Testing My German Learning After 1 Month

Guten Tag!

As promised, I took a test to see how far along my German has come and I will share the results with you.

I took the test on the BBC German website. I took the Beginner test and the Post-Beginner test. My scores were:

Beginner: 81%
Post-Beginner: 51%

So I didn’t blow anyone away with my newfound skills, but honestly I was pretty proud after only one month.

I will take them again in another month and chart my progress.

Four weeks down and almost a month in…

Guten Tag! It has now been 4 weeks and 2/23/12 will mark one month of studying German. Wow! Where does the time go?

Progress time. How much have I learned and how do I quantify my progress? Well, for starters, I have found a few websites that offer German skills testing and will group you into a category based on your proficiency. I think I will test myself at the end of every month and see if I can chart my progress. Hopefully this will give me some insight as to what is working and what is not.

How do I THINK I have done? Well, I have assembled about 220 flash cards containing various nouns, verbs, adverbs, adjectives and basic phrases. I would say I am comfortable with about 85-90% of them which gives me a basic vocabulary of about 200 words. Verbs and grammar are probably my weaknesses at the moment and a big part f why I don’t feel very comfortable speaking at this point. I have maintained (and continue to do so) that vocabulary is more important than grammar at this stage of the game. Grammar can be tweaked but there is no substitute for being able to pick out the correct word that you are looking for. Language is about communication first and foremost. If you have the right vocabulary, you can get your point across, even if you happen to position the words incorrectly or use the wrong conjugation. Grammar is about putting words together, but you must HAVE words to begin with, right? Sorry for the tangent but I really believe in these methods.

Now, back to my progress. With a solid 200 words vocabulary which includes the top 100 spoken words, the top 25 adverbs, nouns and conjunctions, the top 10 verbs and a smattering of about 50 or so common nouns, I believe that I can “communicate” a fairly large array of things and I am proud of that.

Where am I going? Well, I think the next month should be focused on 3 things (in this order):
1. More vocab
2. Verbs
3. Delving into some of the more important grammar rules, particularly word order.

I would love to find a native (or at least fluent) German speaker that I could take out to lunch once or twice a month and converse with. We joined a Denver-based German Language Meetup group and we will be attending their next event on March 5th. Hopefully it will be helpful.

Bis balt!

Starting week 3!

Hallo Freunde!  Week 2 is over and we are into week 3.  I’m starting to really feel like we are gaining some traction now and the difference between week 1 and week 2 are substantial.  I have made a few more adjustments:

1.  The daily word lists did not seem to be working and I gave up on them after a few days.  It was difficult to find the time to produce them and even more difficult to find the time to study them.  My wife and I both work full-time and it did not seem to be taking advantage of the precious time that we did have.

2.  I put together flashcards of the most commonly used nouns, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, and conjunctions.  I started with 20 or so, then put together more each day.  I also put together flashcards for short phrases that I thought would be useful (like “What is the matter?”, “I’m tired”, “see you tomorrow”, “Are you hungry?”, etc).  Altogether I have made over 100 flashcards.  We go through them each night before bed and right now we are getting about 80% consistently right.  I haven’t done any flashcards for verbs yet, but that will come this week.

3.  I’ve been listing to some beginning German podcasts Radio D by Deutsche Welle and they have been very helpful.

4.  I do a large portion of my work from home and so I have the convenience of being able to have the television on in the background some of the time that I work.  To take advantage of this, I have taken to having German language movies on Netflix playing while I work.  Sadly, the German language selection is very poor and so my choices are limited.  I have found that listing to German movies really helps my mind to get “in synch” with the rhythm of the language and I confess that I get pretty excited when i hear words that I recognize.

5.  I put together a “Study Guide” of sorts that is about 60 pages or so and contains full conjugations for about 30 verbs, lists of the top 25 adjectives, adverbs, conjunctions and prepositions, a pronunciation guide, a list of 500+ essential nouns, and some other things I put together.  I bring this study guide with me when I run errands and try to spend time with it whenever the opportunity presents itself.  It is a great reference guide for the basics and could almost pass as a very simple German dictionary and grammar guide.

6.  I have really been making an effort this week to actually speak the language out loud.  I try to imagine myself in certain social situations and verbalize what I would try to say.  I have found it to be quite helpful because it has made me really try to express myself with a very limited vocabulary.  The key is to speak out loud.  No mater how much you memorize or study, you will never be able to speak fluently unless you speak.  I have really come to the conclusion that there is a significant amount of muscle memory involved in speaking a language and unless you speak it regularly, you will always stumble and stammer with words that your mouth is not accustomed to saying.

So, my progress?  Significant.  I would say that:
I have a firm grasp on about 100 or so vocabulary words.
I have about a 4 year old level of grammar and sentence structure.
I could probably get my point across to someone who spoke only German (though it may take some “creative” means to do so)
I am about where I want to be by week 3.

Some great internet resources I found:
ielanguages.com Great tutorials
Top words Lists Top 25 lists for verbs, nouns, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, and conjunctions
Fluent in 3 months Cool blog by Benny Lewis – The Irish Polyglot

Thanks for reading and come back in a week when I will have more updates as we approach the end of the first Month.