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German in Deutschland

November 30, 2011

Frankfurt Weihnachtsmarkt

From my perspective of having heard German my entire life, been to Germany so many times and having taken German lessons at different points in my childhood, I find that each time I go back I understand much more than I did before.  I can pretty much understand most conversations on a topical level – sometimes I understand full sentences – but since I don’t have an expansive vocabulary I still struggle.

With Fluenz I’ve only done a few lessons so far, so I realized pretty quickly that I don’t have many verbs on hand when I actually want to speak.  I was able to learn new verbs like laufen (to walk or run), wissen (to know), glauben (to think or believe) and bleiben (to stay – mainly in the form of bleibt when my aunt Maria told her dog Willie to stay) purely from hearing them all the time, but I didn’t know the proper conjugations to use, so I was hesitant to speak in German.

Assortment of fresh baked bread in German bakery
Of course I played around with German phrases with my mom, but in real-life situations, I found myself using nouns or numbers mainly.  Example: at the Bäckerei (bakery), I was able to ask for zwei Vollkornbrötchen (two vollkorn rolls – vollkorn being a whole grain), but that was about it.  Now I know that I need to put in extra work on learning as many verbs and their endless conjugations as possible.  Luckily there are always shortcuts for those of us who just want to learn it all now.  About.com’s Top 20 Most-Used German Verbs sums it up nicely.

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