Another update from my last week learning German
Learning with Texts
I’ve spent a lot of time translating words from German into English from the store of articles which I have stored in my LWT app. Quite a lot to add! I have no idea whether knowing the word for debt-waiver (Forderungsverzicht) will ever come in handy in my life, though. In addition to the news articles I also added a couple of Brothers Grimm fairy tales: Rumpelstilchen, Little Red Riding Hood (Rotkäpchen) and Hänsel & Gretel. A good thing about adding these kinds of stories is that I already know the gist of what’s going on so it becomes much easier to glean unknown items based upon their context. These stories are much lighter than the news articles, which is fun but there are also some old-fashioned turns of phrase to come to terms with (think “one upon a time” etc.)
Reviewing using Anki
I did my daily reviews using Anki. By the end of the week this was amounting to about 30 minutes a day but rather than do this all at one sitting I managed to find the time to do a lot of reviews on my mobile phone when I had five minutes spare: I’ve got Anki hooked up with an online account so that I can either run the app at home or call up the online interface when I’m on the move.
- Impatience. A fairly persistent issue this week has been that I’ve been quite hard on myself regarding the lack of progress I’ve made (or not) in German over the years. I keep telling myself that I should be much better. I know with some people this kind of a feeling is an incentive to work harder but in my case I tend to become rather more depressed about things. My default remedy for this is to do someting. anything in German however small – it seems to work quite well at the moment.
- Need for comfort. I still watch too much stuff in English. Since I don’t have a TV most of what I watch is online and almost all of this in English. Not good. All it took today was to watch an episode of “The Simpsons” in German to make me realise that there are still quite a lot of seemingly basic phrases I still have to master in German. If I’m really serious about getting my German to a good level I have to cut out the English media.
- Lack of a goal. I don’t really have a goal at present. I’m enjoying the sense of learning at present but I’m unsure how long this will last. If I had a defined goal it may be easier to find the internal kick I need when I’m feel indolent. A Goethe exam could be a goal but I’m unsure how much of studying for this would be directly relevant to improving my language compared to how much effort would need to be directed towards learning how to pass a language exam.
- Finding new words in other contexts. Learning a new word is all fine and well but I’ve realised that sometimes the only reason I’m seemingly remembering the word is because of the context it sits in with the cloze test I’ve already seen about twenty times i.e. I’m remembering the word by virtue of where it sits in the sentence. Not the best way to really know a word. What I decided to do was to take such a new word and find at least one other context which is fairly close to a phrase which I may use in day-to-day speech and add this to sample German sentences which I learn in tandem with my regular LWT sentences. An example is the word überzeugen. I’d seen it a few times in some news articles but was finding it hard to remember. As a way of getting this easier into my memory I looked up a sentence containing this word at Tatoeba and came back with “Ich versuche ihn zu überzeugen.” – “I’m trying to convince him“. It feels to me as if shorter phrases such as this one are much more likely to anchor the word, especially if they are phrases which I use frequently. Perhaps a fault with that last sentence is that I spend relatively small amount of my life trying to convince people to doing anything, ha!
- “Easy” TV. This week I’ve watched cartoons in German. I felt somewhat guilty for doing so but by the end of an episode also felt quite happy at the amount of content which I already knew. In addition, I was aware of turns of phrase which contained words I knew but which made no sense: idioms in this case. One I learned from The Simpsons was “Darauf kannst du Gift nehmen!” which literally translates as “you can take poison on that” but which means “you can bet your life on it”. I have no idea where the idiom comes from – some kind of Middle Ages witch-test or other, I guess – having read three Brothers Grimm fairy tales it seems as if there’s a lot of darkness tucked away deep in the Germany psyche
Plan for the coming week
- Continue to translate items within LWT and get the vocabulary/phrases across into Anki
- Begin my German book (Kleider machen Leute)
- Watch less English TV. There’s plenty of German TV out there for me to be watching.
- Work out some kind of goal to aim for.