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What sparked your interest in German? What has made you successful in learning German?

Hallo allerseits! I was wondering, what sparked your interest in the German language? Was it due to your family heritage? Do you know many German speaking people? For those who speakt it conversationally and or fluently, what was the one source that helped you the most?

I started to learn German in high school. I had become friends with our 3 German and Austrian exchange students, and one of them gave me a book in German, "Der Schutzengel." She said if I wanted to read a good book, I'd learn German. (Der Schutzengel was actually written by an American author, Dean Koontz, and neither of us knew the original American title...it was only a few years back that I found out the American title is "Lightening.") I was 14 when I had started to learn. I wanted to learn because of the book, and because I started to have a deep respect for the language due to hearing it every single day in or out of school, as the 4 of us hung out a lot.

To learn German, I picked up "German for Dummies." It has to have been the best book I've used to learn German. It's been 16 years now, and I've managed to become very fluent, but still make mistakes, which still makes learning fun...at least it has for me. I don't think I will never not make mistakes, but that's okay.

Anyway, I'd love to hear about your experiences and what caught your eye!

February 14, 2018


[deactivated user]

    I was browsing for apps and saw the Duolingo owl. It caught my eye so I've installed it.

    Fast forward five minutes... "hummm, think I'm gonna learn German".

    The end.

    Hardly the most interesting story ever.


    It is a story though, right?

    [deactivated user]

      Quite thin... but yeah I guess.


      It doesn't have to be super interesting, or interesting at all, to be a story =)


      Definitely German classical music. Especially opera. Opera basically saved my life when I was 19 (I had no experience of classical music before that) and I love basically all of it, but I'm particularly drawn to the German operatic tradition. I didn't really start out intending to seriously learn German, but the language is so magical to me because of the musical associations I have with it that I got completely obsessed and didn't want to stop studying.

      I don't know any native German speakers, but my best friend is a few decades older than I am and grew up in Vienna and Berlin in the context of the Cold War (his father was a CIA agent) and I get completely enchanted by his memories of being young there. So that's really motivating too, since he lives far away and I miss him and it's nice to feel a sense of connection.


      I love German opera, I just cannot understand it. I think it's just the way it is sung that kind of throws me off. One of my best friends is from Berlin. I've only seen the city once, for just a few days. I, much like yourself, just love the language so much that I couldn't stop learning. I am happy that I didn't give up, because now I speak it fairly fluently. It's opened up doors for me professionally as well as personally. Have you ever tried looking up German language meetups in your area? I am sure there is one.


      I've loved seeing your comments, ExpatQuebe! Happy that you are also appreciative of German opera. I have to use subtitles even with a lot of English-language opera. Sometimes you get a performance with really clear diction, but often the words get sacrificed to the music. (The Wagnerian soprano Deborah Voigt said in her memoir that she once forgot a line, and the prompter wasn't paying attention, so she sang gibberish that sounded like German and just hoped that nobody in the opera house noticed. Which tells you something about how much singers expect their audiences to understand.) But it has enhanced my appreciation so much to be able to understand what people are singing, even if I have to use subtitles.

      I live in Vietnam, so the meet-up situation is a bit tricky... I think there are a fair number of Germans here, but it's not a large community and it's hard to navigate expat circles as a female (they tend not to be very comfortable environments for women). I'll be spending a couple months in Germany & Austria soon and am vaguely contemplating trying to relocate, perhaps temporarily, though I'm not sure how doable that is. The main draw is really my obsession with the language... I'm so in love with German that it's hard to focus on any other language. Guess I will have to find out whether I click with the culture at all (and whether I could find a way to live there legally).


      Well, I don't know how it is for citizens of Vietnam, but Americans and Canadians, can go to University for free in Germany if accepted into a university, we can even now work up to 29 hrs a week without having to get a separate visa for it. I bring this up, because I think it would be something for you to look into, to see if people from Vietnam can also do the same. It may not be the same, but it is most definitely worth a try to find out if it is possible.


      Oh, I'm actually American! Forgot to explain because I'm used to it being so obvious. I've lived in Asia since I left college, and I love this part of the world, but it's isolating. Guess I will have to find out whether I connect with Germany itself as well as its language and classical music. I have a lot of things up in the air right now, but we'll see. Anyway, sorry for the TL;DR ;-)


      If you're an American, then I'd say go for it! It's what I'm going to do :D

      • 1666

      I took German in H.S. because I had to have a language in order to go to college (at least in that day and age it was said to be required). I do have a lot of German heritage. I took German because I was interested in science and German or Russian was recommended. Years later, when I joined the army I took a MOS that almost guaranteed that I'd be stationed in Germany; and I was. I took German in University while I was in Germany. I lived off base because I was married and spoke German with the locals. Fast forward - I hardly remember any German and I became interested again. So I started the Duo English>German course. This is the short version.


