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Old 25.04.2015, 23:39
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written German fluency - need help

I've been living here for most of my adult life, speak fluent Swiss German and about as good high German as most Swiss. I can read and write, but I struggle to write perfectly. I can get by but I can't see the simple errors. I think it's mainly because they don't speak and write the same language here.
I don't want to take a language course because I can't commit to evening classes and I work days. I just need help on the written grammar.
Any ideas?
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Old 26.04.2015, 10:42
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Re: written German fluency - need help

I'm in a similar position - my written German is my weakest point. Embarassingly so.

Do you have native speaker friends who would be willing to help you out via e-mail?

That is, you write a note, the friend responds with corrections to your text. Once you start seeing how the correct sentence differs from how you tried to structure it you begin to better understand the nuances.

A colleague is helping me this way, out of the kindness of her heart (and likely frustration as she tries to decipher my often jumbled and confusing mails ). Using 'real' text related to the things I need to communicate about on a day to day basis is more helpful to me than the essays one usually is asked to write in a language class.

If you don't have a friend who could do this I'm sure that there must be private tutors out there who would be willing to structure a lesson this way. Working this way can be ad-hoc, no need for set lesson times.
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Old 26.04.2015, 12:50
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Re: written German fluency - need help

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I just need help on the written grammar.
It's the same grammar as the spoken one. Do you ever speak high German? Are you sure your Swiss German grammar is correct?... because not being corrected by the locals in dialect is not a proof of perfect language skills.

What you need is more High German. Grammar has its own logic, so it means work. Same as learning trigonometry or statistics.

However: if you don't have an understanding of grammar in other languages, incl. your own, then you'll have to learn the tools to deal with it. It's like an astro-physician who'd had no maths. Sucks big time.
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Old 26.04.2015, 13:01
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Re: written German fluency - need help

This is a field far and wide but you may find the following useful:
- German Grammar in a Nutshell by Langenscheidt
- The Hoi-series by Bergli. Especially "Hoi Zäme: Schweizerdeutsch leicht gemacht". It is aimed at Germans going for Schwiizertüütsch but it also works the other way round.
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Old 26.04.2015, 20:36
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Re: written German fluency - need help

@hiker
Here's a German-speaking primary and secondary school teacher who is looking for an language Exchange to improve her English... perhaps she'd be someone who'd like to practice German with you.
https://www.phzh.ch/de/ueber-uns/Ste...l/#/detail/559


and here's another one
http://www.phzh.ch/stellenportal/#/detail/588

Last edited by doropfiz; 26.04.2015 at 21:08. Reason: adding another ad
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Old 26.04.2015, 23:56
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@hiker
Here's a German-speaking primary and secondary school teacher who is looking for an language Exchange to improve her English... perhaps she'd be someone who'd like to practice German with you.
https://www.phzh.ch/de/ueber-uns/Ste...l/#/detail/559


and here's another one
http://www.phzh.ch/stellenportal/#/detail/588


Thanks so much, these are great. I forgot to mention that I live in the Basel area, but maybe one of these people could do a Skype thing for convo and email for grammar.

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I'm in a similar position - my written German is my weakest point. Embarassingly so.

Do you have native speaker friends who would be willing to help you out via e-mail?

That is, you write a note, the friend responds with corrections to your text. Once you start seeing how the correct sentence differs from how you tried to structure it you begin to better understand the nuances.

A colleague is helping me this way, out of the kindness of her heart (and likely frustration as she tries to decipher my often jumbled and confusing mails ). Using 'real' text related to the things I need to communicate about on a day to day basis is more helpful to me than the essays one usually is asked to write in a language class.

If you don't have a friend who could do this I'm sure that there must be private tutors out there who would be willing to structure a lesson this way. Working this way can be ad-hoc, no need for set lesson times.


Hi Meloncollie
I remember you from the pet posts! I have lots of CH friends, but what I'm looking for is more on a professional level. I'm a training manager searching for new opportunities and sometimes the positions require perfect German writing skills.

Last edited by 3Wishes; 01.05.2015 at 14:38. Reason: merging successive posts
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Old 27.04.2015, 00:07
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Re: written German fluency - need help

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about as good high German as most Swiss. (...) I can't see the simple errors.
Those two sentences don't match. Most Swiss DO see the simple errors. Make yourself clear.
Keep groaning if you want, to me, you overestimate your real level of correct German and need intense courses one-to-one with proper grammar conceptual understanding.
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Old 27.04.2015, 02:15
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Re: written German fluency - need help

Not everybody learns the same way.
I know people learning foreign languages from patterns efficiently and therefore skipping on grammar entirely.

Besides, Google search gives access to large corpora and can be used when in doubt about usage - that's a valuable addition to text books.
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Old 27.04.2015, 08:21
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Re: written German fluency - need help

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I've been living here for most of my adult life, speak fluent Swiss German and about as good high German as most Swiss. I can read and write, but I struggle to write perfectly. I can get by but I can't see the simple errors. I think it's mainly because they don't speak and write the same language here.
I don't want to take a language course because I can't commit to evening classes and I work days. I just need help on the written grammar.
Any ideas?

