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Why Doesn't the German Course Cover This?

I have really enjoyed learning German! But there are two things so far that I find strange the course doesn't cover.

One is, why doesn't it start off on square one by explaining the different sounds that letters and letter combinations make? As well as umlaut sounds. I realize this can be picked up by hearing the audio, but I think there should be a lot of notes about pronunciations. Especially since some learners cannot have audio in certain situations. When I'm free at work, I learn on my computer that has no sound. Therefore, I did not find out until yesterday (when I had a chance to use audio on my phone) that the word "sie" is pronounced "zee". I thought it sounded like "see" and wish I could've had a pronunciation table to study beforehand and during. I just had to find one on a different website.

Two, there needs to be some kind of guide as how to identify a word's gender. Is there any kind of method or things to look for? Or is it pure memorization? That can be hard, as there are three different ways to say "the", depending on a word's gender and other things. A guide to this is also something I'm going to have to find elsewhere.

No big deal, just a little surprising and maybe the course contributors should considering adding these things in.

Also, I'm surprised numbers have not been introduced yet. I'm almost 30% fluent now, with not a single number lesson showing up.

Any other German learners notice these things? Maybe it's introduced later? I can't imagine why it would be taught late in the course....

January 26, 2018



Maybe you're right with the pronounciation help, since German sounds are very different from how English speaking people would pronounce them. With the genders it's difficult. Ther e are some classes of words where you can see the gender, but for most words you have to memorize it. For example, nearly all words ending in -ung, -tät or -ion are female, words ending in -ling, -ig or -ich are male and words ending in -chen are neuters, if they are diminutives. See also here https://deutsch.lingolia.com/en/grammar/nouns-and-articles/gender


look at the ending of the word.

masculine: -er, -ich, -ismus, -ist, -ner.

feminine: -ade, -age, -anz, -enz, -ette, -ine, -ion, -tur, -e, -ei, -heit, -ie, -ik, -in, -keit, -schaft, -tät, -ung.

neuter: -chen, -ium, -lein, -ment, -tum/um.


Unfortunately this can only be a guideline. For many of them there are a lot of counterexamples: Die Mauer, die Mutter, die Frist, der Tanz, der Schwanz, der Hase, .... Short and common words are very difficult to guess, rare and long words seem to obey better to those rules ;-).


As far as I know, these are the endings for which there are no counter-examples:

masculine: -ig -ling -or -ismus

feminine: -heit -ung -keit -ei -schaft -tion -ität -ik

neuter: -tum -chen -ma -ment -um -lein


Mantarochen ends in -chen but is masculine. https://www.dwds.de/wb/Mantarochen


Jochen, Rochen, Knochen, .... but they are pronounced differently, the ch is not like in Mädchen, Hündchen, Häuschen, ....


I've never found formal pronunciation tables terribly useful (probably since I just can't be bothered to learn almost another language just pronounce the one I'm learning) but imagine that creating pronunciation guidelines is not that easy on a site with global reach.

Even in your simple example, saying that "sie" sounds like "zee" only works if your mother tongue 1) has the "z" character and 2) pronounces it in a way that will help. I just find it easier to go to an online dictionary (like Dict.cc), pick a few words and listen to them to learn the sounds.

Genders - as others have said, while there are broad tendencies, you've just got to memorize them. It does get easier with time and even Germans sometimes mess them up :)

Numbers should be introduced a bit earlier since they are really useful but in daily life (such as shopping, waiting for a train, finding when a movie plays, etc.) you can almost always see the numbers and respond appropriately. I've found at least in Germany and most of South America that it's more important to know what the heck you're eating and how to get from one place to another than counting things or dealing with payment issues.


Take Duo's "fluency" with a grain of salt. Apparently I'm 50% fluent but I couldn't understand a German conversation if my life depended on it.

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One good reason may be that the sound that comes from Duo in many formats is not really clear. Think about how many times it was hard to understand the German audio in some lessons and you may come to the conclusion that it would be a big waste of time for Duo to try and do this.

Stimmt jemand anderes mit mir überein?


Oh so true!! As a native English speaker doing the reverse English/German tree, I have needed to press the turtle button at times to understand the spoken English


Isn't that the truth? And on the mobile app, in the reverse tree, having to say the English sentence, and getting rejected. Wait a minute! I started speaking this language before the age of two!


Yep, absolutely. Even as a native it is hard to understand every spoken word. Remember, it is a program, free of charge, to help you along for the first steps. If you need audio feed, just enter the forum and look out for German resources, there must be dozens of entries about this topic. Genuine phrases just to get used to the genuine sound.


The synthetic voices are not very good, but at least we got German stories recently, which are spoken by real speakers. They are much better.


Numbers are introduced much later on.


You're talking about a bottom up, rather than a top down approach. Research has found that a top down approach is more effective, i.e. you start with whole chunks of language and break it down into its individual elements, rather than the other way round, as the individual elements have no meaning on their own - they only make sense in the context of using the language for communication. It's the same reason that children are generally no longer taught the alphabet first before they learn to read or write, as the individual sounds are meaningless on their own. I'm assuming that this is why the lessons don't start with a pronunciation guide. Perhaps a reference guide that you could refer to, if you want, would be good have. I've often wanted one for grammar myself and have had to go searching on other sites.


if you want to learn numbers watch some episodes of Hogan's Heroes, Schultz counts up to twenty or so...


I hear you. The gender thing a real frustration. I picked up a tip some time ago that works a great deal of the time (but not always) For der: if the work ends in ig, ling or smus For die: word ends in e, heit, ung, keit, schaft, tion, itat, ik For das: tum, chen, ma, ment, um, lein Also if verbs are tuned into nous use das (das schlafen, das sprechen) Its a lot to remember but with practice it begins to stick.

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