My Language Learning Journey: German (Log: 05)

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I’m slowly getting through the German I Pimsleur thanks to my library’s overdrive. It’s actually quite fun to listen to while doing the dishes. I try to repeat when I can, but sometimes I’m hearing it but my tongue gets tied, but I move on. I’m kind of treating Pimsleur like I would a slow class in the sense that I have no choice but to move on even if I don’t completely understand the first time around. However, the repetition helps but sometimes the pronunciation is so different that it, as it seems to me, registers to me differently than English and then it’s hard for me to say and understand what’s being said due to a lack of understanding without a written aid to help me.

Throughout all my language learning thus far, I’ve come to realize that having written aids accompanying the audio is best. Sometimes even the pure writing supplements are better than the audio and visual combination ones, but for the most part, a combination of audio and visual is best for the language to really get home into my head. Although, the audio and visual doesn’t have to be simultaneous learning, but it’s important to learn both. I prefer using my Essential German Grammar book alongside using SRS apps like Memrise to help me with vocabulary. I also use the Rosetta Stone supplementary German workbook with the answer key to use as practice (1). I’m still only on level 1, but I hope to be finished with it by the end of the year if I study diligently, but we’ll see how it goes. Knowing me with my ADHD mind, it’ll probably be a whole year from now or longer, which, hopefully, it doesn’t come to that. But language learning is a lifetime activity, so there’s no rush in the end. Plus, having the answer key accompanying it is a godsend. I rarely get perfects but I get a lot right, and so far it’s simple enough that I can understand the errors that I’m making after a while, especially since I don’t actually have the accompanying audio with the Rosetta Stone supplementary education material. Moreover, The Essential German Grammar is broken down into little sections that I can go through each time I’m studying that helps to know if I’m done for the day or if it’s possible to do one more after a small break – it’s nice. Duolingo and Pimsleur are fun, but I don’t think they help nearly as much as others. If there are any particular beginners German text and workbook for independent learners that you’d like to recommend, please do so in the comments!

I’ve also recently spent a lot of time reading language learning posts on blogs or subreddits. It’s nice to know that I’m not the only one struggling at times, but despite that, many continue on to learning the language they want regardless. I mostly like to go on Reddit to read on language learning, and I was thinking of getting into Tumblr too, but haven’t really looked into it yet.

Lastly, I doubt I’ll ever move to Germany. I might not even visit. Moreover, I don’t get out much nor do I really want to, so I don’t know any German speakers. Speaking German is not a priority for me, but knowing pronunciation or having an inkling of how it sounds is important, which is why I listen to German songs on YouTube or go through the Pimsleur course, however slow I’m trudging through it via during chore time. I’ve also watched a few episodes of BoJack Horseman in German on Netflix, which is something that I should continue doing so but haven’t gotten around to it. In the end, reading German is my priority; it’s the focus and reason why I want to learn German in the first place.

 

(1) You can find the link to the resources for the Rosetta Stone in the middle of my Log: 02. The supplemental education materials are only available in English (American or British), French, German, Latin, and Spanish (Latin America). Each have up to different levels.

My Language Learning Journey: German (Log: 04)

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“The best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something. Don’t wait for good things to happen to you. If you go out and make some good things happen, you will fill the world with hope, you will fill yourself with hope.” – Barack Obama.

I needed to take a small break from German in order to recharge before I gave myself a huge burnout from language learning, but also to center myself again. Why do I want to learn a foreign language? I’ve been questioning myself lately. The simplest answer: “because I want to”, and that’s the honest truth of it. A desire. There’s also things like wanting to discover a different culture than my own that can only truly be captured through the (foreign) language. Once I found some closure on that, I found myself slowly getting back into the groove again, which I’m delighted about. It’s something to look forward to with all the personal hardships I’ve been going through lately.

Anyway, I finally got through the glossary section of my grammar book that briefly explains German grammar terminology using English grammar terminology. I think it was great to get a feel of the grammar that I’m going to explore throughout this grammar book, which makes things a little less intimidating for me. As much as I like to try new things, I have to do it slowly else I scare myself off with no hopes of returning rather than if I lose interest, there’s still a chance that I’ll return. I’ve been trying to learn a foreign language since I’ve been in middle school with barely any success, but now that I have the time to dedicate myself to learning what I want to learn, I think I’m advancing much further than I thought I had the dedication for.

