Improv comedy and Expedition Happiness

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Hello all!

This past week I did something I’ve never done before and went to see an improv comedy show entirely in German. Two things happened: firstly I laughed a lot, secondly I understood 95% of what was going on!

Because of this, I can’t wait to go again and here’s why you shouldn’t miss out on a similar opportunity either (note: I’m aware this can only really apply if you’re living in a country that speaks your TL)!

  1. You’ve probably never done it before – there’s a first time for everything, right?
  2. You will have fun and hopefully laugh lots!
  3. Improv comedy is incredibly visual – you will understand most of what’s going on, plus there’s a cool atmosphere!
  4. Anything’s better than grammar study

For those of you who aren’t in a position for this to be possible, my other piece of advice is to be on the look out for films or interesting comedy clips (long or short) in your TL – again it’s likely to be very visual to help you along, and you might just stumble upon hidden gems like Expedition Happiness (a German documentary I was lucky enough to see the premiere of!)

Until next time, keep working hard!

Immersion

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Hallo!

It’s me again, and this time I thought it would be a good idea to talk about language immersion – the difficulties but also the rewards.

Obviously the best way to immerse yourself in a language is to be in a place where the language you’re learning is the mother tongue. However that is not always possible.

So here are some other tips for sneaking more language learning into your day:

– Change your computer, phone and electrical device settings to your desired language, you’ll learn a surprising amount!

– watch or read the news in the language you’re learning – if you’re watching the news and the newsreader is too fast, don’t worry normally you can follow the gist from the accompanying video/pictures, and if you’re reading the news you have time go over the text as many times as you need and learn new vocab.

– make friends who are native speakers – maybe you’re lucky and you know some people already, if not the internet is a big place full of people looking for tandem partners or language exchanges (that being said, do be careful).

– reading books – if your language skills are reasonable a great way to practice is by reading books in a foreign language that you’ve already read in English, this way you already have an idea of the story. If you’re not quite ready for that yet, fear not children’s book are also a great option – they’re simple to follow and as your skills improve you can increase the level of difficulty!

– listen to music in the language you want to learn, it’s catchy and can often tell you a lot about grammar, word order and culture…plus it’s easy to remember!

Enjoy!

Ich bin es wieder, und dieses mal dachte ich, es wäre eine gute Idee, über das Spracheinzug zu sprechen – die Schwierigkeiten, aber auch die Belohnungen.

Offensichtlich ist der beste Weg, um in eine Sprache eintauchen, an einem Ort zu sein, wo die Sprache, die du lernst, die Muttersprache ist. Das ist aber nicht immer möglich.

Also hier sind einige andere Tipps für das Schleichen mehr Sprachlernen in Ihren Tag:

– Ändern Sie Ihre Computer-, Telefon- und elektrischen Geräteeinstellungen auf Ihre gewünschte Sprache, Sie werden eine überraschende Menge lernen!

– schau oder lest die Nachrichten in der Sprache, die du lernst – wenn du die Nachrichten beobachst und der Newsreader zu schnell ist, mach dir keine Sorgen, du kannst dem Gist von den begleitenden Videos / Bildern folgen und wenn du es bist Lesen Sie die Nachrichten, die Sie Zeit haben, über den Text zu gehen, so oft Sie benötigen und lernen Sie neue Vokabeln.

– machen Sie Freunde, die Muttersprachler sind – vielleicht sind Sie glücklich und Sie kennen schon einige Leute, wenn nicht das Internet ein großer Platz voller Leute ist, die nach Tandempartnern oder Sprachaustausch suchen (das heißt, seien Sie vorsichtig).

– Bücher lesen – wenn Ihre Sprachkenntnisse vernünftig sind, ist eine gute Art zu üben, indem man Bücher in einer Fremdsprache liest, die Sie bereits in Englisch gelesen haben, so haben Sie schon eine Vorstellung von der Geschichte. Wenn du noch nicht ganz fertig bist, dann furchtest das Kinderbuch auch eine gute Option – sie sind einfach zu folgen und wie deine Fähigkeiten verbessern können, kannst du das Schwierigkeitsniveau erhöhen!