      Oh, it is still very much a requirement to learn a foreign language in University or Community Colleges. I've taken, mostly German, but Italian once semester, too. My husband is originally from Belgium, but he lived in Germany for some time, too. He spoke German pretty fluently until he moved to Bavaria lol. How long were you stationed in Germany for?

      [deactivated user]

        I'm a reader and when I picked up Little Women and read about Mr.Bhaer I fell in love, head over heals with his German accent and HIM. So after a while I started watching stuff, and readings stuff, and looking at stuff that's German, and I fell in love with it. Have been for like three to four years now. I'm even planing on going to Germany when I'm 20(five years to go!! XD) I've been learning German for like two weeks now. Hopefully I'll be ready in five years


        You will certainly be ready If you practice diligently! Good luck to you :P I started to learn German some time ago as well and created a club for those who learn the language. It's called 'carpe_diem'. You are more than welcome to join if you wish to. Here is the code: 9FKHKY. And everyone else who is reading this comment, why don't you become a part of our committed team? Hurry up! Or there will be no slots left :)


        If you keep up with it, you absolutely will be able to do more than just read it. Don't push yourself too hard either. I am a perfectionist, and that may, sometimes, seem like a good thing, but honestly, it's not so great. I pushed myself so hard that all I did was stress myself out and I almost gave up learning German. I am happy I took a small break, relaxed a bit, and when I jumped back into it, I made sure that I didn't push myself too hard.


        Ich interessiere mich für Sprachwissenschaft, und wollte irgendeine Sprache lernen. Es gibt ein paar Gründe, warum ich Deutsch gewählt habe. Ich finde es interessant, wie Deutsch verwandt mit anderen Sprachen ist und was die Unterschiede sind. Ich finde die Grammatik faszinierend. Außerdem wurden viele wichtige philosophische, mathematische, technische und wissenschaftliche Schriften, sowie andere Literatur, auf Deutsch geschrieben, und werden weiter auf Deutsch geschrieben. Weiterhin interessiere ich mich für Genealogie und habe etwas deutsche Wurzeln, weil mein Urgroßvater Deutscher war. Ich mag deutsche Kultur und das Volk. Ich interessiere mich mehr allgemein für europäische Geschichte und Kulturen, und Deutschland ist genau im Mitteleuropa und mit vielen anderen Ländern verbunden. Aus diesem Grund und die Tatsache, dass so viele Menschen Deutsch können, ist nach meiner Meinung Deutschland sehr wichtig für Europa. Ich denke, dass sehr nützlich ist, einen Gedankenaustausch aufrechterhalten zu können.

        (If anyone feels like correcting this, or pointing out any errors, it would be appreciated)


        Ausgezeichnet ;-). Ein paar Kleinigkeiten: "Aus diesem Grund und (wegen) der Tatsache, dass ....", "Ich denke, dass es sehr nützlich ...."


        Sehr sehr gut!

        Noch eine Sache: "Deutschland ist/liegt genau in Mitteleuropa" oder noch besser "in der Mitte Europas".


        Ja, hab herausgefunden, dass mein Urgrossvater auch aus Deutschland war. Ihn und seine Familie sind nach Kanada ausgewandert als er noch sehr jung war. Ich bin zweisprachig aufgewachsen (Englisch und Quebecois). Ich kannte damals viele Austauschschueler aus Deutschland und Oesterreich, und wegen Ihnen, hatte ich damals beschlossen, Deutsch zu lernen. Ich mache noch Schreibfehler, aber dass kann ich ja nur erwarten, da ich noch nie die Gelegenheit hatte, mich komplett in die Kultur und Sprache einzuleben.

        [deactivated user]

          Thanks for the challenging read. I agree with you reasons. I had to use google translate for a few words, like "Gedankenaustausch aufrechterhalten". At first I couldn't figure out "dass so viele Menschen Deutsch können." Is that colloquial or is it redundant to say "dass so viele Menschen Deutsch sprechen können"?


          "etwas können" e.g. a language, is a very common expression. No need to include "sprechen" in this phrase unless you do want to stress the oral capability of speaking German


          I am pretty sure it's colloquial.


          Just started learning it last year...5 months running. I started learning German in Youtube up until I felt I needed to enroll in a class. I love the German language - how strong sounds and all. I only hear it from movies and I never really gave it a try until now. I have no German descent and I know very few people who can speak it - like 2 Germans (one of them is my teacher) and 2 Swiss acquaintances.lol It's kinda sad that we are not too exposed in German culture here in Philippines (or European culture in general) but that's not stopping me anyway.

