How to learn a language online

How to learn a language online

wayne parry

LEARN GERMAN ONLINE FOR FREE

 

STEP ONE: TO UNDERSTAND WHO SPEAKS GERMAN

 

German is an important business language, not just in Europe but around the world. It is taught in many schools worldwide and it is the official language of both Germany and Austria, as well as being one of the official languages of Switzerland, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein and the southern part of Belgium. There are pockets of German speakers that exist in countries as far as Namibia and Kazakhstan, and many millions of people claim a German speaking ancestry in Brazil, Argentina, the United States, Canada and Chile. The first step is to understand who is speaking it, who is learning it - and why.  

 

 

STEP TWO: TO UNDERSTAND WHERE IT IS SPOKEN

 

Before getting immersed in the language without any subtitles to help us out, it's important to start slow and take a look around a part of the world where German is spoken. What better place than the capital of Germany - Berlin.

 

 

STEP THREE: TO BE FAMILIAR WITH THE SIGNS

 

Being able to read signs in German is a very useful way of memorising words and it helps us to build our vocabulary. The best place to absorb all these signs is in a marketplace, like this one in Munich.

 

STEP FOUR: TO UNDERSTAND SITUATIONS

 

One of the best ways to learn about the way a language is used is by watching TV series that show certain situations like arguments, comedy and any type of drama. Here is a brief list of some useful TV shows to watch in German:

 

Messer, Gabel, Herz   -   Austrian TV docu-show about blind dates

Hinter Gittern   -   German TV drama set inside a women's prison

Gute Zeiten, Schlechte Zeiten   -   German TV drama based on the Dutch TV series of the same name

Alles Was Zählt   -   German drama series about an ice skater

Unter Uns   -   TV drama series set in Köln

Stromberg   -   German comedy resembling The Office

Lindenstraße   -   long running German drama set in Munich

Künstenwache   -   drama series about coast guards on the Baltic Sea

Post Mortem   -   crime series, or krimi, as they’re know in German

Marienhof   -   soap opera set in Köln

Pastewka   -   sitcom set in Köln

Rundschau   -   Swiss current affairs show

Alisa – Folge deinem Herzen   -   drama series about a young woman’s love life

Kassensturz   -   another Swiss current affairs show

Henker und Richter   -   crime series (krimi) set in Westfalen

Hubert und Stellar   -   police sitcom set in Bavaria

Klimawechsel   -   sitcom about midlife crises

Rote Rosen    -   daytime soap about middle-aged women

Ladykracher   -   German comedy

Switch Reloaded   -   German comedy about Hitler in an office

Bulle von Tölz   -   daytime cop show

Tatort   -   crime show set in Germany, Switzerland & Austria

Traumschiff   -   another German krimi (crime show)

Die Trickser   -   gangster TV series

Komissar Rex   -   one of Austria’s most famous TV series about a police dog

 

 

STEP FIVE:  GETTING TO KNOW WHAT THE LOCAL PEOPLE EAT

 

German, Austrian and Swiss cuisines are often under-rated and although it's true that in this region, many of the dishes are similar - there are variations. Food in southern Germany (Bavaria) and parts of Austria are quite similar whereas in northern Germany there is an abundance of seafood. Obviously Swiss cuisine is influenced by all three of its main spoken languages and so food in Zurich is similar to nearby parts of Germany. Austrian cuisine is an exotic blend of German and Hungarian with its delicious goulash alongside schnitzels and sausages - without forgetting its incredible variety of desserts. After all, Vienna is well known for its cafes. Here's a rather extensive menu of those three cuisines - German, Austrian and Swiss.   

 

 

ENTRÉE

 

Buletten   -   Berlin style meatballs

Kohlroulade   -   cabbage rolls

Kartoffelsalat   -   Bavarian potato salad

Sauerkraut   -   pickled shredded cabbage

Speckknödel   -   Tyrolean bacon dumplings

Rösti   -   Swiss hash browns

Weißwurst   -   white sausage from Munich

Kartoffelsuppe   -   potato soup from Silesia

Pumpernickel   -   black bread

Maultaschen   -   pasta broth

Flädlesuppe   -   pancake broth

Zwiebelkuchen   -   onion cake

Thüringer Klöße   -   Thuringian potato dumplings

Beetenbartsch   -   Prussian beetroot soup similar to borscht

 

MAIN

 

Sauerbraten mit Klöße   -   German pot roast with potato dumplings 

Hochzeitssuppe   -   spicy meat broth from Franconia   

Solyanka   -   typical vegetable stew from East Germany

Bratwurst   -   sausage found all over Germany

Eisbein   -   ham hock from Berlin

Schweinsbraten   -   sliced roast pork from Bavaria

Currywurst   -   curried sausage from Berlin

Königsberger Klopse   -   Prussian meatballs in white caper sauce

Kartoffelsalat   -   Bavarian potato salad

Gulasch mit Semmelknödel   -   Austrian goulash with dumplings

Wiener Schnitzel   -   world famous veal cutlets from Vienna

Labskaus   -   corned beef, herring, mashed potato and beetroot dish

Spätzle   -   hand rolled noodles popular in southern Germany and Austria

Bötel   -   ham hock and mashed potatoes from Magdeburg

Kassler   -   salted pork dish from Bremen

Mehlbüdel   -   flour dumpling with bacon and sweet sauce

Pichelsteiner   -   Bavarian stew

Linsen mit Spätzle   -   Austrian dish of fried lentils, noodles and a Vienna sausage

Gaisburger Marsch   -   meat and potato stew from Baden-Württemberg

Leberkäse   -   sausage meatloaf from Bavaria

 

