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Old 10.11.2020, 19:24
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Learn German with few free time

Hello everyone,

I need to learn German, but I have literally no time as I work and since September, I study(distance learning) full time.

I work 8-16:30 and have classes all week from 17 to 21.
The week end gets eaten up by assignments/group projects or tests

(I don't have a TV/Netflix/Prime since I am never home and have few time..)

I work for an international company and English is the official language in the office.
None of us speaks German, 95% of my colleagues live in the French part and they all go back home in the week end so they don't feel the need to learn it.

I did a German course in 2013 in Tessin but I never spoke to anyone( in German) there, so I basically forgot 98% of it.

Do you guys have any advice about learning possibilities?
Apps, websites, language schools that do classes past 22?

Thank you very much
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Old 10.11.2020, 19:43
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Re: Learn German with few free time

One suggestion, especially if you have commute time is to start with an audio course. I started with "Learn German with the Michel Thomas Method" and liked it a lot. You can put it on anytime you have free 5 min to spare.

If you search for private online lessons (there are many platforms, such as Verbling) - I think you will find someone willing to teach late in the evening, especially because not all teachers are in your timezone. If you find a teacher in Americas - you're all set with timing.

Ultimately, once you have a minimum of a basis - I think that the way to improve German if you have 0 time is to inject German in the things you do now in the time you have. If you listed to the radio - do it in German, if you read - read German, if you watch TV - watch in German, etc.
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  #3  
Old 10.11.2020, 20:16
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Re: Learn German with few free time

Perhaps you could also consider a private tutor -- someone who is willing to teach on weekends or for an hour after 22:00 on weekdays, etc. Although, with the virus situation now, it would probably have to be something online.

I think private tutors can be really helpful because you become the sole focus of the teacher during that time, whereas in a class, the teacher is sharing that time with so many other students and it can be difficult to ask questions, etc.

As someone else had mentioned, watching films or TV in German (maybe with English subtitles) and reading books in German can be really helpful as well. I think it's one of those things where the more you hear it, the easier it becomes for your brain to memorize the way things are said in terms of conjugations, etc. (which is how most of us learn our mother tongues).
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Old 12.11.2020, 10:09
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Re: Learn German with few free time

This is really hard for you and I feel exhausted just reading your email!

My first question is what you need German for? Is it to get by in the shops and cafes? Or is it to get your B1 certificate to continue to live in Switzerland?

If it is the former, then a private tutor found via italki or similar website can give you directive training and you are good to go.

If it is the latter, then it's going to be much harder and you may need to find dedicated time to prepare for the exam and/or learn the level of German required. There are tonnes of resources on youtube etc and exam study books to get you through the exams and some of the Kantons provide specialist evening classes (ZG and ZH definitely do).

I think if you can define what you need (or even, why), then you can find the training needed to take you forward.
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Old 12.11.2020, 15:36
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Re: Learn German with few free time

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This is really hard for you and I feel exhausted just reading your email!

My first question is what you need German for? Is it to get by in the shops and cafes? Or is it to get your B1 certificate to continue to live in Switzerland?

If it is the former, then a private tutor found via italki or similar website can give you directive training and you are good to go.

If it is the latter, then it's going to be much harder and you may need to find dedicated time to prepare for the exam and/or learn the level of German required. There are tonnes of resources on youtube etc and exam study books to get you through the exams and some of the Kantons provide specialist evening classes (ZG and ZH definitely do).

I think if you can define what you need (or even, why), then you can find the training needed to take you forward.
I can manage shops/cafe, even tho, given my tight schedule, I mostly shop online.

It was just in the case I want to change job.
I have already noticed when I was living in Tessin that almost no one hires you if you don't speak German (this is why I have always worked for US/UK companies).

But I know I can't be always lucky and one day I will be out of job because of language requirements and since I don't speak French nor German, I decided to learn at least one, and since I live in the German part, I chose German

But yeah, also for the B permit, but I think this is only when you renew it, so this gives me few more years to adapt..
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Old 12.11.2020, 16:06
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Re: Learn German with few free time

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It was just in the case I want to change job.
This is really tricky. To get to get to business fluent you need to practice and learn lots. This takes time and a wide variety of resources....

Are you sure it's a realistic ambition?

I have weekly skype tuition and despite less pressure on my time, than you, I can go a whole weeks without ever having picked up a German book at all.
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Old 12.11.2020, 16:36
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Re: Learn German with few free time

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This is really tricky. To get to get to business fluent you need to practice and learn lots. This takes time and a wide variety of resources....

