Welcome, it has been one week since I decided that I would make language learning a goal for this year. Last week all I knew was that I wanted to learn Czech and German to an A2 level by June-July. After making that decision, I needed to devise a plan of action. How, am I going to accomplish this? What types of goals do I need to set? and the biggest question for all beginning language learners, what resources should I use?
Good news, is that I did a lot of this research for the two months prior to dedicating this goal.
This is what i’ve been outlining at the moment, so let’s tackle German first!
–Listen to German radiokultur for 15-30min. I also listen to the advanced German blogs on GermanPod101, which are entirely in German. I also try to watch German films, and scour the internet for German television.
–Online courses: GermanPod101, deutschkurse.dw.
I write out all of the dialogue that is present in the GermanPod101 podcasts. I listen to it more than once, and I keep an audio of the script. For deutschkurse.dw, it’s set up a bit more traditionally with lessons, and I try to complete two lessons (different than unit, each unit is around 4-5 lessons). Anytime they introduce new vocabulary, I write it down (then transfer it to Anki), and I write out all of the answers to the exercises. Listening to the audio a few times over.
100 Core Words in German, I take them in batches of 10 and add 10 more regularly to Anki. I also have a small notebook I copy words into as I see them around the city (signs, advertisements etc.), then I look them up and plug them into Anki. Anki is a flashcard software, available for computers and Android, that uses the Forgetting Curve to help you retain information. It doesn’t need Wi-Fi to work, so you can take it out and study on the train or in line. It also allows you to customize the flashcards, so you can add helpful images or mp3 files of the pronunciation.
Writing– scripting. So I haven’t done much of this yet, but I plan on scripting the dialogue of situations I can anticipate. For example: if i’m going to a coffee shop in the morning, I can script out the dialogue between the barista and myself and practice it before I get there. I’ll probably feel a bit more confident and will be more likely to respond in German.
Other: Duolingo, CoffeeBreak German podcasts, and Memrise.
****I haven’t tested Memrise yet, I have added a couple German courses though.
My approach to anything that gives information in snippets (like the three materials above), is to write down the vocab, grammar/phrases etc. that it’s teaching me.
However, I need to figure out a better way of applying that material easier.
I also put podcasts onto my Mp3 player, and i’ve also placed some pronunciation mp3’s on there as well.
What I need to add:
Reading– I have some materials with me, pamphlets and brochures( way too advanced at the moment, but super important later). But I really need something to actually read. I’m not even at children’s book standards yet! But I have found a some set of thought bubble type comics in Czech, and i’m wondering if I can find something like that in German. So I can take in the reading in small doses.
Writing– I need to start writing in the language using what i’ve learned, and possibly re-writing vocab words a few times.
Review– I need to make sure that i’m reviewing (Anki helps), but I also have phrases, dialogues etc.
Speaking– (the super important part).I have a Lonely Planet Fast Talk German phrasebook, to help me out a bit. However, GermanPod101, and to some degree Duolingo, allow you to record your voice when you recite the language. GermanPod101 allows you to do this with their premium language program (which does cost money, but only 1$ for bandwidth for the first month); but this does allow you to actually compare your pronunciation with the pronunciation of the podcast speakers. Duolingo does this somewhat, for free, it will have you speak into your phone a phrase as it is spoken and then it will determine whether your pronunciation is satisfactory. But, I recently signed up for iTalki, i’d love to be able to afford a teacher. It’s a language website that gives you people to speak to, almost like pen pals, for a language exchange. That part is free. However, there is also a secondary feature in which instructors can list themselves to assist you with the language. This does cost a sum, I believe the teachers set the sum.
I’ve heard of a few other speaking language exchange programs, but I don’t know them off the top of my head.
This is my present language plan, my assumption is that it will evolve as my language needs expand (the more I know).
For example, I didn’t include any grammar materials. Those courses offer snippets of grammar, and even some of the extra materials do. But, they’re only snippets. As a total beginner, I don’t know, what I don’t know. Therefore, I don’t need to know grammar yet, in terms of actual structural forms, because I can’t even use the language at all.
I hope that in March-April, i’ll be ready to pick up a more focused book. Possibly two- one more course book like, and the other the German Essential Grammar, i’ve heard good things about this series.
Have you tried learning a language using these resources? Other resources? What was your experience like?
Feel free to comment below!