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Learning German Language

Hussein Baghdadi
clojure forum advocate
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Joined: Nov 08, 2003
Posts: 3479

Hi,
I want to start learning the German language. How to start? Any good book recommendation?
Please feel free to suggest any high quality software (I'm on a Mac).
What about Rosetta Stone German?
Thanks.
Jan de Boer
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Joined: Dec 10, 2010
Posts: 490
    
    1
Héy, me too! Although I am not at novice level, I am trying to improve my German skills...

Here are some sources I have used:

Wikisource, for free books to read:

http://de.wikisource.org/wiki/M%C3%A4rchen-Almanach_auf_das_Jahr_1826

Vorleser, for free mp3 books read out to you:

http://www.vorleser.net/html/may.html

If you have any questions on the grammar I can answer them too. But I don't know a nóvice book/webpage for it.








Joe Harry
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Joined: Sep 26, 2006
Posts: 9618
    
    2

When I learnt German, I used the following book. I've never used any software as such. But now even I'm looking for a Software for my wife who would start her German language course very soon.

http://www.amazon.com/Schaums-Outline-German-Grammar-Gschossmann-Hendershot/dp/0070251347/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1314775417&sr=8-4

The hardest part that I found with the German grammer is the articles and the way they change depending on the position in the sentence. But nowadays, I got used to it speaking with my colleagues. Practicing made me speak faster than by just reading the books.


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Jan de Boer
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Joined: Dec 10, 2010
Posts: 490
    
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Joe Harry wrote:Practicing made me speak faster than by just reading the books.


That does not mean you speak it correctly though! Far, fár from it. Sorry veto this, ... uehm.

Well it depends on your goal of course, but mostly the people who will speak to you, will think it is not polite to correct errors that you will make in your grammar. Hence you will learn to speak fast, but, not correct and fluent. And if you have learned it incorrectly it later is harder to improve yourself and unlearn, unteach your bad habits.
Joe Harry
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Joined: Sep 26, 2006
Posts: 9618
    
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Jan de Boer wrote:
Joe Harry wrote:Practicing made me speak faster than by just reading the books.


That does not mean you speak it correctly though! Far, fár from it. Sorry veto this, ... uehm.

Well it depends on your goal of course, but mostly the people who will speak to you, will think it is not polite to correct errors that you will make in your grammar. Hence you will learn to speak fast, but, not correct and fluent. And if you have learned it incorrectly it later is harder to improve yourself and unlearn, unteach your bad habits.


Agreed. I make mistakes often times (especially with the articles) but from my personal experience with the language, the more I spoke, the more vocabulary I learnt. The more Vocabulary I learnt, I got more expressive in my German.
Saurabh Pillai
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Joined: Sep 12, 2008
Posts: 509
Jan de Boer wrote:Well it depends on your goal of course,

This and
Jan de Boer wrote:And if you have learned it incorrectly it later is harder to improve yourself and unlearn, unteach your bad habits.
This.

John Jai
Bartender

Joined: May 31, 2011
Posts: 1776
Join a Goethe learning institute....
Jan de Boer
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Joined: Dec 10, 2010
Posts: 490
    
    1
Oh yes, this is nice too:

http://www.dradio.de/dlf/


There are these radio shows, talk about current subjects, I download them, send them so my mobile phone, and listen to them in the train. I really like that.

Ishu Saxena
Greenhorn

Joined: Jun 24, 2008
Posts: 25
The FSI German course is quiet comprehensive..coupled with audio files as well..Thats what I used to start with German.



Hope it helps.


--<br />SCJP 5.0
Frank Silbermann
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Joined: Jun 06, 2002
Posts: 1390
I've heard nothing but good things about Rosetta Stone though I've never tried it.

When I took four semesters of German beginning in 1973, we used _German: A Structural Approach_ (http://www.amazon.com/German-Structural-Approach-Walter-Lohnes/dp/0393954641/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1368108685&sr=1-2)

This text was good because it gave a rational explanation of German sentence structure and word order, which is quite different from English (and someone more like archaic forms of English).

But even then, I had strong objections about the way languages were taught in school. It seemed that every textbook chapter would give you a page of new vocabulary, another page of look-up words you'd need for the chapter which you weren't expected to retain _yet_, four pages of grammar and then a single half-page paragraph of German text to read that used all these new grammatical forms, words, and info from previous chapters. Reading the paragraph wasn't like reading -- it was code-breaking!

After a couple of semesters of this they'd give you readings from Marx, Freud, or some philosopher with a vocabulary that as an 18 year-old I'd have had trouble reading even in English! You were expected to make heavy use of a German-English dictionary. Now, I have a pretty decent English vocabulary from lots of reading, but I have _never_ read in my native tongue with a dictionary by my side! IMO, if the text has so many new words that you cannot guess at the meaning by context, then you're reading something too difficult for you.

Most students go through the pain, and then if the don't keep taking courses they shortly forget everything. I hate memorization, so I figured that if I was going to suffer the pain of memorizing vocabulary lists and grammar rules, then I was at least going to come out of this knowing the language.

So I taught myself.

I discovered that the school library contained six or seven old first-year German textbooks that had been used over the previous twenty years. Chapter 1 of any text is usually pretty easy, so I read the first chapter of all seven textbooks. Each bit of reading material was pretty easy because I reviewed the word list before starting, which gave me all the words in the passage.

Then I read the second chapter in all seven textbooks. I found that I no longer had problems forgetting the words assumed already mastered from the first chapter, because these tended to be the most commonly used words, and therefore I had already seen them in the first chapter of _several_ textbooks, thereby burning them into my mind. Some of the new words of each Chapter 2 were easier to remember because I had already seen them in Chapter 1 of one or two of the other textbooks. Then I went through the Chapter 3 of all seven books, etc.

The point is, I was able to remember vocabulary words and grammar rules not through _memorization_ but through _familiarity_ with them.

I also made sure put in time at the audio-lab so I could learn to approximate some of the sillier sounds used by native speakers -- something which you have to do by age 18 or so before the brain hardens against mastering new sounds. (Either the brain hardens, or one's adult sense of dignity prevents one from enunciating silly sounds.)

Then I found a storybook written like for seven year-olds, with all the words translated in the glossary in the back. I read through that. Again, I wasn't _memorizing_ words; I was absorbing them into my _long-term_ memory by seeing them over and over again in various contexts.

As I was in a college town there was a very weird little news stand, weird in that it sold publications from other countries. They had a number of German magazines targeted at people of moderate intellect -- Germans who, instead of attending Gymnasium, had gone into industrial apprenticeship at age 15. I found I could sometimes read some of these. I bought these for a few years, and over time my vocabulary grew.

A few years later, I audited the university's Conversational German Workshop course a few times, and a few years later I took weekly classes at the Goerthe Institute for a few years.

Because most of my vocabulary was learned naturally rather than through memorization, it doesn't disappear when I go a few years without practice.
 
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subject: Learning German Language