Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Any interest in helping me check out this site for learning German this summer?


If this sounds interesting, please let me know.

BERLIN! I thought I knew you....

Huffington Post

9 Things You Didn't Know About Berlin

Street art on the remains of the Berlin Wall
Graffiti art on the remains of the Berlin Wall
As renowned for the harrowing events of World War II as for its ultra-modern reinvention as an arts and culture hub, Berlin is one of Europe's most celebrated capital cities, drawing millions of tourists each year. A city of vibrant contrasts, there's more to Berlin than meets the eye. To get you started on your journey of discovery, here are nine things you probably didn't know about Berlin.
1. Berlin hasn't always been the capital
Berlin only became the official capital of Germany in 1990 after the Berlin Wall fell and the country was reunified, but it also served as the capital between 1871 and 1945. Throughout the Cold War era, though, Germany was split into West and East Germany, with Bonn elected capital of the West and Berlin remaining capital of the East.
2. The city's most popular tourist attraction no longer exists
The notorious Berlin Wall that segregated East and West Berlin for over 30 years remains one of the city's most popular tourist attractions, despite the fact that the wall itself no longer exists. After being triumphantly torn down in 1989, only a few short stretches of the wall remain standing, most notably the 1.3-kilometer section known as the East Side Gallery and the Berlin Wall Memorial.
3. Berlin is bigger than you think
While the city is renowned for its iconic architecture and pioneering arts scene, Berlin's sheer size is the talking point among first-time visitors. Covering an incredible 892 square kilometers, Berlin is around nine times the size of Paris and falls second only to London as Europe's largest city by population. The city also has two main centers (thanks to its former East-West divide), 18 universities and colleges and one of Europe's tallest buildings -- the Berliner Fernsehturm, or Berlin TV Tower.
4. Berlin has more canals than Amsterdam
The sprawling metropolis of Berlin isn't generally thought of as a riverside city, but with over 180 kilometers of waterways within city limits, it easily outsizes the famous canal networks of Amsterdam and Venice. In fact, Berlin has more canals than any other city in the world, connected by a staggering 1,700 bridges. It's no surprise, then, that cruising the River Spree is one of the best ways to take in the sights, and the river is also dotted with beaches, bars and swimming spots throughout the summer months.
5. Berlin has the world's largest Turkish population outside of Turkey
If you're wondering why the döner kebab is so prevalent on the streets of Berlin, it's because the city allegedly houses the world's largest Turkish population outside of Istanbul -- many of whom moved to the city in the 1960s to take advantage of the shortage of post-war workers. Legend has it that the döner kebab (or at least a variety of it) was actually invented in Berlin, and you'll find an abundance of kebab stalls, Turkish pizza outlets and Turkish restaurants all around the city.
6. 40% of Berlin is underground
With underground railway networks, elaborate World War II bunkers, escape tunnels, sewers and brewery cellars, it's estimated that 40% of Berlin's structures are underground, making the city almost twice as big as it appears on the surface. Best of all, many of the underground bunkers built during WWII are now open to tour groups, including some of the secret tunnels used by the Nazi party. The vast living complexes that exist beneath the city include bedrooms, bathrooms and even a labor room for pregnant women.
7. Berlin is a transport hub for Europe
Berlin Central Station, which opened in 2006 with a dramatic opening ceremony, is the biggest train station in Europe and serves as a transport hub not only for Germany's extensive train network but for the rest of the continent. In addition to taking the train to national destinations like Hamburg, Cologne and Munich, you can travel directly to places like Novosibirsk in Russia or Astana in Kazakhstan. It's not only the station that ranks among the continent's largest buildings, either -- Berlin's KaDeWe (Kaufhaus des Westens) is Europe's biggest department store, covering over 60,000 square meters.
8. Berlin's best art is on the streets
While the world-famous Pergamon Museum and the Alte Nationalgalerie are Berlin's flagship art museums, some of the city's most iconic artworks can be found on the street; Berlin's vibrant street art forms a key part of its UNESCO City of Design status. The graffiti art adorning East Side Gallery and the "Pink Man" mural by artist BLU are among the city's most famous and striking works, but keep your eyes peeled as you'll find plenty of unexpected gems. Inspired to explore the rest of Berlin's art scene? The city also has an incredible 175 museums and galleries to satisfy all tastes.
9. The world's largest cylindrical aquarium is in Berlin
One of Berlin's most unique attractions is the AquaDom, a 25-meter-high glass cylinder that houses over 1,500 exotic fish -- the largest aquarium of its kind in the world, found in the city's Radisson Blu Hotel. The most spectacular attraction, though, is the hotel's elevator, which tunnels through the center, allowing visitors an incredible 360-degree panoramic view of the tropical water world.
Contributed by Zoe Smith for Viator

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Netflix auf Deutsch!

