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Ich bin in Wien...and I can understand some German!

And I can understand some things! I have finished about 60% of the tree over the last few months, and I was pleased to realize that now that I'm hearing German "in the wild," I can actually understand a lot of spoken German.

For tourism purposes, I'm actually able to ask my concierge questions, ask for directions, understand some German spoken by passersby, etc. In real conversations (I'm with some people who are actually conducting business in German), I'm getting 10-20% of sentences, and I can distinguish each word even though I don't know many of them. My goal with Duolingo was to gain tourist-level proficiency, and I seem to have done that successfully. So, hurrah. :)

Good luck to all of us learners!

June 21, 2014



That's great to hear! If you are understanding that much with 60% of the tree done, you will be doing really well when you complete the tree! I have never been to Austria, so I would be interested in hearing the dialect and accent. Do you notice any great difference between Austrian German and the Hochdeutsch you learn here on Duolingo?


Austria has many many dialects. I live in Tirol. I am a native English speaker trying to learn German and the dialects are horrible. I was in Wien last weekend and I used to live there. Wien has its own Dialect that is very different from most German dialects. You can understand it, if you speak Hochdeutsch.

When you get to Tirol, the dialects change with every valley and are as bad as Schweizer Deutsch. For example Ich is pronounce "I" ( "e") in my valley. Many of the Germans who vacation here complain about not being able to understand the locals.


I am from Germany (to be more exactly: from Lower Saxony where we speak Hochdeutsch) and sometimes when I watch an Austrian or Bavarian "Tatort" (a German detective series) I have to concentrate me to understand everything. With Swabian Tatorten it´s the same (another horrible German dialect). By the way, Hanover (the capital from Lower Saxony) is called "die Hochburg des Hochdeutschen" in Germany, because the people from Hanover and the surrounding area speak the most perfect Hochdeutsch. Tja, deutsche Sprache schwere Sprache (a popular German saying, especially in the German school lessons :))


That's so awesome you're from Germany! You speak very good English! :-)


That's just because we're forced to learn English at school :-) A little bit of those up to 13 years of learning English in school has to be somewhere in the head (of course there are still many Germans that understand about nothing from the English language, my parents for example). And I also have my trouble in Austrian villages. Only because it's called German, it isn't always German.


Here's a lingot for your hard work at English! :)


Thank you, but only because we learn English at school and you always hear it, even here in Germany (on TV, on the internet, in commercial spots etc.). And in some Jobs it is very important to understand and speak English, too. Besides, good command of English is always good in your CV... But I have to agree Peremptor that many Germans, especially the "older generation" (how it is a common expression in German) does not speak English very well and often with a very strong German accent. Probably you already have heard that Germans have a really hard pronunciation and when someone with a strong accent says something in English it sounds very strange, even to me.


this saying when transversed to Polish is also a saying ("polska język, trudna jezyk")


The biggest difference is in the names for food, at least that I've noticed! Many of the menus included names I wasn't familiar with...then I looked them up, and they were marked as dialect words. I didn't notice too many other things, probably because my Hochdeutsch is rudimentary anyway.

I'm hoping to supplement Duo with actual lessons...my goal is to complete 75% of the tree in the next two weeks. We'll see how that goes!


That's interesting :) Good luck with the rest of your tree :) (Btw, I recommend trying Wiener Schnitzel before you leave, I had it in Munich and it is amazing) Enjoy the rest of your trip! Auf Wiedersehen!


Grüß Gott :-)


Geh, Madchen! Keep it up!


Since being taught how to work out my tree percent (thanks guys!) I've concluded that I've done about 40% - and I'm having full conversations with Germans. BUT I have been listening to podcast, reading blogs, listening to German music, talking to my German friends and textbook practicing. I'm just kinda panicking because I move to Germany to work there in... 3 weeks? So I really need to up my game, my work environments are only German speaking, my work is German and I need to be speaking straight away. I've totally made this about me but my point was meant to be that with outside Duolingo efforts here and there, it comes quickly. Maybe even a podcast on the bus (/try Warum nicht by Deutshe Welle), doing a page of textbook before bed or talking to some Germans (Try inerpal.net) would benefit you!


Lingots for your studies! Best of luck to you and i hope you get to enjoy living in Germany!

