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Old 01.09.2006, 13:49
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[German] Biggest learning issues?

This thread is not intended to be a place where we teach you German or help you with specific problems.

I'd like to know what were your biggest issues were in learning / applying German. Was it pronunciation, finding the time to study, feeling like a loser, understanding grammar, word order, subjunctive, etc.

Tell us a little bit about the biggest problems you had and try and tell us why those things were problematic for you. Could you have done things better, or was it that nobody could explain it in a way that you can understand?

A good, honest, frank discussion will help others(i.e. probably me) to put the correct kind of content into the language corner.

So go on, I know German isn't the easiest language in the world to learn, and by no means the hardest - but go ahead and get it off your chest...
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Old 01.09.2006, 14:14
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Re: [German] Biggest learning issues?

As a native English speaker, the big 3 problems were/are:
  1. "der,die,das" retention - I think now my german vocab is extensive, but I cannot be sure of what gender goes with 85% of these words.
  2. Accusative/Dative - with which verbs and prepositions
  3. adjective and article declination - Without point 1, point 3 falls apart as well.

And pretty much everything mark twain writes in The Awful German Language Classic reading.
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Old 01.09.2006, 14:18
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Re: [German] Biggest learning issues?

Quote:
As a native English speaker, the big 3 problems were/are:
  1. "der,die,das" retention - I think now my german vocab is extensive, but I cannot be sure of what gender goes with 85% of these words.
  2. Accusative/Dative - with which verbs and prepositions
  3. adjective and article declination - Without point 1, point 3 falls apart as well.
I hear ya bro - I still have problems with those. Check my cheatsheet - there's stuff in there that will help you with point 1. Point 2 is also a bitch, you just have to memorise the preposition lists (cheat sheet). Point 3 is a total pain - but I have a secret tip. If you know something is going to be dative then guess the "em/m" ending - der and das account for 75% of German nouns and they are the same in dative declination - this way you can look like an expert and in reality not have a clue! You'll only be wrong 25% of the time when it is a "die". Maybe we'll have to do a little series on tips and tricks, shortcuts etc.
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Old 01.09.2006, 14:37
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Re: [German] Biggest learning issues?

The cheatsheet is great, thanks for posting that.
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Old 01.09.2006, 14:47
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Re: [German] Biggest learning issues?

I would strongly recommend the German Grammar book by Martin Durrell , it is quite advanced reference book, but it explains almost everything in cross referenced detail: not just what but why. The "why" part has always been for me the key to retention. He also gives exceptions to the rules...

One of the things I remember reading (I've forgotten the answer !!!) is how to "guess" the gender of an object as well as the percentage of nouns that are masc,fem, neut. Its that sort of stuff that is worth it's weight in gold.

dave


Quote:
As a native English speaker, the big 3 problems were/are:
  1. "der,die,das" retention - I think now my german vocab is extensive, but I cannot be sure of what gender goes with 85% of these words.
  2. Accusative/Dative - with which verbs and prepositions
  3. adjective and article declination - Without point 1, point 3 falls apart as well.
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Old 01.09.2006, 15:05
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Re: [German] Biggest learning issues?

Quote:
One of the things I remember reading (I've forgotten the answer !!!) is how to "guess" the gender of an object as well as the percentage of nouns that are masc,fem, neut. Its that sort of stuff that is worth it's weight in gold.
Hint: check the cheatsheet I did - that information is at the bottom. It's worth 53KB of gold. By the way - you should put that book recommendation onto the resource thread.
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Old 01.09.2006, 15:16
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Re: [German] Biggest learning issues?

You have to know how your own language works before learning another, otherwise you'll end up scratching your head everytime someone says plusquamperfekt...
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Old 01.09.2006, 16:54
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Re: [German] Biggest learning issues?

One difficulty I had at the beginning was that I wanted to translate everything quite literally (and beautifully). I tied myself in knots not knowing how to finish a sentence, or sometimes even how to start it.

Learning German changed they way I think about speech. Sometimes now I say things in English that are Swinglish/Denglish - but that bothers nobody

Quote:
You have to know how your own language works before learning another, otherwise you'll end up scratching your head everytime someone says plusquamperfekt...
Seconded. Plusk wham who?

=DM=
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Old 01.09.2006, 16:57
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Re: [German] Biggest learning issues?

Quote:
One difficulty I had at the beginning was that I wanted to translate everything quite literally (and beautifully). I tied myself in knots not knowing how to finish a sentence, or sometimes even how to start it.
I have another secret tip. If German word order baffles you watch Star Wars and listen to the way master Yoda speaks. Now if you can do Yoda, you can do German word order. I've asked German speakers what Yoda sounds like in the German-dubbed versions of Star Wars. They reply - "Normal, why do you ask?"
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Old 01.09.2006, 19:11
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Re: [German] Biggest learning issues?

Quote:
Sometimes now I say things in English that are Swinglish/Denglish
Funny...that is the language most often spoken in our household...hmm...a new dialect?
jm
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Old 01.09.2006, 19:13
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Re: [German] Biggest learning issues?

I would say I struggled the most with prepositions - still do as a matter of fact!
JM
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Old 01.09.2006, 19:22
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Re: [German] Biggest learning issues?

