-)

Finally, I'm learning German because I'm sick of being monolingual. There's just no excuse. I did some Spanish in high school and two years of Latin in college, plus a French reading course in grad school, but is just washed away and I didn't learn these languages comprehensively enough anyway.

So three motivators for me.

Heja BVB (Borussia Dortmund)!

February 20, 2014

I'm so with you on the monolingual thing! I am just so sick of it!

My lady and I talk about going to Europe. Have fun on your trip! And thanks for your support Tptimmns.

February 20, 2014

I am a native German speaker myself, but I've asked learners of German about their motivation in another post and got some great answers.

I can not stop recommending this blog. German grammar made easy in an entertaining way.

February 20, 2014

Thanks Fenix_vulgaris. Loved your post! I will definitely read that blog.

February 20, 2014

My motivation is being married to a German, however it was only when I discovered duo that I made a sustained effort to start learning it. As far as learning the cases is concerned, this may sound anal, but I made myself a table in a spreadsheet with cases and gender for all sorts of things from der, die, das to adjective endings. Yes, you can find this stuff online but making my own helped to internalise it (I would willingly email it to you if you want so you can see what I mean).

For me personally I went through a phase of deep frustration, but I stuck at it and reached a point where I started to really enjoy learning German, it became a hobby.

Things like listening to German music also help, I can't get enough of Gisbert Zu Knyphausen's songs and have learned loads from translating his lyrics, he makes German sound so cool and poetic. Also reading Andre Klein's books was really enjoyable (short stories for German learners.)

February 20, 2014

Hey thanks! My own little pen and paper list failed to make a difference, it was so discouraging! but I will definitely try music and reading. One of my motivators is the idea that I'll be able to listen to Mozart's The Magic Flute and understand it. As a cellist, I love Mozart, Bach, and Beethoven. Thanks again!

also: awesome streak, dude!

February 20, 2014

The Story of "Die Zauberflöte" is really confusing and all over the place, but there are some quotes that stick to your mind. No guarantee I get them right ;)

"Der Hölle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen." A sentence starting with a genetive! "Hell's revenge boils in my heart."

"Pamina: Bei Männern, welche Liebe fühlen, fehlt auch ein gutes Herze nicht. Papageno: Die süßen Triebe mitzufühlen, ist dann der Weiber erste Pflicht." "Pamina: In men, who feel love, a good heart is not amiss. Papageno: The empathize the sweet urges is then the women's first duty."

February 20, 2014

For some reason the quote that I keep hearing is: "Zu Hilfe, zu Hilfe, sonst bin ich verloren!"

That might have something to do with my current struggles going back over the reflexive verbs lesson. I got through it once but today it's a brick wall!

February 21, 2014

Dem Verlorenen als Hilfe: To the lost one as help:

February 22, 2014

You know, learning a language is an adventure. There will be really exciting times, like when you finally understand how to work prepositions. Then there will be times when you feel discouraged and wonder if you will ever make progress. This is just how it is. I was once in a time like you -- I actually struggled with the German grammar for a while. But I started keeping a German grammar chart with me whenever I practiced, and slowly but surely I understood it more and more. Now look at me, level 17 and still going strong! I say this to you as encouragement -- this German time will pass! In the meantime just take it slow and easy. There's no pressure or time limit for learning the language! Every time you complete a new difficult lesson, reward yourself in some way. Good luck to you and your language learning! :-)

February 21, 2014

Thanks for the encouragement! I think I almost understand dative case. Yay progress!

Good luck with all your languages.

February 25, 2014

Hi Plusran, I thought I would add my two penn'th for what it's worth! I visited Copenhagen two years ago and was stunned by how many local people spoke English perfectly. I mean grammatically perfect; better than me! I have been to Europe many times and like other Duolingo users I became fed-up with being the only person in the cafe who was monolingual. So I decided to learn a second language. I had also read that learning a language can help delay or maybe prevent the onset of Alzheimer's disease. After some research I chose German. I did consider trying to learn Chinese but as I have only 20 years to live (if I'm lucky) I probably wouldn't make it! French was compulsory at school but I didn't much care for it. As an adult, I have made abortive attempts at learning French, Spanish and German at different times. This time (better late than never) I really want to succeed at speaking a second language; something I should have done when I was young. I chose German because it shares the same language family as English and it is an official language in six sovereign states in Europe. Also, I find that most German women make me come over all unnecessary! I am currently engaged in a massive wrestling match with the nom/acc/dat/gen case thing. But I will be victorious! When I am really struggling, I tell myself that learning a language is difficult (especially at 54). I just try to study some German everyday; chip away at it. I was encouraged recently by a German friend from Berlin who said that I am making progress and she wouldn't say it if she didn't mean it. Something that does help, I find, is going to a weekly German conversation class. They are not common I know but you might try getting some people together to start a class and hire a German teacher (preferably a native speaker). Anyway, my friend, I hope you stick with it but whatever you decide, please accept my best wishes.

