There is a reason, despite spending an abundant amount of hours in Tcl/Tk and Perl, I can only barely read the codebases of years past. I lost it. German wanes in that same space, but luckily I have kept up a routine that at least keeps me semi-useful. When I found out we were expecting a daughter, it reaffirmed my desire to ensure she was given the opportunity to have multiple languages in the home. With that I started a daily routine:
- Wake-up and use an App for 15-30 minutes
- Listen to the news in German
- Throughout the day translate things I am working on in my head
- Convert machines not directly my work to German (watch, laptops, terminals, Google Home, etc.)
My formative years were centred in Bitburg Germany where I was lucky enough to have my first proper job at a German ISP named Silyn-Tek. There I was able to work with native German speakers and have the opportunity to pick-up enough vocabulary to play German Help desk technician and, after a bit of time, take over Linux System Administrator roles.
It ruined me for my proper instruction at my High School as my new German friends taught me all the improper ways to speak, but alas it was the opportunity of a lifetime and something I will never forget.
It wasn’t until I found myself back in Berlin and Munich for work that I realised just how far my German skills had fallen. What was once a second nature flip in my head had become a struggle to recall basic sentence structure. Late last year I decided to get serious again about brushing up and getting current before my daughter arrived.
So, how do you stay current with a language you only rarely get to speak in an area where so few people talk? Practice!
These are my recommendations, but your mileage may vary. Be aware, I came with a solid pronunciation foundation from living in Germany for years.
- A great free way to study, but highly unlikely from my perspective you would walk away being able to say much of anything useful with a native speaker. It was my every day warm-up app, but after finishing the entire lesson plan, it was clear I needed something more helpful.
- Rosetta Stone
- DW Deutsch Lernen
- The app doesn’t work well offline or on mobile, but this is my CEFRL check-in point to make sure I am working towards my B2 level.
- Langsam Gesprochene Nachrichten
- After my morning app run routine, I listen to this German news podcast. The news is spoken slowly and purposefully that makes it easy for me to fill in gaps with things I don’t know. On top of that, it is nice to hear a perspective from across the pond. This has supplanted my morning BBC radio listen.
- Easy German
- Without being in Germany, it is tough to get passing German conversations. These really help with tuning my ear.
- Don’t Trust the Rabbit
- Less serious and sprinkled with humour to keep you engaged and listening. Trixie is great and engaging.
- DW Deutsch
- Not only is there App super useful, but their News and Documentaries are world class. I highly enjoy their English documentaries also.
Movies & TV
- Deutschland 83/86
- Even if you have no interest in learning German, the show is AMAZING. As a period piece centred in the Cold War era, the acting and production are fantastic.
- Babylon Berlin
- Unsere Mütter, unsere Väter (Generation War)
- Ludwig II
- Even my Wife trudged through this in Greman due to how gripping it was.