Tunes on Tuesday – The Deutsch Edition

When I was first learning German, I heard that listening to songs in German was a great way to learn the language, so I filled my iPod with German language songs. The first artist I listened to was Klee. Thanks to this song I will never forget that ‘erinnern’ is reflexive.

I’m not sure how I stumbled across Chima, but I really love this song.

One of my German teacher introduced us to the Schlager sensation Helene Fischer by making us sing this song at the end of quite a few lessons ensuring that I will never forget the lyrics.

When I wanted to see Frozen (Die Eiskönigin/The Ice Queen), the German version was the only one screening. Now Frozen in English is just plain wrong, although I really should Lass jetzt los.

If you want to hear more German music, I have a whole You Tube playlist.

Did you listen to German music in an attempt to learn the language? If so, what were/are your favourite songs?





Crunching The Numbers: Final Edition Plus The Dreaded B2 Exam

Goethe-Institut logo

Photo credit: Wikipedia

This month was my final month of my Intensive German course. Since January I have been doing 5 hours of German class every day and I’ve now reached a point where I am comfortable in German. My German is nowhere near fluent and I still make lots of mistakes, but I can function pretty well in German in my daily life.

This month’s class was the worst experience I have had to date. We were assigned a teacher who normally teaches at the Goethe Institute in Amsterdam. To be blunt, she was dreadful and we ended up playing more theatre games than actually learning German. Things reached a breaking point a week before our exam. The teacher was removed and my awesome German teacher from January and March took over the class to get us ready for the exam. The final week was great but gruelling and we finished up the week fully prepared to sit our exam. Because of the problems with the teachers, I did received a final grade, but only based on my final week of work. However, I feel it was an accurate assessment, especially since it was made by a teacher that I have had for two previous months.

The grades were:

Reading: 2

Listening: 2

Structure: 3

Speaking: 3

Writing: 3

Yes, they are identical to last month’s grades. The skills I am the weakest in have not changed.

The night before my B2 exam I was feeling nervous but quietly confident. We had done a practice exam in class two days previous and the entire class passed. I felt sure I could handle the real thing. What none of us counted on was that the real thing would be way more difficult than anything we encountered in class, especially in reading comprehension, which normally is my strongest skill. The only reassuring thing is that the entire 3 classrooms of people sitting the exam all walked out feeling rather shell-shocked. No one was expecting anything as difficult as what we encountered. However, the pass mark still sits at 60%. I am not sure that I was able to achieve that. I am not going to beat myself up about that though. The only thing on the line here is my pride. I was sitting this exam mainly for myself and partly also because B2 would look better on my resume than B1. If I failed, I can always re-sit the exam.

I now have two months off from classes. Whether I go back in July will depend on whether or not I have found a job by then. The hardest part will be to keep working on my German during May and June. I have plans, but I also know that I am a chronic procrastinator. The good thing is that my German has now reached a stage where I really enjoy watching TV and movies in German (strange, but true), so at least I will keep that side of it up.


Crunching The Numbers: Month 2 of German Class

Goethe-Institut logo

Photo credit: Wikipedia

Month 2 of my intensive German course is over, so how did I go this month compared to the previous one?  Unfortunately this month I was less motivated than I was in January. I felt like I learnt nothing for the first 2.5 weeks and to be honest, the teachers were not as good as my wonderful teacher in January. They didn’t make us work and we were only assigned four writing assignments for the entire month. In January we had 4 writing assignments per week. Still, I feel like I made progress. I spoke only German the vast majority of time including on breaks and whilst on cultural outings and I’m beginning to feel comfortable in the language. My presentation this month was much better than my messed up presentation in January. Still, when I’m nervous I speak way too fast and I lapse into pronouncing words that German & English have in common like culture or generation in the English way. So, much to improve before I sit my exams in April.

So, how did I actually go, grade-wise?

Listening: 1-2

Reading: 1-2

Structure: 2-3

Speaking: 2-3

Writing: 2

So, basically the same grades as I got in January except my writing improved from a 3+ to a 2. I’m not sure this was an actual improvement in my writing or just comparing my writing to others in my class. Since my teacher asked one student if she used Google Translate to write one of her assignments, I’m going to go with the fact I got a 2 because my writing was better than some of my classmates’.

Classes start again tomorrow and my teacher from January told us that she’s trying to get assigned back to our class, so I’m pressing my thumbs that she’ll be our teacher for March. If she is I know I’m going to be made to work hard, which if I’m being honest, I’m looking forward to. I need to pressure from the teacher to make me work hard instead of just coasting along.

Back To School

So as advertised, I started my intensive German course last week and already my brain is absolutely exhausted. The course itself is not overwhelming nor too challenging, but it’s just the fact that I’m in class for 4.5 hours every day. I’m just not used to doing full-time study nor full-time study of a subject that ties my brain into knots. One day I may come to grips with German grammar but it feels like that day is a long way off. Fortunately, the folks in my class are making class enjoyable and I love that once again I’m getting to know people from such a wide spectrum of nationalities – French, Swiss, Italian, Polish, Danish, Russian and Chinese.

Also as well as German classes, the Goethe Institut run what they call cultural activities and I have been to two of them this week. The great part about the cultural activities is not only that I’m seeing new places and new things, but they are all conducted in German which is a great way to get in some German study without it feeling like study.