February 21, 2014

Davem you really made me laugh with this one. My lady and I enjoyed your comments very much. Thanks, and good luck with the German Frauen!

Every day a little, chipping away. I'm with you. Every day.

February 25, 2014

My motivation is that I want to move to Germany. I feel like there's pressure for me to become fluent, or at least conversational, in German to have any chance of finding a job there, considering how competitive the employment situation is throughout Europe at the moment and how every educated German speaks English very well.

As good as Duolingo is, it has a number of roadblocks to language learning. The first, and biggest in my opinion, is that you don't really learn much. I find that I just end up memorising the correct answer, rather than actually trying to understand it. There are a lot of sentences on Duo where my brain just knows "for this English sentence, this German sentence is the correct answer".

The second is the contextual based learning approach. When you start an Accusative lesson, you already know that you're going to be using den instead of der a lot. Duo needs to roll German cases into one generic "Cases" lesson, and give you a random mix of Nom/Acc/Dat/Gen. It would be much more difficult, but much more beneficial I think. You would no longer be able to rely on the knowledge that you are studying the Dative case to know that you have to use dem instead of der/das. You'd have to actually understand the sentence and cases and consciously pick the correct one.

My advice for cases? I write a journal in German and post my entries to to be corrected by natives. I think this has been the most useful thing for me. It forces you to actually think about the structure of what you are trying to say and therefore to understand the cases. There are no correct sentences to memorise, and no course context to give you hints about how to write what you want to say. It's also more personal. You're much more likely to remember something that you can relate to than random sentences like "My grandmother gives the horse a potato".

I still keep my streak up here every day. It's mostly just a motivator to do something related to German every day. But my motivation is starting to drop and I'm finding it less useful unfortunately.

February 21, 2014

Thanks for your support, and good luck in your move!

February 25, 2014

I don't really know why I chose German per say....I wanted to learn a new language, since lauguages have always been something I struggled with (in school we had to learn french and I really sucked...). I found duolingo and it looked like a neat way to learn a new language, so I looked at what they offered....I had an (understanable I'd say >_>) aversion to french (though I plan to tackle it after my German tree's done!), and the next language that stuck out to me was German. Maybe it's partly due to my mother being Dutch and the languages sounding similar, but I think German sounds like a really...handsome language? I dunno, but it's what I chose!

I find that a good way to motivate myself is with my friends list, so if you want we could add each other!

Also, have a modivation Lingot!

February 20, 2014

I called for help and people came running. That's what friends are Thanks!

And it does sound handsome!

As for French, I'm betting you just didn't have an excellent teacher. Great teachers make you want to learn. My biggest motivator for speaking French is the look my fiance gives me when I say something in french. You would not believe what saying "I love cheese" or "You have a red dress" can do to a lady, when you say it in an exotic language. ^.^

Good luck with your German tree! Friended!

February 20, 2014

Just don´t give up bro. Let me tell you something, I am a native spanish speaker, and by the time I was learning english it was just for fun, and for professional qualifications to study abroad; however I realized that regret is not a nice feeling, and back then in college I did not value the chances I had to learn German, even if deep inside of me learning languages was something I really liked... I regreted some much last year because I lost a chance to win a full scholarship to study and work abroad... just beacuse I didn't learn German, something as a skill and as a opportunity I didn't take seriously when I had the perfect chance. Now I am decided that my future lays in Germany, and I will learn German by all means. I am 25 now, but I made a promise to me to master German before 30, and then before 35 I'll undertake French and Italian. All because I know that when the times comes I don´t want to feel regret anymore about what I could do and I didn´t. Strugling with the cases? take it easy, don't burn your brain, just keep practicing little by little, duolingo does not have a good explanation about the cases, but if you want, take a pause and look for another resources on the web, because keep doing it in duolingo can be frustraiting sometimes.

But the most important above all is NOT TO QUIT. Believe you don't want to feel the annoying feel of regret in few years.

February 21, 2014

No regrets, never quit, train every day. T?hanks for your encouragement, J.DavidCR. I'm right there with you. I missed all my previous perfect opportunities. I can't let this one slip by.

Good luck with yours!

