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My confusing method

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EnglishEagle
Senior Member
United Kingdom
Joined 2566 days ago

140 posts - 157 votes 
Studies: English*, German

 
 Message 1 of 38
28 June 2015 at 7:27pm | IP Logged 
I have attempted to learn German a couple of times, but I don't think I've every lasted longer than a month
before I've quit. This is because I get frustrated too easily and didn't like how slowly I progressed, which I
think is down to the fact my study method was inefficient/ineffective. I've wanted to learn German for many
years, but feeling demotivated and frustrated has just caused me to quit too easily. This time round, I feel
more optimistic and I've been putting in 1-2 hours a day for the last 4 weeks but I still feel like I'm progressing
too slowly, I don't even think I'm an A1 in German yet. I know language learning is not a race but I just want to
get to the point where I can read books such as Harry Potter and not struggle too much and use the language
is a meaningful way.

I have Simple German Grammar and Hammers German Grammar, but found the latter far too complex. I have
been using the Simple German Grammar book instead which I quite like. I am on lesson 20-something of
Assimil and I've been reading on LingQ and will be increasing my 1 hour iTalki lessons from 3 to 5 sessions a
week.I've not actually made an effort to learn vocabulary, I've just relied on repeated exposure in texts and
using the word almost immediately by talking to myself.

Additionally, I'm not sure if I should perhaps replace my Assimil lessons with Teach Yourself as it's more
grammar based? My iTalki sessions are grammar based which is what I wanted, but I would also like to do 2/3
hours of speaking a week. My goal is A2 by September 2015 (not B1 as I had originally intended) which I really
want to reach.The reason why I am doing the grammar first is because it is extremely frustrating not knowing
how to structure more complex sentences. As I have been doing my Assimil lessons I have not been happy
with how they have explained grammar and sometimes it's glossed over. I have found that I do enjoy learning
German grammar but at the moment I'm cutting back on increasing the size of my vocabulary but understand
grammar. I don't use Anki or flashcards due to laziness, although it probably would be a more efficient way to
solidify vocab.

Sorry for the rambling and this post is all over the place. Should I actively try and learn words with Anki or
increase my number of iTalki sessions? Should I use teach yourself/Assimil? Is A2 even an achievable goal by
September?

Thank-you :-)
1 person has voted this message useful



tastyonions
Triglot
Senior Member
United States
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Joined 2656 days ago

1044 posts - 1823 votes 
Speaks: English*, French, Spanish
Studies: Italian

 
 Message 2 of 38
28 June 2015 at 8:15pm | IP Logged 
Three speaking sessions a week at "not even A1" level would simply be painful for me, and would definitely make me want to give up. No accounting for taste, though, I guess. :-)

Assimil German is generally pretty well-received, from what I remember. A solid run of Assimil can probably get you knocking on the door of B1, at least for a Germanic or Romance language. At one lesson a day you would be a little over half way through it by September. Since you have some previous experience with the language you might be able to go faster.
1 person has voted this message useful



EnglishEagle
Senior Member
United Kingdom
Joined 2566 days ago

140 posts - 157 votes 
Studies: English*, German

 
 Message 3 of 38
28 June 2015 at 8:46pm | IP Logged 
tastyonions wrote:
Three speaking sessions a week at "not even A1" level would simply be painful for me,
and would definitely make me want to give up. No accounting for taste, though, I guess. :-)

Assimil German is generally pretty well-received, from what I remember. A solid run of Assimil can probably
get you knocking on the door of B1, at least for a Germanic or Romance language. At one lesson a day you
would be a little over half way through it by September. Since you have some previous experience with the
language you might be able to go faster.


It's conducted in English, with very little speaking as it's solely grammar. That is why I would like to have 2
sessions a week that are solely in German. I have 2 hours spare each day, which by September the 1st is
almost 130 hours. So far I have probably put in about 30 hours in the last 4 weeks. So days are extremely
busy and I can't do much, others I do 90 minutes.

