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Following my staggering triumph in being able to utter the phrase, "Spreekt u Engels?" on the streets of Flanders, I'm setting myself a new language challenge.

From my successful GCSE and wildly unsuccessful A-level, I have a vague knowledge of German but would like to massively improve.

I 'did' Dutch with Babbel and found it to be "Mmmm, okay" ... if anyone has any experience of learning a more mainstream language with the wider resources available online then could you share your experiences?

Which ones were good? What worked and what didn't?

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Build a man a fire, and he'll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he'll be warm for the rest of his life. (Terry Pratchett)

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I did a bit of German on DuoLingo, a few years ago. It seemed to be a good course for getting the hang of the basics, with a mixture of on-screen text and audio. I don't know how far it'll take you, as I stopped after a while.

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"We are easily breakable, by illness or falling, or a million other ways of leaving this earthly life. We are just so much mashed potato."  Don Estelle

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Like Futtocks, I used Duolingo, but for Greek. I found it a good learning environment (mix of text and audio), but I couldn't get the hang of their 'ten minutes a day' claim. I felt a bit held back and wanted to make faster progress, but there was no 'skip ten lessons' button. This was probably because I already spoke a bit of Greek. It didn't cost anything, so I stopped after about four or five weeks. I should go back and try again. We'll see. Review grading - 4/5.

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I had a reasonable knowledge of French and did Duolingo's course all the way to the end. It helped as a reinforcement but all the ways of learning languages are just primers. The only real way in my opinion is to live in the country and try to use the language - harder than it seems when everybody switches to English when they realise you're from the country where nobody bothers with languages. 

I want to learn Spanish but last time I checked Duolingo was Central/South American Spanish, which is different in a few respects. 

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"I am the avenging angel; I come with wings unfurled, I come with claws extended from halfway round the world. I am the God Almighty, I am the howling wind. I care not for your family; I care not for your kin. I come in search of terror, though terror is my own; I come in search of vengeance for crimes and crimes unknown. I care not for your children, I care not for your wives, I care not for your country, I care not for your lives." - (c) Jim Boyes - "The Avenging Angel"

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Rosetta Stone courses are very good, solidly recommend them, but they're a bit pricey these days with their online "subscription" options. If you can get the one-off purchases then that'll do better as you can keep dipping in and out as you see fit over years.

On German though, I spent six months in Dortmund and the extent of my German when I left was "zwei bier bitte" and "es tut mir leid, er ist ein britischer soldat"

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"When in deadly danger, when beset by doubt; run in little circles, wave your arms and shout"

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Same, I speak almost fluent German, was better when I lived there though, and I use duolingo to just keep on top of it. Easy language to learn individual words and simple phrases cos a lot is very similar to English and Dutch but more complex sentences can be a ###### due to the word order and context.

Also the fact that German has three genders rather than two in other languages. German has masculine, feminine and neutral, youll have to learn different word endings for each one and when you get into pronouns it will get even more complicated because you start adding formal and informal language. Germans essentially speak two different versions of the language, formal and informal which are completely different. Concentrate on learning formal cos you'll rarely have to use informal unless you're talking to good friends. 

If you need any help or tips just let me know! 

And for your word order, just remember:

Time - Manner - Place.

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11 minutes ago, The Hallucinating Goose said:

Same, I speak almost fluent German, was better when I lived there though, and I use duolingo to just keep on top of it. Easy language to learn individual words and simple phrases cos a lot is very similar to English and Dutch but more complex sentences can be a ###### due to the word order and context.

Also the fact that German has three genders rather than two in other languages. German has masculine, feminine and neutral, youll have to learn different word endings for each one and when you get into pronouns it will get even more complicated because you start adding formal and informal language. Germans essentially speak two different versions of the language, formal and informal which are completely different. Concentrate on learning formal cos you'll rarely have to use informal unless you're talking to good friends. 

If you need any help or tips just let me know! 

And for your word order, just remember:

Time - Manner - Place.

Cheers for this (and the other responses). I wasn't bad at German to GCSE but somehow plummeted at A-level and never really got my confidence back. Twenty-five years on, I reckon I'm big enough to give it another go.

I'll look into what's around. I'm not expecting greatness but something that's a bit of fun and, crucially, helps me understand the handball pages on German websites. That's the vital bit.

Build a man a fire, and he'll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he'll be warm for the rest of his life. (Terry Pratchett)

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20 minutes ago, gingerjon said:

Cheers for this (and the other responses). I wasn't bad at German to GCSE but somehow plummeted at A-level and never really got my confidence back. Twenty-five years on, I reckon I'm big enough to give it another go.

I'll look into what's around. I'm not expecting greatness but something that's a bit of fun and, crucially, helps me understand the handball pages on German websites. That's the vital bit.