February 25, 2014

My motivation: Finally have friends from Germany. I joined a international Minecraft server and became best friends with one of the members. We actually started talking on controversial subjects (This was right after a mass shooting in the USA) and discussing our different cultures. We have since discovered that we have a ton in common and spend most evenings talking to each other, Him until 3-6 am his time, me until midnight due to the time difference. My family is of German descent and I never really cared until I started talking to him. I went to visit him not even a year after meeting him! Kinda foolish, but that's how good of friends we are. It actually started as a joke and knowing I'd have a friend there gave me the courage to make the trip. We travelled around Germany and visited another server friend in the Netherlands and I fell in love with what I saw and experienced in Germany. I haven't stopped thinking about it. It's funny.. my Grandmother wanted me to take German in High school but I was a rebel and took Spanish. Now I'm finally falling in love with my heritage and making an effort to learn German. I think it's a great challenge for my brain - I've lacked a challenge since graduating University and need something educational in my life, and I want to show a sense of respect for my friend. He has learned English so he can talk to people like me - well I want to learn German so I can do the same. (Also, he's cute and lets be honest, I'm hoping to score some points in the intelligence department since He's a total geek and I'm not a beauty. :3)

I'm not the best at Nominative, Accusative, Dative or Genitive cases yet, especially with Personal pronouns (So many ways to say Yours! Hers! His!) but I do find that.. cheating a little is helpful. I have written out the various cases on flash cards. One might look like this.. The Definitive Articles with the standard Der, Die, Das, Plural Die written across the top with their 'Masculine', 'Feminine' 'Neutral' and 'Plural' tags with them. Below that, I write the definitive article in that case. For accusative.. it's Den, Die, Das, Die. For Dative it is Dem, Der, Dem, Den (I think, this card needs re-written, I made some errors on it originally.). Below that I include the indefinite articles (Ein, Eine, Ein, Keine or Plural alternative) and the endings. Honestly, I do look at these cards during my lessons here on Duo. For me, my learning style is to write it down, to use it, and then it sticks with me. because of that, I've made these cards.. I write notes on them, and I redo my lessons on Duo as soon as they drop. That seems to be helping. It's starting to stick. I struggle with Direct Objects and Indirect Objects in English anyway so I need to understand that first.

Also, I've found that knowing this trick helps. The Germanic for each case is as follows Nominative - Werfall (Der is Der..) Accusative - Wenfall (Der becomes Den) Dative - Wemfall (Der becomes Dem) Genitive - Wesfall (Der becomes Des)

Viel Glück!

February 21, 2014

I found this site that had pronoun charts, and built a der, ein, mein chart for myself, it took a long time to build because I kept not understanding key pieces. Well I finally built it.

And looking at it, now I understand Werfall!

Thanks again.

March 13, 2014

Excellent! I still struggle every now and then because I get Ihr for Accusative, Dative and Genetiv mixed up with Ihr, the Nominative Pronound. And I'm terrible with the Diese/Dieser and have been slowly making a chart for those!

I'm starting to not rely on my cards. I can remember that Dative is to 'To What or Who', Accusative is 'With Who or What' and remembering that is the best feeling. :D

March 14, 2014

Yay! good work! Here's what helped me with my diese/dieser chart:

March 14, 2014

Oo thank you. I'll give it a look.

March 14, 2014

Thanks for your comments. How is minecraft these days? Great game!

I've been trying to make some charts, I need better ones! Thanks for all your suggestions, and good luck with your friend.

February 25, 2014

Minecraft is going good I suppose. I'm primarily a creative builder but I do enjoy a survival server. I rarely play myself I suppose. I've been thinking about joining a primarily German Server for practice but I'm honestly afraid if I even open my mouth (i.E. type) I'll get laughed at. I'm doing my duolingo right now.. cards spread infront of me.. making notes on things I need to. I redid my Dative card because it needed to be a bit clear. It's beginning to stick! Dative, Dem!

February 25, 2014

My cousin still loves minecraft. He was a builder, but I was always survival. I liked to build beautiful sky houses at the top of strange formations, or down by natural underground waterfalls. Never played a server, though. Got frustrated when a creeper exploded me into lava and I lost all my diamond stuff for the umteenth time. After that I dug myself into lava. That's when I threw up my hands. This was all back before you could have pets. I don't expect the kids on the german servers will be nice to someone learning. Seems safer to use one of these skype services I've heard of. Sorry can't find any info off hand.

Great job with the Dative case! Keep up the good work! I think I'll make lvl 8 tomorrow.

February 25, 2014

I talk with people in Germany on skype and they're always encouraging and help me keep going. I also just watch a lot of language learning youtube videos which helps me keep motivation. here are some videos that could help with your understanding of nominative/accusative/dative. 1. 2. 3.

February 21, 2014

Thanks Nathan! Those videos are cool, I've saved them so I can watch and try to listen instead of reading the subtitles.

February 25, 2014

The world I live in gets larger when I read El Mundo, The Globe, Die Welt, Le Monde, and listen to Wereldomroep. However, German case and gender will kill me.

February 22, 2014

Seems worth it.

That is an incredible streak!!!

February 26, 2014

My reasons for learning German is that I am already fluent in 4 other languages but none of them were European languages except for English, (Im fluent in Arabic, English, Japanese and Swahili). I was taught Spanish, Italian and French in my high school and in my opinion they were so dull and sounded pretty similar. Then I found duolingo and it was really fun, easy and free to learn German which sounds so cool. Also I am a football nut and I wanted to understand what my favorite players from Schalke and Dortmund were saying in their interviews. So that is mostly my motivation to watch Bundesliga without subtitles or help from a German native and to increase the number of languages I am fluent in to 5. What really motivates me is having short term and long term goals. My short term goals are to do practice my German each day even if its a little bit and my long term is to be fluent, and if I am my parents will take us on a holiday to Germany! Hope that helps.

