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German course recommendation


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matteo

I'm starting to learn German on the side, and decided to do so with a duolinguo course (at least to start with) based on recommendation of friends and family.

Now that's fun and entertaining and all but I have the feeling that it can only give me a very superficial understanding of the basics.

I reckon my main complaint is the lack of grammar explanations, and the absence of any writing exercises which - in my experience - help bringing things into focus and cement the knowledge. 

This might be just me being skeptical of actually learning anything through a phone app thou, I am a bit old fashioned when it comes to these topics and I certainly cannot call myself a technology enthusiast. 

 

I figured for sure on this forum someone else must have had gone through the "learning German as a beginner" process and could share his/her recommendations with me. 

What would you regard as a good way to start with the language? Do you recommend duolinguo or is it a complete waste of time? There is TONS of materials out there and coming up with a criteria for picking something up feels overwhelming! 

 

Thanks 

 

 

 

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889

If for Chinese you like the old-fashioned dated but thorough DIY approach of DeFrancis, then look up the FSI German texts with tapes. Same thing, really.

 

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Moshen

If you are an auditory learner, then I recommend Pimsleur.  I was able to get all the CDs for free through my library system.  Another cost-effective way to get them is through Audible.

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Zeppa

You can use Duolingo or Pimsleur, but in addition, for German, you should do some grammar drills. When you get to the point where you have three grammatical genders and an article and adjective in front of every noun, with accusative, genitive, dative in singular and plural, it's much easier to do a bit of rote learning. There are some books called German Grammar Drills, by Ed Swick, which may be good.

I was doing teaching practice at a school once and the teacher used to get the kids to fill in variations on sentences, e.g. The (old stupid) man gave (his good-looking middle-aged) girlfriend some chocolates...This is not an exact translation, but the kids would replace the adjectives and read out the varied sentence.

I think it's easier if you understand the grammar and repeat it to yourself. IMO German (and Russian etc.) don't work as well as French or Spanish or even Chinese in Pimsleur.

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Moshen
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I think it's easier if you understand the grammar and repeat it to yourself. IMO German (and Russian etc.) don't work as well as French or Spanish or even Chinese in Pimsleur.

 

It's true that German grammar is quite a bit more complicated than French and Spanish, and the Pimsleur approach is to try to get you to have an intuitive grasp on many grammar points, which may leave holes in your language mastery.  All the same, I did find that going through all five of the Pimsleur volumes for Spanish gave me a good grasp of tenses that I didn't need to drill on and when to use "el" or "la" for which nouns, without having to memorize them.

 

So if you like the Pimsleur approach, it may be smart to supplement it with a good grammar text.  I have Cochran's German Review Grammar, which did the trick for me when I was learning to read German.  I never tried to learn to speak it, but I became reasonably good in understanding Kant and compatriots in the original.

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Zeppa

@Moshen I am still hoping to understand Kant. Probably easier in the original than in English!

I only became really fluent when I spent a year in Germany. Later I spent 30 years there. I'm sure you're right that Pimsleur can take some of the slog out of it, and you don't need all the possible grammar vaiations.

I don't know these grammars.

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matteo

Thanks guys this is really good advice. I'll definitely try to get my hands on some grammar exercise book.

And I could give Pimsleur a try as well to complement duolinguo.

 

@Zeppa how did you end up spending 30 years in Germany (and then leaving!), that sounds like an amazing experience. Where did you stay?

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Zeppa

@matteo I studied German at university and actually taught at Cologne University for two years, then about ten years later I took a job teaching English near Nuremberg, in Erlangen. After twenty years there I went freelance as a translator - I'd been teaching legal translation and it suddenly became profitable - The reason I came back to London was to help look after one of my elder brothers. Otherwise I couldn't have afforded to live in London! I have thought about going back but I like it here, despite Brexit. The teaching job was too stressful. I had lots of colleagues from several countries but there was never much time to meet them.

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