On Friday I went to the Haus der Photographie to see an exhibition on the Leica camera. At this exhibition they had the original photo that launched a million Che Guevara t-shirts worldwide.

Plus the iconic VJ Day kiss photo

On Saturday we headed to the next state over, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, to the city Schwerin to see its palace.

Unfortunately, we picked the worst day possible to go sightseeing when Hurricane Felix was lashing North Germany. I don’t recommend walking around outside in hurricane strength winds and torrential rain. Still the palace was fascinating and now I know it’s there and it’s only a 90 min train ride away, I plan to go back when the weather is much nicer and take my camera gear so I can get some much better and more picturesque photos.

So, how am I going with the strict rules I set myself last week?  Well I accomplished all of them but going to Kung Fu. You can blame a bad headache and a mountain of homework on that failure.  Hopefully this week I’ll do much better.


Registration Day Plus Some Rules For The Next Two Months

Technically my Intensive German course at the Goethe Institute started today, but instead of class today, we had what one might call a Registration Day, even though we’ve all technically registered and paid. It was a day where we got our new student IDs, the all important Wi-Fi password, our GI folders containing the cultural program and, oh yeah, we all had to undertake a one-on-one interview in German that together with our entrance test, that we have already done, will determine what class we will end up in.

The Einzelgespräche, as it was officially called, wasn’t too bad. It was basically a get-to-know-you conversation which is pretty much the only conversation I can have quite comfortably in German. My entrance exam mark was not so great, it seemed all that grammar knowledge has vanished from my brain, but I will probably end up in B2, which is where I want to be and even if I have to do B1 again for a month, well, I probably need the refresh. I’m not going to stress out about what class I end up in. I’m going to trust that it will be the class I need to be in.

My official Goethe Institut Folder

What I’m most excited about is the cultural program. There is something on every day that fits in to whether you have a morning or afternoon class and on the weekends there are excursions to places like Schwerin and Kiel for ridiculously low prices like €10. I’m already marking off the ones I want to go on.

Of course these next two months aren’t going to be spent just touring around Hamburg & Northern Germany. I need to work hard on my German and to help facilitate that I have come up with some rules to keep myself disciplined. They are:

1. No English language TV/movies (including CNN), except for 1 evening per week. Going to the cinema is excluded from this rule.

2. Listen to 1-2 German podcasts a day.

3. Keep on reading my German language novels daily.

4. Go to Kung Fu at least twice a week – Kung Fu is held in German (a plus!) & I need to get my butt moving whilst doing all this studying.

5. ALL homework must be completed daily. No slacking off allowed.

6. Go to at least two events held in German a month. One of these must include a Stammtisch or similar. Looking at the cultural program this will not be a problem.

7. Work on improving my vocab daily.

8. Do at least 30 mins further study daily.

Hopefully these will keep me on track and immersed in my German so I can get the most out of these next two months.

Classes officially start tomorrow but because the school will not work out the class lists until this evening, everyone needs to be there by 8:30am, which is technically before sunrise. If my class is not until the afternoon, which is likely, then I have a Hamburg city tour to look forward to in the morning. I’m not happy about having to be at school so early. I am not a morning person and these last 3 weeks of holidays has meant that my usual waking time is more around 10am than 7am. Tomorrow morning is going to be tough.



Monday’s Musical Moment

To cope with having to be back at work this Monday morning, here is some music that might put a smile on your face.

First up, German band Die Ärzte present Gehn Wie Ein Ägypter – the German language version of Walk Like An Egyptian

Next, the Wise Guys, a German Acapella group do a fantastic rendition of Britney Spear’s Hit Me Baby One More Time German style – Schlag mich Baby noch einmal

Over the weekend Germany held its nation-wide song content – Bundesvision.  I didn’t even know this existed until I saw the results reported on the U-Bahn’s news service.  This was the winning entry Lass Uns Gehen by Revolverheld.  It’s surprisingly catchy.

Weekly Wrap-Up

 This is a new section looking at the interesting, hilarious and odd things I have discovered in the previous 7 days.


With the death of Lauren Bacall this week All 16 of the Icons Name-Dropped in Madonna’s ‘Vogue’ are Now Gone. The only upside to this is that music video still looks incredible 24 years on, which is something that can be said about very few music videos.

Do you have a question about death that you are afraid to ask? Well, Ask A Mortician is here for you. This You Tube channel run by real-life Mortician Caitlin Doughty will answer every question you had about death, even some that maybe you never really wanted to know the answer to.


Understanding Germany – This is a blog that all expats living in Germany should be reading as it explains the sometimes bewildering and impenetrable German society, culture and politics. This blog is written by a born & bred German so you know you are getting the inside scoop rather than an expat’s take on it.


And that’s why you should learn to pick your battles – Everyone needs to learn to pick their battles in life, but somehow I think that being married to Jenny aka The Bloggess would result in hilarious consequences no matter what battles you picked.


Get Germanized – A You Tube channel looking at German language and culture. The videos about German culture are a little gimmicky and sometimes over the top, but the German lesson and slang videos are solid. However, where this channel shines is the German word of the day, which is only available to Facebook & Twitter fans.