How long did it take you to learn German and what level did you reach?

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I was once told that to learn English it would take three days, to learn French thirty days, but to learn German it would take thirty years! So how long did it take for you to be able to hold a conversation in German?

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Mark Twain said "Life is too short to learn German", and I am beginning to see what he means!

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It took me roughly four to six years and a hell of alot of listening and trying. But, to anyone who is planning on staying a while, it's worth it!

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It took me roughly four to six years too. I've been here 29 years and still don't get the der, die and das.

 

I had German lessons at school for two years and came out after that with one sentence 'Ingrid und Ich decken den Tisch'. Plus I knew the song 'Mein Hut der hat drei Ecken' by heart. It was 20 years later that I met the first Ingrid.

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I did a degree in German and before I came to Bremen for my placement year in 1998 I really thought I was confident in speaking German. Two weeks into term I realised how wrong I was. Classroom German and living in the country are two different worlds for me.

 

I have now been living in Frankfurt for four years and I think my German has improved more in those 4 years than on the 4 years of my degree. I am still learning new things every day but am also sure I will never be perfect.

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Only been here a year so still battling through my German lessons into the past participles now. I can get by out and about but I probably sound like Ali G. Do I care? Do I heck as like! As long as I achieve the objective I don't worry, I try and that's the main thing. I used to work in the Middle East and I swear Arabic is easier, though not to write obviously!

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After 30 years here there's only the thick farmers sod from a Bavarian Alpenhof who can still mindboggle me, but getting there was bloody hard at the beginning.

 

When I was a kid though I remember a pseudo german song that was in the engl. hit parade at the time called:

 

"the kleine kleine fliegel flugel aufgeweckene biegel bugel ergeschplitten lauteboomer bird"

 

and never forgot it!

 

Michael

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Replies so far have made me feel a bit better. Been here 1 year now and still really struggling with the langauge. Have had roughly 3 hours of lessons per week for most of that time but down to 1 1/2 per week now. Problem I find is that work is entirely in English and I'm not forced to speak Deutsch as often as I need to be.

 

If I've got a fairly good idea what someone is going to say when out 'n' about (shops etc.) I understand most of what's said. Had our oil tank filled up yesterday, though, and hardly got one word from the driver!

 

Now trying some 'Learn German in your car' CDs as I have a 1/2 hour commute twice a day. Seem to be good as back-up, but not as a substitute, for lessons I would say.

 

One thing I seem find with Germans: if they recognise you can't speak Deutsch they either switch to English, or just repeat what they've said at the same speed. Nobody actually slows down for you. Is the same for anyone else?

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I've been here since `95 and I did an intensive course called the DSH with a school affiliated with the UNiversity of Munich. Took me essentially a good 5 years to get anything like fluent.

 

The big leaps came when I was forced to speak German like getting a job in a purely german speaking environment and doing a degree here has helped a lot.

 

Still don't see the point of giving substantives a gender. But mine is not to question why...

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Well what can I say, lived in, or very near, Germany for three years with a German husband and a daughter at school in Germany and my German is... pants!

 

I can understand a lot more than I did and if asked a question have no problem answering as long as the answer is ja oder nein. But when it comes to speaking more I'm a problem. Its not so much that I dont have any idea what to say but actually being able to say it and have someone understand what I am saying. Not sure if your fans of the program Friends but if you are then Im a 'joey'!

 

We just end up in a verbal tennis match. Me saying a word and the husband and daighter repeating it back at me, so say correct. Well it sounds the same in my head if that count for naut.

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I married a German and moved here 11 years ago (okay, we did spend five of those years in the US) and I still can't keep up with Germans in conversation. Part of it may be that I've had to learn German and Bavarian at the same time, but still, the word order and the du/Sie thing do my head in. And really, how many words for "the" does any language need?

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It all depends on yourself really and if you're living in a German speaking country.

 

I could unsterstand everything after about 6 months, it took a bit longer before I could speak it fluently, but even years later although I speak fluent German and can even unterstand most dialects and accents, I still make "der, die, das den dem etc... " mistakes, something which will probably never change...

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I really think there are as many rule as exception in the German grammar. I think learning German for four months required more brain power that getting my engineering degree.

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I did a two month "superintensive" Goethe Institut course here after a couple of VHS evening courses (the first of which I dropped out of because it was just simply too hard) and yes it was bloody hard but enough to get my basic Zertifikat Deutsch.

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After three plus years of on-and-off intensive attempts at learning German I've come to a compromise with the language.

 

If I can understand the writen (novel / newspaper article): I'm very happy.

If I can pronounce / read out loud what I'm reading: fantastic.

If I can get my point across in writing: damn good.

and with speaking, I forget most grammar BS and just try to get the point across.

 

I stopped caring if I sound like an idiot. still I find most germans are very happy that an american has "learned german".

 

also, there are more difficult languages out there. Try Polish!!!

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German is hard to start with, which puts many beginners off from persevering with the language. The fact that grammar is SO different from what we, as English speakers are used to, is off-putting, especially if you never learnt Latin (Latin helps with declenations and the cases you take).

 

The GOOD NEWS is that it actually doesn't get much harder (unlike trying to learn English, which gets harder the more you learn). Once you have overcome the initial shock and have mastered basic grammmar it just sort of "clicks" and gets easier and easier.

 

I first started learning when i was twelve, got a really bad grade at "A-level" (mainly because my grammar sucks, despite being able to speak fluent German) and then studied here in Germany, which is really where everything camei into place.

 

You are in the right place to learn German, it is much easier here (in Germany) than at home and eventually it will "click" for you. So keep it up!

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Agree totally with OG - it's really hard at first, but once it clicks it's all really obvious. I think it's better to put the effort in at the beginning to really master the grammar. I know it's a bit boring at the time, but it definitely helps in the long run.

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I agree 100%. Once you've got the grammar down pretty well, then the rules work subconsciously. Work on grammar first, then worry about vocabulary.

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found german incredibly tough when i was young to learn the basics, but once the grammar was down pat, the rest came easily (which also was tough at a young age)

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