Sunday, January 6, 2013

Can I teach myself German?

As I explained, one of my New Year's Resolutions was to listen to films in German and try to reactivate the German I learned in college fifty years ago.

Five days later, where am I at?  I've listened to the first scene of The Green Mile with the German sound track and German subtitles at least seven or eight times.  (I would prefer a film that was originally filmed in German, but not having one at hand, I've settled on what I had.)  

My first impression is quite positive as I realize that I can understand more than I thought I would.  Words that I would have been unable to translate if I had seen them listed out of context speak to me and I can understand what is being said.  The subtitles help a lot and I would say that at this point I'm reading more than I'm listening.  But I do hear the German words and I'm able to tell when the subtitles don't correspond to what is being spoken.

After about three sessions, I decided to write down the words I didn't understand and which seemed important.  There are about nine of them.  Then I realized that if they are high frequency, I'll come across them again.  So I chose not to look them up in the dictionary. I will look them up the next time I encounter them.

A friend in Germany is sending me three German films with German subtitles.  I'm to choose the one that I like best and we will occasionally talk on skype so that she can answer questions I may have. In the meantime, I'm going to continue with The Green Mile, but I've decided to watch the whole film without stopping and repeating every scene. 

It seems to me that I'm not really translating from German to English, but getting a feel of the global meaning. Wie immer means "like always" and Wie finden sie das? means "How do you like this?"  I'm not the least bit worried about knowing how to translate Wie, since I'm certain that I've understood what was being said.

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