February 22, 2014

Schalke und BVB? Oil and water!

February 22, 2014

Lol I know but really I am a hard core Arsenal supporter (since I was 10 years) only reason I like Schalke and BVB is due to some of my favorite players like Hummels, Kuba, Reuss, Leon and Draxler (and Neuer and Lewandowski even though they are Bayern players now :(

February 22, 2014

My motivation is the trip I am taking to Europe this summer. I would suggest that, if possible, to book a trip for yourself to Germany. It is very motivating to think that you will need the language by the time you take your trip. Also, I like to watch videos that are in German. It motivates me to try to learn enough to understand what the people are saying

February 20, 2014

I definitely will! Good luck with yours.

February 25, 2014

What keeps me motivated is the progress I see myself make. I learned some German in High school so I had a basic (albeit a very basic) knowledge of the cases which I know can be frustrating, so I had a bit of a head start. Every now and then I'll come out with a sentence that I know is right or use a word in a way that I know is right just because it sounds right (at least I think I know it is:)). Keep plugging away at the cases. There are plenty of good resources outside of Duo that explain them clearly so find one that works for you. I have charts printed out with the prepositions, articles, adjective endings and possessive pronouns that I still refer to when necessary. Once you get past this stumbling block (even if you haven't perfected it), you'll probably be encouraged to learn more. Eventually you'll notice that you know things that you don't remember actually learning (such as word order) just because you've been exposed to it over and over. I finally finished the German tree (the last few lessons were really frustrating) and now working on going through it again.

I've also started working on the English for German speakers tree (it's good practice for the German I've learned) and I find it satisfying that I can help people who are learning English in the same way that native German speakers have helped me here (I need to do it in German so I hope that I'm not ending up saying something incorrectly that gives them bad advice, although I'm sure that I just sound like a non-native speaker and they can figure out what I mean if I do make a mistake).

Another thing about the case system- I have a friend who is a German teacher in Dresden. She told me that there are plenty of native German speaker who still don't get it right and probably wouldn't pass the test they would need to pass if they were a foreigner trying to become a citizen.

Finally, overall, people here are a good bunch and it is always a boost to be around people (even if it's just on the internet) who have a positive attitude towards learning the language.

February 21, 2014

I totally agree. The people here are a good bunch. I decided to power on through and just pick it up through exposure, and you're right, it seems to be working. Will make more charts!

Thanks Erikman!

February 26, 2014

I didn't really have the option to choose German since it is my native language, but I did leave when I was younger so it's nice to be able to keep up with it.

February 20, 2014

My motivation is threefold. Firstly it shames me that we English speakers are less likely to learn a second language, so thought I'd give it a go. I went to Germany two years ago and loved it. As I plan to keep going back, I thought I ought to at least try and learn the language. Also, I listen to. A lot of German bands who sing in German and would like to understand the lyrics. Re the whole nominative/accusative/dative question, I made a flow chart to help me learn it. I still struggle at times, but the chart does help.

One thing that did encourage me was the patience of people in Germany when I tried to speak to them in my faltering German. Nobody laughed at my mistakes. I found people were generally quietly encouraging, would very politely correct me when I got something seriously wrong, and then would switch to English if I became hopelessly lost. I learned so much more that way.

And I'd agree with SharkPig. Getting a few friends on your list does wonders for your motivation. Plus I'm currently on a 120 day streak and determined not to let that go! Best of luck!

February 21, 2014

Loving that streak!!! Awesome work.

And totally agree on how it's almost embarrassing when in Germany how well most native Germans speak almost flawless English, yet I struggled to ask how to get to the train station. But when you make the effort to speak the language, they are so appreciative and only too willing to help. Just one more reason I love the place :)

Very jealous that you're so close to Germany. Our trip took almost 23 hours to get there - but worth every minute.

February 21, 2014

I have 1 word for you that really helped me, immersion. Not exactly the kind that duo uses but that sort of idea. Listen to radio, watch tv, films, music, newspapers, visit internet sites everything possible in your target language and it will start sinking in without you even thinking about it. Find people that speak it and go talk to them, give yourself maximum exposure and it will start to come over time. Tell yourself its easy and it will be.Try to use it in some way at least once a day to keep it fresh in your head.

Im enjoying listening to a couple of german radio stations that play only german music and i find that it really helps me. Music sticks way better than any lessons could (at least for me). I also make time to find german tv programs/shows etc and watch them. It doesnt matter if you understand or not. You are hearing the real language, the patterns, pronounciation etc and just like when you were a child it eventually sticks whether you wanted it to or not.