My library offers Pimsleur, which I’m on the waiting list for in multiple languages and am excited to go through. Listening is something that I haven’t been practicing much of, so since my library offers Pimsleur for free, I thought why not? It’s a nice basic supplement to the basic materials that I’m already going through to help me hone a basic understanding of the languages I want to learn, especially German. They have up to level four in German, I believe, which is something I can listen to while doing things around the house. I should be able to borrow the German I Pimsleur within a month.

I’m looking to browse through Steven Pinker’s The Language Instinct and Gabriel Wyner’s Fluent Forever soon as my library also has both available that I snagged for the time slot allotted (21 days long for each borrowing period. As I’m a slow reader nowadays, I take the whole time and still need more time, which sometimes I can borrow straightaway again or have to wait a while, but either way, it’s alright). I’m starting to also become interested in learning about language itself along with how to study language and how to do so efficiently. I like thinking about language and how I can attain more than my native language. Language is so complex, and there’s a lot of literature that’s starting to come out about it. Therefore, we’ll see where my studying with these books takes me!

Overall, I’m back in the mode to do some learning! I’m excited. Despite feeling intimidated every now and then about the sheer amount of knowledge awaiting me, I press on because it’s my desire to learn. It’s what I can control now which is something that I need. There’s a whole world out there to explore and taking control of my time to do something productive seems like something that will benefit me in the long run. I’d like to think the hard work will eventually be worth it.

My Language Learning Journey: German (Log: 3)

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I’m slowly getting there with my German. I can definitely understand more German than I did a month ago.

Something that I’ve been trying lately is listening to German music – specifically Disney songs. I was super excited when I realized that I could understand some of the Disney German song titles while looking for German Disney songs on YouTube. Moreover, there are three German songs that I’m particularly attached to: “Feuer der hölle” from the Hunchback of Notre Dame, “Ich werd’s noch beweisen” from Hercules, and “Endlich sehe ich das Licht” from Tangled.

I try to sing along in German, but it’s quite hard. It is practically the only time I’m really trying to actually speak the language rather than focusing on my goal of reading, but it’s fun and helps expose me to the German language more.

Overall, I’m glad that I’m able to try to learn a foreign language in my own home at my own pace. It’s less stress and anxiety, which played a big part as to why I had a hard time in university with my foreign language learning because I absolutely hated speaking in a language that’s not English or Hawaiian Pidgin English and would often get anxious and want to throw up. There was a point where my professor kept asking me questions during an oral exam in hopes that I would start talking more, but it frightened me instead, and I went home and promptly threw up. It was a wonder for me because it was only my foreign language class where speaking actually frightened me. I’d be a chatterbox in my English courses, but my foreign language courses always scared me into silence due to my anxiety taking over.

It’s hard motivating myself sometimes to work on my German, but I am determined to continue to work on it for now.

My Language Learning Journey: German (Log: 02)

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Whenever I have the smallest inclination to research whatever interests me at that moment, and I have the time, I rarely hesitate to look things up and get lost in the information for a while. One of my teachers in high school once announced to the class something along the lines of: “If you have questions, google them.” Lately, I have been looking up resources for language learning even though I have enough to at least satisfy the requirements of my personal language learning journey for the next several months without needing to look up another single resource.

A few days ago, I came across the Rosetta Stone answer keys and workbooks online. They have pdfs on their site for free for English, French, German, Latin, and Spanish. Considering that the answer key also comes with the student workbook for homeschool, I think it’s fine to use separately from RS’s audio for the most part. The structure reminds me of the structure of my old Spanish workbook that I used when I took Spanish in university (which I came out at A1-A2 at best). I’ve tried out a few of the German lessons (level 1, of course) of the RS supplemental education material and will plan to eventually get through the workbook as I continue my German language learning journey. So far so good as far as I can tell. I can get the gist of the directions through reading it and looking at the examples.

In addition, I’ve done language learning before in attempting to learn Japanese and Spanish, but neither worked out because I eventually lost interest, especially when I took them in university. I find an university’s language learning structure doesn’t work for me because my goals for learning a language is geared towards reading and writing rather than listening or speaking, and an university’s language learning is geared towards all four plus the vocabulary isn’t geared towards the things that I want to read or write about.

