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adrianlondon

German

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adrianlondon

I'm about to start a 6 month job contract in Stuttgart. I've never been before but although the city doesn't appear to be very interesting, the location's great.

Anyway, I spent a year working in Frankfurt around 2002 and didn't learn a word of German. No affinity with German "culture" and the language sounds nasty. And everyone in Frankfurt speaks English.

This time, I'm going to make an effort.

Is German easy to learn (for a native English speaker)? I don't need to become fluent, just hold very basic conversations in shops, train stations, cafes etc.

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Shadowdh

I did German for a year in Highschool... (oh so many years ago) and it wasnt too bad... but I have heard that it can be the most difficult language to learn in terms of grammar and stuff... I was speaking to a German teacher (a teacher from Germany) and she said that it was even hard for the German kids to learn, but I have an American friend who is fluent and claims its not too bad... if you want I could put you in touch with a couple of German teachers (German guys, one teaches German here in China and is a really cool guy... the other is just a cool guy :mrgreen: )

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renzhe

I consider it quite easy to learn.

The problem with German is that it has a steep learning curve, it has declensions, conjugates verbs, has irregular past participles and a rather irregular preterite (simple paste) tense, and the plural of nouns is often irregular. Then you have the gramatical gender...

It all comes at you at the very beginning, which scares most people off. It has been my experience that you can learn all of German grammar in 6 months, and that means all of it. Then it's all practice.

I'd get a good crash course and start learning some the grammar, common sentence structures, most common words, etc, then use every opportunity for practice once you're there. Get a TV and watch all sorts of crappy TV shows -- they are all in standard German and relatively easy to follow. Write down any word you think might be important -- this is CONSIDERABLY easier than doing the same with Chinese. Another suggestion is not to be scared of making grammar errors, just talk away.

6 months is enough to learn German, in my experience. You won't be brilliant, but you can reach a conversational level. Stuttgart is far less boring than Frankfurt, but beware the Schwabian dialect.

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atitarev

Guten Tag Adrianlondon, [gooten tahk]

Hello, Adrianlondon

Ich spreche Deutsch. [ikh shprekhe doych]

I speak German.

Deutsch ist nicht so schwer. [doych ist nikht zaw shvear (as in "wear")]

German is not so difficult.

Erst kauf ein Lehrbuch. [earst kowf ine learbookh]

First buy a textbook.

Du mußt viel lesen, dann wirst du besser verstehen. [doo moost feel layzen, dun vierst (as in "ear") doo besser fershtayen]

You should (must) read a lot then you will understand better.

Die deutsche Grammatik is schwerer als die englische, aber es ist wichtiger Wörter zu kennen. Deutsche Wörter sind oft den englischen ähnlich.

The German grammar is more difficult that the English but it’s more important to know words. German words are often similar to English.

Wenn du mehr Wörter/Sätze brauchst, kann ich dir helfen.

If you want more words/phrases, I can help you.

Alles Gute! [ulles gootay]

All the best!

Very rough reading guide:

vowels are read as in Latin.

ei, ey, ai, ay are all pronounced as [ai] "eye"

heißen [haissen] - to be called

eu, äu are pronounced as oy (boy)

heute [hoytay] today

"h" makes vowels longer, (usually) not pronounced after vowels

jawohl [yavawl] of course

ie = long ee

Spiel [shpeel] play

"v" is like "f" in native German words

viel read: feel ("a lot")

"z" is "ts" even in international words

Zone, Zentrum

s (between vowels or at the beginning of a word)= z

suchen [zookhen] - search

ß, ss = ss

j = y

ja [yah] yes

w = v

warten = varten

"ch" is like ch in Scottish, can be palatalised in certan positions

ich [ikh'] I, sprechen [shprekh'en] speak

sch = sh

Schule [shoolay] - school

tsch = ch

Deutsch [doych] German

ä = e (pen)

Sätze [zetse] sentences

ö = French eu, œ

Wort [vort] = word, Wörter [vœrter] words

ü = French u

Buch [bookh] book, Bücher [byukher] books

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adrianlondon

Thanks everyone!

Especially the pronunciation guide atitarev, much appreciated. I'll definitely start hassling you once I dip properly into language learning and start coming up with questions.

I think, rather than go straight into the grammar I'm going to start with some simple phrases (I've just bought a Lonely Planet phrase book) and learn the numbers so I can count and understand prices. Then I'll start dissecting things and learn the language properly (with grammar).

I'm hoping to meet some cool German guys in Stuttgart, Shadowdh, but if not then I might ask to start hassling your friends in China ;)

Renzhe, from my experience of trying to watch the TV in Frankfurt, all the shows were crappy ;) Still, not understanding anything at all might not have helped!

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atitarev

You are welcome - "bitte", I have updated the guide after you posted.

note final "e" is pronounced like "shwa"

danke [dunka] = thank you

bitte [bitta] = please, you're welcome (after thank you)

tschüß [chyuss] = bye

Wo ist [vaw ist]...? where is...?

Ich heiße [ikh hiessa].. My name is .., I am called..

Wie geht es? [vee gate ess] How are you?

Ich komme aus ... [ikh komma ouss] I come from...

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adrianlondon

Vielen Dank!

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tooironic

Yeah German's not too bad. I have a few Austrian friends with whom I've picked it up casually. True, the grammar (gender categories, cases, etc, etc) are a steep learning curve, but then so are Chinese characters and tones :P And unlike Chinese, once you get over the steep learning curve, it's all smooth sailing from then on if you're a English native speaker. This is because when it comes to memorising vocabulary, you've got soooo many words that are very close to their English counterparts, and are thus that much easier to learn. Reading German, especially, is surprisingly easy - even if you're not familiar with the topic, you can often guess the meanings just by the way the words look on the page - a joy Chinese learners rarely experience :P

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adrianlondon

That's very true, but the hurdles for me to overcome are my natural tendency to just get by in English, spending my spare time taking photos and wandering/cycling around, and sitting in cafes drinking coffee and learning ... Chinese!