          Hoping to take the A1 exam this year and visit Germany/Austria/Switzerland next year :)


          That is awesome! I hope you'll be able to make it there. I've spent very little time in German speaking countries, definitely not enough that he really helped me along with my level of German. Luckily, where I lived, we had a good sized German community, plus, German was actually spoken as a local dialect for a hundred years or so. Fredericksberg, New Braunfels, New Berlin...these are all towns around San Antonio, Texas. The local dialect there is called Texas Deutsch. It's different, but not so much that it isn't understandable. You should wiki or google it :D learning about different dialects will most definitely give you a respect for the language, at least it did for me =)


          Really interesting story!


          I have a German ancestor and I think that because of that I always wanted to learn the language but never dedicated enough time to do it. Now I am ready to learn. Thank you for asking


          several- I have been fascinated by the community of Germany. very good quality education, diligent, dedicated to work, similar to America in many ways... I live in the US, and Germany has free college tuition, i am very interested in that. I feel like it would be a very familiar foreign place, great introduction to rest of the world. I feel as a white American I will be lacking, am lacking, diversity in my life. I have this feeling that it will open me to being more worldly, and understanding language more. i have some german heritage, but that really did not play any role in my decision. I took french in high school, but not enough of it stuck for me to have any fluency. on a stranger, almost spiritual level, i just feel like germany is the direction I am going.


          I was raised around three languages; French (Quebecois, Englisch and Norwegian). French and English were my first languages, and my great grandfather on my fathers side, who was from Norway, would speak to us in Norwegian, so much so, that we used to speak it with him. Once he passed, we spoke to each other in Norwegian, but never really knew enough to maintain it, sadly. German kind of striked my interest, along with my friends, because it was something new, somewhat difficult, much like German is, but I actually find German to be a simple language compared to Norwegian. I'd like to go abroad for a year, in either Germany or Austria. I have many friends in both countries, and I'd very much like to spend some time learning about their dialects, and what grammar differences a dialect and Hochdeutsch share or how the differences might separate themselves from each other.


          I did German at secondary school but took so little interest remember very little of it. Fast forward to last year and with a keen interest in armoured vehicles decided to visit the German Tank Museum in Munster (The 'other' Munster).

          A few months before I was due to go I thought I better at least learn a few phrases that may or may not help when I visit and that's how I came to Duolingo.

          Come the time of the visit and a family illness meant I had to cancel. Spring forward nearly a year and I completed the German tree about a week ago. I must admit my interest comes in fits and starts but I always continue to visit Duo on a daily basis and at present am trying to have some discipline about using other online sources. Right now my German trip is planned for next year. It'll be a nice opportunity to try out what I've learnt but am sure it'll be more of an eye opener about how little I know but then that's half the fun of languages and communication :-)


          I'm going to Germany soon for my (mother's side) grandparents 50th anniversary. Also my (father's side) grandpa is German.


          Have you spent a lot of time in Germany prior?


          I am retired military man. Served in Germany twice for 3 years each time. Learn a bit of street German, enough to order food, etc. Lately, I have rekindled the desire to improve my knowledge of German language, but cannot find a tutor in my city. Found Doulingo online, and enjoying the start to lessons.


          If you live in a decent size city, or a military rown, I'd search on Facebook for German speakers in (insert your city/town name here) and maybe something will pop up. It's worth a try.


          I took four years of German in junior high and high school back in the 1980s. Fast forward 30 years and I realized that I still have the German-bug. I started Duolingo six months ago and have been loving it! I feel pretty good about vocabulary memorization, pronunciation, and reading comprehension; however, my weaknesses are definitely speaking and listening comprehension. I watch German language videos, which helps with listening comprehension, but it'd be especially helpful if I had someone to converse with.


          I have a german partner and we communicate in English - And I thought it would only be fair if I learned her language... I started learning it so I could communicate more with her family also.

          I remember the first time I went to Germany to see her just 4 months after I decided to start learning (only duolingo). I was sitting at a family meal with most of her family who were unable to speak much English but I was getting by. After about 4 days of getting used to the sounds I was participating and following some conversations in German - I'll never forget the satisfaction I felt after, it was amazing.

          So thank you Duo and to the members who explain the grammar that sometimes I can't get my head around!


          I feel the same. The first time I was able to follow along an entire conversation in German gave me such a feeling of satisfaction. It's pretty awesome lol


          I did it because I chose to partake in German dancing a few years back. It was s o f u n and recommend it to everyone. I could also say I did it because I have an interest in their culture in general.. it almost (almost) makes me feel like I'm blood German. Ich liebe es die Sprache zu lernen!!


