Reading has been insanely helpful in learning vocabulary and sentence structure...
While I am not yet done my tree, I am supplementing my studies with outside materials, in particular books.
I found Andre Klein to be a great jumping off point. He has a set of 5 books which are "krimis" (crime stories) and are targeted to intermediate level readers (guessing around 5-6-7 US grade).
After completing them I wanted to read even more, and found Max Stiller who has a series of krimis available on Amazon for only a couple of dollars. The reviewers there suggested that they were great for German language learners. I have started reading Vergessen, which is certainly more challenging. Using the Kindle you can look up word meanings while reading which helps. I have also found that I am able to discern word meaning from context as I would in English. As I proceed through the book, I am able to go further without encountering an unfamiliar word.
Kindle also has a German dictionary, not a German<->English dictionary, and I found it a bit surprising that I was able to determine a meaning of a word or two from reading the dictionary.
If you can't get yourself in conversational settings, then find something to read!
Are there reading materials that others can recommend as part of the learning process?
Immersion has many articles. Please use your German skills to translate sentences in Immersion. My german is not good enough to help. But you should find the articles there and work to translate and correct those sentences.
I would agree.
When I got far along enough in Spanish, I started reading the Divergent Trilogy. I knew the books in English; that way, if I didn't know all of the words, I didn't get lost. I could still figure out where I was in the story. I'm reading the Hunger Games now.
I also like to read magazines and newspaper articles. They're more difficult, but I read those more slowly and look up the words that I don't know.
I love my Kindle - and you can download bilingual dictionaries very cheaply. E-readers have revolutionised foreign language reading for learners, we've never had it so easy :)
A little while ago, I wrote this article on foreign language reading strategies:
The German newsmagazine Der Spiegel has an English website. Some of the German articles appear in English. I'll see how much I can grasp in German and then I'll check to see if I'm right. I recently read an article about comedian John Cleese and I understood some of it. And I'm not that far along in German.
Congrats on your level of accomplishment.
I use Der Spiegel as well. I am certainly up on the various "Absturz"-es and "Untergehen"-s and not to mention the "Angriff"-s around the world.
Do I ever agree with you! Reading has helped me with English. I now read faster in English than French (my mother tongue). And, I have already bought several books I intend to read to improve my German. You may want to try some bilingual books (German-English). The German version is on one page and English on the opposite page. This way you can compare your own translation with the one offered in the book. Enjoy,