– Hören Sie Musik in der Sprache, die Sie lernen möchten, es ist eingängig und kann Ihnen oft viel über Grammatik, Wortordnung und Kultur erzählen … und es ist leicht zu merken!

Viel Spaß!

The past & adverbs of time

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Hallo!

Today, I would like to talk about the past. Why? Because the form of the past is very important in every language (for example, whilst Chinese has no past form, but the past is communicated by context and time markers). We use the past to explain everything from memories and stories to logical thinking and future decisions (with regard to previous experience).

So what if you haven’t quite mastered the past tense in a foreign language just yet?…

Well I would be willing to bet that you can express more in the past tense than you think, and just by using the present tense – will it be perfect? Grammatically sound? NO, but it will almost definitely be understood! Allow me to elaborate:

Yesterday I am in Berlin.

Gestern bin ich in Berlin —->  Gestern war ich in Berlin.

Last year I am on holiday in Spain.

Letztes Jahr bin ich im urlaub in Spanien —-> Letztes Jahr war ich im urlaub in Spanien.

When I am a child, in the past, I am a trouble maker.

Als ich ein Kind bin, in die Vergangenheit, bin ich ein Unruhestifter —->  Als ich ein Kind war, war ich ein Unhruhestifter.

To a native speaker it sounds rather odd, but nevertheless the meaning is clear. So whilst you may be still familiarising yourself with the past tense (like myself) do not let that put you off from getting your point across, even if it’s not the perfect way – adverbs of time go a hell of a long way! (Plus they are really easy to learn).

Heute, möchte ich über der Vergagentheit sprechen. Warum? Weil es, der Vergangenheitsform, ganz wichtig in jedes Sprache ist (zum Beispiel, während Chinesisch hat keine Vergangenheitsform,  aber wird die Vergangenheit durch Kontext und Zeitmarker kommuniziert). Wir verwenden die Vergangenheit, um alles von Erinnerungen und Geschichten bis hin zu logischen Denken und zukünftigen Entscheidungen zu erklären (im Hinblick auf die bisherige Erfahrung).

Also, wenn du die Vergangenheit noch nicht in einer fremden Sprache beherrscht hast? …

Nun, ich wäre bereit zu wetten, dass Sie mehr in der Vergangenheit ausdrücken können, als Sie denken, und nur durch die Verwendung der Präsens – wird es perfekt sein? Grammatisch klingen NEIN, aber es wird fast definitiv verstanden werden! Erlauben Sie mir zu verdeutlichen:

Yesterday I am in Berlin.

Gestern bin ich in Berlin —->  Gestern bin ich in Berlin.

Last year I am on holiday in Spain.

Letztes Jahr bin ich im urlaub in Spanien —-> Letztes Jahr war ich im urlaub in Spanien.

When I am a child, in the past, I am a trouble maker.

Als ich ein Kind bin, in die Vergangenheit, bin ich ein Unruhestifter —->  Als ich ein Kind war, war ich ein Unhruhestifter.

Zu einem Muttersprachler klingt es ziemlich seltsam, aber trotzdem ist die Bedeutung klar. Also, während du dich immer noch mit der Vergangenheit vertraut machen möchtest (wie ich selbst) lass dich nicht davon abhalten, deinen Punkt zu bekommen, auch wenn es nicht der perfekte Weg ist – Adverbien der Zeit gehen eine Hölle von einem langen Weg!

Bis bald!

 

 

A lot can change in a year…

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Hallo!

Es war eine lange Zeit, das Wenigste zu sagen! Aber bin ich wieder da, und ich freue mich darauf, wieder zu bloggen.

So, was ist neu?