I hope you have fun, as I say, simple enough to learn individual words and simpler phrases which should be all you'll need to know for reading articles online. You'll only have to know formal German cos you aren't having a conversation with someone and you don't need to worry about pronouns too much for the same reason, which is good cos there is about 10 words for you or your alone. 

To give you an idea about formality, the phrase 'you are gingerjon':

Formal, 'Sie sind Gingerjon' 

Informal, 'Du bist Gingerjon' 

Different languages! 😳

 

The time, manner, place thing I mention is easy enough once you get the hang of it. Those three things in a sentence have to be in that order, or if there's only 2 of them, in the order they are in the phrase, time manner place. So for example, 

Time, Am Sonntag (on Sunday) 

Manner, mit mein Bruder (with my brother) 

Place, im Park (in the park) 

Keep these phrases in that order and the rest of the words in the sentence can go anywhere you like and it will still make sense, and as I say, you don't need all three phrases as long as the two remaining and in the correct order, so:

Am Sonntag, ich spiele Rugby mit mein Bruder im Park. 

Ich spiele Rugby, Am Sonntag, mit mein Bruder, im Park. 

Am Sonntag, mit mein Bruder, im Park, Ich spiele rugby. 

Am Sonntag, Ich spiele, mit mein Bruder, im Park, rugby. 

Ich spiele, am Sonntag, mit mein Bruder, im Park, rugby. 

Rugby, am Sonntag, mit mein Bruder, ich spiele, im Park. 

And every other combination you can come up with! 😊

Edited by The Hallucinating Goose
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1 minute ago, The Hallucinating Goose said:

I hope you have fun, as I say, simple enough to learn individual words and simpler phrases which should be all you'll need to know for reading articles online. You'll only have to know formal German cos you aren't having a conversation with someone and you don't need to worry about pronouns too much for the same reason, which is good cos there is about 10 words for you or your alone. 

To give you an idea about formality, the phrase 'you are gingerjon':

Formal, 'Sie sind Gingerjon' 

Informal, 'Du bist Gingerjon' 

Different languages! 😳

 

The time, manner, place thing I mention is easy enough once you get the hang of it. Those three things in a sentence have to be in that order, or if there's only 2 of them, in the order they are in the phrase, time manner place. So for example, 

Time, Am Sonntag (on Sunday) 

Manner, mit mein Bruder (with my brother) 

Place, im Park (in the park) 

Keep these phrases in that order and the rest of the words in the sentence can go anywhere you like and it will still make sense, and as I say, you don't need all three phrases as long as the two remaining and in the correct order, so:

Am Sonntag, ich spiele Rugby mit mein Bruder im Park. 

Ich spiele Rugby, Am Sonntag, mit mein Bruder, im Park. 

Am Sonntag, mit mein Bruder, im Park, Ich spiele rugby. 

Am Sonntag, Ich spiele, mit mein Bruder, im Park, rugby. 

Ich spiele, am Sonntag, mit mein Bruder, im Park, rugby. 

Rugby, am Sonntag, mit mein Bruder, ich spiele, im Park, ich spiele. 

And every other combination you can come up with! 😊

Cheers!

Build a man a fire, and he'll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he'll be warm for the rest of his life. (Terry Pratchett)

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2 hours ago, tonyXIII said:

Like Futtocks, I used Duolingo, but for Greek. I found it a good learning environment (mix of text and audio), but I couldn't get the hang of their 'ten minutes a day' claim. I felt a bit held back and wanted to make faster progress, but there was no 'skip ten lessons' button. This was probably because I already spoke a bit of Greek. It didn't cost anything, so I stopped after about four or five weeks. I should go back and try again. We'll see. Review grading - 4/5.

There is (on other Duolingo courses at least), a way of skipping forward by doing proficiency tests.

Edited by JonM
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1 hour ago, gingerjon said:

I 'did' Dutch with Babbel and found it to be "Mmmm, okay" ... if anyone has any experience of learning a more mainstream language with the wider resources available online then could you share your experiences?

Which ones were good? What worked and what didn't?

I've been using Duolingo since 2012 or so and find it very good, particularly for learning and practising vocabulary and grammar. You do have to supplement it with other resources. YouTube is seriously useful - I'm working on Welsh and Spanish at the moment and there are loads of videos aimed at learners. You don't have to jump straight to (for example) watching S4C programmes or Mexican soaps. Likewise, there are plenty of books you can find on Amazon or elsewhere which are written in simple language, aimed at learners at a particular level, or where you get English translation on adjacent pages. I did GCSE French and German, the French has improved a lot over the years, the German largely forgotten - Germans mostly just want to speak English to me.

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It was a long time ago but I once spent 6 weeks in Hamburg on a German exchange with a blue collar family who spoke only a few words of English.  This greatly improved my German no end as most people (in a friendly nature) like to practice their English on you in most situations in large German cities.

