Hello, and welcome to My German Quest. In case you didn’t read the description, this blog will follow my wife and my journey to German fluency in one year. This will be our first real foray into language learning (outside of K-12 requirements) and if we are successful, there will be more languages to come.
Some background on my wife and I. My name is Bill and I was born in Florida and raised from 1st grade to 7th grade in Louisiana and from then on in Colorado. Thanks to Louisiana public schools I took French from 1st grade on and by High School I was fluent. Of course, that was almost 20 years ago and I am no longer a fluent speaker. I can still read and understand conversations (80% or so) but I can struggle to speak it sometimes.
My wife’s name is Kirsten and she has lived in Colorado almost all of her life. She took Spanish in High School and never really got above a very basic understanding. For her, it’s been over 15 years and most of her Spanish is gone.
So, why German? Good question. I wish I could give a really compelling story, but there really isn’t one. We decided we wanted to try to learn a language and so we both made lists of ones we thought would be useful and/or interesting. Based on advice from some friends and some research online, German won out over Russian, Japanese, and Mandarin. We have a couple of friends who speak German at a basic to intermediate level so we figured that we would at least have some people to practice on in the early stages and who might have an interest in learning more with us.
So, how are we learning? Well, I did some research and found that the Pimsluer Method of all audio was pretty popular and seemed to produce decent results. The cons were really lack of much grammar and complete absence of reading. We decided on a combination of Pimsluer and supplementary material. We picked up the Pimsluer German I program at the local book store and a “Learn German the Fun and Easy Way” workbook. For fun we also bought a German phrasebook of “real” German (profanities, slang, etc). Our goal is to follow the Pimsluer course method everyday and use the workbook to pump up our vocabulary.
I read online somewhere that 100 words form almost 50% of everyday conversation in a given language, 1000 words almost 80% and 2000 words form 95% of conversational speech. Using this logic, if we were to supplement our Pimsluer learning with 5 new vocabulary words per day, that would bring us up over 1000 words within 3 months. In my mind, that would seem to be a great starting point to really using the language everyday. When I say “everyday”, I mean REALLY using it like watching German television shows, listening to German podcasts/radio, speaking with native speakers in meaningful conversations. To me, this is the point where it will seem like we are finally getting somewhere. The goal of fluency (to me) would include understanding and communicating 98% or so of spoken language. That is where I want to be in one year.