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Old 24.09.2010, 10:27
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What is the best & fastest way to learn German?

Hi,

I have been living in swiss for 3.5 years but still haven't yet succeeded in learning German. Joined Migroschule 3 times but didn't help much(missed few lessons,boring teacher and then eventually stopped going).

But I really want to learn German and then swiss german(!!!! yes !!!)
I work full time, with daily travel of around 1.5 hrs one way , so, by the time I come home, all I want to do is eat & sleep hence on weekdays no time.
Weekends I can devote fully to German.

So, to start once again I want to know from your experiences which is the best way to learn german(in my situation - i am sure many of you would have experienced the same)
- any pointers on intensive courses(either 1-1 or group) over weekend?
- are private lessons/1-1 classes better than learning in a group?
- any other techniques to fasten the process?
- how much time does it generally take to come from a level of "ein bischen deutsch" to be able to converse fully in german?

thanks in advance
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Old 24.09.2010, 10:28
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Re: What is the best & fastest way to learn German?

trust me. clubbing helps the most.

a south american friend of mine pick up swiss german in 3 months from 0 to hero by clubbing + normal school. its the 7th month for me now but i can understand part of the CH german only...cuz im good boy XD
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Old 24.09.2010, 10:44
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Re: What is the best & fastest way to learn German?

I've been here for nearly three years now. I work here, but everyone speaks to me in English. I have a Swiss girlfriend, and she also talks to me in English. I can talk 'okay' german, but I can't always say what I want to say so that people can understand me, at least not first go.

My experience has been that Migrosklubschule, or any lessons, that are only once per week really add up to nothing at all. It takes about a year to move up to the next niveau (from A1 to A2 etc.). And the class can only go as fast as the slowest student. It can be really frustrating. But once you get to a decent level like B2, everyone in class can decently converse in german and classes start getting a bit better.

Always practice your vocabulary. Use school to learn the grammar, and to speak a little bit with other students, and always learn the vocabulary on your own time. If your commute is by train that's a perfect opportunity. I admit, I don't do nearly enough vocab on my own. I have also heard that reading novels in german is great for this. But you need to be at a sufficient level first or else it's again, it can be really frustrating.

Have no shame. I am a pretty shy person, and I don't like making a fool of myself. But you need to get over this fast if you want to get better. You just have to speak it, all the time, and make mistakes.

Lastly, once you get to maybe B2 level you can take a Swiss german course at Migrosklubschule (you need to be pretty decent at german to attend, apparently). By that time, you should have picked up quite a bit of swiss german on your own, if you have ever sat around and listened to swiss people talk.
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Old 24.09.2010, 10:48
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Re: What is the best & fastest way to learn German?

My mom told me the best way to learn a language is to sleep with it....

Now how this is managable it is an other story...
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Old 24.09.2010, 10:53
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Re: What is the best & fastest way to learn German?

I saw that you were previously looking for swimming lessons in English. IMO if you want to learn German, then go for swimming lessons in German. The only way to learn outside of regular language lessons is to dive in at the deep end, metaphorically speaking
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Old 24.09.2010, 10:55
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Re: What is the best & fastest way to learn German?

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My mom told me the best way to learn a language is to sleep with it....

Now how this is managable it is an other story...

i.e. get yourself a German/Swiss girlfriend/boyfriend and total immersion.
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Old 24.09.2010, 11:00
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Re: What is the best & fastest way to learn German?

I also tried classes, books etc.

The Michel Thomas German CDs helped me the most.
He has an interesting method that helped me think
in German and put sentences together. It was by
far better than the course I took.

I still have the original CD's, if you want to buy them
off me.

regards
Anwar
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Old 24.09.2010, 11:10
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Re: What is the best & fastest way to learn German?

The Pimsleur course is also great. Put it on your ipod and you can do the half hour lessons whenever you want. It doesn't teach grammar but rather shows you and you copy. I did this for a month or so before we moved here and it meant that when we arrived I was able, at least, to say some whole sentences, which felt like a major achievement! Combine this with a good course, the Michel Tomas, and lots of reading and you should get somewhere.