Given the polite and friendly nature of most German people in their own country I found that extending my vocabulary by learning words was the way to go with my German hosts always willing to help with my sentence structure.

Ive also used DuoLingo for conversational French, Spanish and Italian which is not quite as impressive as it sounds as all three share a common lineage I found.

Edited by Gerrumonside ref
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Tried a Linguaphone vinyl course some 50 years ago and can still use the phrase Der Plattenspieler liegt auf dem Tisch whenever needed

No other phrases, though

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People who think they know everything are a great annoyance to those of us who do.

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People of a certain age may suffer a slight twitch at this - "écouter et répéter" *BEEP* .

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"We are easily breakable, by illness or falling, or a million other ways of leaving this earthly life. We are just so much mashed potato."  Don Estelle

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It doesn't matter. We are now excluded from any EU Country because of the 51% Morons who voted for Brexit, they have now blocked us off. Think about it. What was a useless vote on banning asylum seekers, which hasn't worked, into a desperate bid for a UK Independence, which has also backfired in Northern Ireland, again, and now we are a floating village on the outskirts of a major trading community. Who do we trade with now? Argentina? Canada? Do we go begging to the countries that were part of a British Empire, now asking for help? Will they give salvation to Britain, I doubt it. They will spit on us. Like we did to them.

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47 minutes ago, JohnM said:

Tried a Linguaphone vinyl course some 50 years ago and can still use the phrase Der Plattenspieler liegt auf dem Tisch whenever needed

No other phrases, though

Vielen Dank für dein Beitrag.

(which google translate tells me is right)

Build a man a fire, and he'll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he'll be warm for the rest of his life. (Terry Pratchett)

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1 hour ago, JonM said:

I've been using Duolingo since 2012 or so and find it very good, particularly for learning and practising vocabulary and grammar. You do have to supplement it with other resources. YouTube is seriously useful - I'm working on Welsh and Spanish at the moment and there are loads of videos aimed at learners. You don't have to jump straight to (for example) watching S4C programmes or Mexican soaps. Likewise, there are plenty of books you can find on Amazon or elsewhere which are written in simple language, aimed at learners at a particular level, or where you get English translation on adjacent pages. I did GCSE French and German, the French has improved a lot over the years, the German largely forgotten - Germans mostly just want to speak English to me.

Watching S4C and Mexican soaps is a fine way to spend time though.

Build a man a fire, and he'll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he'll be warm for the rest of his life. (Terry Pratchett)

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10 minutes ago, Mister Ting said:

I can say the following like a local.

Hier ist der deutsche welle in der bundersrupblic deutschland

Hier ist der österreichischer rundfunk

That's my German for today.

Alles hat ein ende (nur die Wurst hat zwei)  

Since this was played on Kermode & Mayo's podcast I've had it stuck in my head.

Not the Wurst thing I suppose

Danke Iche bin die ganze woche hier .

Das ist mein mantel.

 

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4 minutes ago, Shadow said:

Alles hat ein ende (nur die Wurst hat zwei)  

Since this was played on Kermode & Mayo's podcast I've had it stuck in my head.

Not the Wurst thing I suppose

Danke Iche bin die ganze woche hier .

Das ist mein mantel.

 

Not my Wurst.

Entschuldigung, habe ich nicht

Fang nicht an

Learn to listen without distortion and learn to look without imagination.

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5 hours ago, Futtocks said:

People of a certain age may suffer a slight twitch at this - "écouter et répéter" *BEEP* .

People of a certain age may suffer a slight twitch at this - "écoutez et répétez" *BEEP* .

Sorry, Futtocks, but in my day, it was the polite imperative (2nd person plural form), not the infinitive that was used in this context.

Perhaps this gives a clue as to why I struggle with foreign languages. I'm too bloody pedantic for my own good. My general advice to anyone is to 'go for it' don't wait until you've translated your thoughts perfectly into your target language or you'll never say a word.

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Rethymno Rugby League Appreciation Society

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I did German 'O' level twice some decades ago - 20% the first time, 32% the second.  Progress, I suppose, but at that point I left it in abeyance!

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On 21/12/2020 at 10:31, ckn said:

 

On German though, I spent six months in Dortmund and the extent of my German when I left was "zwei bier bitte" and "es tut mir leid, er ist ein britischer soldat"

I learnt Portuguese before moving to Brazil. Spoke it reasonably fluently before I went within a year of learning 

No lessons, no money spent.... Everthing via YouTube and free Internet resources..... Did about 2 hours a day of reading /listening.... Including having Portuguese language on radio to work and watching at least half of the telly with Portuguese dubbing. Wenlbsites where lots of people online will speak in Portuguese for 10 mns if you recipricate in English for  10 etc

It's the effort you put in not the cost of the course in my view. I didn't spend a penny learning it

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