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5 Tips to Learn a Foreign Language


learning german for dummies:

That is me. I am the dummy. Learning German has not been the easiest for me. If it wasn't for Jesse and GoogleTranslate, I don't know where I would be right now. Sometimes I want to punch myself in the throat for choosing to learn Spanish throughout high school and college, like when someone speaks German all too quickly, using big words outside of my vocabulary. In those instances I'm forced to whip my face back to Jesse, eyes wide(r than usual) and brain confused. The only pro is that the day we go to a Spanish speaking country, I'll be the man in charge (HEYOO!).

But I really do want to become fluent while living abroad, it is on my bucket list, so I do my best to speak German when I can, regardless of sounding stupid occasionally. I meant, I had no prior knowledge of German before moving to Austria, so the learning curve has been pretty steep to say the least. But I have learned a thing or two from all my studies and now I will share whats been helpful to me!

1. Duolingo app.

It's the bomb.com. It's basically a mini version of Rosetta Stone. Maybe it's not so in- depth, but what do you expect, it's convenient, portable and it's free! You can study numerous languages at the same time, ranging from Spanish to Russian-- for the over achiever. It tracks your progress so every time you complete a lesson you build a streak--for the competitive. It allows you to practice your pronunciation, your writing, spelling, and reading-- for the thorough. And it updates your fluency percentage with every lesson that you complete (Not to brag, but I'm 32% fluent! WHAAAT WHATTT!). Get on it, check it out. You'll love it!

2. Have a speaking partner.

Or a tutor, or a friend that you can just practice speaking with. Mine is Jesse, for obvious reasons but there are groups (I found some on Facebook) that have tandem meet ups where you can meet at a cafe or restaurant and practice speaking to each other. It's nice to get your practice on in a chill environment.

3. Children's books, shows and music.

I work in a kindergarten, so besides learning all of the German nursery rhymes and songs during work, I started reading kid's books in my down time and learned a lot from them (this is not as pathetic as it sounds). Let's be real, I speak, hear and read German at a 4 year olds level so these little 'Pixi books' are kind of my jam right now. Plus, they are only 1€ at bookstores! Finally, there are tons of kids shows and songs on YouTube, that have subtitles so you can follow along and learn in a get-stuck- in- your- head kind of way.

4. Actively listen.

This seems like a weird one but it makes sense to me and maybe to some other expats submerged in a foreign language. It is exhausting trying to follow along in a conversation in a foreign language. Factor in that I have a mild attention disorder, things get rough if I sit in a room full of German speakers. I focus really hard for 20 minutes, trying to add words to my vocabulary and decipher meanings but then when my brain is on overload, I just drift off into my little la-la land. I have to really make the effort to stay in conversations. And when I do, I always pick up way more than I thought I could.

5. Take a course.

A more obvious choice out of the bunch and possibly the most effective. If you're ballin' on a budget the price could dissuade you from signing up though. A course could range anywhere from 250€- 1,000€. Sadly, I haven't taken the plunge yet but I do plan on it! I have heard good reviews on courses through ActiLingua Academy, Deutsch Akademie and Sprachzentrum.

There's nothing better than practicing it in every life; on the tram, ordering at a cafe, or at the gym. I know that I feel pretty self conscious about pronouncing the words incorrectly or not making any sense in my attempts to speak German, but I just have to go for it! I have to continue to tell myself that I won't get any better or any more comfortable unless I practice, practice, practice!

If you have any tips, apps, programs or anything that helped you learn, I would love to know about them! Like I said, I'm only 32% fluent, so I could use the help!

bussi, xoxo, Mia

#livingabroad #bucketlist #AmericaninVienna #learninggerman #fluentgerman #bilingual #Vienna #Wien #foreignlanguage #learnalanguage

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© 2015 Mia Seilern