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  1. #1
    Lay the coin on my tongue SilkRoad's Avatar
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    Default Calling Germans, those who have lived in Germany, learning German, etc...

    I know there are a few Germans on this board, help me out please!

    I have been at least somewhat interested in learning some German for a long time. I would say that out of all the languages that I don't speak, it's the one that I don't speak the best. ie. no, I really do not speak or understand it, but I know a number of words and phrases and understand a little if I look at a page of writing. I think this is partly because my brother studied it - only for a year at uni, but he was really quite good and still uses it somewhat as it's sometimes useful in his work. He used to go around muttering strange phrases.

    My interest in learning German is kind of reviving of late and I am seriously thinking of taking some classes or doing some self-study, or both. Typically for me, literary obsessions seem to be unleashing this desire. (I eventually moved to London, where I now live, in large part because of an obsession which really got going when I was crazy about Sherlock Holmes in my teens). I've lately been reading the poetry of Paul Celan a good deal - although I started reading him years ago, I've only been seriously reading a lot of his poetry since last year. I've also started reading Rilke. In both cases, these are in English translation with facing German originals, and because I love poetry and love language, this helps me to get a bit more of the sense and sound of the originals. I also re-read The Neverending Story lately, fantastic...

    Anyway, if I did learn some German it would probably be a good while before it was much use for reading poetry...! But the upshot is that I find myself quite keen. Even to the point that I wonder if I may want to try living in Germany at some point. I've thought about it before. I've visited Germany several times now - Nuremberg (when very young), Munich, Frankfurt and around, Berlin, Cologne, Wiesbaden. It seems like every time I go I have a wonderful time and a very different experience. I've had a few German friends and got along very well with them. If I ever moved there I would probably be most interested in Berlin or Munich, based on my experiences so far. (I have an EU passport, so that part of it isn't a problem.)

    So...Germans or anyone who's lived there or learned German, a few questions:

    -Are there any good books or language courses you recommend for a beginner? What about the Goethe Institute - there's one in London! (I speak French and some Spanish, and a tiny bit of Finnish, so I have some experience learning languages.) I do have a German friend who does some teaching already, so that seems like a good prospect. I mentioned my interest to her and she's crazy busy at the moment with work, studies etc but might give me some lessons later in the year.

    -What would you say about living in Germany, especially for an English speaker who would probably have only limited German if/when she moved? Job opportunities? I'm pretty sure there is a lot of unemployment. Cities you'd recommend and why? Cost of living? etc. In terms of where I've lived so far in my life, I grew up in Canada, lived in Ireland for three years and now London for almost six. I also spent a lot of time in Finland as a child as my mom is from there.

    -Insights into German culture and character? Recommendations for foreigners? I'm half Finnish, and I think in some ways the Nordic countries are similar...

    -And...which other poets and writers should I be reading?! (just in translation for now!) I have read some German writers but would be interested in recommendations.

    Loads of questions, sorry, but any insights appreciated. This is a bit of a long term project. I am pretty sure I will be in London for at least another two years or so - and it's possible I'll stay permanently, or end up somewhere else. But at the least I think I will try to learn some German!
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  2. #2
    Superwoman Red Herring's Avatar
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    1. Goethe Institute in London. A lot of foreigners come to Heidelberg to learn German, several of my friends did some courses here. If I remember correctly, Tangram is a good book series that is often used in classes. If you want to teach yourself, I have heard a lot of praise for Rosetta, a lot depends on the method you prefer (how much grammar vs how much conversation, etc).

    2. Most Germans speak at least some English and will throw themselves at you to practice their skills, my foreign friends call it the German "linguistic vampirism". Unemployment is lower than in many other countries and teh economy is doing better then in Britain. Also, if you can afford living in London, you should be able to afford living anywhere . But do try to find a job before you get here, since hiring and firing is more regulated than in England and takes a while. A lot depends on your qualification and line of work. I have a Finnish friend in Munich who studied English and Spanish and is currently working as a PR agent for a small NGO...so anything is possible. That doesn't mean that it'll be easy or that there will be any guaratees.

    3. Germans can seem a bit reserved at first and have a different definition of the word "friend" than say Americans. What you would call a friend, they might consider an aquaintance. It often takes a lot of time to get into that inner circle, but when you're in , you're in. But if you have links to Scandinavia, you should be doing fine.