Are you sure it's a realistic ambition?

I have weekly skype tuition and despite less pressure on my time, than you, I can go a whole weeks without ever having picked up a German book at all.
Well, thing is, I don't know for how long I will be here.
Initially I thought I would have stayed only a couple of year and then it ended up being 11.

As I said, I have always been lucky and I found job with English as main requirements, but if my luck ends, I will be jobless in no time and lose my permit(have B not C permit).
So I want to try to get to at least to a B1-B2 level so that I can have a fair chance.
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Old 12.11.2020, 17:27
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Re: Learn German with few free time

I just started using the app Memrise, and so far I really like it! I use the paid subscription as it also teaches grammar, but they have a free version as well. Great for practicing a few minutes here and there. I have used Duolingo as well, but I find memrise better, - more varied in types of exercises and with a more useful vocabulary for daily life use.
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Old 12.11.2020, 20:41
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Re: Learn German with few free time

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I just started using the app Memrise, and so far I really like it! I use the paid subscription as it also teaches grammar, but they have a free version as well. Great for practicing a few minutes here and there. I have used Duolingo as well, but I find memrise better, - more varied in types of exercises and with a more useful vocabulary for daily life use.
I tried using Duolingo but it's too slow and I lost my interest after 1 week of ich esse einen Apfel

I'll give a look at Memrise, hopefully it will help
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Old 13.11.2020, 09:29
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Re: Learn German with few free time

i suggest that given your schedule, instead of formal learning or app based learning, you focus on increasing your reading and listening comprehension. I hated all apps so i started to do two things:

1. subscribed to various podcasts and do active listening (Kakdu, kinder podcast is my favorite) - noting down words i dont understand and finding out their meanings and listening to the podcast again (or at least some sections again). SRF does amazing documentaries, totally worth a watch on their website.

2. Read - anything - 20minuten, news, recipes, corona rules from the BAG, young adult books from the library, anything really. Same principle of active reading and increasing your vocabulary. 20minuten used to be my favorite as they have all gossipy stuff stuff in simple language.

Reading a range of varied subjects keeps you excited and you increase your vocabulary dramatically. Also helps you understand the dialects. When you have time for formal lessons, you will be surprised how much easier it will be.
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Old 17.01.2021, 19:38
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Re: Learn German with few free time

Similar issue here:
Working for an international company and time pressures externally are intense.

People here have already said the useful things like Podcasts (really, do it) but 2 things that helped me were:

1. using a site like verbling.com or preply or italki for lessons. Not only because it gives you material but because a fixed timeslot of meeting with someone makes you do the work (you can meet with teachers in all different timezones)
2. read in German as much as you can, try to read those dual text books or back issues of Deutsch Perfekt. They are pretty interesting so it has reading benefits already

A final thing I would say is...slow it down. You would be wasting money (I have a subscription for *every* German app) if you switch from classes right to a German class and then sleep. You need time to let things sink in, do the work yourself and all the other hard things. Do not fill every hour of your day, maybe take a longer weekend and spend it on the German? Once you get past a certain level, it becomes easier to stick with it and find new sources of material
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Old 17.01.2021, 22:15
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Re: Learn German with few free time

There are plenty of online resources and text books out there, but the only thing that really helped me in the beginning was to speak the language everywhere I could, regardless of feeling like it's an uphill battle in some situations. Read whatever you can get your hands on, start with funny little things, comics, magazines etc. Ask a friend to have conversations with you and never switch to English. (now that might be more difficult but I'm sure there are people who are happy to help)
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Old 18.01.2021, 23:23
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Re: Learn German with few free time

As a native English Speaker the best app I have used is Duolingo, with the paid Plus subscription. The repetition is aggravating but somehow it works. I still remember more from Duolingo practice than the expensive German classes I have attended for the most part.

Sometimes it depends on the teacher and I have had a few great teachers and a few so-so teachers, that really were able to communicate what's important how to setup the sentence, verb placement, etc. but it's usually the repetition that seals the deal.