Thank-you for the reply by the way :-)

Edited by EnglishEagle on 28 June 2015 at 8:46pm

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rdearman
Senior Member
United Kingdom
rdearman.orgRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 3227 days ago

881 posts - 1812 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: Italian, French, Mandarin

 
 Message 4 of 38
28 June 2015 at 9:37pm | IP Logged 
I'm going to give you my opinion which you can feel free to ignore. Here is my 5 step plan for you to learn German.

1) Forget about A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, C2 or any other grading system, immediately!
2) Do not less than 3 hours per week of learning in German, either coursework, grammar lessons, Anki vocabulary, etc.
3) Do not less than 2 hours per week of FUN stuff in German, movies, video games, music, TV, whatever.
4) Read something in German everyday, at least 250 words (or one page of a book), lean on the dictionary as much as you like.
5) Repeat each week for 156 weeks.

After you've followed this method for the proscribed about of time, then grade yourself A1, A2, etc. If you still haven't progressed and want to quit, do it at the end of the 156 weeks.

I'm giving you this advice because of my neighbour who is a French woman, married to an English man and who has lived in the UK for 30+ years. I once asked her "How long did it take you to learn English" and her reply was, "I'm still learning English."

:)



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Retinend
Triglot
Senior Member
SpainRegistered users can see my Skype Name
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283 posts - 557 votes 
Speaks: English*, German, Spanish
Studies: Arabic (Written), French

 
 Message 5 of 38
28 June 2015 at 9:40pm | IP Logged 
Shadowing two generations of Assimil and a Linguaphone course got me to a level where I
could get started with literature and get more out of grammatical exercises. I suggest
trying it to see if it works for you. watch the "shadowing step by step" video and ask if
you need anything clarified.
5 persons have voted this message useful



Cavesa
Triglot
Senior Member
Czech Republic
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3277 posts - 6777 votes 
Speaks: Czech*, FrenchC2, EnglishC1
Studies: Spanish, German, Italian

 
 Message 6 of 38
28 June 2015 at 10:10pm | IP Logged 
Well, I am finally beginning to see real progress in my German after a few years with lots of breaks (far too many). Therefore I can totally sympathise with your dissatisfaction EnglishEagle, I wish you lots of energy so that you can change that. You are not rambling, those are all valid concerns. (

Assimil is a very good course but I find it extremely useful to combine it with a more systematic resource, such as a grammar book. I'd say ditching Assimil for TY won't help you much, Assimil has more content than TY, I believe, more dialogues which give you examples etc. I have another TY course and there is far too much wasted space on English, on the graphical design etc. Assimil is not the problem from what you wrote.

And don't forget that the key to success is persisting with something. So, Assimil, unless you trully dislike it, is a great thing (I am now around lesson 70 passive, even though I'll need to review after this break).

What I think could help is supplementing it with a good enough grammar book with exercises. Does the Simple book have those? I am very content with Klipp und Klar published by Klett. It is German only but that is not a problem if you use it alongside Assimil. And I think it is more fun to learn the grammar in the order of appearance elsewhere than going from cover to cover. There are examples and some exercises.

that's it

Another thing. If you consider yourself to be not even A1 (about the cefr in the next paragraph), does it mean you are not comfortable making even simple sentences? As you say majority of your paid time with tutors is spent in English, is the money well invested? There are various views on using a tutor but I don't thing grammar studies is a good way to spend time with a native. In general, I think it is better to postpone speaking practice a bit, so that you can acquire enough material to practice. From my experience, German pronunciation can be learnt just fine on one's own (for example with the pronunciation drills from the Fsi course) and grammar is better from the books, perhaps with option to ask question.

