Hacking German: 2 Months Later

Earlier this year, I have decided to resume in learning German more seriously. Today, I’m sharing with you a log of what I have learned so far. Recording your goals against your actual output not only helps keep track of things but it also somehow motivates you to achieve your mini-goals.

My ultimate goal for 2015? Pass the B1 exam of Goethe Institut towards the end of Q3 or start of Q4. To get there, these are what I have done so far…

JANUARY
Vocabulary: 2,622 words learned out of 1,000 words target (262% achievement); Trivia: If you know about 3,000 of the most common words in German, this means you’ve already covered 95% of the active German vocab.
One-on-one Lessons: 12 sessions, total of 6 hours via iTalki
Audio: Listened to about 10 episodes of Slow German
Other Resources: Read a bit of the January edition of Deutsch Perfekt.

Last year, I was using Anki to learn words but it was soooooo boring. I found that Memrise was better because even though both utilizes the spaced-repetition technique, I am able to create sort of virtual flashcards called mems so I can remember the words better. Although I have already passed the A1 level, it is difficult to learn German if you have a poor vocabulary. So for this month, I decided to beef up my vocab by memorizing as many words as possible including the gender of the word. If you are learning this language too, memorize the words with the gender because the gender is critical to building a sensible sentence.

If you have heard of Benny, the Irish dude from Fluent in 3 Months, he swears by speaking the language from day 1. It’s hard to do this with limited vocab. But if you have already learned a couple of words, speak! This is exactly why I decided to hire a tutor from iTalki — so that I am forced to speak and listen to German at least four times a week.

FEBRUARY
Vocabulary: 1,523 words learned out of 1,000 words target (152% achievement) and in case you are curious, I was reviewing the 2,622 words I learned in January on top the new words I am learning this month. I also learned how to conjugate 75 verbs in the present tense and past perfect.
One-on-one Lessons: 15 sessions, total of 7.5 hours via iTalki
Videos: Saw 28 episodes of Jojo sucht das Glück, 6 episodes of Pocoyo in German, 9 episodes of Extr@, and finished Tatort’s Glaube, Liebe, Tod (6 episodes).
Audio: Listened to 15 episodes of Slow German
Written Exercises: I said I was going to finish all the exercises from my German Grammar Drills book (there were 27 chapters). However, I only managed to tackle 8/27 chapters (30% achievement).
Other Resources: Finished 4 chapters of the mini-novel, Die Neue from Langenscheidt, did 1.5 chapters of Hueber’s Hören & Sprechen A1, and read about 40% of the February edition of Deutsch Perfekt.

What’s Next?
Grammar: For the month of March, my focus is to finish the exercises off my German Grammar Drills book and start working on the German Sentence Builder towards the end of the month.
Vocabulary: I will do a refresher of the words I already know, learn how to conjugate 25 more verbs in the present and past perfect tenses, and learn at least 500 more new words.
Speaking: I told my tutor that I’d like us to have more conversations this month instead of us talking about grammatical rules. My target is to have 18 sessions for this month. I have also found a language partner. He is an accountant from Köln. We have agreed to meet once a week for an hour via Skype and do a language exchange (so I will teach him English and he’ll teach me German). I’m very lucky because this guy has access to the e-magazine and audio of Deutsch Perfekt. This means, I don’t have to purchase it since he’s sending them to me for free. He also sent me loads of books for learning German.
Writing: I will also attempt to write at least 4 notebook entries this month. This is to help practice my writing skills.
Listening: My aim is to finish Die Neue, listen to at least 15 episodes of Slow German, finish watching the first season of Jojo sucht das Glück, and finish the remaining episodes of Extr@.
Reading: I want to start reading Erich Kästner’s Emil Und Die Detektive.

Hopefully, I will manage all these this month since I am switching jobs and will be leading a continuous improvement project. I honestly wish I could have a more intensive learning schedule but it’s hard when you also have to work full time.

What’s Next Next?
Aside from learning how to read Braille this year, I will of course continue to learn German after I obtain the B1 certificate and then work my way up to a C1 or C2 certificate. But in 2016, I said I will learn either French or Spanish next. I haven’t really decided yet. I am leaning towards Spanish but French seems to be a more sensible choice. (I still hate the pronunciation.)

Cross your fingers for me, will you? 🙂

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