I’ve completed the first week of my Summer Language Challenge and overall I’m happy with my progress and the fact that every day I have been putting the effort in to progress my German. For me, the forever Procrastinator, this is a huge achievement.
Breaking the parts of the Challenge down, this is what I’ve been doing this week.
This is the section where I’m not all that happy with my efforts. With my German speaking colleagues leaving, I’ve lost easy daily access to people who will speak in German with me. However, I’ve noticed that I am speaking more in German class, instead of being deathly afraid to open my mouth, which is probably due to a change in attitude than an increase in ability. Also, I had a short one minute conversation with my neighbour about the horrible humid weather we are having and she was able to understand what I was saying and I was able to understand her, so that counts as a win in my book. I was also able to go to the post office and ask for a stamp to Australia and one for Germany and most importantly, understand the amount I had to pay, so another win. Also, I went shopping for a pillow and was able to ask the assistant for her advice and yesterday was able to ask the assistant at Saturn if they had the movie I was after (they didn’t). Therefore, I guess I did more speaking than I actually realised this week. Maybe I’m not so displeased with my efforts after all.
This is the section where I feel I’m really making some progress. Every day I have read at least two articles, if not more, and am feeling less overwhelmed by it all. Anyone who has ever faced a large chunk of text in a language they can barely read will know what I mean here.
Instead of reading my graded childrens’ books which weren’t getting me excited about reading, I’ve switched to reading Asterix comics. There are quite a lot of words on each page, more than the graded childrens’ books and because I’m enjoying reading them, I am now reading aloud 10 pages every night. The Asterix comics have about 50 pages, so one comic takes about 5 days to read.
I’ve ditched the idea of listening to audio books and have switched to podcasts. Initially I choose podcasts that were completely out of my current ability to understand. Whilst the challenge was good, I felt I wasn’t getting much out of the time I spent listening to them. Therefore, I’ve switched to listening to Wieso nicht? -a B1 graded listening course from Deutsche Welle. I listen to an episode on the U-Bahn in the morning. Then during a break at work, I listen to it again, but this time with the script in front of me and then on the way home I listen to it again minus the script. I feel the repeated listening with and without the text in front of me is useful, but interested to get your thoughts on this method. Is this the best way to improve one’s listening ability?
I’ve also been using Deutsche Welle to listen to the langsam gesprochen Nachrichten every day, plus their Alltagsdeutsch offering which involves listening to and reading the text at the same time.
Movies & TV
This week I’ve watched two German films with subtitles switched on (T)raumschiff Surprise & Spiderman 2 and was able to understand the majority of the films.
Also, I’ve watched five episodes of Buffy – Season 1, also with the subtitles on. Again being able to understand the main bulk of the dialogue.
And I watched the wonderful Kambolage on Arte TV, also with subtitles on.
However, I still struggle greatly watching TV where there are no subtitles as the dialogue is just too fast. I hope as my ability to understand spoken German improves I won’t be relying on the subtitles so heavily.
Vocab & Writing
I’m keeping up with my flashcards and doing at least 20 minutes of Duolingo per day. Whilst Duolingo isn’t really helping improve my vocab, it is helping with practising all those grammatical concepts I’ve learnt over the past 18 months & promptly forgotten.
Also, I have been tweeting a little each day in German, so thanks to all of you who have tweeted back to me in German. I’m loving the short written conversations and am finding them incredibly helpful.
I’ve made an effort to reduce my input of media in English. I’ve watched almost no TV in English, with the exception of a movie last night, and in the mornings instead of listening to music in English, I’ve been listening to Disney songs in German. I’m now on the hunt for decent modern music in German cause there really is only so much Disney one person can listen to in a week & I’ve definitely exceeded that.
So, that is a very long winded account of week one. For those of you doing your own Summer Language Challenge, how is it going? Are you happy with your progress & effort this week? What issues have you been having with your language learning? Or has it been smooth sailing?