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60 Days Learning German

How I started learning German

I’ve always wanted to know multiple langues. I’ve backpacked about 30 countries and after meeting so many people from around the world I’ve realized how important it is to at least know the basics of another language, and that native English speakers rarely do. I was traveling through Honduras with an Australian friend who I’d met in Caye Caulker, Belize and with English being his first language, same as mine, he didn’t know any other languages either and he looks at me says, “If I could have any superpower in the world it would be to know every language so I could know what people are saying about me”. I always wanted to know another language, actually I always wanted to know a lot, but never enough to actually study one. Not untilĀ I met an Austrian girl while traveling in Peru and she encouraged me to begin learning German.

At first I didn’t take it too serious, just learning a few words that she said often. We were traveling together for two weeks and she thought it was funny to hear me try to speak German and I was just going along with it, half entertaining and half learning. A few days later she found a German novel at one of the hostels, opened to a random page and asked me to start reading. It must have taken me 4 minutes just to get through the first sentence, but she asked me to read the whole page, and I did. The next day the same thing, except this time I had the German alphabet in front of me while I read. For the next week I read one page a day and learned some of the common words that I frequently saw appear on those pages. Then we went our separate ways and a week later I headed back home.

Mind you, this is while traveling Latin America for nearly 7 months and not attempting to learn any Spanish that didn’t serve my immediate need.

Vocab

DuoLingo and AnkiDroid

When I got home all I knew were a few words and the first few letters of the alphabet but I was motivated to at least learn the basics. So where to start? At first I started with the 500 most common words. I started writing them down on flash cards and then thought there must be a better way than this, so I found one – or a few.

60 days of learning German (and counting)

60% through DuoLingo class (and counting)

I guess I have progressed by 1% a day.

About 700 flash cards created and studied alongside AnkiDroid

Conversations with a native German speaking friend, usually via text but sometimes phone conversations.

I realized that my vocab is pretty good but only if I am reading the word or if it is spoken extremely slowly. My spelling is also pretty good but my grammar is not very good and listening and pronunciation are almost completely nonexistent. I don’t care to know the word if I can’t recognize it when it is spoken and nobody can recognize it when I speak it. So the past week I added more listening and pronunciation to my learning.

Recently I started listening to the “Coffee Break German” Podcast on Spotify, and I am currently listening to it as I type this.

Listening

Netflix and Spotify

I also started watching “House of Cards” on Netflix in German. There are only so many movies or shows that have been translated to German on the English versions of Netflix – from a U.S IP address, and I had lost all interest in House of Cards after season 2, but now I had a perfect reason to continue.

Watching without English subtitles. How much Spanish did you learn from watching Narcos? Do you even remember that it was in Spanish? Probably not because when you’re reading the English subtitles fast enough to keep up with the plot then you’re not listening well enough to pick up on the German words.

If you think you hear a word but are not sure then rewind it and add subtitles and then remove them. You are not watching to understand the movie or show, it is simply a listening activity. When you cannot understand any words at all it will motivate you to work harder to understand what is being said. You will start to focus more closely on the words and you will become more comfortable with the speed of talking and the way words are pronounced.

After just 1 week of watching 1 episode a day I can tell that my listening is getting much better.

I also followed the top 100 German songs on Spotify and a few other playlists full of German songs.

This is as of 11/4/2017. I will update you on my progress in the coming months/

Derek Riccardo Coleman
SEO Strategist at TechTarget. Entrepreneur
A 2013 graduate of Umass Lowell’s Robert J. Manning school of management where I studied finance and entrepreneurship. I’m looking to work with motivated, hardworking, entrepreneurial-minded employees.
Published inLanguage Learning