[deactivated user]

    You shouldn't worry about "up-ing your game" too much because it's important you understand everything you are learning. Don't be afraid to get things wrong when you're there. Being happy to get things wrong and learn from your mistakes will get you further in languages than just studying will. It also helps to only speak German and avoid English while you are there (although it is really embarrassing to start with). Have fun in Germany (so jealous) :)


    Yeah I'm already having skype calls and email conversations about my work in German and it's SO embarrassing. I feel like a total idiot most of the time. Hopefully within a year it we get a lot better!

    [deactivated user]

      Sounds good ;)


      Don't worry too much. Right now you're struggling, but it takes very little time to begin understanding everything, and before you know it, you'll be talking like a pro. Good luck.


      Good luck! And I agree, outside exposure is key. :) I also suggest trying your local library (both in the US and in Germany, or wherever) because they often have German-language films, music, books, etc!


      That sounds so cool! I'll have to check out my library soon!


      Peppa the pig in German? ;)


      I'm sorry to sound really stupid, I've been using Duolingo for 5 months, I'm almost a level 13 and I really feel like I should know what this tree everyone keeps talking about is. Do I have a tree? Where is it? Must I plant it? I have so many questions Jokey as this post is please help cause I have no idea what this tree is...


      Haha the tree is just what we call the collection of skills on your home page :)


      Thank you! How do I find my percent?


      How many blocks you done divided by 72 then times by 100.

      [deactivated user]

        There's 72 total skills. If you finished 36 you would have 36/72=0.5 0.5*100=50 percent, for example


        Because there are 72 blocks. If you did all the german courses you did 72 blocks and it is 100%. If you did 36, it is 50% and so on...


        Don't worry, I did the same thing. You just keep seeing the word 'tree' and it's like.... I'm on the internet, not outside! :)


        I do not know when did you start on Duolingo but earlier the blocks seemed differently. Not exactly a tree but there was a very little similarity.


        For perspective, I have finished 99.9% of the tree and struggled when I was in Vienna a few weeks ago.

        Edit: I don't mean to be a downer :-(


        Duolingo is best for vocabulary. I agree. But in concert with formal classes, and exposure to German in the wild, it can work extremely well. :) I'm an American stuck at home, but rewatching my favorite shows in German dubbing as well as looking up German youtube channels has helped me somewhat with exposing myself to wild German. I've recently reach a point where I can comfortably watch some material in German. I think ultimately the translation based model of Duolingo doesn't help to internalize a language as well. In order to be good at another language, you need to think in that language and listen to it a lot once you got the vocab down from duolingo.


        I would personally argue that Duo isn't that great for vocab, either ;-). Its greatest strength appears to be reading skills.


        I would say, that at least compared to the classes I've taken,duolingo is better for helping me remember vocab. In my classes I sometimes find myself still looking up a word that I had already been seeing for weeks, and yet somehow I'm blanking on. On duolingo, I find that I retain new words I run into more quickly. I think the problem with the vocab on duolingo is really that it decides to start you off with what I like to call "caveman" words - words with food, water, animals, eating, running, etc. - instead of focusing more common greetings and phrases that are essential if you want to be begin communicating, but I can see the argument in favor of starting off with these words since they are also part of the core language.


        I believe you're retaining that vocab 'faster' because it is always in the same context. Duolingo's sentences are limited, which means you're often seeing the same ones, and your brain can fill in the missing translation.

        In something more open like a class or a conversation, your brain is looking for the vocab on the fly, so will find it naturally more difficult.


        Yeah, that also makes sense. I did consider that maybe what's happening is that I only think I'm remembering less in a formal classroom setting. I find that sometimes if I'm given a writing assignment where it's "write about so and so thing in your life in German" I find myself using new words the next day, without feeling like a made any conscious effort to remember them.

        [deactivated user]

          Great post!


          Because Duolingo is a great tool for gaining vocabulary and learning grammar, but you have to take some real world practice to accelerate your progress.


          Oh, Duolingo alone isn't sufficient, I agree. I've supplemented it a little with some German-language podcasts, music, and TV. Also, for some reason many of my friends from college speak German, so I've been listening to them making jokes for about two years. (That's why I originally started learning on Duolingo...I got fed up with not being included!)