Kate

Last edited by tildaoz; 24.09.2010 at 11:12. Reason: said something the wrong way
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Old 24.09.2010, 11:21
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Re: What is the best & fastest way to learn German?

Watch German / Swiss Television... eventually you just start to figure out what is going on.
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Old 24.09.2010, 11:34
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Re: What is the best & fastest way to learn German?

Total immersion - try it, speak it, live it.

I have just started a job in total Swiss German - nothing like that for learning quickly!!!
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Old 24.09.2010, 11:47
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Re: What is the best & fastest way to learn German?

Perseverance is important. You said you missed, and then just stopped going to classes. Three boring teachers? Even if you find the teacher boring, try to get the most out of it - at the beginning of learning a language, getting your head around grammar can indeed be boring, but it's something you have to hold on to, and you need to be somewhat diligent. Work with your fellow classmates. Repetition of grammar exercises is boring, but once the mechanics are in place, the vocabulary build up and you will laughing (in German)
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Old 24.09.2010, 11:57
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Re: What is the best & fastest way to learn German?

OK, I will answer you based on my experiences of learning 6 languages.

1. Private lesssons will always be better than group lessons. You don't sound like you have a natural flair for languages nor are that interested so you need the individual attention so you cannot slack off. You will of course pay more for this. I paid 105 CHF for 1 hour private lessons at Swissing.

2. You have to do the classes at least twice a week I think. This will be hard based on your sitauation but you have plenty of time to practice if you have a 3 hour return daily commute. Any less and you won't progress very quickly.

3. It will be painful and you will sometimes just have to accept that certain things don't make sense. You will also have to just learn things by rote. You can do things like write things down and stick them on the bathroom mirror. Download easy German podcasts (search for learning German on iTunes, there are stacks of free courses). Read those free newspapers on your long commute. Make sure you do it actively though. Don't be passive about language learning.

4. You will have to make an idiot of yourself and you have to just try to say stuff. Yes, you'll get the genders, plurals, conjugations wrong but over time you will start to realise what sounds right.

5. Find some German speaking friends. I would recommend to start learning Hochdeutsch first. Maybe have lunch with someone once per week and do a language exchange (I suspect you are not a native English speaker based on your mail so you have 2 other languages to offer!)

6. You have to speak it even if everyone replies in English. I was at the bank today changing money. I spoke in German, the woman replied in English. I asked her if my German was correct and she helped me. Seize these opportunities.

Personally, if you are only learning German actively once a week then you won't progress very quickly at all. After 1 year, you should be able to handle day to day activities and be able to understand the articles in Blick am Abend. I studied languages at university and it took me 9 months of learning Swedish in Sweden before I even approached fluency. I did an intensive Dutch course for 1 week when I first arrived in the Netherlands and that helped a lot (and did so for learning German). I don't have any recommendations for such an intensive course here but it may be the kickstart you require. I suspect though you have a lot more passive knowledge than you think.

Good luck with it all and you will reap the rewards eventually if you persist!


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Hi,

I have been living in swiss for 3.5 years but still haven't yet succeeded in learning German. Joined Migroschule 3 times but didn't help much(missed few lessons,boring teacher and then eventually stopped going).

But I really want to learn German and then swiss german(!!!! yes !!!)
I work full time, with daily travel of around 1.5 hrs one way , so, by the time I come home, all I want to do is eat & sleep hence on weekdays no time.
Weekends I can devote fully to German.

So, to start once again I want to know from your experiences which is the best way to learn german(in my situation - i am sure many of you would have experienced the same)
- any pointers on intensive courses(either 1-1 or group) over weekend?
- are private lessons/1-1 classes better than learning in a group?
- any other techniques to fasten the process?
- how much time does it generally take to come from a level of "ein bischen deutsch" to be able to converse fully in german?

thanks in advance
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  #13  
Old 24.09.2010, 12:00
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Re: What is the best & fastest way to learn German?

Stay away from EF...

