Do Germans Have A Sense Of Humour?

Do Germans have a sense of humour? This can be the subject of a very long debate, but the BBC Travel website has gone to some lengths in explaining things in a very interesting article titled “Why people think Germans aren’t funny”.

The article gives some very plausible explanations as to why German humour isn’t funny to English speakers and vice versa. Click here to go to the article.

Tips For Learning A New Language

I have been rather sloppy at maintaining Mosel Musings over the last year and please accept my sincere apologies for that. I will spare you the excuses even though I do have my personal reasons for the absence. I also promised some time ago to give a review of the language courses I did last year and sadly I still have not got around to that, but they will happen as soon as I get more time.

However, a colleague is thinking of moving to another country and today I was chatting to her about my language learning experiences. I gave her several pointers of the things I found most helpful and I thought some of the readers of Mosel Musings might also find them useful if they are learning German or indeed any other language.

So, without further ado, here are my tips for language learning novices: Continue reading

Germany And Vegetarianism?

One thing that struck me when I first came to Germany was that it is not exactly a safe haven for vegetarians. Pork features in so many dishes including the humble fried potato, and non-meat eaters are not exactly spoiled for choice as menus rarely offer anything which does not comprise a huge slab of animal fried in fat from another. So I had to laugh when I read this article in The Local – given what is illustrated in that, I am now really grateful I am a meat eater!

Swapping German Beer For English Tea

I suspect many of you who drive to Germany for holidays or whatever are guilty of this. My best mate and his three sons came to visit from England at the weekend and they brought over several month’s supply Tetley tea bags, English bacon and Cheddar cheese.

As you can see, rather than taking the truck back empty they took advantage of the cheap booze here. No Riesling made it onto the truck – we polished the whole lot off at the weekend…

My German Learning Progress – Update

Well, that is week one of my two-week intensive German studies over, and it has been one of the busiest weeks of my life.

I am staying in the beautiful home of the teacher (actually, she is the school owner) and her husband, and each day comprises one-on-one lessons from 9am to around 4pm. Meals are taken with the family, and free time is also spent predominantly with them.

Being private tuition as opposed to class based lessons, the programme is tailored to my particular needs, and in my case it is a combination of grammar, phonetics and comprehension. Of course, I am finding the German grammar the hardest element to get to grips with, but also the fact that the entire day is pretty much solid German means I am feeling mentally exhausted quite often and on occasions emotionally drained too. The latter was a surprise to me – on Wednesday evening I just felt like jelly and incredibly homesick to the point where I thought to myself “why the hell am I doing this?”. I think this was the result of exhaustion from the intensive studies and the fact that it started to hit me that all my efforts to date really have only lightly scratched the surface of the vast sphere of the German language. My teacher came to the rescue and after half an hour or so I was back on track and ready to face yet another German social gathering, but I have to admit there are still occasions when I really feel I need to be alone but cannot without appearing rude. Continue reading

My German Learning Progress…

I previously published a number of posts on everyone’s favourite subject – German language learning. It was my intention to embark on a combination of systematic and diligent self-study coupled with using various apps and other types of software to support my efforts. Here is an update on my progress… Continue reading

German Civil And Fiscal Codes – In English

I recently stumbled upon a website which I could have done with a couple of years ago. It contains translations of the German Civil Code and is useful for checking up on things relating to landlord and tenant rights, contracts, etc. It is part of the official website of the “Bundesministerium der Justiz und für Verbraucherschutz” (try saying that without stuttering) or “Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Affairs”.

Of course, it is no substitute for proper legal advice when something really goes wrong, but it at least gives a means to check on what you are being told rather than having to rely on others for opinions or translations, and it is better than any Google translation.

The website can be found here. Similarly, translations of much of the German Fiscal Code can be found here.

German Wine Terms Pronunciation

For those of you who might be struggling, here is a very useful little video produced by the Deutsches Weininstitut (German Wine Institute) on how to pronounce the various German wine terms and their meanings:

To see their website which has a host of information on German wines in general (in English) click here.

Ich Will Deutsch Lernen (I Want To Learn German)

My German learning progress has been rather sketchy over the last few months. Of course, I could blame it on work, travel, family commitments and the like but when I sit back and analyse it, that is utter rubbish as I still manage to find time to sit gawking at the telly. I suspect that is the case for many of us and sadly it is very easy to fall into the habit of staring aimlessly at some daft action movie than to challenge our intellects by studying a language.

In my defense however, my work has kept me overseas for extended periods of time, and therefore I neither need or even hear German that often, so the incentive to learn it has not really been there. Well, that is my argument and I’m sticking to it. However, my impending permanent move back to Germany has started to give me a bit of a kick up the rear end and I realise that I really do need to brush up on what I have learned already and start picking up new stuff.

So, in my panic, I came across another free learning resource which looks quite promising. It is a website called “Ich will Deutsch lernen” (i.e. “I want to learn German”) and is sponsored by the Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (Federal Ministry of Education and Research). It takes your from total beginner to level B1, and includes lots of real video footage so you will hear native speakers conversing. It also includes a 45 episode “websoap” called “Schnitzel und Dolmades”. As with most of these sites, you need to register to access the full content, but given it is free that is no hardship. If you feel uncomfortable with registering, it is easy enough to create another free email account and use that along with a false name, etc.

I will be giving it a try over the coming days (well, probably weeks knowing me) and will write my findings and opinions in future posts. If you are interested in giving it a go, the website is here and I would be interested to receive feedback from anyone else who tries it.