After my week at DrachenFest I was able to get a really good idea of exactly where my German was falling apart. One of those spots was with my vocabulary, particularly verbs, so I’m now working on that. The other was with my long time nemesis, understanding spoken German. I have routinely been listening to podcasts like Grüße aus Deutschland and Wieso Nicht? but I am still running into issues with understanding. I fear that somewhere I missed a whole chunk of knowledge.
With my new found dedication to improving my German I have been reading the blogs and watching the You Tube videos of a few well-known polyglots. Now, I don’t see myself as polyglot at all considering I’m struggling with my first foreign language. However, I figured that these guys who have dedicated their lives to language learning would know a thing or two about how to effectively learn a new language and that these blogs and videos were a good place to pick up some new tips. I was right.
Quite a few of them reviewed and recommended using Assimil as a way to learn a new language. Assimil is a language course designed in France that uses your native language to teach you your target language. The course contains one book that has dialogue written in your target language on one page and your native language on the other. Using CDs that only use your target language, you work your way through the course, listening to how the dialogue sounds in your target language and using your native language to make sense of the words and phrases you don’t know.
I’m also combining Luca’s Full Circle Method with my Assimil German With Ease course by taking the German dialogue in the book, translating it into English & then comparing it to the English dialogue in the book. I will be doing the reverse – taking the English and translating it into German & the comparing it to German dialogue in the book as soon as I get a desk. Working on my sofa is playing hell on my back and neck so I’m limited by how long I can work for. This activity is just a way for me to also work on my German writing skills as well while I’m at it.
So far I’ve done 16 lessons of the 100 lessons the book contains. The dialogue starts off being read out very slowly, but soon picks up the pace to where it is now slow but more normal sounding. The words used are fairly basic and the situations are the ones you will find yourself in – at a bar, inviting someone for coffee, talking to work colleagues etc so the phrases you are picking up are useful. So far I’m having no problems understanding the dialogue which is as I expected as I’m fine with slow dialogue that uses basic language in everyday situations.
I’m hoping that by progressing slowly in an orderly fashion from simple basic language use to more complex language spoken at normal speaking speed will fill in this massive gap I seemed to have acquired with understanding spoken German. I’ll still be listening to the podcasts mentioned at the top of this post on my way to and from work as well as I feel the more listening I can fit into my day, the better.
Once I’ve worked my way through Assimil I will do a proper review of it as a language learning course, but as always, if you have used Assimil, I would appreciate hearing what you think of it, especially if you are also using it to improve your understanding of spoken language.