It takes seemingly forever to learn German, much more difficult than earning a bachelors degree, at least for myself. At some point it all starts to make sense, become mechanical, click, and yet is still challenging if your spending your time in Switzerland where normal German is basically disregarded and verbal communication always comes in Swiss German.
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Old 19.01.2021, 02:56
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Re: Learn German with few free time

Stop waiting and get yourself a boyfriend
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Old 19.01.2021, 06:08
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Re: Learn German with few free time

Funny, my first serious private German teacher after 6 weeks said the same/opposite.. Get yourself a girlfriend fully knowing I was married. Somehow there is much truth to it.
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Old 19.01.2021, 10:24
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Re: Learn German with few free time

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Stop waiting and get yourself a boyfriend
I have one, too bad he only speaks Spanish, French, Italian, English and a little bit of Dutch.. eheheh
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Old 19.01.2021, 10:31
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Re: Learn German with few free time

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As a native English Speaker the best app I have used is Duolingo, with the paid Plus subscription. The repetition is aggravating but somehow it works. I still remember more from Duolingo practice than the expensive German classes I have attended for the most part.

Sometimes it depends on the teacher and I have had a few great teachers and a few so-so teachers, that really were able to communicate what's important how to setup the sentence, verb placement, etc. but it's usually the repetition that seals the deal.

It takes seemingly forever to learn German, much more difficult than earning a bachelors degree, at least for myself. At some point it all starts to make sense, become mechanical, click, and yet is still challenging if your spending your time in Switzerland where normal German is basically disregarded and verbal communication always comes in Swiss German.
I tried Duolingo, but it's killing me! It's sooooo slow! I understand repetition is the key, but not always, always, always...

I wanted to take German classes at Migros for example, but I work fulltime 9-17.

I spend a total of 2h commuting(cannot wfh in this current project) and after work, I am enrolled in a Bachelor's degree program in Computer Engineering fulltime, online.

I have no TV at home, because we both work a lot and have no time to watch tv

I now bought some kids books in German to try and read/make sense during my lunchtime..
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Old 19.01.2021, 11:32
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Re: Learn German with few free time

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Funny, my first serious private German teacher after 6 weeks said the same/opposite.. Get yourself a girlfriend fully knowing I was married. Somehow there is much truth to it.
Lol. Not always. I have a very good friend here whose husband is German native speaker and their couple/family language is English....still English after being together for so many years, but they met in another country and started off in English so to speak. I do speak German fluently and definitely better than her. I'm not judging here, just wanted to point out that's not always true.
Good intentions from the language teacher though....
So no, nobody is "doomed". Find the motivation and persevere, that's all.
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Old 19.01.2021, 13:44
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Re: Learn German with few free time

I have lots of time but very little time for formal repetitive learning, never have done. You can start small and learn from there.
Necessity is the mother of invention and all that. Put yourself in situations where you have to speak German, and listen. Ask people how they are, did they have a good weekend, where they bought their hat, is this the right way for the train station, would they like to have a coffee. Look up what you said and what you heard when you get home or even on the go on your phone.


Ein Tute bitte. - *eine* Tute? Yeah ok. Go home learn der die das, ein, eine for the few nouns that you know.

Ein Bier bitte. - Gross oder klein? um, er, .... Go home look that up.
Next time. Ein gross Bier bitte. - ein *grosses*? um, if you say so. Go home and look up gross grosse grosser grosses, das grosse bier, ein grosses bier, zwei grosse bier etc.
Ein grosser Kaffee bitte. Ja Wohl!

Kann ich bitter ein grosser Kaffee haben? *einen* *grossen* Kaffee? Go home learn einen, eine, ein. den die das.

Hallo es gibt ein Problem mit der grosser Kaffee... - Was ist mit *dem* *grossen* Kaffee los? Go home learn dative "dem der den" etc.

Was ist die Suppe fuer diese Woche? - Die Suppe *der* Woche ist Kartoffelsuppe. Go home learn genitive der des.
Hallo, haben Sie *einen* Tisch frei? Danke. Ich haette gern *eine* Suppe *der* Woche mit *einem* *grossen* Stueck Brot.


Then learn vocab and verbs and you're done! In Switzerland you only really need to learn present tense - ich sage hallo - and past tense - ich habe hallo gesagt. ich *bin* for 'movement' verbs. - ich bin gelaufen. ich bin umgezogen. You'll find a lot of simple past in news stories e.g. if you read 20minuten. - Der Mann sagte hallo - but it's not so much used in spoken German this way on.


Done. You now speak German :-) Hopefully I didn't make any mistakes.
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Old 19.01.2021, 13:51
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Re: Learn German with few free time

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Stop waiting and get yourself a boyfriend
Deutsch on ze pilo?
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