Learning German

#1
Sorry if this is the wrong place.
I've decided to start learning German - for no particular reason.
Was just wondering what standard of German you squaddies in BAOR speak? Are most or all of you fluent in every aspect after a few years there or do you just know the usual beer ordering phrases etc?

I'm just trying to gauge the best way of learning, by reading it or by immersion.

Cheers.
 
#2
just enroll on a german course, best way to learn is the reading and writing method, its ok to speak it but if u cant read or write - then pretty pointless in my opinion
 

samm1551

Old-Salt
Book Reviewer
#3
I agree. I was born here (sorry should explain am in Celle atm), my first language was German and then when Dad got posted back to UK I lost the German. Mum and Dad are pretty fluent though (were here at least 7 years) and I am slowly having the confidence to try and remember the right words in public! As far as I can see not many people here know much German, but I think it's essential if you want to go out of the immediate area because you will find outside of "camp area" that most german's speak only a little english.

The camp put's on German learning courses, and they are ok, but down the road from here is a german/anglo club which I think is more helpful because you learn real german as opposed to high german, which is technically like the queens english.

Hope this helps, only an opinion.

Sam x
 
#5
So does speaking German as it comes on the phrasebooks / CDs actually make you sound strange in reality?
I have a Michel Thomas CD set and various books. Trying to self-teach at the moment with a view to maybe going over for a holiday and practicing etc at some point.

Cheers for the replies.
 

samm1551

Old-Salt
Book Reviewer
#7
Not strange. Like us they have their own slang for things that the books don't teach you. Let's put it this way myself and two friends took our GCSE German in UK. We all spoke fluent German at that time (It was a long time ago) and we all wrote German well blah blah, and we all failed. This is because we spoke the german's german not "proper" german.

I used the CD and book to remind myself of certain sayings and I still lay it in the car when I'm going out because sometimes words escape me, or I say the wrong thing in it's place...now that has caused some embarrassment on my part and some hysterics on the german's part. Thank fully they seem to have a sense of humour if you make an effort.

Sam x

Edited to add: Northern and Southern Germany have VERY different dialect, and slang, and even my mum and dad seriously struggle in the south.
 
#8
samm1551 said:
The camp put's on German learning courses, and they are ok, but down the road from here is a german/anglo club which I think is more helpful because you learn real german as opposed to high german, which is technically like the queens english.
I believe you might have misunderstood something here, mucker. High German (Hochdeutsch) is the accent used to teach in German schools and the accepted accent for most encounters. It's actually spoken in the area just south of Hamburg and down to Hannover.

The German equivalent of Queen's English (or received pronunciation) is the dialect of Hamburg, as spoken most beautifully by the former German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt. The colloquial expression used to describe it (much as we say "a plum-in-the-mouth accent") is "to stumble over a sharp stone" - "Stolpern über einen spitzen Stein", whereby the "s" sound isn't pronounce with the usual German "sch", but sharply as in English.

MsG
 
#9
Very true, whilst after 5 years, i was passable at talking German, reading and writing was poor, so made it pretty pointless as has been said. Get on a course designed more with the reading and writing, the talking will be easier.
 
#10
English is derived fom the germanic language - many words are similar or the same. It's rediculous how they shuffle the order of the words and have a gender for objects though.
I'm on phase A german in July.
Having been in Germany for nearly 10 years with german frau, own house, etc - it's time to make the effort.
 
#11
phil37 said:
English is derived fom the germanic language - many words are similar or the same. It's rediculous how they shuffle the order of the words and have a gender for objects though.
I'm on phase A german in July.
Having been in Germany for nearly 10 years with german frau, own house, etc - it's time to make the effort.
In some ways, English is more Germanic than German. It still has the "th" sound (signified by the rune "thorn", which looks like a "y" and is where the Brits get "ye olde" from. It's actually pronounced "the"), as is the word "window" directly descended from the Germanic "Windoge" - "wind-eye (hole)" when the "window was just a hole near the roof to let out the smoke from the fire. The modern German word for window (Fenster) is derived from Latin (fenestra).