Quote:
I have another secret tip. If German word order baffles you watch Star Wars and listen to the way master Yoda speaks. Now if you can do Yoda, you can do German word order. I've asked German speakers what Yoda sounds like in the German-dubbed versions of Star Wars. They reply - "Normal, why do you ask?"
Or think Shakespeare. Or think U2 songs performed by Shakespeare. For example:

" I have stiiillll .... not found .....that for which I am looking"
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Old 01.09.2006, 22:43
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Re: [German] Biggest learning issues?

Quote:
I have another secret tip. If German word order baffles you watch Star Wars and listen to the way master Yoda speaks. Now if you can do Yoda, you can do German word order. I've asked German speakers what Yoda sounds like in the German-dubbed versions of Star Wars. They reply - "Normal, why do you ask?"
Interesting you should bring this up - gramatically as far as also English is concerned correct is Yoda. Read some of Churchills speeches and you will the light see... Or should that be the force...

Last edited by Richard; 04.09.2006 at 10:01.
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Old 02.09.2006, 03:18
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Re: [German] Biggest learning issues?

Hi there,

Where do I get the cheat sheet that is mentioned? I am always confused with acc/dat and would love some help here.

Thanks
Ashley
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Old 02.09.2006, 08:03
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Re: [German] Biggest learning issues?

Quote:
Hi there,

Where do I get the cheat sheet that is mentioned? I am always confused with acc/dat and would love some help here.

Thanks
Ashley
Well you are already in the language corner, so just follow these instructions. 1. Hit the back button of your browser. 2. Look at the list on your screen - it's all the threads in the Language corner. 3. Look for the thread with cheat sheet in the title. If you didn't start in the language corner then navigate there instead and repeat from step 2.
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Old 03.09.2006, 11:18
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Re: [German] Biggest learning issues?

Thanks found it and its great.

Ashley
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Old 03.09.2006, 12:42
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Re: [German] Biggest learning issues?

My biggest problem has been that I have been learning High German in a place where it's not the language of the street. I've been really lucky in making friends with a couple of German women and that's improved my conversation no end, but I struggle with the Swiss and mostly make (un)informed guesses. If something is in context then I can follow it but the minute there's a change in subject then I'm lost.

In learning High German my biggest problem has been not learning the gender with the noun and now I do my best to remember that I'm not just learning a noun but an attachment. Adjective endings mean that I tend to speak nonsense or am very dull - why can't it just be a red car?

Thanks for the tip sheets.
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Old 03.09.2006, 13:07
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Re: [German] Biggest learning issues?

Quote:
My biggest problem has been that I have been learning High German in a place where it's not the language of the street. I've been really lucky in making friends with a couple of German women and that's improved my conversation no end, but I struggle with the Swiss and mostly make (un)informed guesses. If something is in context then I can follow it but the minute there's a change in subject then I'm lost.
Absolutely. I at least managed some practice in Germany before coming here, but it must be so hard to learn High German and then listen to Swiss German all around you.

Is there anyone who can help to write an article, something along the lines of "common confusions in Swiss German". This would be a helpful guide for those learning High German to make sure that they don't tie themselves in knots learning a Swiss German word instead. Platz/Plätz was a good example from a previous post. Unfortunately I can't help with Swiss German, so maybe some kind soul out there with enough knowledge can write one?

Quote:
In learning High German my biggest problem has been not learning the gender with the noun and now I do my best to remember that I'm not just learning a noun but an attachment. Adjective endings mean that I tend to speak nonsense or am very dull - why can't it just be a red car?
Well it could be a red car, but it might be 50 other things as well . Interesting that you brought up the point - I think learning the gender of the noun at the same time as learning the noun itself is absolutely essential. There are people who try to take shortcuts and think they can get by without it - but the truth is you'll always sound like your German is worse than a small child's without it. Later when you get to declination you'll be toast! Hard work is the only way
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Old 03.09.2006, 21:08
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Re: [German] Biggest learning issues?

Quote:
why can't it just be a red car? .
You can blame Luther for a car not being just red….. Of all languages, he picked the High Latin grammar as a standard to unify and standardize old Germanic dialects when he first translated the Bible to “German” language. To cut a long story short, this “German” has originated what is known today as Hochdeutsch.

In High Latin, the meaning of a word has little to do with its order of appearance. Basically, you have suffixes and prefixes that you add to root words, setting the function and the role of that particle in the sentence.

When you say “red car”, what you actually say has no meaning. You have to define what is the noun and the adjective, and define its purpose. Then “decline” them accordingly. Once you have declined, you have already set the function and purpose of the words, so order becomes secondary for meaning. That is why you can end up with kilometrik Yoda like sentences and you can move parts of the sentence back and forward without altering the meaning. For example, in a nominative case, such as “red car”, you have add a suffix to the adjectiv (red) that indicates that hat it is subject to the noun (car).

In case you wonder why Latin derived languages, like Portuguese, Spanish, Italian…., don’t have declinations: they were originated from Vulgar Latin dialects, that were super simplified versions of High Latin. There dialects were spoken by the “uneducated” and the “poor”, and once mixed with other languages, like Arabic, originated what is known today as Romance languages.
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Old 03.09.2006, 21:26
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Re: [German] Biggest learning issues?

For me, it is the grammar. And I don't mean the complicated high-level grammar. I mean the basics.

I don't have a clue what half of the terms are in English, much less when someone tries to explain them to me for German (and in German, no less!). I just blank out and nothing is absorbed.

I learn best by recognizing patterns, figuring them out and building on them, which is difficult when learning German. When I was a programmer, I'd learn to read the code first, and then use the code. But writing from scratch always had me looking up old code to get the clues to start me off.
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