Think of a subject that interests you and seek out some material for it in german to keep your interest up. Its twice as fun keeping up to date with your favourite subject and learning a language at the same time.

When you think about it too much sometimes, it makes it harder. Remember that children can speak/understand a language incredibly well, long before they know the "rules" of it.

Hope i was of some help to you.

February 21, 2014

I always loved to learn languages or to pick up words and phrases from various languages, at least. I have a good enough memory, I guess, and it felt like both easy and enjoyable. I was never attracted to the german language, though. I did not like the sound of it, I had no feeling for the country, no connection to the culture. However, in summer 2012, I met my boyfriend in the west of Canada. He's German. Actually, right before meeting him, I was hanging at the library (only cool place in town, and I'm talking about temperature here) and wanted to go through the few books I saw about learning Spanish (I was residing with a Spanish man who taught me a few words, and wanted to learn more). The Spanish books were gone. Left were only books to learn Chinese and German. I grudgingly picked up the beginner book to learn German. The first few pages explained the method and how they tried to give the reader a feeling for pronunciation, but how much better it would be if we would find a German-speaking person to practice...

This just fits in my I-met-my-boyfriend and my I-started-learning-German stories so perfectly! In the library, I tried sounding out a few words (from them, I think I just remember "rot"). German did not come easy like other languages did (I could pick up words from a Thai friend, but even when I got together with my German bf, the first few weeks whenever I repeated stuff he told me, it felt like not more than gibberish, I could not make sense out of it)

So that's pretty much my reason for learning German. As I learnt more of it, the sounds started to make sense to me and the whole thing started to come together. This was mostly thanks to Duolingo, to a textbook I borrowed from a friend, and from a few German Readers.

I have to say, I think the German Readers were pretty helpful in learning the Accusative/Dative/Genitive. It's basically stories in easy German. This means a small book, anecdotes or fairytales or whatnot, with simple sentence structures, frequent german words (they went for statistical use of words and include the XYZ commonest words of the language) with the english explaining for what these words are at the bottom, and an index of most words at the end. It's, simply put, the easiest reading material I've found to learn the language. It helps that I found a small pile at my university's second-hand-books sale.

because in the beginning, I had my graph and the ways of declining in the different cases, and I tried to understand it and remember it. That failed.

But I was reading those books as I did Duolingo, and came across these notions used. I don't think I can be more encouraging than when I say this: I remember when I felt like just mastering the Akkusativ was feeling like such a challenge! But I did the lessons and read and sometimes wrote and before I knew it, I had integrated it good (which, ok, only the "Der" changes to "den". Still, it felt like an accomplishment!). And before I knew it, I was still reading and the lesson about Dativ was coming on, and after a while I grew accustomed to that as well. It takes some practice. And some time getting to know and use these forms. When you understand the idea of the concept, just try to think of sentences where you would use this, and write them down, try to think of all the new ideas you can now express! It's very rewarding! I write stuff on Lang-8, and when I got Genitiv down (and I did not, for a while, and people on Lang-8 kept correcting my failed attempts at writing with Genitiv and I wrote down all the corrections and what the native speakers explained and came up with alternative sentences) --- when I got Genitiv down I felt like I could write to a new depth of texts in German! It's DEFINITELY worth the effort.

If you want, we can be friends and talk about these darn cases! :P I'm also a native french speaker and love talking about languages and linguistics :) but I do ramble a lot when I get going. Sorry for that! and I wish you the best in your learning! :D

February 22, 2014

I chose to learn German language in college. And it's always fun to learn a new language! It will be my third language, once I know it well enough. :P

For motivation, Duolingo's streaks are really awesome. The fact that we can buy the "double or nothing" thing from the Lingot store makes me want to come back everyday. Also, it reminds me on my phone and through emails! :D Moreover, I have been watching videos on Youtube, by Get Germanized and similar channels that make it so interesting to learn the language! And of course, being able to translate anything outside Duolingo is a big motivation for me. :) To stay motivated, watching videos, cartoons for kids in German has always helped.

I'm not completely sure abour the dative case yet. What works for me, in general, while learning German is maintaining a notebook in which I write down things I can't remember. Like, possessive pronouns was a pain, and so was conjugation! The more I had to open the notebook, the more I looked at those words and the sooner I remembered them. :)

Of course, the hearts of Duo help a lot. I never want to lose one, so I keep practicing the corrections of mistakes I made before. Helps a lot. :) It's of course worth mentioning the Facebook pages! When you come across their posts in German, for German learners, you want to know the translation! And also, I have been interested in German history, which contributes to being interested in Germany and hence, German. :)

For learning genders, I write them in different colours. Everything feminine is red, masculine is blue and neutral is green. Associating words with colours is always helpful. And of course, associate a woman(feminine) with all the female words in your mind, it is always helpful. :)

All the best! "Whenever you think of giving up, just remember why you started." :)

February 22, 2014

your color idea is perfect! I'll do that! Thanks!