Ich bin nicht mehr in Österreich, ich bin jetzt in Deutschland seit Anfang September. Natürlich habe ich mehr Deutsch gelernt, seitdem ich hier gewesen bin. Aber es gibt noch viel zu lernen, und genau wie vorher möchte ich meinen Fortschritt teilen!

Behaltet diesen Blog im Auge!*

Hello!

It has been a long time to say the least! But I’m back, and I’m looking forward to blogging again.

So what’s new?

I am no longer in Austria, I am now in Germany and have been since the start of September. Of course I’ve learned more German since I’ve been here. But there is still a lot to learn, and just like before I would like to share my progress!

Stay tuned!

*forgive me if my German is not perfect, but I thought this would be a great way to practise even more!

tut mir leid, wenn mein Deutsch nicht perfekt ist, aber ich dachte, das wäre eine gute Möglichkeit, noch mehr zu üben!

Big Changes Ahead…

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As the title suggests, there are big changes coming – in just a few weeks time I will be moving to Austria.

So what does this mean? Right now, I’m splitting my language learning time between Russian and German. Although I speak some German already, it only seems right that I brush up before I go.

Will I still be blogging? Given how busy the next few months ahead of me will be, I’m going to take a break from blogging BUT I will be back!

Until then if you get stuck for ideas, or just need a bit of a pick me up, be sure to check out some of my other blog posts and useful links!

до свидания, bis bald!

Russian Children’s TV – Weird and Wonderful

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What I’ve learned this week: Russian children’s TV is a gateway to the weird and wonderful…

Learning a new language is a lot like being a child again – there’s a lot of words you don’t know (if that’s not an understatement I don’t know what is), you are constantly asking questions about what something means, and it seems like everyone else knows more than you do.

But children learn – whether that’s through interacting with their peers and parents, or learning to read and watching TV. So what better way to take a break from the grammar side of things, than watching some Russian TV aimed at children.

By no means did I understand everything that was going on, but the slower speech patterns and simplified vocabulary were particularly useful, as were the accompanying animations. Like most children’s TV the story-lines were “imaginative” if not a little far-fetched, but if you can’t be fanciful when it comes to children’s programmes then when can you?

If you haven’t tried watching kids TV, I’d highly recommend it, even if it is just to get a handle on the accent and pronunciation that the language you’re trying to learn uses.

Below are a couple of videos that I picked out for those of you learning Russian:

Should You Use Duolingo, and Other Apps?

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We live in the digital age, and as such it shouldn’t come as a surprise that language learning is increasingly done online – whether that’s via apps, courses or even Skype.

But it’s using an app that I find particularly interesting – you can be on the go, anywhere in the world but will you have actually learnt anything by the end of it bar a limited grasp of the language?

To get to grips with this question, I decided this week to download one of the most popular apps on the market…Duolingo.

First impressions, it is really EASY to use. You can start from the very beginning of the course if you have no knowledge of the language, or you can do a ‘test’ to determine your comprehension level.

The format of the app is also great – each section is broken down into simple, manageable chunks meaning you can use the app in 10 minute chunks. If you’d prefer to study in 30 minute segments no problem, just move onto the next section.

Duolingo also taps into using repetition as a means of learning. Phrases are repeated throughout each section, you are required to translate text multiple times and arrange sentences in the correct word order.

BUT the app does have its cons…

The comprehension test that you can take isn’t in-depth, and I’d question how accurately it can assess your level of comprehension.

The app also encourages you to repeat phrases out loud and get to grips with speaking the language, but this can serve as an ineffective substitute for speaking with a language partner who can correct you along the way.

Whilst the manageable chunks are great for getting everyday practice, the app also doesn’t expose the user to a wide variety of vocabulary.

Similarly, whilst you might learn verb endings the app provides no explanation of grammar, or irregularities between verbs/sentence construction (grammar isn’t the be all and end all, but it can sometimes make the language easier to understand and build upon)

Lastly, the app appears to vary quite significantly dependent on language. The Russian version assumes that the user has already learnt the Cyrillic alphabet and a good grasp of pronunciation. The German version on the other hand seems to use more practical phrases and vocabulary, but is equally limiting.