          Es ist eine vernuenftige Sprache :D lol


          All my life people have told me I'm smart, so due to that I like to challenge my brain. Fast forward to one day junior year of high school. I was bored out of my mind sitting at home. I had been binging netflix for the past few weeks and was officially sick of it. Then I remembered reading about duolingo on tumblr. I signed up and saw the five languages available at the time. I knew I hated spanish, both because high school spanish sucks and being of (half) mexican heritage, everyone expected me to know it. So I thought to myself, "Which of these languages has the reputation for being hardest?" Well it was German. Also german being the other half of my heritage I thought it was fitting. Go figure. Anyway, give it a year and I completed the original German tree. I've since deleted that account on account of changing my email and wanting to start over, but I can speak moderately well. I got a B+ in my college's German 2 class. I'm still working to improve and am currently trying to read Harry Potter in German. That is slow going though. After three months I'm six pages in. I'm not the most devoted person obviously. Anyway, that's my story. Tschüss.


          What a great discussion - very interesting to read the responses!! I was researching my ancestors and some of the records were in German. After using Duolingo to learn some French, I thought why not German!! Also I'm hoping to visit Germany next year. Though I won't be fluent, I am hoping to know enough to make the visit fun.


          Fluent or not, if you can ask for directions, basic knowledge, most people will love and respect the fact that you went through the trouble to learn their language.


          Thanks ExpatQuebe! Good point.


          because a story i heard about a contractor who spoke german and overheard the house owner talkin trash


          I dont know i just like learning german XD


          And that is reason enough :D


          I was born in Garmisch-Partenkirchen Germany and I lived in Germany for nine years. I hope to visit soon.

          Ich wurde in Garmisch-Partenkirchen geboren und lebte neun Jarhe in Deutschland. Ich hoffe, bald zu besuchen.


          Und wo seid ihr denn gegangen und warum habt ihr Deutschland verlassen? Ich bin in den USA geboren aber in Kanada aufgewachsen und wohne nun seit 20 Jahre wieder in den Staaten.


          I have been wanting to learn German for many years because of work. 90% of the colleagues from my dept. are in Germany.


          About two years ago I started with an amazing company who hired me because I speak German. It is a real confidence boost.


          Babylon Berlin TV series and The Devil's Mistress (movie)


          Don't forget to watch Dark on Netflix! It's also a German Netflix Original.


          I've been wanting to become tri-lingual for years but never got around to it until now. Why German? i dunno lol, i guess i like the way it sounds. I'm also a native swedish speaker and the two languages are both Germanic so i figured that would give me a headstart.

          [deactivated user]

            {Please leave me correction notes} Vielleicht bin ich nicht so jung wie einige von euch. Aber, meine Freundlin, die französische ist, traf eine altere Frau in Paris. Die Frau sprach Französisch fließend, mit keinem Akzent. Die Frau sagte dass, sie nur Französich begante zu lernen wenn sie 60 Jahre war. Das gab mir hoffen! Nein. Ich bin nicht 60, aber ich bin nicht jung. Zu sprechen einer andere Sprache ist mein Traum (etwas in meine Bucket-Liste). Die französisch Sprache ist schön, aber sie ist nicht die Sprache von entweder Schiller oder Beethoven. Zu lesen seinem Konversationshefte, dass toll wäre! Zu schlecht hatte er sehr unordentliche Handschrift.


            Upvoting for Beethoven's conversation books... Am making a stop in Bonn this spring just for him!


            German is part of me.


            I want to bring back Prussia


            Why not the ancient Rome? Or Pangaea?


            better yet- why not all? who says Latin is dead?


            Why is it you'd like to bring Prussia back?


            Good questions, good questions indeed. I have some for myself-


            Because that is where I come from.


            So, are you saying you were born in Prussia before February 25, 1947, or that your ancestors were from Prussia?


            I come from a third world country (Russia) and Germany was my first country to visit. I was so fascinated by the first world that I moved here. Now trying to become German


            I had the opportunity to visit Switzerland and I was very in awe on the German language in action. Afterwards, I had a day trip in Berlin and I was very much attached to the language. I was fascinated how close the language is to English. I figured that I could probably learn this easier than Chinese (it took me my entire childhood to do so and even then that's half-heartedly)

            Up to that point, I've only heard them in videogames and movies. The best I can do is try to "imitate" how the heck they spoke.

            Jetzt, seit 3 Monaten habe ich viel lernen. Meine Schrift und Wort sind vielleicht nicht gut. Aber ich kann etwas deutsche Media verstehen und ich kann irgendwie Dinge beschreiben. Ich höre auch zu etwas Liedern von Rammstein.

            Wenn ich nach Europa zurück für einen Urlaub fliege, ich wünsche, dass ich mit der Menschen in das Deutsche Länder besser reden kann. Ich wurde vielleicht ein paar neuen Freunde machen.

            Learn German in just 5 minutes a day. For free.