February 22, 2014

I'm 70 and love learning languages and have NO reason whatsoever to learn German other that I have always considered German to be a real CHALLENGE - and I decided I needed a mental challenge (I have tried Japanese, but reading and writing is something I do not want to spend time learning now).

For those pesky German CASES, try this website (posted by someone on DuoLingo):

That said, here are things I have used/tried so far with German (apart from taking notes with DuoLingo as I go) - look into some of these (some help a lot with gender and cases):

1) Michel Thomas "Total German" course (many CDs) - have listened to some of it (excellent) and have read ahead in the guide book (has what is on the CDs) for the rest of the course. He is EXCELLENT - it is GREAT for verbs and sentence structure, but does not really cover gender issues. For pronunciation and word order, this course is wonderful. There is a lot of repetition and you will learn pronunciation.

2) The Essential German Book by Edward Swick, MA which is EXCELLENT and has some exercises in it.

3) German Grammar Drills by Ed Swick (must be same author as #2 - just noticed that) - EXCELLENT workbook but it assumes you know SOME German and is NOT for a complete beginner - has 232 exercises (with answers) with ample space to write in book (not a midget book). Has some explanations followed by drills on each topic. Great book if you are not a total German beginner.

4) 2,001 Most Useful German Words by Joseph D. Moser, PhD - good resource. Has one sentence using each word. DuoLingo words may or may not be among those in this book. Also, there are some nice Category word lists (family, food, greetings, occupations, etc.) in the back of the book + a few pages of grammar at the end.

5) Langenscheidt Standard German Dictionary - easy to read (print size OK), very comprehensive

6) 510 German Verbs (Barron) - good resource (comes with a CD)

Plusran, wishing you the best of luck.

February 22, 2014

I am beside myself. The love and support you have shown me is overwhelming. Some part of me expected to see 0 comments when I woke up. I was overjoyed to find 5. Now there are nearly 50!!

Thank you very much, Danke Schön, Merci Bien, Muchos Gracias, Domo Arigato Gozimasu!

Please understand if I have not responded to each post yet. I'm working on it.

February 22, 2014

I already explained my reasons for wanting to speak German in the post linked by fenix_vulgaris, so I thought I'd go over what keeps me motivated.

I downloaded Duolingo sometime last August, and had played with it on and off. I wasn't too sure how to make it work for me, or how other people used it, so I just completed a lesson every so often. I didn't even know there was a website, heh.

Then I met someone in real life who also used Duolingo. His overall score was higher than mine, by about 1500 XP. I got it into my head that I'd beat his score. First, I started using Duolingo daily. I knew I was racking up a streak because I'd get notifies to keep going. Then, that wasn't enough, and I started practicing a lot.

At first, I hoped that my friend didn't notice that I was blatantly trying to beat him, but eventually he did, and we got into a fierce competition. We'd do 150-200 points a day without Immersion. If either of us noticed that the other had snuck in another practice after we'd supposedly finished for the day, we'd start it all over again.

It was around this time that he kept saying it was okay that I was still behind in terms of overall score, since I was beating him at the weekly and monthly scores. I had no idea what he was talking about, so he told me about the website. I logged in and I had around 50 lingots, hahahaha.

Eventually, he got burnt out (he's since picked Duolingo up again!), so I beat his score and went on to beat other people's scores too. But right now, I only compete with myself. I need to rack up at least 100 points each day before I consider myself done for the day. It doesn't matter if I don't get the concepts right away, as long as I get those points. :)

February 23, 2014

my motivation for doing anything that is difficult is personal pride. I don't give up because it would be giving up. I take pride in overcoming what is not easy.

February 23, 2014

I am leaving in Austria for 4 months. But I just can speak French and English, and a little bit of Spanish. So I started to learn German with books (I have no time for lessons), but you know, I was only on my 8th lesson after 3 months there... no motivation at all. I was looking for a website or a book that could help me from the really beginning. And a guy from India told me about this site. And, this is a little bit stupid, but just the idea to come here every day in a row, to get high scores, and everything, make me addicted. This is just my 3rd day, ok, but I want to speak German, and I believe this website will help me !!!

February 24, 2014

Good luck!

February 24, 2014

Thanks a lot !

February 25, 2014

Hang in there buddy ol pal. Let's talk in French when were together buddy.

April 15, 2014

Oui Oui! Und sprechen Deutsch mit mir!

April 15, 2014

I have been meaning to learn German for about four years now. I study philosophy, and a lot of the important people I need to read originally wrote in German. And everyone kept telling me 'you'll get so much more out of this if you don't have to rely on translations.'

So that's the (very) long term goal. But really I never got around to it until I discovered Duo. I HATED languages in high school. The rote memorization, the awkward forced conversations in class, and so forth. I took French for three years and retained basically zero of it. So I always just assumed I was terrible at languages.