DESSERT

 

Prinzregententorte   -   chocolate buttercream layered cake from Bavaria

Topfenstrudel   -   Bavarian style apple strudel

Butterkuchen   -   butter cake

Sachertorte   -   Austrian chocolate cake

Linzer Torte   -   hazelnut torte originally from Linz in Austria

Buchteln   -   Bavarian sweet dumplings

Rote Grütze   -   berry dessert jelly from Hamburg

Palatschinken   -   Austrian crepes

Schwartzwälder Kirschtorte   -   the famous Black Forest cake

Quarkkeulchen   -   quark pancakes

Apfelstrudel   -   Austrian apple strudel

 

 

STEP SIX: TO LEARN HOW THE FOOD IS MADE

 

Following a recipe is a good indication that you're understanding the language and at the same time it's a great way to learn even more about the local food than simply eating it. Here's a recipe for Hochzeitstorte, which literally means 'wedding cake' but is eaten in any occasion.

 

 

 

STEP SEVEN: LEARNING ABOUT THE MUSIC

 

A lot of artists in Germany, Austria and Switzerland sing in English which automatically reduces the number of German language songs available from such a large population. Many DJs have come out of all three countries but most of their music contains no lyrics at all. Some of the most popular genres have been trance, techno, electro-pop and more recently hip-hop. Here's a list of some current music from those three countries.

 

Tage Wie Diese (Die Toten Hosen)  -  famous rock group from Düsseldorf

Von Allein (Culcha Candela)  -  reggae and hip-hop group from Berlin

Bück Dich Hoch (Deichkind)  -  electro hip-hop group from Hamburg

Diese Tage (Kris ft. Dante Thomas)  -  from the Hamburg rock band Revolverheld

Lauter (Wise Guys)  -  pop group from Köln

Songs für Liam (Kraftklub)  -  rock group from Chemnitz

Zwei Schritte vor (Oomph!)  -  rock group from Wolfsburg

Zäme um d’Wält (Fraui)  -  Swiss singer (sung in Swiss German)

5 Jahre (L’Âme Immortelle)  -  Austrian goth-rock band from Vienna

Meine Welt (Peter Heppner)  -  singer from Hamburg

Alles Dreht Sich (Der König Tanzt)  -  pop project by Boris Lauterbach from Hamburg

Ich bin Ich (Glasperlenspiel)  -  pop duo from Stockach in Germany

Eisener Steg (Phillip Poisel)  -  German singer

Mr Spielberg (Julian le Play)  -  Austrian singer

Woki mit deim Popo (Trackshittaz)  -  hip hop duo from Austria

 

 

STEP EIGHT: LEARNING ABOUT THE LOCAL SPORTS

 

In the German speaking world, like the rest of Europe, the most popular sport is football and the leading team by far is Bayern. As a national team, Germany has been quite successful in the FIFA World Cup. However, little is known about a very popular sport in Germany called Handball. This is an olympic sport which means it is not just defined to Germany but it is played by many people as a competitive sport and it is administered by the Handball Bundesliga, Germany's Handball authority.

 

 

 

STEP NINE: WATCHING MOVIES IN THAT LANGUAGE

 

No subtitles are needed for this part. The most challenging way to learn a language through its film content is to learn a list of words beforehand and then watch that movie - without subtitles. Mostly, it'll be obvious what's happening by the actions and situation. A lot of the time, it's guesswork. However, subtitles actually inhibit us from learning because it distracts us from what's being spoken. Unless of course the subtitles are in the same language. Here's a list of some new releases in the German language.

 

 

Atmen  -  Austrian arthouse film about an ex-convict who tries to rebuild his life

Die Fremde  -  suspense film about a Turkish family living in Germany

Das Weiße Band  -  German film set in the early 20th century, before WW1

Die Herbstzeitlosen  -  Swiss film about two young teenagers who meet on a beach

Der Baader Meinhof Komplex  -  German film about the Red Army Faction in the sixties

Revanche  -  Austrian thriller about a Ukrainian prostitute and an Austrian con-man

Der Freund  -  Swiss film about a man and woman who fall in love

Die Fälscher  -  Austrian film about counterfeit moneymakers in Nazi Germany

Das Leben der Anderen  -  German film about the Stasi police of East Germany

 

 

 

 

 

STEP TEN: GETTING TO KNOW PEOPLE WHO SPEAK THE LANGUAGE

 

One of the best ways to communicate with people who speak the language is via Skype - especially if you can agree to exchange languages with someone online. To find people who are willing to exchange languages, try one of these websites.

 

The Mixxer        http://www.language-exchanges.org

My Language Exchange        http://www.mylanguageexchange.com

 

 

 

 

 

STEP ELEVEN: WORKING IN A COUNTRY WHERE THE LANGUAGE IS SPOKEN

 

Another important way to learn a language is to work with the locals in an environment where that language is spoken. Not only is this a great experience, but you will pick up lots of local expressions used in the workplace.

 

 

 

STEP TWELVE: LEARNING ABOUT THE RELATIONSHIPS OF THE LOCAL PEOPLE

 

One thing Germany and Austria share in common (apart from the language) is its large Turkish community. It's important to understand how immigrants who speak German fit into a new country. Turkish Germans have now been in Germany for many generations and the old stereotype of Turks living in the Berlin suburb of Kreuzberg are no longer a true representation. Here is a clip about Turks in Germany.

 

 

 

By following these twelve steps, it should be much easier to embrace the language. It's not necessary to be able to understand everything in all these clips but it is important to be able to just relax and absorb the language through its culture - its music, its sports, its food and most of all - its people. Viel Glück!

 

 

 

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