Monday, June 19, 2006

Ich Liebe German: Advice on Language Training

I sometimes hear that one should take German (or French) as a course of study, rather than attempting to learn "reading" only. There seem to be two arguments for this: (1) You might as well learn to speak it. (2) Most people learn better when the "oral" accompanies the written.

Don't fall into this trap!

Today marked the beginning of the third week of Reading German at the University of Memphis (five days a week for five weeks, 1.5 hours a day plus mild homework). I highly, highly recommend such a course, particularly if you can find a teacher as good as Nele Hempel (she's transferring to UC Santa Barbara--a little too late for Brandon W, though). I've taught languages before (Spanish and English), so I've a leg up I suppose, but I really do think this is the way to go. The professor illustrated today how we are already ahead of her fourth semester German students in grammatical/syntax comprehension, paritcularly in sentence structure, phrases, and verb formation, which is by far the most difficult aspect of translating German. Granted we're all postgrads, but still, this is vastly superior to taking a huge amount of time to learn the language proper.

All we need know for reading at speed is vocabulary, and this can be added on one's own time. Translate a few times a week, add some vocab over a summer or semester or two, and wham, you can translate German for life.

We're using the expensive text German for Reading Knowledge, 5th ed., by Jannach and Kolb. I've heard April Wilson is also good, though much larger. While these are useful for individual study, I think the communitarian nature of a course, with the help of an authority make a good reading course very much worthwhile.

1 Comments:

Anonymous Jeremy said...

J.B., thanks for stopping by. I was in Hempel's German I class last year during the summer. I wanted to take German Reading this year but was out of the country. She's an excellent professor.

I've moved over to WordPress now!

Gruß

4:10 PM, August 07, 2006  

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