          Hallo, Bonniee. Which German language podcasts do you listen to? Any suggestions? I'm at the beginner level of German. Going to study A2 level of German in Sept. Thanks a lot~


          Duo is best for vocab, I didn't know how to conjugate verbs until I learned it somewhere else. Duolingo isn't the best place to learn grammar.


          Ich bin auch in Wien gewesen! It is a wonderful city, and I want to congratulate you on your success. But I am not surprised: I have found the greatest improvement that Duolingo has contributed to my German is in aural comprehension. I buy DVSs from Amazon.de and can understand them now without the subtitles for the hearing impaired. So, in my own small way, I share how you feel and doubly celebrate your success. All the best to you and our community!


          for fun, look up "Nur fur Dich Tassen" --https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NlujZjmeC7Q-- it's a cute German cup commerical where these little teacups are talking and it's really funny:-)


          Nice for u, congratulations!


          How long youare doing 60% of tree? Do you learn some german before Duolingo s tree? Thanks


          I recommend you to read german news sites like Der Spiegel, Die Presse, Der Standard. I find it really useful, (at least for myself)

          [deactivated user]

            Congratulations on attaining your goal!


            Wow, that is amazing. Keep learning.


            I'm glad for you. I'm understanding a little bit German. For me, native portuguese, it's so hard to learn german but I'm in a big evolution ... I hope to get where you are, yes we can :D

            • 2735

            Great story, thanks for sharing! Keep up on finishing the tree... :)


            bless you Bonniee! DL seems to be a very straightforward learning platform but in some cases, just wanted to bite it!!! as it doesnt work in the common sense I am used to be working in english. anyhow, how do you find Wien? are people friendly? do they respond in english? although it's different to visit as tourist and different when at work! enjoy dear!


            Thanks Alexis! Wien was very nice, the people were friendly and the city was beautiful -- I especially liked the museums. People respond in German if you try to speak to them in German, but most of employees in shops and restaurants I visited also spoke excellent English.


            good news Bonniee! so glad you liked it. so, would you ever go back there to work and live? what i mean, is it a place worth going for a life change?


            That' s awesome! Duolingo has hilft mir sehr viele! The timed praxis ist extreme nutzlich fur learning Deutsch!


            Hallo Leute! Wieso kommentieren sie immer auf Englisch? Bitte auf Deutsch :D!


            Wir kommentieren auf Englisch, weil nicht alle die schwere Worte versteht. (I hope this sentence is correct.)


            Enjoy Vienna! Make sure to go to Sacher and/or Demel. It's the sweet stuff that Vienna is really great at.


            Tag yall!! Michael Kessler, a German comedian that I learned about in my German classes a few years ago. Hope you enjoy


            I keep seeing reference to the "tree" but I don't know what it is. Could someone please explain that to me? Danke!


            congrats sweetie!! wie geht es ihnen? ich heibe carolyn. wie heiben sie? sehr gut!


            This is great, and exactly what I was wanting to know! Thanks for the info. :) I'll be in the Frankfurt area in September, so hopefully I can get as much of the tree done as possible and have a good start on the language.


            Hello, sounds really good, I too started German with Duolingo a few months ago. On my visits I have been able to order food, ask for directions, visit the local tip, get a speeding ticket! and spend time with my neighbour who speaks no English and get by in basic German. I am up to level 5 now and I think it is getting harder. I think I have a good deal of vocabulary under my belt, but struggle with sentence order. My new neighbours just seem to be happy that I am trying. I have still to try to converse with the old boy who walks his dog every day, but we smile at each other!


            Sie verstehen Deutsch, dass ist großartig! ich spreche es fließend wie Sie sagen.


            If I am allowed to correct you (I am from Germany): Sie verstehen Deutsch, das ist großartig! Ich spreche es fließend wie Sie sagen. But do not worry, even German pupils have problems with the das/dass. Here a tip: You can always use das when you could use welcher, too. In your sentence das reffers to the fact that she is able to understand German. But it is especially difficult for you because the English language translates das and dass to that. Just keep practicing and you will have hardly problems with this rule. Noch weiterhin viel Glück beim Lernen, Echoorbin!


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