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short, easy-to-follow TV op-ed pieces at Deutsche Welle in both English and German

A good friend of mine, Lars Halter, co-hosts Deutsche Welle's daily teleseries, Wirtschaft Plus from Berlin. Each W+ installment is a 2-3 minute op-ed about topics featured in lengthier journalism pieces by DW reporters. Before launching Wirtschaft Plus, Lars covered the NYSE in NY, where we became friends.

If you've finished most of the German tree, I'm confident you'll find the series comprehensible and entertaining. And if you want to corroborate your understanding, queue up the English version and compare. As with all DW programming, there are even optional subtitles.

I couldn't locate a central repository at the DW website for W+ broadcasts, but you can find Lars' in-German W+ broadcasts at http://www.dw.com/search/de?searchNavigationId=9077=de=gN=lars+halter and his in-English broadcasts at http://www.dw.com/search/en?searchNavigationId=9097=en=gN=lars+halter. There is usually a delay between publication of the German and English versions of the same op-ed.

Let me know if any of you find this helpful. I'm sure Lars would be pleased.

May 25, 2017



I think I'm at the level where I can pick up bits and phrases, but not yet the gist of the message. I hope to get there - danke! Out of curiousity, I see you're working on French, German, and Russian ... any particular reason you chose those languages?


Keep trying; German is a wonderful language. I've spoken it for approximately 18 years, having once worked for a Swiss company. I also took two years in high school and somehow managed to proficiency out of my language requirement at Northwestern. Something about the language evidently "clicked." I tested out of almost everything on the DL German tree but find it very helpful in reinforcing noun-gender associations. As soon as I began studying French and Russian, I started confusing noun genders in German. So I am relentless about doing several timed exercises each day. It has proven really helpful.

I took one year of Russian in middle school in 1971 or 72 (our instructor was an official UN translator), but the first oil crisis forced our school system to cut certain programs to pay its heating bill, among them Latin, Greek and Russian. It has been many years since middle school but I managed to retain the Cyrillic alphabet and several useful nouns, verb conjugations and phrases. I began studying the language once DL Russian exited its beta phase. Progress has been slow. I try to do 5 or 6 review exercises each day before attempting to learn anything new, but still find the "already-learned" vocabulary, declensions, conjugations and word order very challenging. It has taken me since last July to make it through the third of five checkpoints, but I doubt I could test out of even 20% of the sections. I have no practical use for Russian, and have little interest in traveling there. But I'm finishing something I started 45 years ago; it's the way I am.

To kill time before the "real" launch of Russian, I decided to try a romance language and settled on French because I have friends in Paris and Geneva. Spanish would have been more useful but I have no regrets about DL French. I was in Toronto in March and my smartphone suddenly prompted me to choose between English or French for my news feeds. I selected French and have never switched back. I've evidently learned enough in 10 months to read every article my phone serves up. I have to toggle occasionally between a translation app and the article to decipher new vocabulary, but the course has made reading in French rather easy. The best thing about French is vocabulary. It's practically English. So learning to think in French comes almost naturally.

The hardest thing about French for me is listening comprehension. Many of the vowels and consonants and diphthongs sound identical or are silent. German pronunciation is wonderful because every letter is enunciated and, with a few minor exceptions, pronounced consistently. I am a long way from French fluency, but have begun watching French movies with French closed captioning so I can read along. I have to do a lot of pausing and rewinding, but see a light at the end of the tunnel.

If I ever begin to feel comfortable with Russian, I'll try yet another language. I love the intellectual challenge.


Thank you for this! Whenever I finish my tree, I'll have to check it out. :)

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