Updated: Jun 3, 2022
German is not (yet) one of my working languages but I hope to add it to my offer in the future. A bit of history: I lived in Stuttgart and Munich in 1989-91 and at the beginning of my linguistic journey hadn't yet understood how to make the best use of those two years in terms of becoming fluent. In hindsight, my mistakes were:
not studying - I did an intensive course for two weeks upon my arrival (total beginner level) and then naively imagined I would just 'pick up' the language by living in the country.
hanging out with English speakers: I sought out people who spoke English because my German was worse than a toddler's! Also, it didn't help that Germans tend to speak pretty good English and after a few minutes of my stumbling and fumbling attempts to speak their language, they would 'help' by speaking mine.
As a result of these rookie errors, I left Germany with probably a B1-B2 level, after which I spoke it only a handful of times in the next three decades. If you don't use it, you lose it! And I did. When Covid reared its ugly head, I decided to make amends and German Wednesdays was born. Toll!
Given my intermediate level, German Wednesdays look a little different to the other days, and include e-learning and 'easier' resources and activities.
Over the next few posts, I'll go through the handful of German podcasts I've discovered, but my weekly staple and favourite is:
Easy German - the affable Manuel and Cari host this 30-minute weekly podcast, which is a mix of interviews and chit-chat about a variety of subjects. I wouldn’t describe the podcast as ‘easy’ (i.e. probably not for A1-2 level) but I can grasp most of what's said and it's always interesting, funny and endearing. This week's episode No. 240 LGBTIQ+ in der Arbeitswelt (13th November 2021), is an interview with Stuart Bruce Cameron, founder and CEO of the UHLALA Group, talking about diversity and equal opportunities in Germany and how they compare to other countries.
Song/Artist of the Week
Der Hölle Rache, by Patricia Petitbon - The dramatic 'Revenge Aria' from Mozart's The Magic Flute has been sung by many a breathtakingly talented soprano and choosing a favourite is impossible, but I'm mesmerised by Patricia Petitbon's interpretation and watching her technique and body language just adds to the drama and makes me break out into a sweat! Witness her thrilling performance here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dLs-Z47oFYw&t=133s
As I've already shared in the French and Spanish posts, I don't get much of an opportunity during the day for TV-watching and I prioritise my sleep, so no binge-watching at night for me. I made an exception for this particular series though:
Der Paß - an Austrian-German crime series (glad there were subtitles for the Austrian German!) with all the right ingredients - pathological serial killers, flawed detectives, undeserving victims - and some brilliantly cast actors. My fave was definitely the moody Austrian detective Gedeon, who fills the screen with his presence. I've just come to the end of the second season and I'm inconsolable...
Reading native-level literature seems like too much hard work for now, especially as I'm only managing about 15 minutes a day at the moment. So I've opted for a book of short stories aimed at B1/B2 readers:
Intermediate German Short Stories, published by Verblix - not exactly a literary masterpiece, but perfect to improve my vocabulary and grammar. Each story takes (me) 10-15 minutes to read and there's a useful glossary, summary and questions at the end of each one. Hesse and Grass will have to wait...
I struggle with the dailies online but Deutsche Welle offer their Langsam gesprochene Nachrichten, both with audio and text, summarising the main events of the day in simplified language https://www.dw.com/de/12012022-langsam-gesprochene-nachrichten/a-60395085.
Working out, language exchange, alles andere...
I've totally converted to home workouts since the first lockdown - cheaper and more flexible, although gone are the days of uninterrupted sessions(see pic)... I do a combo of 7-10 minutes of cardio, weights or calisthenics followed by 20-30 minutes of yoga - all from YouTube. This week's selection was:
Paulina Wallner – 6 Minuten Rücken Workout für Zuhause. A quick session to strengthen your back.
Mady Morrison - 15 min. full body stretch | Daily Routine for Flexibility, Mobility and Relaxation. Not one for exposure to German as this session is only accompanied by music. But good when you have little time and want to at least stretch out your body.
Last year, I signed up to the MyLanguageExchange platform (https://mylanguageexchange.com/), with the aim of finding language partners for German and Russian in particular. I hit the jackpot with a lovely lady (hallo Mira!) who is originally from Kazakhstan, but now lives in Germany and teaches German. As well as practicing her already high level English, she was hoping to start learning Spanish, which I can help her with. So we now have two weekly one-hour Skype sessions, one for German/English and the other for Russian/Spanish. Two for the price of one – and it’s free! We’re both particularly interested in idioms/redewengungen, and in this week’s session, we discussed two in particular, as detailed in the Word of the Week below.
Deutsche Welle (DW) https://learngerman.dw.com/de/nicos-weg/c-36519718. Having done the DW level test (https://learngerman.dw.com/en/placementDashboard), which placed me at B1, I’m working through the free Learn German course for this level. This week's was about goals and plans for the future and modal verbs. Not too taxing. Video and audio format with questions.
Word of the week
Not technically a word, but two phrases. Idioms are notoriously difficult to understand when you're learning a language, and translating them is even more challenging! Here are this week's gems, with English equivalents and links to explanations in German from the Redensarten Index website
(thanks to Mira for sharing this great resource!):
Nicht das gelbe vom Ei – not ideal; not all it’s cracked up to be; not exactly the bee’s knees.
Unkraut vergeht nicht – bad weeds grow tall; takes a licking, keeps on ticking; too mean to die; the proverbial bad penny.
Does anyone know any other variations of these two idioms in English?
Let me know what activities you're doing in German and please share this post with anyone you think would find it of interest. Bis bald!