So you are a Netflix fan.  But I find inspiration in a post from FluentU, which suggests that you should think about streaming films from the German versions of Netflix.

Sommersprosse:  Hier ist der Link            https://www.netflix.com/de/

There's lots to choose from, including popular TV shows from Germany from just about every genre to be found.  You'll find, just as your classmate, Jubies, commented yesterday, that you get fully absorbed in a TV show, and you pick up the context without really working at it.  Jubies writes:  It's like a brain workout without really doing anything.

Check out the news if you are a news hound, and you'll be exposed to the world through an entirely different lens.  Or check out a sitcom, such as the German version of Office, (Stromberg), if it's something you can stomach. At one point I became addicted to the romantic sitcom, Verliebt in Berlin (Ugly Betty), and bought the first 20 episodes.  (German Club?!)

I also love the German versions of fairy tales.  Many of them are available for streaming.

Listening is a wonderful comprehension builder.  I hope you'll consider sharing some of your listening adventures here.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

German TV Series to play in USA before Germany? That's a first!


Anna and Jörg Winger, the married couple who created the series “Deutschland 83.” CreditAndreas Meichsner for The New York Times

BERLIN — With its clunky rotary phones, vinyl-coated swivel chairs and wooden desks, the Stasi Museum, located in the former headquarters of the dreaded East German secret police, provided the perfect retro look for “Deutschland 83,” a new eight-part German television series set in the last throes of the Cold War. The show, which was filmed partly at the museum, makes its United States debut Wednesday on SundanceTV.
But the aesthetics mask something darker. “It was quite weird to go to this place if you know what terrible things happened there,” said Sylvester Groth, who plays a Stasi official in the series and may be best known for playing the Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels in “Inglourious Basterds.” As an East German citizen in the 1980s, Mr. Groth, now 57, himself was followed and intimidated by Stasi agents after defecting to the West during a run of theater performances in Salzburg, Austria.
“Deutschland 83,” which will run with subtitles on SundanceTV, may be the first German-language series to be picked up on American television. (SundanceTV said it was not aware of any others.) The show sheds light on a transformative time, when it felt as if the Cold War would never end yet in fact momentum was building for the collapse of the Berlin Wall six years later.
Two episodes of “Deutschland 83” were screened at the Berlin Film Festival in February to generally positive reviews. In the show, Martin Rauch (Jonas Nay), a young East German officer, is recruited by his aunt Lenora (Maria Schrader, a prominent director as well as the star of the 1999 film “Aimée & Jaguar”) to masquerade as an aide-de-camp to a West German general privy to NATO secrets.
Although the subject matter recalls the much-praised 2007 German film “The Lives of Others,” about a Stasi agent, “Deutschland 83” has a different feel. With humor, romance, and soap-opera-style plot devices, it captures a time when tensions between the Soviet Union and NATO soared over the arrival of Pershing II missiles in Europe, East Germany was heading toward financial collapse, and the Soviet military shot down a Korean Air Lines flight that it believed to be on a spy mission. A peace movement was in full swing in Europe, with the antiwar song “99 Luftballons” topping the West German pop charts (and soon becoming a smash hit, “99 Red Balloons,” in the United States.)
“I picked ’83 in part because of the music,” said Anna Winger, an American novelist who created the series with her German husband, Jörg Winger, the producer of a popular German television crime drama “Soko Leipzig” (“Homicide Leipzig”).


In “Deutschland 83” Jonas Nay plays an East German who is enlisted by his aunt (Maria Schrader), right, for a Stasi spy mission in the West. CreditConny Klein

On a recent afternoon, the Wingers strolled through the Stasi Museum, passing by a uniformed tour group from the German Air Force that was peering into displays of hidden recording devices.
Ms. Winger, 45, said the show was also inspired by her and her husband’s conversations about how they might tell their two daughters about the layers of history of Berlin, which has been transformed since German unification and where the couple have lived for more than a decade.
Both he and Ms. Winger, who is Jewish and grew up partly in Kenya and Mexico, said they had become weary of didactic German television programming that tends to dwell heavily on the Nazi past.