About the cefr levels. Yes, they have many uses. But they make terrible goals per se. Sure, passing a cefr exam of a particular level, that is a valid goal. But getting to a self assessed "cefr level", that is not. Another trouble is the proper order to learn things. If one of your short or midterm goals is to read Harry Potter in German, you are gonna need a wide selection of knowledge spread across the cefr levels, you'll need a larger chunk of grammar but you can skip some of the conversational skills for now. And it is a much more enjoyable goal to read Harry Potter. More motivational, easier to imagine, easier to find out whether you are already there. (My own "goal" now is to read Eragon in German, I suppose that is of similar difficulty)

So, I am not a German expert, I am in quite a similar position to yours, but based on my experience with other languages and my experience with German so far, I'd recommend you this:
1.Change your goal. In September, you will start reading Harry Potter, even though probably with a dictionary at hand.
2.Don't spend too much time thinking about your cefr level. Preferably, forget about it until you need it (for example to choose a proper level of a course, choosing proper level of an exam, deciding what to write in your CV)
3.Continue with Assimil, don't forget about the audio, it is important. Repeat after the audio to get used to speaking, to improve pronunciation and accent, to get used to saying things in German.
4.Get Klipp und Klar or another pleasant, easy to use grammar book with exercises.
5.Save your money and stop seeing tutors until you are a bit further in learning and more comfortable with actually speaking German with them. Paying someone to speak English to you is a waste of time and money.
6.Consider secondary resources for the moments you get bored with Assimil and your grammar book. The exercises on Deutsche Welle website are really good, lyricstraining.com is nice relax etc.
7. If you haven't already: buy the damn Harry Potter book in German and put it somewhere you can see it from your desk. Or even better from anywhere in the room where you usually study.

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EnglishEagle
Senior Member
United Kingdom
Joined 2566 days ago

140 posts - 157 votes 
Studies: English*, German

 
 Message 7 of 38
28 June 2015 at 11:06pm | IP Logged 
Cavesa wrote:
x


Thank-you everyone who has responded :-) I can construct basic sentences, I know the first 20 common
verbs, I know very basic grammar, word order confuses me a bit still. I know some other basic vocabulary
such as days of week, months, colours, common adverbs. I am just trying to make sure I use my time
efficiently and effectively.

I was thinking 45 minutes of Assimil, 45 minutes of LingQ, 15/20 minutes Anki and 15/20 minutes grammar a
day.

Edited by EnglishEagle on 28 June 2015 at 11:06pm

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Serpent
Octoglot
Senior Member
Russian Federation
serpent-849.livejour
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 Message 8 of 38
28 June 2015 at 11:36pm | IP Logged 
Don't search for a perfect method. Let it find you :-)
Since you're clearly interested in native materials, follow the multitrack approach. rdearman's numbers are a good guideline, though if you're losing motivation it's much better to keep doing fun stuff than to stress about not doing enough coursework.

Don't wait until you are "ready". (Don't bang your head against the wall either)

Solving specific problems is also a good idea. Although I can't help wondering if you're already following Benny's advice since you have so many sessions with tutors. (what for?)

IDK, it definitely seems like a mindset issue as well. You might have unrealistic ideas of what language learning is about and how it works. Don't expect instant results. The only instant fun is in the process.

See this article too. I'm not suggesting that you eschew grammar study completely, just showing you what options you have.

Don't be afraid to switch between the materials. Don't hoard them, but try out especially the free stuff like Deutsche Welle. Your goal is not to complete the courses you have, it's to learn German.

Don't look for a perfect textbook either, btw. Each will have its strong and weak points. And in general the specific textbook is less important than the techniques you use.

How well do you understand the English grammar? You may want to read a bit of something like the Canterbury Tales to feel the Germanic nature of English. It's much more similar to German or Danish than it first seems.

Try to incorprorate German into your life instead of setting aside the time for it. When you're too tired of "learning", listen to music (and try out lyricstraining.com), read logs on HTLAL and generally stimulate your mind. Read a book about independent learning, for example by Kató Lomb, Erik Gunnemark or Barry Farber (nothing against Benny, but I've not read his book and he doesn't seem to enjoy the process of learning, just the results) Maybe dabble with other languages, just always remember your long-term goals.

Edited by Serpent on 28 June 2015 at 11:43pm



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