The Struggle: Learning Some Basic German

If you’ve been following this blog, you’ll know that I’m going to be flying away to Germany for graduate school soon. While my classes will all be in English and my study mates should have a good grasp of English, I still want to learn German.

Although I began my short little life thinking that English is the best language and everyone in the world speaks it, I changed my mind in high school when I started my journey into Spanish. I hated it at first, and then I loved it as it came more easily to me.

When I got to college, I learned that my school offered Arabic. I already had the language bug, and of the many languages I have wanted to learn, Arabic is near the top of my list. After one semester of Arabic, the department was cut at my school. I stopped taking a language… until my second year of college when I started Spanish again.

So, my life story aside, I have formally studied two languages, and now want to start German. Though this seems daunting, it’s really not.

I discovered Duolingo about three years ago. This amazing program teaches you a language by combining different exercises all at once to strengthen written, listening, and speaking skills.

Duolingo offers several different languages for English speakers, with more being developed and released all the time. Of course, if you want to test yourself, you can try things like learning Portuguese using the French language. The really awesome thing about Duolingo is their mission: completely free language education available to anyone, anywhere with access to the internet.

There are different skill sets (Animals, Numbers, Prepositions, Future Perfect, etc.) with shorter lessons in them to make the information overload manageable. All of the different skills build a “tree” for each language that you want to learn. I completed the Spanish tree before going to Mexico, and it sure did help to brush up!

German is a new one for me, and I’ve been working on it for a little while now. However, after a nastily exhausting 77 hour work week, I stopped my steady progress. Now, three weeks later, I desperately need to pick it up again since I only have 25 more days until I leave for Germany! Duolingo will help me to learn some basic German, though it is by no means going to make me perfectly fluent or prepared for regional dialects. Here’s to hoping I can get by with basic self-taught German!


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