Sylvester Groth as a Stasi official. CreditLaura Deschner

“There’s so much focus in Germany on World War II that sometimes it feels like history ended in 1945,” Ms. Winger said. Not much in German popular culture, she added, “addresses how we got from 1945 to the period that we’re living in now, which is sort of an amazing time.”
Still, they wanted to tell a story with a twist, from the perspective of the East German spy. This drew in Christian Vesper, senior vice president for scripted programming at SundanceTV: “He believed in his mission and his country and yet wasn’t an evil guy,” he said. “He was just a young man doing what he thought was right — that is what made it interesting to us.” SundanceTV is a co-producer of “Deutschland 83” with Germany’s RTL channel, which will present the show this fall.
Mr. Nay, who plays Martin, the young spy, was born in 1990, the year after the Berlin Wall fell. “I only remember Germany as one country,” he said. “Everything that’s concerning the divided Germany is historic — it’s so far away.”
In researching his role, he said, he learned spy techniques like picking locks and doing the so-called brush pass, in which two people seem to be simply brushing past each other but are handing off spy material. A NATO expert was on the set during the filming to offer advice.
Mr. Nay plays Martin as nervous and charming, committed to his cause but distressed that he has to break ties with his mother and girlfriend. But if Martin comes across as likable, producers say the series is not suffused with “ostalgie,” which translates as a sentimental longing for the old East Germany.
“That’s the wrong word,” said Nico Hofmann, chairman of UFA Fiction, which produced the show at the renowned century-old Babelsberg studio outside Berlin. Over the course of its eight episodes, he said, the show rather evolves into an existential critique of the Cold War system.
The distribution rights for “Deutschland 83” have been sold widely in Europe but so far not in Russia. Before deciding whether to acquire the rights, Mr. Winger said, “they want to see Episode 8” — when fears of a nuclear strike are at their peak — “to see how the Communists look.”

Does anyone get the Sundance network?  
I'm hoping that the show is a success, so that Netflix, Amazon, or HULU will pick it up.

Here are the links to 




Sunday, June 7, 2015

10 German Tongue Twisters to Train Your Tongue in Perfect German

Remember tripping over tongue twisters as a kid?
Well, maybe it’s time to get used to them again.  If you’re down with your adjective endings, you’ve aced the subjunctive and even know one or two German slang phrases, it could be time to finally nail that all important pronunciation.

Tongue twisters, or Zungenbrecher, are a fantastic way to train your tongue in German pronunciation.  It’s not only language learners who use tongue twisters—even speech therapists use them to help train native speakers, so you’re in good company!

How Tongue Twisters Will Help Your German

The key to tongue twisters is the repetition in their sounds. This is the whole point of them: They repeat a bunch of really difficult sounds over and over, forcing your tongue to get to grips with them. After stumbling over the difficult phrases a few times, your tongue will eventually become used to the sounds. Once you can fluently say a tongue twister, you will be able to copy the sounds in your everyday spoken German.

Tongue twisters will also improve your memory and focus. The repetition will help to focus your brain on a single task. While this is good in your native language, it’s much more of a benefit in a foreign tongue. After a few tongue twisters, your brain will be in the German zone and tuned in for language practice.

How To Master Tongue Twisters

Being able to ace a German tongue twister may seem like an impossible task, but if you take things slowly you’ll soon realize just how easy they are to pick up.  If you have a native German speaker on hand, ask them to slowly read out a couple of tongue twisters. This way you’ll hear how they’re meant to sound. Don’t have a handy German? You can always look online for videos—YouTube has plenty of videos of Germans showing off their tongue twisting skills.

First things first, though—you need to start off small. Break the tongue twister down into manageable parts and work on these. Once you can say each part of the tongue twister clearly, start building it up and attempt the whole tongue twister. You can begin to speed things up once you’ve cracked it in its entirety.

10 German Tongue Twisters to Help Perfect Your German Accent

1. Fischers Fritze fischt frische Fische; Frische Fische fischt Fischers Fritze.

Translation: Fritz, the fisherman’s son, fishes for fresh fish; For fresh fish fishes Fritz, the fisherman’s son.

Yikes. Talk about throwing you in at the deep end, huh?  Okay, so there’s a lot going on in this one. Continually switching between the fi and fri sounds is hard enough, but there’s also the tricky sche which non-native speakers often struggle with. To tackle this one, take each word separately.

Once you can pronounce each individual word without any problems, begin to pair them up. Eventually—and don’t worry if this takes a lot of practice—you’ll be able to build up and say one sentence all at once. As your confidence rises, speed it up and impress your friends!

2. Brautkleid bleibt Brautkleid und Blaukraut bleibt Blaukraut. 

Translation: A wedding dress will always be a wedding dress and red cabbage will always be red cabbage.

