December 14, 2011

Is there a life beyond the intermediate level?

This is for those of you who, like me, have been studying the German language for a while and believe that: 
  • can navigate most of the regular dailylife´s challenges (grocery shopping, questions about directions, etc.); 
  • can participate with pride in (non-technical) conversations with native spekers (as far as they do not have an accent and they do no use slang); 
  • can understand enough in the TV to enjoy it. 
Then you, like me, have an intermediate level of the language.

A few months ago, I decided that I couldn´t keep doing German courses in language schools forever. No matter what book, teacher or school, I was always intermediate. So one day I stopped and came to the conclusion that I needed a new plan to improve my German skills. There must be a way to get an "upgrade" and become "fluent", "superior", "upper" German.

So, since that day, I have been researching where to find help to get "my upgrade". And here there are some of my findings that have proven to be very useful to me.

Although I would love to be able to read the Frankfurter Allgemeine; the S√ľddeutsche Zeitung; the Tagesspiegel; Die Welt or Die Zeit, the truth is that sometimes I do not even understand the headlines. Their language are for readers that have already achieved an upgraded level and are leading to the next one, which unfortunately is not my case. 

So, I find that lighter papers like Bild, Abendzeitung or TZ are easier to understand and because they use a lot of slang, it´s also a good resource to learn new argot.

Die Sendung mit der Maus

The program with the mouse has been on in TV for 40 years already and although it is aimed for kids, it is a very good resource for adults to train listening skills outside the prefabricated listening exercises of the language books.

On TV it is, of course, aiming at kids, because it is on at around 7am on Saturdays. Fortunately at the official site you can watch all the "Sachgeschichten" in streaming any day at anytime. I really enjoy these short stories about common day-to-day facts, science, technique, etc. and other small questions that seem simple like: where the heart shape come from?; how does Internet really works?; how long is a moment of time?; why is the sky blue?; etc.

TV Untertitel
Although I understand good enough the daily news, the commercials and most soap operas in TV, I still cannot enjoy a full film in German. In the evenings (at 20.15pm) some TV channels offer foreign films (mainly from the US) in the German dubbed version with subtitles (in German). 

I might have seen Chocolat a thousand times, but in German, it was still difficult until I turned on the subtitles. Then a whole new world of possibilities opened for me. After that, I have found that Prosieben has subtitles for How I met your mother and that a bunch of other channels offer scheduled programs with subtitels (such as 3sat, ARD, ZDF, MDR, etc.). Subtitels can be found in 149, 150, 160, 444 or 777 in the teletext menu.

Also if you are C1/C2 or aiming at reaching this levels soon, the section "Alltagsdeutsch" from the Deutsche Welle is a good online resource to use, that helps you train your listening skills with podcast or audio stories.

Before I leave you today, I would also like to recommend you: The Awful German Language by Mark Twain.

You can buy it in Hugendubel/Amazon for 4.95€ in its bilingual version (English+German). It is a essay that I recommend every single student of the German language should have at home. Why? because it is funny and it is true. It will make you laugh every time you hit a wall with German. Mark Twain tells about his exasperation while learning German by setting a number of examples. You will identify many of this examples as part of what you are experiencing in the learning of German. At least I do and many other students that I know.

And that is all from me today, as always, drop me a line if you have comments or questions. Goodbye and 'till next time!

Related posts:
German Tv explained for foreigners
Learning German in Munich