Learning German from DuoLingo: Day 75

Today is day 75 in my continuing effort to learn to read the German language by using the DuoLingo application.

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Schwestern (sisters): Pixabay License, source

As with my previous post, it's been a number of days between posts, so I can't remember the details from day to day, so I'll have to just give a general summary.

My goals for last week were to remain in the "Diamond" league, and get my learned word count over 500. I accomplished both goals. (for comparison, I believe that 1st grade Americans generally know about 6,000 words in English) The remainder of this post will describe some of the concepts that I've been learning.

But first, for your listening pleasure, here's a German language video of a Schubert composition, Der erlkönig, performed by Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau. @cmp2020 introduced me to this recording a number of years ago, and I have always enjoyed it. I look forward to a time when I may actually understand all of the lyrics. You may enjoy listening while you read the remainder of the post.

Two of the prominent words in the video, Vater (father) and Sohn (son), were covered in my recent DuoLingo lessons.

So now, on to the progress.

Today, at long last, I finally finished the "Conjunctions" category. I have to say that I hate hate hate hate conjunctions. I mean, I really hate them. I failed numerous lessons, and I still don't have any real understanding of the grammar. Sure, the meanings of the words are easy enough, but the way that words are rearranged in accordance with the conjunction seems haphazard and random. It's going to be a long time until I start to get a feel for this.

Other unlocked categories before milestone 3 include:

  • People 1
  • Question 2
  • Family 1

And unlocked categories after milestone 3 include:

  • Accusative Prepositions
  • Numbers 1
  • Food 2
  • The Dative Case
  • Money

I'm in level 1 for all categories up to "Numbers 1", I'm in level 0 for "Food 2", and I have not begun the remaining two. I ran ahead like that in order to run up my word count past 500, so I suppose my word count will now be fairly static for a while since I'm not going to be opening up any new categories any time soon.

In my previous post, I included words from the remaining "Milestone 2" categories, so here I'll list some words from "Accusative Prepositions" and "Numbers" (I haven't done enough lessons in "Food 2" to remember much).

Accusative Prepositions
GermanEnglish
durchby
fürfor (I remember this 'cause of für Elise.)
gegenagainst
ohnewithout
umto

The thing about accusative prepositions is that they always trigger the accusative case in articles and other "der words" (i.e. der switches to den and ein switches to einen - for masculine nouns only, ein stays as ein for neutral gendered nouns).

Numbers from one to ten

Eins, Zwei, Drei, Vier, Fünf, Sechs, Sieben, Acht, Neun, Zehn

The nice thing about numbers is that I learned to count to twenty in German when I was a kid, so at least I know how to pronounce the small ones. I'm still learning spelling, though.

In addition to the lessons in new categories, I also did a number of practice exercises in previously completed categories. This was done whenever I needed to replenish my hearts because of mistakes in the new categories, or when the old categories decayed away from completion and needed to be restored. I gather that this decay is the way that DuoLingo tries to get the words out of "short term memory" and into "long term memory".

Unfortunately, I have not been able to spend much time listening to music videos this week.

And finally, here are my current numbers in the app:

  • Hearts: 4
  • Streak: 75
  • XP today: 62
  • Crowns: 126
  • Crystals: 426
  • Lingots: 378
  • League: Diamond
  • XP in league: 318
  • Place in league: 42
  • Time left in league: 3D 0H 28M
  • Followers: 4
  • Words learned: 530 in app, 658 on web site

No new special characters in today's post, so the full table (so far) look like this:

Key presscharacter
ALT-0196Ä
ALT-0214Ö
ALT-0223ß
ALT-0228ä
ALT-0246ö
ALT-0252ü

If you want to learn a foreign language (or Klingon or High Valyrian), my recommendation for DuoLingo continues to be "thumbs up". According to the app, you can also use DuoLingo to learn dead or endangered languages like Latin, Navajo or Hawaiian.

My guess is that no one is going to learn to speak a language perfectly through DuoLingo, but I think it can provide a solid foundation that can be used to build additional knowledge through other, immersive techniques. I like the way that @jenniferalessio described it in a comment:

use the input / output method. "Listen, speak, write, see"

DuoLingo does offer the learner all four aspects of that method.