All those b sounds are the potential pitfalls here. There’s also a sneaky br in there. Germans usually roll their r when it follows a consonant, something which is uncommon in English and can be difficult for an English speaker to correctly pronounce. Once you’ve nailed it in this tongue twister, it’ll come naturally in your spoken German.

3. Der Dachdecker deckt dein Dach, drum dank dem Dachdecker, der dein Dach deckt.

Translation: The roofer roofs your roof, so thank the roofer who roofs your roof.

So much alliteration! And it’s this alliteration that’s so often used in English tongue twisters too. There aren’t any overly complicated sounds in this one—it just requires perseverance to get over all those sounds. If you slow things down from the start you’ll be singing it before long.

4. Am Zehnten Zehnten um zehn Uhr zehn zogen zehn zahme Ziegen zehn Zentner Zucker zum Zoo.

Translation: On October 10th at 10:10, 10 tame goats pull 10 centners (a European unit of weight) of sugar to the zoo.

The German can be difficult for the native English speaker. We just don’t have a sound like it in our language. Once you know how to do it, it’s relatively easy to say—you just have to imagine that there’s an imaginary t in front of it, so you pronounce it as ts. This tongue twister becomes slightly easier to rattle off once you know this trick!

5. Acht alte Ameisen assen am Abend Ananas.

Translation: Eight old ants ate pineapples in the evening.

Again, this one shouldn’t be too difficult. The main point is being able to say all those a sounds in such a short span of time! One benefit of this twister is getting your brain used to pronouncing the German as ah—unlike an American ay sound.

6. Bierbrauer Bauer braut braunes Bier.

Translation: Beer brewing farmers brew brown beer.

Even more sounds! We’ve already seen these difficult and br sounds in tongue twister #2 on this list. This one ups the ante along with its br pronunciation

To master this one, take the words Bierbrauer, braut and braunes on their own and learn their pronunciations separately. Once you’ve conquered them individually, join the sentence back together and slowly take it on as a whole.

7. Graben Grabengräber Gruben?
Graben Grubengräber Gräben?
Grabengräber graben Gräben.
Grubengräber graben Gruben.

Translation: Do gravediggers dig ditches?
Do ditchdiggers dig graves?
Gravediggers dig graves.
Ditchdiggers dig ditches.

There are lots of vowel sounds jumping around in this mini poem-like twister. The umlaut on some of the a‘s changes their sound from ah to ay. Once you know this, the tongue twister becomes much simpler. But there are still some r sounds in there that need rolling—but if you’re this far down the list, you’ll have met them already!

8. Hottentottenpotentatentantenattentat 

Translation: Assassination of a Hottentot potentate’s aunt.

Who thought just one word would count as a tongue twister?! Welcome to the world of German compound words! Germans love joining their words together which results in some ridiculously long trains of letters just like the one above.

To have this word effortlessly trip off your tongue, you need to attack it as if it were smaller words. Take each of its component parts on their own: Hottentotten, Potentaten, Tanten, Attentat. As previously mentioned, say these very slowly until you know the pronunciation inside out. Then join them up into the one long word.

9. In Ulm, um Ulm, um Ulm herum.

Translation: In Ulm, around Ulm, all around Ulm.

None of the sounds in this sentence should be difficult for American tongues (apart from maybe that sneaky in herum, but by now you’re able to handle this, right?). The trick is being able to slip in the where needed. It’s not the most difficult tongue twister on this list, but it’s probably the most fun to say at full speed!

10. Im dichten Fichtendickicht sind dicke Fichten wichtig.

Translation: In the thick spruce thicket thick spruces are important.

For this tongue twister you need to be able to differentiate between ch and ck. The former is more of a guttural sound, one which we don’t have in English. The latter sound is pronounced just as we would say it.

It can be tricky interchanging these as quickly as is needed in this phrase but, as with all tongue twisters, speed is the key! Start off slowly and build it up until you can say it like a native!
Is your tongue tired yet?

Keep persevering with these tongue twisters. You’ll be amazed how effective they are for your speaking skills. With plenty of practice, you might even have a chance at beating a native speaker in a tongue twister competition.

After studying German and Philosophy at The University of Nottingham, Laura Harker relocated to Berlin in 2012. She now works as a freelance writer and is also assistant editor at Slow Travel Berlin.

Andre Broessel's Super-Solar-Energy Sun Tracker


CREDIT: Rawlemon

André Broessel’s latest invention looks like something out of a superhero movie. The bifrost device depicted in Thor, perhaps, or Eric Selvig’s wormhole machine in The Avengers. In reality, though, it’s a stand-alone solar energy generator. And if nothing else, it’s much more interesting to look at than your standard photovoltaic solar panel. 

