Today is the first day I’ll actually spend four solid hours learning German. In the last few days I’ve collected some resources:
1. Free audio / podcasts
Slow German by Annik Rubens (http://slowgerman.com/)
Text read in a slow, precise accent. Transcripts available on the website.
Radio D / Goethe Institute (http://www.goethe.de/lrn/prj/rod/enindex.htm)
Ten- to 15-minute audio lessons. The first two lessons focus on inferring meaning without actually knowing the vocabulary.
– The content so far has very little dialogue and is a little boring (not surprising given the simplicity constraint), but the British narrator has an amusing sarcasm that makes it more bearable.
– In lesson 3 they actually go back and explain the dialogue from lessons 1 and 2.
Learn German by Podcast / Plus Publications (http://www.learngermanbypodcast.com/)
Five to 15-minute audio lessons with lots of repetition and explanation of the dialogue.
– In lesson 3 there was one chance to practice production, of the form “How would you say …?”
– I was glad to find that I got the verb conjugation of “heißen” right based on memory of sentences I’d heard before, without actually having learned how to conjugate the verb.
I think this is video content of German classes, with subtitles in German and English.
Two lessons were about grammar, so they’re a bit dry and not my favored style right now.
One was a person introducing a city. Also not very gripping.
To keep in mind: if content would be boring in English, it’s probably not going to be better in another language.
2. Flashcards / Anki
Common words taken from movie subtitles. My main criticism is that they are out of context, which makes them harder to learn — especially the abstract ones. The audio quality isn’t great.
Huge trove of sentences, fair audio quality. Lots of repetition of very similar sentences. Ideally this will help me infer the grammatical nuances more quickly.
– Another benefit of having so much repetition: it’s harder to guess the meaning of a sentence based on memory since it could be one of many similar sentences, so it really forces me to pay attention to the entire content of each sentence.
– The massive repetition also makes it easier to infer grammar rules.
I’ve started making a deck using sentences from the Slow German podcast transcript (I barely understand the podcast otherwise, since it doesn’t contain explanations). I’m using the MCD style, turning words I want to learn into cloze deletions.
Pros: Gamified and therefore addictive, easy to do. Easy to learn new vocab.
Cons: Groups by concept instead of clustering, so, e.g. you learn all the animals at the same time. The questions are mostly presented like a multiple choice test, which makes it easy to guess the right answer and feel like you’re making progress, but makes retention and recall much harder.
– I’ll try to make up for the topic clustering a little by only doing one lesson per topic each time.
Conversation Exchange (http://www.conversationexchange.com/)
Find a conversation exchange partner. I’m still struggling with this. I’ve added a couple potential conversation partners on Skype, but haven’t set up any sessions with them yet.
I’m looking for someone who is open to informal conversation practice and isn’t too expensive. So far the cheapest native fluency German teachers I’ve found are around $15 an hour or more.
Get writing practice, get corrections, and meet people. I’ve actually met a few conversation exchange partners on this site when I was studying Japanese before.
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Today I think I am prepared for a decent audio practice and flashcard practice. Both of these things strengthen comprehension and vocab. But I don’t have any resources set up for conversation (spoken production) yet. I’ll spend the time I would have spent on practicing conversation on finding a way to practice conversation.