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.

Lost In Translation

Ha ha ha what a day… I need to get a document translated and certified from English to German so I emailed a certified translator in Trier to ask whether they needed the original document immediately and how much it would cost.

Despite sending the email in English, their response came back in German, and my basic knowledge of the language told me my questions had remained unanswered.

So, I emailed the company back (in English) clearly reiterating my questions and requesting that due to my poor German skills I would prefer their reply to be in English.

So imagine my reaction when the reply came “Sehr geehrter Herr Wright. Bitte rufen Sie uns an” (please telephone us)! The real irony was their website is totally in English and proclaims they are able to translate to and from English. Maybe they want to charge me for translating their answers?!

I went elsewhere.

Language Learning Advice – From An Opera Singer

I just found a very useful webpage along with its partner website for those of you starting to learn or already learning German, or indeed any other language.

It is by a guy called Gabriel Wyner who is an opera singer and to help him in his job he taught himself to speak German, French and Italian fluently and in just a few years and is now attempting to learn Russian. Mr. Wyner gives simple. no-nonsense advice for normal human beings, something where many formalised language resources compiled by language teachers and ‘experts’ fail..

The introductory webpage which briefly states the method he uses to learn the languages can be found by clicking here, and his main website which offers some useful resources is here.