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Shadowdh

You are up late Adrian, good luck with it all mate and no problems just let me know... take care

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YuehanHao

I agree with some of the others that German was not too difficult to study as an English speaker -- certainly much easier than Chinese. But seemingly like at least some of the others, I say that as someone who enjoyed studying it. Pardon me for saying this, but learning the language could possibly be harder for someone who perceives it as nasty or who would refer to the associated culture in quotation marks! Just mentioning that as a pragmatist, by the way. Viel Glück in any case,

约翰好!

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atitarev

You're right. Interest combined with efforts. Adrianlondon, obviously, just cycling around and drinking coffee (alone?) may not help learning some German, even if it's much easier than English for you. :mrgreen: Yes, you can get by in Germany just by speaking English, no you won't be forced to speak German but like in many other countries, you'll miss out on details...

6 months is a rather long period. My wife when we first traveled to Germany for a couple of months, spent quite a few weeks learning German, she never regretted it.

Viel Spaß! [feel shpahss] "(have) a lot of fun"

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sebhk

German and English used to be very similar several centuries ago and even nowadays they still share a lot of similarities.

For example, in old English and German the word for "enough" was "genough". In German the final "h" was dropped and the "ou" changed into "u". So the spelling is now "genug". In English, the initial "g" was dropped and because the French occupied England for a while and messed with the language, the pronunciation of "gh" changed into "f" (something that does not make much sense from a logical point of view if you consider that the "gh" in ghetto is pronounced as "g").

So yes. It is relatively easy for English speakers to learn German, just like it is easy for French speakers to learn Italian, because of the history of these languages. Maybe it is comparable to the effort a native Mandarin speaker has to use for learning Cantonese or other Chinese "dialects".

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rezaf

The grammar is a little bit difficult but unlike Chinese the rules apply in most of the cases and if you follow them you won't have any problems. German is very easy to lean for someone who knows English, let alone a native English speaker.

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imron

Adrian, as a computer guy, I'm sure you've probably seen this:

ACHTUNG!

ALLES TURISTEN UND NONTEKNISCHEN LOOKENPEEPERS!

DAS KOMPUTERMASCHINE IST NICHT FÜR DER GEFINGERPOKEN UND MITTENGRABEN! ODERWISE IST EASY TO SCHNAPPEN DER SPRINGENWERK, BLOWENFUSEN UND POPPENCORKEN MIT SPITZENSPARKSEN.

IST NICHT FÜR GEWERKEN BEI DUMMKOPFEN. DER RUBBERNECKEN SIGHTSEEREN KEEPEN DAS COTTONPICKEN HÄNDER IN DAS POCKETS MUSS.

ZO RELAXEN UND WATSCHEN DER BLINKENLICHTEN.

:mrgreen:

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Lu

The language that is the closest to English is Dutch (ok, Frisian, but Dutch is second closest), and German is very similar to Dutch, so you're not that far from home with German.

I agree that German grammar is not easy, and there is a lot of it. But I think Germans are quite forgiving about grammar mistakes. Vocab won't be too hard for an English speaker. All in all, if the last language you learned was Chinese, you're in for an easy time.

For tv shows, you can try finding some Krimis (police looks for and in the end finds bad guy), the Germans have made quite a lot of those and they're generally quite good.

Good luck!

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adrianlondon

Thanks all. My negativity regarding Germany isn't major, but it was enough in Frankfurt to stop me learning the language. However, the population of Frankfurt is really just expats and some Germans from other cities, so it's not a friendly place. I think that's what caused it.

I'm going to make an effort in Stuttgart. Once I find an apartment and settle I may even find a night class, so that I'm taught properly (same as Mandarin - until I actually went to Beijing to study, me reading a couple of books on my own didn't get me very far, although I did skip 100 at BNU).

And cheers for that Imron, it shows me how easy German is to understand ;)

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anonymoose

I think German is a very easy language to speak badly (ie. imperfect grammar) which is enough to get you by, but difficult to speak well. For example, there are three possible genders for each noun in German, which dictate the form of the word meaning 'the', and four possible grammatical cases, giving 3 x 4 = 12 possibilities for the form of 'the' in a German sentence (though some are repeated, so in total there are 6 unique forms). If you make a mistake in the form you use, it is unlikely to cause an error in comprehension, so to a certain extent this grammar is redundant, and isn't necessary to be understood. If you don't pay much attention to these grammatical points, then German is fairly straightforward. It should be sufficient to get you by, but it will be immediately obvious to any native speaker that your German is 'bad'. On the other hand, to make sure you have everything correct in a German sentence is not an easy task. Even if you have mastered the different genders, and cases and when to use them, you still have to know what the gender of a particular noun is to get your sentence right. This is the part that I always used to fall down on. I 'knew' German grammar quite will, but always found it difficult putting theory into practice, because I could never remember the gender of a particular noun I wanted to say.

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atitarev
And cheers for that Imron, it shows me how easy German is to understand ;)

Although very funny, just be aware (in case you're not) that it's not a real heavily anglicised German, it also has many grammatical and spelling mistakes (perhaps deliberate). :wink:

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Ole
I've just bought a Lonely Planet phrase book

I would agree that the Lonely Planet phrase books always are a great tool to start a new language. You get the most common phrases, that you need from day to day and you can learn a vocabulary of about 1000 words. Not bad for the first six months.

If you need a real good online dictionary you could check dict-leo.org

Ole

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