Lastly, I’ve started up doing Duolingo through the desktop for German, which is nice because there is some grammar points they put up that nicely introduces the concepts. I’ll be studying it more in depth later with my grammar book, but to get a little introduction by Duolingo that’s reinforced by basic structures to help home in the concepts is great. Now that I’m using Duolingo more; however, Memrise has been shown a little less attention, but it’s still my main app for vocabulary building. I can recognize and recall a good portion of the root words that I’ve been learning when I’m reading German posts on Reddit or the Bible, etc, which is more than I could do last month when I was first began really putting in the effort. Considering that I normally try to learn 50-100 words of vocabulary a week with constant review, I think I’m finally getting somewhere – so far I’d estimate that I know about 100 words easily. However, I need to start learning the grammar side of things soon. Either way, I’m happy that I’m progressing! It truly does motivate me to continue my language learning journey.

My Language Learning Journey: German (Log: 01)

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“Facing a language you don’t know is like returning to your infancy when your mother tongue used to be a foreign language to you.” – Munia Khan

Growing up speaking a creole language like Hawaiian Pidgin English that incorporated a lot of different languages altogether to form a new one exposed me to many different languages utilizing not just different vocabulary but at times different grammatical structures like sentence structure (Hawaiian Pidgin English follows Portuguese grammar more than Standard American English). As I grew older, my interest in languages grew as I grew more aware of how languages functioned, but it wasn’t until recently after I graduated from college and wasn’t forced to endure learning a new language for a grade and requirement did language learning turn fun again even if it meant that I would once more be a complete beginner again.

The choice to learn German was based on my interests in philosophy and religion – both subjects where German has a foothold in. German and English is also a little similar, so it’s not a language that was too far from the standard language that I was taught in school. I’m more interested in learning a foreign language for reading and writing (and some listening) purposes only rather than speaking. I’ve tried learning a little bit of Japanese, Korean, Chinese (Mandarin and traditional kanji), Spanish, and Latin, but it hasn’t really worked out as eventually I give up due to a lack of interest.

This is my first real foray into learning German. It’s been about a month since I started putting in more effort in my language learning journey to learn it. Memrise is proving to be a key in keeping me practicing vocabulary at least four times a week. The SRS does help me to retain the information, and I like how game-like it can get with Memrise. I’ve also been going through Essential German Grammar by Martin Durrell, Katrin Kohl, and Gudrun Loftus. It’s slow, but slow and steady wins the race!

I’ve also recently decided that looking up a German bible with an accompaniment of the audio has got to be one of my greater decisions in my language learning journey. Not only am I gaining exposure by reading and listening, I’m also combining it with something that I’m interested in aka religion. I’ve found myself much more interested in learning the material; it feels less like a chore and more like something that I want to do. I’m also subscribed to a few German subreddits on my Reddit account, which I take the time to try to read even though I maybe understand only a limited amount of words and barely any grammar.

I hope to continue and persist with my language learning this time. I’m thinking that I’ll use this blog also as my personal language log, but also make an offline log as well. There’s still a lot for me to learn, both in German and in my native English. Language is ever evolving.


German Language Resources:

Essential German Grammar

German Bible Audio

German Subreddits: German, de

On Learning: Some Thoughts on Language, Planning, and Resources

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“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.” – Confucius

I’m blessed to have the time to dedicate a large amount of time to my intellectual and religious pursuits. Studying and learning about things is something that makes me happy.

Yesterday, I was talking to my SO about language. My SO likes to be concise with his words – if anything, this being one of his favored styles is reflective of how Ernest Hemmingway writes. My SO likes how you can pack a lot of meaning into a few words. I, myself, favor allusive-heavy styles of writing. Whenever I read a literary work that incorporates references that I can recognize (like a Biblical reference where I’ve actually read the Bible chapter the reference came from), I always get giddy. I find myself enjoying the work more. It’s one of the reasons why I enjoyed T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land, which I had to read with Norton footnotes, but recognizing Tiresias because I’ve read both Oedipus and Antigone by Sophocles was hype. Is there a style that you enjoy? Do you prefer novels or poetry or nonfiction?

You can add me on Goodreads and check out what I’ve read so far. However, the only book reviews I have besides star ratings are the reviews found on my blog at the moment. I’m planning on putting my reviews both on Goodreads and here for book reviews starting from the next review.