What I've now discovered is that I was terrible at learning languages that way. But the model here keeps me way more engaged. And by letting me go at my own pace has actually encouraged me to do way more than I otherwise would. And I find the comment threads to be incredibly helpful. I try to read them anytime I get something wrong - or any time they've got more than 5 or 6 comments.

As for declension, I have found that it's become (pretty) natural for the very small subset of words that I have down 100% cold. I can usually tell what case it's in, and I don't have to really think about what that means for the ending - it just comes naturally. Of course, for the VAST majority, I still have to very slowly puzzle through the process. But it gives me hope that there is some light at the end of the tunnel.

As I was trying to learn the process, I just couldn't wrap my head around the 'four simple steps to figure out declension' things that people were writing. And it never really clicked until I wrote out the entire table for myself on an index card - using different colors to represent the different endings. Then, for whatever reason, I finally noticed the patterns. Now, I mostly just rely on the shorthand rules (which I finally conceptually 'get'), but I also have a mental image of the chart to help me stay situated.

February 21, 2014

When I read German text outside of Duolingo, or if I watch videos and can understand some of what is written or said, it makes me happy because I know that a year ago I would've understood 0 of it. It motivates me to get better so I can understand even more. Sometimes I get discouraged because lots of stuff is difficult and dialects are confusing, but I try to not let it bring me down...

February 22, 2014

I found other resources to help. The iREf Guide to German Grammer by Scott Shay is cheap and to the point. I think it was 99 cents on Amazon. There are other free resources out there. I vary my learning with free youtube channels, listening to German music on Spotify and always looking for things that interest me in german news. I don't understand it all but I remember why I want this and NEVER miss a day using Duolingo.

February 22, 2014

German is a difficult language in my opinion, due to the factors you mention. Therefore I recommend making DL a part of your learning experience, but not the sole tool. I would also get a grammar book and study it alongside your DL lessons. Then the DL "answers" etc will begin to make more sense.

February 22, 2014

We need an online Stammtisch.

February 22, 2014

Hello :) I didn't choose German, but German chose me! I didn't have any choice at school and I was learning it for years, but I really learned it, not like my colleagues who participated in class but tried to learn as little as possible.

And I found out that I remember quite a lot and whole this time that I spent with German was not wasted. In fact I can talk with Germans (not complicated talks, but little conversations and so on are fine), understand part of movies and songs. That's useful and nice experience, comparing to learning French that is a bit frustrating sometimes (but it is just 3 years of slow paced learning, I am not hard on myself).

And now again possibility to travel to Germany and Switzerland keeps me going (I stopped learning it month ago, but I came back and I think I will start over).

And I think no one mentioned this site but it is pure gold! This is podcast in German. You can download files and try to understand what you hear, or read and listen to get right pronunciation. And texts are quite interesting - about Germany, daily life, traditions and current issues.

Viel Erfolg!

February 22, 2014

Well plusran, as a native speaker of German I can't give you a lot of tips in learning that language, but here is how I learned English...

In school I started learning English at the age of 11 and had it as a subject for 6 years in Grundschule and Realschule. I was fascinated and it became like discovering a new world. I love books so I started reading Harry Potter at the age of 13 in the original version. It was so much fun - lessons tended to be too boring and/or easy, but reading a real book where you understand only 3/4 without dictionary is priceless. (I was also hyped as I would have to wait an eternity for the translated version. Months seem so long for a teenager!) I kinda got addicted to feeling like an explorer.

When books weren't enough I turned to movies and tv shows and fanfiction. And I always enjoyed the ride, not worrying too much about vocabulary, pronounciation and grammar.

After such a long time with these hobbies I had the chance to improve my skills in my Ausbildung zur Fremdsprachenkorrespondentin (which is a training for secretary-like jobs with focus on commercial knowledge and language skills).

This year I will be taking the next big step. After this training and a handful of years working I will tackle training and exams to become a translator. :)

So to me the most important part was using the language in my hobbies and making the time I spend learning the language not a chore, but the reward.

You need to try out other learning methods, if duolingo gets you down. By which I don't mean give up duolingo! You should still do at least a bit, but look elsewhere too! Boost your confidence by doing some texts on Bliu Bliu or karaoke singing on lyricstraining. Look for native speakers as a friends on whatever website you frequent (tumblr, twitter, ...). As long as you still do something that engages you it will strenghten your German. And when you work with material that is a just little harder than comfortable your skills will grow and you will get better and better.

Good luck on your journey and have fun!

February 22, 2014

I think writing fanfiction is one of the most effective things I did to expand and ameliorate my English, of the many many ways I went about it. :) Anything that forces you to think of a way to formulate your ideas is gold. And then it comes to the point when you want to express it better. With more nuances, grace, originality.

Karaoke is a fun tip, I'll try this out.