The order of words in English has to be fixed because the language is no longer inflected. The subject and object of a sentence are always clear in German because of the case used. A simple example:

Der Mann kennt jeder - The man knows everybody. (Nominative case)
Den Mann kennt jeder - Everybody knows the man. (Accusative case)

See? Easy, innit?

MsG
 
#12
I was based In Germany for 12 years, the most efficient way I found was to throw yourself in at the deep end and just mingle
Trust me they wont help you at first but if your seen to be making the effort they will speak english back to you.

Coloquial German is nothing like they speak in real life, just get out and about in the shops and pubs
 
#14
Bugsy said:
phil37 said:
English is derived fom the germanic language - many words are similar or the same. It's rediculous how they shuffle the order of the words and have a gender for objects though.
I'm on phase A german in July.
Having been in Germany for nearly 10 years with german frau, own house, etc - it's time to make the effort.
In some ways, English is more Germanic than German. It still has the "th" sound (signified by the rune "thorn", which looks like a "y" and is where the Brits get "ye olde" from. It's actually pronounced "the"), as is the word "window" directly descended from the Germanic "Windoge" - "wind-eye (hole)" when the "window was just a hole near the roof to let out the smoke from the fire. The modern German word for window (Fenster) is derived from Latin (fenestra).

The order of words in English has to be fixed because the language is no longer inflected. The subject and object of a sentence are always clear in German because of the case used. A simple example:

Der Mann kennt jeder - The man knows everybody. (Nominative case)
Den Mann kennt jeder - Everybody knows the man. (Accusative case)

See? Easy, innit?

MsG
Do you do any of the Slavic languages - 7 cases and Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian is mind blowing. :D

When I did German at Muelheim courtesy of HM Forces I found the best way was to get in the habit of learning words. Once you get the habit you can then pick your own method - my preferred one was picking a subject e.g picture of a room and then learning the names of everything in it tables, chairs, curtains, roof wall etc. And being a sweaty there are plenty of similar words e.g Kirche - Kirk! Oh and walking up and down the corridor repeating der, die, das, die etc

Best of luck on your learning supermatelot :D
 
#15
i agree with the fact that you need to suround yourself as much as possable with your chosen language that you wish to learn.

everyone learns in different ways but you need to give yourself a chance take every opertunity to learn a new aspect.

ive lived in germany for my whole army career the first seven years or so my german was nearly non existant, only after meeting my german wife and her relatoins did it improve.

watching german tv reading magazines papers talking to locals/workers on camp attempting to write bluey,s in german and getting the answers corrected and sent back,

all good ways to pick up a language, maybe find a pen friend online and mutualy self help

books and cd,s are great and may help some but day to day language as previously mentioned is much different to exam language.

good luck with learning i found it interesting and in the end learning a foreign language is something you can be proud of.
 
#17
Cheers for the helpful replies. I've read about sticking post-it notes everywhere with the German word and article for it. I find that helpful. I've also read that the key to learning German is to learn & concentrate on the verbs and the rest falls into place. Is this correct?
Reading the books I have I find the word order difficult and also the der die das aspect. One thing I wonder though is - if I used "der" instead of "die" or "das" - would what I said be still understood or could it change the whole context?

I did French & Spanish at school, got GCSE B's in them and could probably only count to ten in them now! I'm keen to now learn a language and see it through!
 
#18
The best method, as several people have already mentioned, is immersion.

Before we married we lived in a flat in a German village with no BFBS TV, no Sky then either and nobody appeared to speak English. I wouldn't be arrogant enough to say I speak perfect German, but after about 2 years it was very good. Admittedly I had German at school, which helped a bit, but my school German didn't get me very far at first. All the same even a rudimentary knowledge of the nominative case will get you started in conversation.

Later I did some formal Geman courses courtesy of HM, and realised as time went by that learning a correctly structured language improved my English too. For example understanding 'time, manner, place', not ending sentences in prepositions and particularly the dative and genetive cases.

Anyway, viel Spass dabei!

Gruesse aus dem Flachland.

Baggy