Seriously though, you'll never get far hanging out with a bunch of expats. Find yourself a hobby (Schwingen, Alphornen, Oktoberfesten) that will get you out with the locals and you'll (be forced to) pick it up in no time.
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Old 24.09.2010, 12:06
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Re: What is the best & fastest way to learn German?

Hello

I like you have little time in the week but have found that private lessons fitting around my schedule seem to be working for me. I am progressing reasonably well and as some of the others have said watching tv, reading the newspaper, speaking to neighbours helps a lot. Not being afraid to make a complete idiot of yourself as you flounder hopelessly trying to speak is also an important step to get over.

I am always looking for help with my German learning and came across the following site, which has an online german course (there are higher level ones as well if your german is good, including a business language one for B1+) But here is the link for the beginner intermediate course.

http://www.dw-world.de/dw/0,,9572,00.html

It offers different courses at different levels, and there is also the opportunity to listen to current news items in slow spoken German.
Hope you find it useful

C
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Old 24.09.2010, 12:09
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Re: What is the best & fastest way to learn German?

Sounds like a very similar situation to myself - i was thinking about spending a week or two holiday in Germany on an intensive course, but I've yet to find a course that offers this and I'm not sure this approach might work. Does anyone have experience of intensive courses?
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Old 24.09.2010, 12:16
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Re: What is the best & fastest way to learn German?

As an addition to classes, try to make arrangements with one or two partners for conversation practice. In Switzerland this is useful as you will be able to practice Standard German, possibly with an actual German, which is what you'll be taught in class but won't hear in the street.
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Old 24.09.2010, 12:29
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Re: What is the best & fastest way to learn German?

as suggested before, surround yourself with the language as much as possible.

One key element when learning a new language is being able to understand it phonetically. So get used to hearing the sweet sound of swiss music
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Old 24.09.2010, 12:34
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Re: What is the best & fastest way to learn German?

Hi there,

I agree totally with the advice given to you by the other EF members, so won't elaborate on them. The only point I'd really like to repeat that has already been made is this: if people reply to you in English... just keep talking back to them in German!! You have to do this, as the Swiss are all too eager to practice their English at any opportunity they get (I certainly don't blame them for this, but it can make it difficult for budding German learners!) This is difficult to overcome at the start, but you just have to jump over this hurdle. Just keep talking back to them in German! Either they will realise they are getting nowhere and switch to German, or even if they don't, it will give you yet another chance to practice what you already know... and if their English answer corresponds to your German question/statement, that is kind of validating in itself, because at least you know that you expressed yourself properly/correctly!

When I started out learning German and had to do "more difficult things", like go to the bank or chemist (where you don't often have all the necessary vocabulary at the beginning), I would put aside 15 minutes before going out and look up all the words I thought/knew I would need (I highly recommend: www.leo.org or www.pons.de), write them down, read them aloud a few times and then venture out into the world. I held onto these notes and used them in the future, until they became branded into my memory through practice, and I could do those tasks without the aid of my notes.

My High-German and Swiss German (Züri Tüütsch) are now fluent, and I teach both of these languages on a private basis. I don't teach on weekends but maybe I could help you during the week...? I also do lessons by Skype, if that would be of any use to you? Send me a PM if you'd like more information. Alternatively, the link to my website is: www.liannefatzer.ch.

Good luck!
Lianne
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Old 24.09.2010, 16:11
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Re: What is the best & fastest way to learn German?

I believe in quantity. Whatever quality means to you... do LOTS of it.

About quality... opinions differ greatly.
1. what motivates you? other people, being free, being forced, being loved, being nurtured...
2. what is you time frame: daily and weekly.
3. how divers can your sources of learning be? diversity works for most people at their level (which can be low and slow), but it is always better with it than without.

After clearing that, you will have more questions, but at least, you'll have been started and on the way.
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Old 24.09.2010, 16:26
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Re: What is the best & fastest way to learn German?

Hard work and practice !

Last edited by Charlie R. Soles; 24.09.2010 at 16:27. Reason: clarity
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