https://www.duolingo.com/profile/sara7reis

Full golden German tree & tips for now

I've just completed my German tree - was a bit of a pain in the arse to make it golden but finally made it :)

Just wanted to share a few other tools I'm using with you, and hopeful get feedback on what's working for others.

I know that one of the most powerful tools for learning a language and drill it naturally into your brain is through reading. Lots and lots of reading. That's how I learned English anyway. If you read abundantly enough grammatical constructions in the new language become familiar to you without you needing to learn the rules, just because you saw them so many times in so many different contexts. You know what sounds right even if you can't explain why. That's also how we learn our mother-tongue, if you think about it. So I knew that's what I had to do to learn German.

Bilingual books - I find parallel texts the easiest way to start reading in a language you are not very familiar with. Having the same text in the same page, aligned sentence by sentence is incredibly useful and removes the need to use the dictionary constantly and so break the follow of the reading. I love Harry Potter books, have read them countless times so I knew they were a great place to start. There are no bilingual HP books though, so what I did was get the NOVA Text Aligner software to align the texts myself. All you need is the pdf versions of each language and then tweak the alignments a bit. It is a bit time-consuming but you get to practice your German while you are aligning the texts so it's no time wasted! Definitely recommend doing this with stories you love. There are also quite a few bilingual books out there if you don't want the trouble.

Child fairy-tales - I also bought a book with small stories about Disney characters to read since I figured they would be easy enough to understand and I more or less recognised the storylines. I'm very happy to say that having now covered more or less all grammatical aspects of German, I can follow the stories almost completely, with just a few words unrecognised. Definitely a good method!

German magazines - I find magazines a lot easier to follow than newspapers, particularly because of the smaller articles and lots of pictures and some diagrams about the topics. I started with Focus but I'm thinking now that I should have stuck with easier ones, like tabloids like Bild since their language is much simpler (although the information is crap).

Hearing is also a key part of learning a language so here are a few tips to practice German listening skills:

Favourite show dubbed in German - just like the logic of bilingual books, the idea is you pick a show you are already familiar with and enjoy and look it up on Netflix, for example. I'm currently going through New Girl episodes from the start and while I cannot understand enough to be able to get everything they are saying, it's rewarding to sometimes recognise words and entire sentences from Duolingo lessons :) . Netflix gives you the options of subtitles in either German or English so there's that extra help if you want. In order to be able to get German Netflix when you're not in Germany you can get the incredibly useful HOLA! add-on that changes your IP to the country you want.

German films with English subtitles - there are very good German films out there well worth a watch. I would recommend Das Leben der Anderer, Berlin 36, Hannah Arendt just to name a few. You can also try watching them with German subtitles but I am not there yet so have to stick to English for stories I don't know.

News in German - http://www.nachrichtenleicht.de/ is a great news website for beginners since it the daily news delivered in very simple language. It has also videos for some of the news.

And that's pretty much it for me... Would love to hear things that worked for other people!

May 16, 2015

34 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/buck72

Congratulations! Have you considered Dutch? It's supposed to be linguistically between English and German.

May 16, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/buck72

Thanks for sharing some of your learning strategies. Have you considered completing the reverse language tree, that is from German to English? My goal is to finish the German tree (I'm not yet halfway there), then the reverse tree, and then learn Dutch.

Lately, I've been using some basic "learn German books" and it amazes me how much more I can read and understand in the books. Prior to DL, I never progressed very far in the books; our local library is a very good source for checking out various books, CDs, tapes, etc.

Good luck to you!

May 17, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/sara7reis

Hadn't thought of the reverse tree, will try that, thanks!

May 17, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Anushka.Bear

Hi, how do you get the reverse tree? That's such a great idea!

May 18, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/buck72

Click on: User ID Click on: Settings Select: Learning Language

When the menu comes up to see all the language courses, where it states:

I speak: change from English to German

Select: English

This will then present the lessons being taught from German to English, or the reverse tree.

May 18, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Anushka.Bear

vielen Dank buck72!

May 18, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Joe12345678Joe

Do you know how the numbers beside the language work. You say you are about half way through the tree and have a number 21. I am almost exactly halfway through the tree and I just turned to level 9. I have surmised that 25 is as high as the numbers go(At least for German), and I think it might be a worthwhile goal for me to try to get to 25, but I am not sure what is required???

May 19, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/SelinaMill

Someone made a helpful chart to understand how many experience points you need to progress to each new level. Here's the link. https://www.duolingo.com/comment/1358479

May 19, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/sara7reis

Thanks! No, I hadn't considered Dutch and didn't know it was between English and German linguistically. I found German to have a lot of similarities with English already, so Dutch should be even easier? Thanks for the observation!

May 17, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/NicoLaan69

I am Dutch, my English is good, I've read a few bookshelves of English books, but to understand German I really have to struggle. I can have a conversation and will understand most but it's quite hard and to reply is even harder.

Dutch will sure be a lot easier if you know German already but you'll still have study if you want to learn it.