    4. I'll get back to you on the reading recommendations. I read little Celan, but his language does sound beautiful. Another great author with a very clear language that I sometimes recommend to beginners is Kafka. Let me think about it, I might come up with a little more later on.
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  3. #3
    Lay the coin on my tongue SilkRoad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Red Herring View Post
    1. Goethe Institute in London. A lot of foreigners come to Heidelberg to learn German, several of my friends did some courses here. If I remember correctly, Tangram is a good book series that is often used in classes. If you want to teach yourself, I have heard a lot of praise for Rosetta, a lot depends on the method you prefer (how much grammar vs how much conversation, etc).

    2. Most Germans speak at least some English and will throw themselves at you to practice their skills, my foreign friends call it the German "linguistic vampirism". Unemployment is lower than in many other countries and teh economy is doing better then in Britain. Also, if you can afford living in London, you should be able to afford living anywhere . But do try to find a job before you get here, since hiring and firing is more regulated than in England and takes a while. A lot depends on your qualification and line of work. I have a Finnish friend in Munich who studied English and Spanish and is currently working as a PR agent for a small NGO...so anything is possible. That doesn't mean that it'll be easy or that there will be any guaratees.

    3. Germans can seem a bit reserved at first and have a different definition of the word "friend" than say Americans. What you would call a friend, they might consider an aquaintance. It often takes a lot of time to get into that inner circle, but when you're in , you're in. But if you have links to Scandinavia, you should be doing fine.

    4. I'll get back to you on the reading recommendations. I read little Celan, but his language does sound beautiful. Another great author with a very clear language that I sometimes recommend to beginners is Kafka. Let me think about it, I might come up with a little more later on.
    Thanks for the tips!

    If I do decide to move, I think it will be a good while from now. I do love London, but it's just something I'm thinking about... It takes me a long time to make big decisions

    I have a BA (English lit, and a minor in French) and have been working in publishing companies, or on publishing FOR companies, for a few years now. Something book-related is best for me but I've also worked for airlines, in customer relations etc...

    I actually quite like the reserve thing and not being instant best buds with someone. Well, it can create initial loneliness, I suppose, which can be tough. But I find with the English too (for instance) it takes a while, but then you have a really good friend. The Finns are among the world's most reserved people so I'm used to that concept at least! (My mom is not only a Finn, but probably an INTJ...I wouldn't say she's a typical Finn, though...)

    I have friends in Berlin - I don't think I really know anyone else in Germany at the moment. But I have quite a good network of people in Europe now and friends always know friends, so that can help you have a little bit of a base and some practical help in new places (though I don't like to impose on people...)

    I used to be quite a big Kafka fan...in English of course...but it's been a while. I've also read The Tin Drum by Gunter Grass, All Quiet on the Western Front and The Black Obelisk by Remarque, etc. Paul Celan is just so fantastic. It has taken me years to get into him besides just a few poems, as he is very difficult, but the more time you spend in the Celanworld the more it speaks to you.

    I've heard a lot of good things about Rosetta for learning languages. In a way for me I think it would be good to take classes, though. I am not that self disciplined and studying on my own, with life being as busy as it is, is challenging. But perhaps I could get a book at least or something to start off with...
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  4. #4
    Senior Member Nicodemus's Avatar
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    I cannot answer #1 and #2 any better than the herring. As for #3, I should think that watching German television would give you some valuable insights into our 'culture': RTL, ProSieben, ARD, 3sat.

    #4: I second the Kafka recommendation. He is easy to understand and very good. Another is, of course, Goethe. If you are able to read Rilke's 'Duino Elegies', you should be able to handle 'Faust'. Goethe is our Shakespeare, and 'Faust' is genereally considered his opus magnum. If it must be poetry - not my main field of interest - I would think that Goethe, Schiller, Heinrich Heine, some of the Romantics (the Schlegel brothers, Tieck, Eichendorff, Novalis, Hölderlin) and Wilhelm Busch should give you a solid grounding, culturally speaking. As for personal recommendations, I would name the anthology 'Menschendämmerung' by Kurt Pinthus, a rather famous collection of expressionistic poems.

    The ultimate test for your German skills is this: If you can read 20 pages of 'Kritik der reinen Vernunft' by Immanuel Kant without screaming, you are good.