February 22, 2014

You of course simply asked for motivation due to German, but to understand it I have to start a little earlier. I've always loved languages in general and a life long goal of mine is to be bilingual (at least) and possibly live or do a long-term visit (study-abroad or such) to a country whose language I have learned.

Spanish was the only possible language for me to learn in high school, so I took three years of it and I intend to keep going in college. I've since fallen in love with it and I am 95% I will be able to study in Spain for a semester - this is my primary motivation. I want to know as much as possible before I go. Between those courses and starting college however, I haven't been able to continue Spanish - until I found Duolingo. Here I've learned so much so quickly, faster then I ever did in my high school classes. Now, I say that as someone who absolutely loved my teacher - he was the best I could have had and he motivated me to no end. But, Duolingo is a wonderful tool. Fast forward to now.

Given my love of languages, I wanted to try another and since Duolingo was great with Spanish, I wanted to give it a go with another language. I tried French - that lasted about five minutes. It looks too similar to Spanish and I couldn't keep it straight, and I have little to no interest in France anyway. Next stop: German. I did one lesson and fell in love. It was the language I had been seriously considering anyway. The country is interesting to me, my great-grandparents were immigrants to the U.S. from Germany, and I had a friend learning Pennsylvania Dutch (an offshoot of German) encouraging me.

I haven't gotten particularly far, but if I run into the same troubles, I think it will be my desire to learn in general and the fact I have an understanding friend to vent to that will keep me going. I am currently just using English to German, but when Spanish to German comes out, I will start using that as well. If you are struggling, find some other resources may help. There is a learning show I watched for Spanish that also has the same show in German and French. I loved it for Spanish and will definitely use it for German when I get to the point I can. Check it out -

February 22, 2014

I second all the good advice about motivation - I think the most important ones are having some sort of community so that you aren't doing it in isolation, which is now SO much easier than it used to be, and watching German movies & such. The most important motivator is the opportunity to use it.

I took 4-5 years of German in high school, didn't use it at all for 7 years, & then toured Europe with a show for about a year, & the German came in very handy indeed. It also came in very handy, primarily as a mutual second language, when I visited my brother (a professinal translator of German) in Hungary..

But there's the rub: German is useful in Europe. In my 37 years since high school, I have met exactly one German-speaker in the States whose English was worse than my German. In Germany etc in the early '80s, I met exactly one German around my own age at the time whose English was worse than my German (but plenty of older people who spoke very little or no English). So your German probably won't even help you with individual Germans in Germany. It WILL help you a great deal socaily, though. Being able to understand at least some of what's going on around you in a foreign country is a completely different & MUCH BETTER experience, even if the waiter happens to speak better English than your German.

And the waiter probably will insist on practicing his English. You'll say stuff in German & he'll answer you in English (nb: this is not necessarily the case in France).

Now I offer what I hope will win the prize for Least Practical Advice in this thread. I too had a rough time with German grammar in school & had only a hazy understanding of what the hell the case system was all about. What gave me some grasp of the bulding blocks of grammar was studying Ancient Greek (on my own, for fun) about 15 years ago.

So you could try that.

My study of Ancient Greek eventually sputtered & died, partly because it is murderously difficult, but even more because I was studying it basically ALONE. I'd found an online study group working through a textbook, but it was pretty thin stuff compared to what's available now, especially for a major, living langauge. And NOBODY speaks Attic Greek. It had a tonal accent that died out over 2000 years ago. Quite literally nobody knows what it sounded like.

So team up! Find somebody to talk with, other students & native speakers alike!

This is why I'm doing Spanish. It would have been pretty bitchin' to be able to read Euripides in the original. It'll be much more useful to be able to talk to the Honduran dude in the pool hall.

February 22, 2014

Struggling my self, the strengthening skills just goes on and on. I hardly lose any hearts and if I do its usually a typo mistake. I wish I could get onto the next section. still stuck in Phrases at beginning of course. I have enjoyed brief visits to Germany but have come across many Germans in Florida on vacation and around the Med. Always feel bad that I only speak one language. Thought it would be nice to learn a little more than asking for Ein bier lol. Great posts on this page, guess I just have to keep hitting the Practice button. Tschuss

February 23, 2014

We can do it! The spelling is usually what kills me too @_@. I usually fail a lesson once of twice on spelling alone till I start getting the hang of it

February 25, 2014

I finally got through adverbs 1. I'm really having a hard time staying motivated, I feel like I'm never going to be able to actually speak it.

February 24, 2014

You can do it! I just got to adjectives and find there's so many to remember....and well, spelling kills me in English at the best of times >_>;;;. But I know I can do it if I keep with it, even if it's slow going. Have a modivation Lingot, and best of luck getting it! :3

February 25, 2014

Thanks, you're nice! :-) I new I was going to have some trouble with German, but I thought I'd be more word order and declensions... Turns out I managed to understand these quite well (though I'm still at bit lost at times with the word order), but the vocabulary is... just so nothing like I'm used to!!

February 25, 2014
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