About the reversed tree, I would suggest learning an additional language. What I mean is, I started Spanish (from English) on DL, now I'm doing German from Spanish. This way both my German and Spanish improve. It really hurts my brain which means it's good training.

May 20, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/languagelover0

Great job! Did you find German easy or hard? Did you find that the extra resources out side of Duolingo gave you enough German skills to confidently carry on a conversation in German? Will you be using immersion to enhance you German skills? (Sorry about all the questions, I am just curious).

May 16, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/sara7reis

Thanks! I find easier to learn German if you do it through English, there are many more similarities than I thought. So it helps if you look at a new German word and think to which English word is it similar or does it sound similar to. I haven't grasped the declinations properly but the golden tree is just the beginning :)

May 17, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/languagelover0

Ah, danke! :D

May 17, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Oddfather50

Congratulations! I really like the idea of using the NOVA Text Aligner software for books. I've been emailing stories to my kindle for the german-english dictionary, but NOVA seems like I could tackle harder books. I took a quick look at a youtube video and it looks pretty awesome. Also, the main website had an English-Spanish translation of a Seinfeld episode. I wonder, if I have the patience to do something with movie subtitles.

May 17, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/sara7reis

The software does some of the alignment automatically, although you still have to correct quite a few lines. That's why I only recommend it for books that you really love and wouldn't mind reading again in another language! If you're not up for the effort there's lots of bilingual books out there.

May 17, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Carolyn250

Congratulations and thanks for the post! You did not mention going into immersion, but I am finding that opening an immersion article about a subject that interests me, and putting itt into proofread mode, gives me that side by side translation which, I agree, is extremely useeful when one is just starting in the language.

May 17, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/floydsherrod

Thanks for the info on proofread mode. Amazing the number of things I don't know about despite using Duolingo for more than a year

May 17, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/sara7reis

Thanks for the tip about immersion! I haven't tried it yet, might be a good idea to have a look.

May 17, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DetErMinNavn

Glückwünsche! Congratulations! Nice long post, and good luck with your other languages! Are you going to learn any other languages?

May 16, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/schyrsivochter

In German, you just say ‘Glückwunsch,’ singular (as opposed to English congratulations).

May 18, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/sara7reis

Thanks! Wow, your language collection is impressive, definitely inspired to pick a new language and give it a go :) I was thinking of turning to French to consolidate my knowledge, but other than that I don't have an inkling to a particular language yet.

May 16, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Beatles-Musician

Just try Dutch! ;)

May 18, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/nataliasjesus

Danke schön ♥

May 16, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/klinehopper

Wow. Congrats and enjoy this moment. Good luck in your future learning. I hope to be there one day too.

If you don't mind, how did you study? I mean how much per day/week, etc? Did you do any immersion?

May 16, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/sara7reis

Thanks! You'll get there too, no doubt. It really depended on my mood but usually I would learn a new module every day, plus practice the ones that were not golden anymore. This became harder as I went further, because there were days when so many previous modules had to be practiced, so on those days I didn't add a new one, just focused on getting golden what I already had learned. It took me 8 or 9 months, but it's possible to do it faster of course.

May 17, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/iivargas

Congratulations my dear! I'm learning english and now I'm using Duolingo, Assimil Method(free downloaded) and Memrise(memrise.com). I'm also watching Netflix in english with english subtitles. I think it can work in German as well. (Sorry for my mistakes)

May 17, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/sara7reis

Thanks! No mistakes at all, thanks for the tips! Will check them out ;)

May 17, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/phb2013

Thanks, Sara. I took a quick peek at the News in German. That looks like it might be very helpful.

May 18, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Il_narratore

The Brothers Grimm stories (all in the public domain) are great reading. Because many are Kindermärchen (children's stories), they are easy to read. Plus they clue you in to a lot of cognates, which is helpful for learning to read more fluently. Of course, English speakers are familiar with many of the stories, too.

I'd also recommend FluentU, which has a lot of great videos in German, including ones that are children's songs or shows.

May 18, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Soliguer

Congrats! And thanks for your useful post.

You can use LF Aligner to align texts. It is open source (free) and use dictionaries to compare languages and make automatic alignment. It is not perfect but you can save a lot of time.

May 18, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/PolishMathew

Congratulations! :D When it comes to German movies - I recommend "Der Schuh des Manitu". It's a little bit silly, but very funny, I liked it so much :D

May 18, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Andavel

Thanks for passing on your learning tips. Some of these look like they could really help me along :)

May 18, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/dvlshlkhln

hmm, Bilingual books seems to be a nice idea, i am downloading some of the Harry Potters. and for those who want some videos on german, i found this youtube channel "DeutschFuerEuch" quite interesting... check it out :)

May 18, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Joe12345678Joe

First of all.. Congradulations! I have a little one, and she likes "Jake und die Nimmerland Piraten." It is really good for learning German, because it has all of these repetitive sayings, and songs. Many words I have learned naturally without looking them up. I will probably misspell this because I have never looked it up, but it became clear that Fehen Glanz is Izzy's Pixie Dust. There are many examples like that where I have been able to learn words and phrases without having to look them up while watching these cartoons.

May 19, 2015
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