Trying not to lose it

It’s been 2 weeks since I complained about losing the ability to speak German.

Since I’m trying to do more than just complain these days, I decided to do something about it. I took out my idea book to write ideas on How Not to Lose It.

Detour: I got the idea to write down ideas from James Altucher’s blog. I can’t recommend this enough. I send links to my college-aged son all the time and say you will learn more reading this than you will in school.

I had a bunch of ideas, but the main theme was to do something in German every day. Write something, translate something, learn a new word, listen to radio, listen to podcasts, talk with someone.

When you start looking at any of these things, it becomes apparent how enabling the Internet is. There are hundreds of German radio stations that stream their broadcasts. Hundreds of podcasts. Online dictionaries. Online language courses — for free!

Detour #2: There is a cool trend now, where universities are making course material available for free. Check out the OpenCourseWare Consortium.

Mainly I’ve been listening to radio. And through repetition trying to master some of the crazy (to me) grammar rules that just come naturally to native speakers.

And you know what? After just 2 weeks, a little bit every day has made a difference. My ear has become better at picking up and understanding the main points of the news broadcasts.

Oh, and I started talking to the cat in German. So far he hasn’t complained.



Filed under german, language, learning

3 responses to “Trying not to lose it

  1. Your post came not a moment too soon! I have to decide this week whether or not to continue with my French lessons. I’ve been concentrating on my blogs so I’ve been seeing my French lessons as a distraction rather than the other way around. My head just hasn’t been there. Too bad I don’t have a cat to speak to in French.

    • Brian

      I sometimes think: “if I only would have” been more consistent with learning, even just 30 minutes a day, over the last 5 years, how much more fluent would I be?

      I could say the same thing about lots of stuff. The main thing I’ve learned is that it takes time and persistence. It doesn’t have to be a huge time commitment. If you take the long term view, a little time, every day, makes a difference.

    • Brian

      Let me add to this: I was thinking about “lessons” and remembering that I loved going to German lessons. Partly this was because I was doing it at work, so it was a nice break to go do something else.

      I didn’t really like the homework, but I liked the ‘in-German’ lesson and the opportunity to speak.

      If I magically got a paid sabbatical from work, one of the ideas on my list of things “to do” would be to do language immersion for that time.

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