Tag Archives: learn German online

Hello from Vienna

Hi Everyone,

My name is Krisztina, I’m 34, and coming from Budapest, Hungary. I am a personal assistant. I know, it’s not a very exciting job, but at least interesting 🙂

I moved to Vienna in February with my husband (he is from Graz), because he’s got a new assignment here. We lived in California before, so it took me some time to get used to the Central European weather again 🙂

I love Vienna, I think it is a wonderful city with a rich cultural heritage. I also love that Austria takes green energy seriously and works on making the supplies sustainable.
I started at DeutschAkademie in March with level A1.2 and this month I’m already at B1.2. Time flies… and I really see the progress! My mother in law came for a visit and we could finally talk – she only speaks German.

I would like to show you my journey with this exciting language and my favorite places in Vienna.Roses at Volksgarten

Some good Youtube resources for Deutsch students

We all know that Youtube is a practically infinite resource for all types of content. Its almost always our first resort when we are looking for some lighthearted clips featuring funny cats, cranky kids, unfortunate pedestrians being swallowed by sink holes, old nearly forgotten songs from our childhood and lessons in how sometimes instant karma gets dished out to bad people. The video sharing site is also a great resource for educational material (although they are not anywhere close to being as popular as Gangnam style) and I went around looking for some good content in Deutsch that could be useful for neophytes like me.

Below are some channels and links that have good, entertaining audio-visual study aids. I must mention that I have not checked if the links are free of copyright infringements. Credits to all content is with the due owners.

Gothe Instutute – Learn German as you follow the life of Nevin!

  1. Gothe Institut: The worldwide Gothe Institut features a lot of high quality content for German students on its online portals. Their Youtube channel has a number of videos and playlists with a variety of content in Deutsch related to current happenings in Germany and useful information for students hailing from different countries. My personal favorite from here are short videos featuring a Turkish girl Nevin, who has moved to Germany recently. They track common situations that a newcomer to the country may face and are handy to get a basic, practical grasp on the language. The clips will also expose viewers to a lot of aspects of life in the OSD.
  2. Lingorilla: A popular online website with video content for people learning foreign languages, Lingorilla has a lot of great short clips for students learning German on its YT page. One of the nice things about Lingorilla is that their videos are categorized by fluency level, so you can jump right to the content that will be most suitable to you.
  3. Deutsch für Euch: My personal favorite! Unlike the other two links, this channel is not produced by a large institute with substantial resources. Instead the videos on the site are generally monologues by a German girl on one topic either in vocabulary, grammar or comprehension. While the videos are short, they are rich in grammatical rules, vocabulary content and I have often had to watch them multiple times to understand everything that is dealt with. I love the videos from this channel because of the unique, unconventional and often funny way in which the presenter will explain a topic. A word of caution – I don’t think that a normal student like myself can follow and remember all the information that is included in a single video in one go, so you may have to persistently stick to one lesson till you perfect all the topics that are touched upon before moving to the next.

I hope that readers will like this list and find it useful. Please comment if you would like me to include your favorite resources in this list as well.

App oder Kurz? What’s the best way to learn Deutsche?

Back in 2007, when Apple released the first iPhone, few people would have imagined what a game changing device the smartphone would eventually become. In less than ten years since, the phone moved from being a cumbersome contraption to call family and friends and snapping rudimentary pictures to become an indispensable personal assistant that helps us in almost all aspects of our life. We now have hundreds of thousands of apps designed to help with every possible activity (or the lack of any). Students, as a group in particular have benefited immensely from the arrival of the smartphone. We can now access collections from the world’s best libraries and connect with leading researchers from every field with our discreet handhelds and it was only a matter of time before the app revolution had its impact on the linguistic skills improvement front as well.

A simple search on any major appstore yields hundreds of apps that claim to aid language skills and many of them have excellent course material and a fun interface to make the experience interesting and hopefully, rewarding. Duoling, Fluenz, Babbel and Rocket Languages are some of the most famous apps out there and are used by millions of people to brush up on language skills. However, can apps really offer a credible alternative to classroom based study? The short answer is of course no, not in the foreseeable future at least, but they can be tremendously helpful aids and must be explored by every serious language student.

Over time, app design has improved by leaps and bounds. Gone are the days when students would have to repeatedly tap an arrow key to painstakingly move the cursor near the right answer to see an apple and a star appear on the monitor as the reward. Developers now take great pains to make their apps engaging, interactive and effective. Many language apps feature interesting technology like speech recognition and natural language processing techniques to make exercises comprehensive and to more effectively simulate a classroom atmosphere. Apart from all this, apps also offer unparalleled convenience – one can take up exercises as and when convenient, in the U-Bahn, waiting for the bus, before falling asleep (although many sleep therapists discourage phone usage before nap time).

I have personally found that apps are a great way to practice and cement vocabulary training. However, that said, I strongly feel that current language apps lack the level of direct interaction that an average student needs to pick up many basic and advanced linguistic skills that can easily be taught in the classroom.

For example, the app may help you remember the correct article for mannlich nouns when used with ‘besuchen’ or ‘brauchen’, but they don’t necessarily do a good job teaching you about when the accusative case kicks in and what effect it can have on the sentence formation. The problem only compounds when other complications get added to the mix, such as the impact of prepositions and subtleties linked to subject/object focus. Current apps, in general have not figured out a way to clear the many doubts and questions that crop up in a student’s head and just expect the user to go through exercises and mentally note what’s correct and what’s not.

The lack of a troubleshooting ‘Guru’, who can explain fundamentals, simplify, aid and warn against pitfalls is the real drawback with many of these apps and that’s why I think they cannot effectively substitute a classroom course. So, while students may use these apps as aids, they should definitely take up structured courses if they are serious about learning a new language.

To sum up, language apps are fun and help you practice and perfect many skills that are needed to speak good Deutsche, but they are no match for a real life teacher and colleague environment. It’s much the same way that we all find Siri amusing and useful, but we don’t necessarily ditch our friends to spend more time talking to her.

Learn German with E-Books

In addition to the regular and the free online German course, the Deutschakademie also offers a new way to learn German, namely E-Books. This is a new feature especially designed for people in the levels A2 to B1. You can find these E-Books through the website of the Deutschakademie; just click on the link “Online-Shop”.

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Of course I also tried out one of the books (“Der Bankraub”) and it has a lot to offer. The pages of the book are divided into two parts; on the left side you have the German version of the text and on the right side the English version. If you do not understand a word, you can simply read the English version or look at the footnotes underneath the text. These contain some special German words mentioned in the text with their English translation. Easy as that!

To really know if you understand the text well and for practice, there are some excercises with general and grammar questions related to the text. The answers to these questions are added too.

Another good thing about the E-Books is that there are two mp3s included with the pdf-file. This way you can listen to the text and, in addition to your grammar and reading skills, improve your pronunciation and listening skills as well. There is a slow version for the ones who have a bit more troubles understanding German and a normal version for the ones who are a bit more advanced.

So enough reasons to try it out:
>> learn German with audiobooks