How Can I improve my German?
Hello everyone. I have finished the German course on Duolingo a long time ago, started it 2 or 3 years ago.. But my problem is that I just can't improve my German anymore.. I am stuck for a very long time now. I tried to listen to German radio and I couldn't understand anything, they speak so quickly.. same thing with German Television. I tried German podcasts on DW and other places but the thing is, that it is too hard for me to understand, or it is so booooring that I just can't keep up with it. I am about to give up on German which is a shame cause it is so much time and effort that will be thrown away.. So before I give up I thought that I should ask for some ideas from you guys. So what can I do to improve my German?
The trick with listening is to stick with it. Naturally at first it will be very hard for you to understand. This phase may take more or less time for different people, but eventually you will start to pick up words. You really need to do it a lot. For me the threshold for watching shows is about 100 hours before I can really say I understand almost everything. Did it years ago with English and doing the same now with German. I also listen to German podcasts. Even that won't be end of the journey because I know I need to watch other kinds of Programms (documentaries, news, movies). But it's much better than before.
I did this with Spanish... around three hours a day (listening to the radio during cooking, ironing, dusting, showering, getting dressed, etc) for 3-4 months before I could understand virtually everything. (While also reading/studying to actively expand my vocab). Am virtually there now with Portuguese :)
So you're saying that I should continue watching videos and listen to podcasts, even if they are really hard for me to understand? And eventually I will get the hang of it? I thought it would just be useless if I can't understand anything. Thanks for writing me, I will continue trying :)
Yes, exactly. Think about it like this: learning to understand by listening is another level of language learning. It's almost like learning the same words over again on another level, meaning you know what the word means, how the word looks (how it is spelled) you even know how it should be pronounced, but now you need to learn to pick it up from just hearing it. I also couldn't understand almost anything when I started to watch TV shows in German, but now I can actually isolate just words that I don't understand ( say every 20th word) and even then I can understand it from context or I can look it up in the dictionary. It's a slow but eventually very rewarding process. :-)
I completely second this entire comment. I even have an example to boot :P
When one of my friends first told me about this song and I watched the video on youtube, I hadn't listened to very much German, and I couldn't make out what the host was saying at the beginning before the song kicks in (there was too much going on, he was talking too fast, blah blah blah etc.); but I liked the song (and still do!), so I kept listening to it, but just ignored the intro because what was the point? I couldn't understand him so I just didn't focus on it.
Then, I stopped listening to the song (for whatever reason) and went away, and listened to it some months later. In the intermediate period I had watched a lot of German films, TV shows and youtube videos; however, I still had the ignore the intro mentality when I started playing the song.
It didn't matter. What he was saying was so clear, it was almost as if he was speaking English. Now, I am by no means the finished article when it comes to German proficiency, but it shows how your ears can adjust if you allow them to.
Try to listening first to something easy, I will give you some links, but also try to listen to songs you like and put the subtitles in youtube, you can make it slower if you need time to read it. You may need to listen the videos a few times, try to first listen without subtitles at normal speed, then you can put the subtitles and slow it down.
Don't worry you will get better
You need to find material that's right for your low-intermediate(?) level before you can move onto the more complicated stuff, otherwise it's frustrating as hell and you'll just want to give up. But I guess you've figured that out already ;-)
OK, so, if one of your long-term aims is to understand German news coverage, start with this (it's free and updated weekly), and you'll develop some great current affairs vocab:
The next link is a mini-series for learners (with subtitles), and even if the story seems a bit silly to you, you'll learn some excellent colloquial expressions that will help you later with "real" German TV programmes:
Most important of all, you'll have to stick with it and keep investing time, a little every day if you can, maybe 20 mins, to see some real progress in a year down the line. A language doesn't learn itself ;-)
Here is my trick. First, you read the German book. If you don't understand , you can check the google translate. It is very useful. Then you write the new words on the paper then stick it somewhere that you can read it everywhere and everytime. Now I want to improve my English so I buy some English books. Try this trick, I know 4 languages because I use that trick.
I have included some youtube video links below which i used when i started listening.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oOEPADpap_A&list=PL1L0EnR6EoCS7FpcwGLZgcdAZZVdhjDMf Deutsch lernen Extra - it is like the american Friends show, but in German and aimed at learners so it is slower and uses simple language. Ideal for a learner to get the hang of things.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BdMtWXJ10kc&list=PLr6WE_9QaY5-gXWPMl3ZZFl4_jOLbJoFr Heidi - it is a kids show so the language is simple. But it isn't aimed at learners so it can be colloquial. I didn't understand everything when is tarted watching it but over time i picked more up and since it is aimed at children it is easy to follow.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_tXG62AY6mI Stories read in German, nice and slow and it has subtitles so it is easier to follow and look up the words you don't understand.
I watched a lot of shows for children because it is still easy to follow the story even if you don't understand, that way i don't get bored. The language also tends to be repetitive and simple, which is good for learners.
Just to add something to the other comments: I find it much easier to learn a language when listening or watching something that I am really interested in. For example, I am addicted to music and I don't need to force me to listen to music with english lyrics or watch to movies in english. What are you actually interested in? Any specific kind of music? Humor? Philosophy? Maybe we can find something for you. I imagine DW podcasts quite boring, exactly because they have the purpose to be didactic. And I think you don't need to worry about throwing anything away. Whenever you really need to speak and understand german, that is, staying some time in germany, you will make a great progress, much faster than if you hadn't learned before.