You are not alone. By no means. I'm a keen 'letter to the editor' sort of fellow and there are times when I'd love to write to a national or to my local newspaper about something disturbing or interesting. I read all sorts of things in German, do crosswords, chat about anything. But - yes exactly, the written German word is not one for me to create. Nor will it ever be. Nominate, Accusative, Genetive, Dative - this can be explained a thousand times - I'm still hopeless.
You simply have the assurance that if you don't write anything no-one will notice. Keep it that way!!
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Old 28.04.2015, 22:47
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You are not alone. By no means. I'm a keen 'letter to the editor' sort of fellow and there are times when I'd love to write to a national or to my local newspaper about something disturbing or interesting. I read all sorts of things in German, do crosswords, chat about anything. But - yes exactly, the written German word is not one for me to create. Nor will it ever be. Nominate, Accusative, Genetive, Dative - this can be explained a thousand times - I'm still hopeless.
You simply have the assurance that if you don't write anything no-one will notice. Keep it that way!!
I'm exactly one who likes to share my opinion (maybe too freely sometimes...) but it frustrates me not to be able to respond to just what you said, letters to the editor, etc. I'm determined to make this work, I've been thinking about it for a while now and since I'm planning to stay here, I don't want to seem "dumb" when I make mistakes.

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@hiker
Here's a German-speaking primary and secondary school teacher who is looking for an language Exchange to improve her English... perhaps she'd be someone who'd like to practice German with you.
https://www.phzh.ch/de/ueber-uns/Ste...l/#/detail/559


and here's another one
http://www.phzh.ch/stellenportal/#/detail/588
Thanks for these tips, I've followed up on one and we're having a Skype soon! BOBW - best of both worlds

Last edited by 3Wishes; 01.05.2015 at 14:37. Reason: merging successive posts
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Old 29.04.2015, 11:17
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Re: written German fluency - need help

Many years ago, my very articulate sister, who lives abroad, visited me. It was just at the time I was supposed to complete my tax declaration, but I couldn’t, since I was very ill with a high fever. At my bidding my sister looked up the address and wrote in her own baby-German, to the tax office:
“Liebe Steuer Bureau
Ich bin nicht (MY NAME).
Ich bin shwester.
Sorry. Ich kann nicht gut deutsch.
Meine shwester ist (MY NAME).
Sie ist in bett. Sie ist krank, krank, krank.
Kein formular. Nein.
Meine schwester macht formular wenn meine schwester nicht krank. Ja.
Vielen Dank.“
And it worked! I was granted an extension, received by return of post.

That episode was pivotal. A real breakthrough for me. Before then, I used to have everything I wrote in German proofread and polished by my Swiss friends. Afterwards, I realised that since I am fluent the way you describe it, Busby, and since I know enough spoken German for a complex discussion, I should just go ahead and write like that.

For most personal bureaucratic and administrative steps, and certainly for writing within friendships or in the neighbourhood or in clubs (Vereine), I just write away as best I can. I sometimes use the read-aloud test (does it sound right?), and of course online corrections and dictionaries, etc..

I’ve realised that my texts are comprehensible, since they get results, and are often appreciated. Through this positive feedback, I’ve learnt to dispense with the inhibition (of possibly being perceived as “dumb”) and get on with re-claiming my space, or to some extent even my identity as a person who loves language. Part of the trick seems to be having a broad active vocabulary, which one can learn and correctly apply specifically for the area about which one wants to (or must) write.

Of course, if a text ever really should to be super-correct, for a professional context, then yes, I ask someone to correct the German first. And I admit that if it were a letter to the editor, then yeah, I’d probably want that pre-read and fixed, too, so as to be the best swipe possible.
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Old 01.05.2015, 02:12
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Re: written German fluency - need help

I'm coming at this from a different angle, but are you reading German books?

When I started studying Spanish and English, reading was the most important part for me. Obviously reading mainly improves your reading skills , but it also helps to generally get a better feel for the structure of a language etc. To this date, for both languages, I still "transfer" a lot of what I read into my own writing (which is still far from perfect, but well). Then again, I'm good at memorizing structure, even if I don't always understand why something is done a particular way But maybe it's worth a try?

Aside from that: how about a tandem buddy through this forum or some other platform?
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Old 01.05.2015, 02:31
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Re: written German fluency - need help

Hiker, you've earned my first groan ever - because Faltrad took the time to give you some good, helpful advice but you seem to stubborn to want to accept it.

I wish you the best, anyway...
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Old 01.05.2015, 09:40
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Re: written German fluency - need help

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I've been living here for most of my adult life .....I can get by but I can't see the simple errors. ...... I just need help on the written grammar.
Any ideas?
Whilst there's nothing better than talking with a german-speaker who can guide and correct you, you should not be inhibited from writing simply because your grammar is not perfect.

The free online grammar checker of Duden will identify your simple errors. The only problem is that it does not give you the answers but if you have at least a basic understanding of the grammar, you can correct the errors that it pinpoints by trial and error.
http://www.duden.de/rechtschreibpruefung-online
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