My German is slowly moving along. I found a few grammar sources that I can hopefully pair with all the vocabulary I’ve been learning through Memrise. I’ve always wanted to learn a foreign language besides my native Hawaiian Pidgin English/American Standard English and making progress (even if slow) in German purely by self-study feels great.

In addition, I’ve been scouring my library’s Overdrive collection these past few days and have been adding a lot of books to my wish list. There’s so much to read that I don’t even know where to begin! I’m going for nonfiction as I’m currently reading a fiction (Virgil’s The Aeneid). Go and take a trip out to your local library or if you already have a library card, you can google your library’s website and see if they offer anything online that’s available to those with a library card. You’ll be surprised at the amount resources that suddenly becomes available to you; I know I was. It makes it a little easier to feel like I have more scholarly resources available to me despite not being affiliated with a university anymore as I graduated last year. I didn’t think I’d be looking through EBSCO again since I left university.

I’ve also been diving into Itunes’s podcasts and their university courses – all of which are free. I encourage you all to check it out if you do use Itunes and are wanting to get into listening to podcasts. I’m currently going through Brown University’s From Israelite to Jew by Michael Satlow. I’ve been interested in Ancient Near East lately and listening to Satlow’s course introduces me to the subject pretty well, I’d like to think. Itunes offers a variety of podcasts and university courses and is overall a great resource for learning.

All in all, I’m using the rest of this month to plan for next month. I’m also sampling some of the things I want to do such as skimming over the German grammar book I just got. I want to be a bit more organized with my studying next month including having goals for what I want to achieve for the month, schedule times to study, etc. I think that will definitely take a couple of days. I’d like to compare how I feel after a month of diligent studying that I haven’t done since my university days. I’m excited! Do you plan out your studying schedule for subjects?

Getting Back Into the Groove

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“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” – J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring.

Life likes to knock you one regardless if you’re looking or not, and it’s up to you to pick yourself up after he has knocked you down.

The days have passed by in somewhat of a tired, painful, blur these past few days. I’ve been worrying heavily since my doctor indicated that multiple sclerosis is on the table and now I’m being referred to a neurologist. Hopefully things are resolved, and I find out just what exactly I may have. Back in 2009, I had an episode of optic neuritis, which can be an early sign of multiple sclerosis. Of course, I need to go for further testing. I’m trying to relax, but it can be pretty hard when symptoms seem to be lining up for now, but I suppose that could be me with confirmation bias, which might not be the reality of the matter at all. I really need to relax. I’m praying that it’s not multiple sclerosis, but even if it’s not, there’s still a lot of pain and fatigue that still occurs. I also can’t quite leave my home much due to the intense heat with my heat intolerance. I don’t think life is meant to feel like a trap, but it does at the moment with being so ill.

Despite all the ill feelings, I’ve managed to get some reading done towards the Classics challenge I’m going this year. I’m finally tackling Virgil’s The Aeneid. I really like it so far. I’m reading Fagles’ verse translation of the Latin classic, which has made me think of learning more about poetry. For someone who has difficulty with poetry, what text would you recommend to help get a feel for poetic analysis? I enjoy more ancient and early modern poetry than modern and postmodern poetry. Are there sources where I can also read about the types of poetic styles (I suppose that’s based quite a bit on time period?) that writer’s employed during ancient and early modern periods e.g. metaphysical poetry for early modern?

I’ve also completed the German 1 course on Memrise. I’ll be moving onto the second course soon. I’m actually enjoying the time I spend on Memrise. It feels very much like a game to me that I’m slowly learning German vocabulary from. Are there any resources for free that anyone would recommend to someone who’s primary focus is to read German?

As it stands, even when I’m feeling ill, I don’t want to waste majority of the day lost in a haze where I’m probably zoning out on Reddit, watching Netflix, or on my mobile game. Doing chores is one of the most productive things I do outside of my studying and taking care of myself and my loved ones. Staying productive helps to not sink fully into a major depression as my tendency to stop things I enjoy is a prominent symptom when I’m spiraling into a more major depressive state. It’s a struggle, but at least there are moments where things are good, God is gracious, and I have relatively pain-free and depressive-free days. Rarely do they occur, but they are cherished moments. It’s up to me on what to do with the time that I do have, so I personally would like to do things that I view as productive which is sometimes a struggle, but it’s always a proud moment when I do manage to succeed.