So based on what largely seems a critique of the app, should you be using Duolingo and other apps to learn a language? No, but you should use it to supplement it – apps can’t cover everything, but they can be a fun way of doing a little bit each day, particularly if you’re feeling guilty about not having the time.

Starting to Enjoy Russian Grammar…

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No, your eyes don’t deceive you and you haven’t read that wrong. I’m going to go out on a limb and publicly declare that I am indeed beginning to enjoy Russian grammar.

For most people, grammar tends to be their least favourite thing about learning a language, particularly if it has a gruelling, highly complex structure that is dependent on ‘cases’. Recently however, I’ve been paying more attention to Russian grammar than I have done previously. And even to my own surprise, I enjoyed it far more than I thought I would!

Aside from helping me with my Russian more generally, it’s also interesting to see how or why certain phrases are constructed in a particular way. If it still doesn’t sound appealing, make it a competition and test yourself. Learning cases and endings can be tedious, but if you aim to outdo yourself each day it’ll start to sink in in no time!

If you don’t believe me, I dare you to give it a try – you might enjoy it!

NY’s Resolution Blues Banished

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So with all the best intentions, your decision to learn a new language has fallen by the wayside. You’re not alone – it’s right about now that most people tend, realistically, to give up on their New Year’s resolutions, and start dreaming of the summer. Given the cold weather, I don’t blame them, but to pack it all in after two weeks is a meagre effort and getting back on the right track might be simpler than you think…

When you decided you wanted to learn a language, you probably envisaged yourself being fluent, holding your own in a conversation, the words flowing freely from your mouth. Reality check – this takes time, and dedication. The worst thing you could do is abandon this end goal, but you should definitely set yourself smaller targets to get there.

You also probably thought that it’d require some work, but ultimately it’s turned out to be harder than you thought. Well guess what? It might not be easy, but you can make it fun – watch foreign films, listen to the radio, find silly sounding words, and challenge yourself each day. Learning a language doesn’t have to be a chore!

Perhaps time is weighing on your mind, or rather lack of it. You just can’t seem to fit it in. If you want it, you’ll make time. It could be 5 minutes here and there. Just a word a day to start with, or even 15 minutes before you go to bed. You don’t have to sacrifice every waking moment to learn a language, you just need consistency.

You’ve already broken your resolution, what’s the point? Resolutions are a great kick-starter, be they aren’t the be all and end all. If you want to learn a language and you’re willing to put in the effort, it doesn’t matter when you started, so long as you continue.

And, if all else fails and you’re still dreaming of the summer, book a holiday. Anywhere, so long as they speak the language you want to learn. Wouldn’t it be great if you could speak to the locals, and order food without anyone feeling the need to ‘put you out of your misery’ and reply in English…

How to Learn a Language (& Not Give up After a Few Weeks)

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Learning a language requires two things, time and perseverance. Fluency in a foreign language doesn’t happen overnight, and if you want to learn a language well you have to be willing to face some hurdles along the way.

Whatever these hurdles may be, remember…

  • Making mistakes is a good thing – it’s inevitable that things might go a tad wrong at times, move on and learn from it.
  • Comparison can be disheartening – for a lucky few, being fluent in 3 months is attainable, for the majority language learning takes longer. There’s nothing wrong with taking your time.
  • You will NEVER know it all, and that’s ok – look at your native language, there are still things that you’ve never heard of before that crop up every now and again.
  • When you decided to learn a language, you knew it’d be a challenge – what’s the point in giving up just because things got a little hard?

Now to the nitty-gritty of learning a language. There’s a lot of conflicting advice out there which can make learning a language seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be! 

There’s so many options out there that there’s bound to be one that’ll suit you – whether that’s studying grammar books, watching TV or listening to radio, finding a language exchange partner or jumping straight into the deep end

Good luck!