  5. #5
    Superwoman Red Herring's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nicodemus View Post
    The ultimate test for your German skills is this: If you can read 20 pages of 'Kritik der reinen Vernunft' by Immanuel Kant without screaming, you are good.
    ...I think few native speakers would pass that test. I do however know several foreigners who would pass it (all philo grads).
    The good life is one inspired by love and guided by knowledge. Neither love without knowledge, nor knowledge without love can produce a good life. - Bertrand Russell
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  6. #6
    Senior Member Nicodemus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Red Herring View Post
    ...I think few native speakers would pass that test. I do however know several foreigners who would pass it (all philo grads).
    It's a very good 'good'.

  7. #7
    Superwoman Red Herring's Avatar
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    Einleitung
    I. Von dem Unterschiede der reinen und empirischen Erkenntnis
    Daß alle unsere Erkenntnis mit der Erfahrung anfange, daran ist gar
    kein Zweifel; denn wodurch sollte das Erkenntnisvermögen sonst zur
    Ausübung erweckt werden, geschähe es nicht durch Gegenstände, die
    unsere Sinne rühren und teils von selbst Vorstellungen bewirken, teils
    unsere Verstandestätigkeit in Bewegung bringen, diese zu vergleichen,
    sie zu verknüpfen oder zu trennen, und so den rohen Stoff sinnlicher
    Eindrücke zu einer Erkenntnis der Gegenstände zu verarbeiten, die
    Erfahrung heißt? Der Zeit nach geht also keine Erkenntnis in uns vor
    der Erfahrung vorher, und mit dieser fängt alle an.

    Wenn aber gleich alle unsere Erkenntnis mit der Erfahrung anhebt, so
    entspringt sie darum doch nicht eben alle aus der Erfahrung. Denn
    es könnte wohl sein, daß selbst unsere Erfahrungserkenntnis ein
    Zusammengesetztes aus dem sei, was wir durch Eindrücke empfangen, und
    dem, was unser eigenes Erkenntnisvermögen (durch sinnliche Eindrücke
    bloß veranlaßt) aus sich selbst hergibt, welchen Zusatz wir von jenem
    Grundstoffe nicht eher unterscheiden, als bis lange Übung uns darauf
    aufmerksam und zur Absonderung desselben geschickt gemacht hat.

    Es ist also wenigstens eine der näheren Untersuchung noch benötigte
    und nicht auf den ersten Anschein sogleich abzufertigende Frage: ob es
    ein dergleichen von der Erfahrung und selbst von allen Eindrücken der
    Sinne unabhängiges Erkenntnis gebe. Man nennt solche Erkenntnisse a
    priori, und unterscheidet sie von den empirischen, die ihre Quellen a
    posteriori nämlich in der Erfahrung, haben.

    Aaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!

    Just kidding, it is actually more readable than I thought.
    The good life is one inspired by love and guided by knowledge. Neither love without knowledge, nor knowledge without love can produce a good life. - Bertrand Russell
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  8. #8
    resonance entropie's Avatar
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    It's important that you are informed at the bureau for foreign affairs or how its called here first, what degrees or qualifications you have are accepted in Germany. It can be a huge problem with our bureaucracy. Little_Linguist another forum member had issues with that. Other than that, come, germans are pretty curious about foreigners, we are well known for hospitality and our life is prosperous. We are barefaced happy these days here and have become an intellectualy open-minded civilization over the years.

    Here's an important video to watch

    [YOUTUBE="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aedC35whFCY"].[/YOUTUBE]
    [URL]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tEBvftJUwDw&t=0s[/URL]

  9. #9
    resonance entropie's Avatar
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    Here's another important thing to learn . But I think they teach you that in England too

    [YOUTUBE="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xsZ_1B0vtOo"].[/YOUTUBE]
    [URL]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tEBvftJUwDw&t=0s[/URL]

  10. #10
    Superwoman Red Herring's Avatar
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    Actually, there is something else I love to use as the ultimate test. A good friend despaired over it years ago and refused to ever try again, even though his German is excellent by now.

    [YOUTUBE="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2fnPsjGJRkU"]Faust - Prolog im Himmel[/YOUTUBE]

    This is just the prologue,but the only scene I could find with subtitles - don't get discouraged by the cheesy aesthetics, it's supposed to have a play-in-the-play-look.
    Mephisto (Gustaf Gründgens) owns this famous adaptation and outshines Faust himself (Will Quadflieg, not in this scene) by far. He also has the best lines.
    The good life is one inspired by love and guided by knowledge. Neither love without knowledge, nor knowledge without love can produce a good life. - Bertrand Russell
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