I am asked often, when I tell people that I am moving to Germany in August, whether I speak German. My response is always a kind of “Er…a bit”, and a swift change of topic. In truth, I have made a lot of effort to learn the language, but it presents a lot of its own challenges, particularly with speaking. I started learning German in earnest last summer, driven in part by the realization that I needed to read German for my thesis, and also by infatuation with my Luxembourgian boyfriend (who then dumped me in January).
The British council job I applied for only specified the need for B1 level German, which, to the uninitiated, means, “lower intermediate”, or a level approximating AS level in the British system. This I achieved, but my progress has been stalled by finals. It was hard to justify spending an hour a day on German when I could be putting the time into study for my exams. Similarly, right now, my progress is hindered by the long and irregular hours of my summer job, though that will come to an end soon.
When I am studying, I try to put an hour or so into it every day. There are a couple of tools I find really useful, which I’ll outline below:
1. Duolingo and memrise: grammar and vocabulary drilling tools
2. lang-8.com – a writing website where one can submit a few paragraphs of writing and have it corrected by native speakers
3. Teach Yourself German – I find it really helpful to also work through a structured course
4. Hammer’s German Grammar (and the accompanying workbook) – massively useful resources for learning German Grammar
5. bliubliu.com – a website which will massively improve your reading fluency by teaching vocabulary in context
6. Deutsche Welle learn German – a treasure trove of German learning resources at all levels
7. Easy Readers – books produced in German (along with most other European languages) graded A1, A2, B1 and B2. I am about to start a B2 graded book.
I hope, that once my job is finished, I can return to this with my full energy with attention, as well as the other languages I have dabbled in previously (Russian, Spanish, Italian), and those I’ve studied a bit more seriously (French and Irish). But, right now, German will be a priority!