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Best way to learn German

16 replies

sleepdeprivedmadwoman · 12/04/2014 20:00

DH has a new job that involves a lot of travel to Germany and Switzerland. He thinks it would be a good idea (and career move) to learn to speak German.
Initially he just wants to focus on the speaking element and then work on reading and writing. Due to work commitments he can't attend a class and at this point wouldn't want the cost of a private tutor.
Have said to DH that I will learn with him as my brain cells have deteriorated since being a sahm.
Can anybody recommend any online courses, cd courses, etc that he could use. I have looked into some such as Rosetta Stone, Michel Thomas but would appreciate feedback from those who have actually used them.

OP posts:
Chopsypie · 12/04/2014 20:02

I'm using duolingo, although I have three years of school german as a foundation
It deals with speaking and reading so it's quite comprehensive. The app is free, but I think they have more resources on the website

CecyHall · 12/04/2014 20:11

Came here to suggest Duolingo, I'm making good progress with French (have dabbled with the German but not enough to comment as I also did it at school so haven't started it at zero). It's easy to dip in and out of and actually stays in my mind.

HeartsTrumpDiamonds · 12/04/2014 20:31

Speak it as much as possible with native speakers. When he is on business over there he should socialise as much as possible in the evenings and honestly the more lubricated, the better Grin The alcohol makes you a lot less shy about any mistakes you might make.

sleepdeprivedmadwoman · 12/04/2014 20:37

Thanks Chopsypie and Cecyhall will take a look at Duolingo.
Agree Hearts but apart from a few phrases that he learnt at school (over 20 years ago) he knows nowt. Think he would like to learn a bit more before putting himself out there so to speak.
Apparently the fine dining and fine wine in the evenings on these work trips are a chore. Don't believe a a word of it!!

OP posts:
Onesleeptillwembley · 12/04/2014 20:57

My German was slightly better than schoolroom standard. Living there and getting out and speaking it did wonders, as did reading it.

sleepdeprivedmadwoman · 12/04/2014 21:00

Living there not an option at present and on work trips he doesn't really get out and about. I know he won't let work colleagues know that he is learning until he is more confident as is afraid of looking like an idiot.

OP posts:
Onesleeptillwembley · 12/04/2014 21:09

I didn't mean live thereGrinGrinGrinbit drastic.
I just meant getting out and about whilst there and talking. I always found the German people to appreciate the effort and help with the language if asked.

sleepdeprivedmadwoman · 12/04/2014 21:22

Sorry onesleep I read it literally Grin. Mind you, they do say it is a far better standard of living there than in the UK, so who knows in the future.

OP posts:
MooncupGoddess · 15/04/2014 18:47

Hello OP! I asked about learning German a few weeks ago and had some great responses, my thread is here:

I've done the Michel Thomas CDs and thought they were excellent as an introduction to German structure. They're expensive but you might be able to borrow them from the library.

I'm working my way through Duolingo now and it's really helpful.

Your DH should try to speak German in cafes, airports etc when he can - he'll never see the other people again so there's no shame factor and it really is valuable to practise communicating at however basic a level.

sleepdeprivedmadwoman · 16/04/2014 15:30

Thanks Mooncup. Will take a look at your thread.

OP posts:
PetiteRaleuse · 16/04/2014 15:34

Duolingo is great. Also consider Germany as a holiday destination, it's a beautiful country and once he has learned a bit he could practise as a tourist and not be embarassed by colleagues etc hearing.

AphraBane · 16/04/2014 16:05

In all honesty, sleepdeprived (brilliant NN), your DH is not going to learn a great deal of spoken German without some sort of genuinely interactive element, whether that is a class or actually using it while in the country. Duolingo is among the better online offerings (I'm using it myself right now for French), but there's no way it replaces the actual experience of being forced to communicate with someone, if necessary by using gestures. The most valuable thing you could do would be, for instance, you all go to Germany for a two-week holiday, he does classes in the mornings while the rest of you potter around or do some activity, then he gets to show off what he's learned in the afternoons (while giving you some time off, of course).

The most valuable formal grammar help I used was 'Hammer's German Grammar and Useage', and 'Practising German Grammar' but that is really quite academic and you need to be quite motivated for it.

I say this as someone who went to Germany as an adult with virtually no German and have since picked it up enough to become a translator. Hammer's Grammar has some amazing statistics on the likelihood of certain words being a particular gender - I still use that knowledge.

lookattheowl · 20/04/2014 15:38

Trying out even a few German words will be welcomed by most Germans - they really appreciate foreigners making an effort to learn their language. Also, AphraBane's suggestion is a good one, re: Hammer's German Grammar, I used it when doing my German degree (many years ago) and it was useful.

Janek · 20/04/2014 15:48

I clicked on this thread to say 'michel thomas'. i speak german, and am used to being able to speak 'foreign' when abroad, having lived in germany, and having holidayed in france.

then we went to italy. i opened my mouth and nothing came out. it was horrible and unsettling. my pils lent me their michel thomas cds and it was like a miracle. the basic ones are fairly easy. and once i'd done the advanced ones too, i had the whole of italian grammar at my fingertips. obviously i still needed a dictionary for 1. the nouns and 2. the verbs, but once i knew the infinitive i could work out how to say what i wanted.

i have since taken lessons at our local university and what i had already learnt from my friend michel has really helped me - learning new grammar has been more 'practising what i already know' rather than 'struggling with a new concept'. i would recommend him to anyone, but particularly to someone in your dh's situation.

is that a ringing enough endorsement?!?!?

lurkingfromhome · 22/04/2014 16:29

Without actually speaking the language and (just as important) listening to it, only limited progress is going to be possible, even with the best learning tool. You realy really need to practise a lot and just get out there and spend as many hours as possible speaking and listening.

Do you live in a university town? One of the best ways to supplement more formal learning would be to find a conversation partner, ie a native German speaker who would like to meet up for a couple of hours every week and spend half the time talking English and half German, so that both can practise. There are usually loads of foreign students who are up for this - I see little cards all over the place posted by foreign students wanting some reciprocal conversation practice.

Shopgirl1 · 26/04/2014 12:32

Gosh, based on my experience as a German teacher I wouldn't recommend anyone go near Hammers Grammar as a beginner, it would be hugely intimidating and is not necessary, it's brilliant for a reference manual for intermediate and even advanced speakers though.

I would recommend a local language class to get the basics and then some kind of language exchange with a student to practice...say half hour English, half hour German with a native German speaker. To get a feel for the language you can watch German tv online, ARD and ZDF both have good mediathek. At the start don't expect to understand anything, it's just to get the sound of the language.

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