But Broessel’s invention may be more than just aesthetically pleasing. According to a recent report in Fast Company, the German architect touts his orb-like system as being 35 percent more efficient than a standard panel, doing even better when combined with a tool for tracking the sun.

“For the last 40 years we have tried to capture this energy with PV panels,” Broessel says in the promotional video on his Indiegogo campaign for his company, Rawlemon. “But the earth is moving around the sun, and the fixed panel is losing its efficiency.”

The rotating glass orb, he says, brings in energy from the sun and concentrates it onto a small surface of tiny solar panels. The ball lens is able to concentrate and diffuse light on one small focal point, making it more sustainable (less material used to create solar cells, most of which are made from crystalline silicon) and more efficient. Additionally, Broessel says poor weather would not impact the device, because of a built-in weather tracking system.
CREDIT: Rawlemon

“We can squeeze more juice out of the sun,” Broessel says.

In terms of whether the device will actually bring meaningful improvements to the renewable energy sector to reduce the effects of man-made climate change, the outlook seems promising on its face. The amount of energy solar panels can derive from the sun is low compared to the energy that the sun can actually produce — some only convert about 20 percent of their available energy into electrical power — so a device that can better concentrate the sun’s energy would be surely welcome. And, as Stanford University’s associate director on energy and sustainable development Mark Thurber told the Wall Street Journal back in April, “the most intriguing renewable energy technologies are those that have the most room to improve.” In terms of solar, he said at the time, “perhaps concentrating solar power can make significant strides as we learn from the first large installations.”

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Die Hanse! = The Hanseatic League (North and Baltic Sea Trade Union from 1200 - 1500)

Zusammen sind wir stark!

Lübeck:  Königin - der - Hanse  
(The harbor city of) Lübeck in S-H was considered the "Queen  - of the - Hanseatic League"

das Koggeschiff  - cog ship

Kontore für sichere Lagerung
HQ's - office -  for secure storage

Ich kann Teil 2 noch nicht finden . . .rsb

Audio Programs in Review

by FluentU's 

Listen Up: The 5 Best Audio Programs for Learning a Language

It’s time to get back on the right track. As an adult, you might find it frustrating to struggle with language learning while young kids become fluent just like that. Or you've heard people say, "Kids absorb knowledge like a sponge."

So why can’t it be that easy for you?  Well actually, it sort of can.  Maybe not exactly as easy, but close to it. Back when your vocabulary was limited to “mama” and “dada,” listening was how you learned new words and phrases.

Anything you overheard, your brain soaked up, and eventually you repeated it back.
The same method will work for you as an adult, because that’s how your brain is wired to learn a language. There are plenty of other benefits to learning a language through listening, too.

Why Learn a Language Through Listening?

Learning a language by listening can greaty improve your success in speaking like a native and the speed at which you achieve your language goals.  Let’s take a look at some of the reasons for this.

Some of us just learn better that way

Do you learn best by listening?  If so, you’re not the only one. A lot of us are the same.  While some learn most efficiently by reading books and using flashcards, others are more attuned to aural learning (just a fancy term for learning by listening). For these people, using an audio CD or MP3 program is one of their best bets for becoming fluent. It’s also a great way to practice speaking the language by responding to audio prompts.

In fact, for people who learn best by listening, using other methods can be quite frustrating!
So if you know you’re an aural learner, don’t worry—there are plenty of resources out there for you, even if your brain is a little slower than when you were three years old.

It’s a scientifically proven way to learn a language (for all of us)

According to science, listening may be the best way to learn a language for everyone, regardless of their usual preferred language style. So it’s not just those who consider themselves aural learners who can benefit from listening. The rest of us can, to.  Studies have shown that being exposed to the spoken language helps the brain absorb it,  even if you don't understand what's being said!  

Research on how the brain processes language has led to the revelation that hearing a language could very well be the most important aspect of a language learning curriculum. It helps our brains adapt to unfamiliar pronunciations and new grammar structures.  (We may even be able to learn a language in our sleep, just by listening to it!) 

Still, you probably already know that learning a language takes a lot of time and dedication, so it’s important to know you’re putting in time and energy where it’s going to pay off the most. It’s good to realize that learning by listening is sure to bring about results.

There are lots of great resources out there

If an aural language learning experience is what gets you to fluency, then audio CD and MP3 programs are the resources that can take you there. In these programs, you hear words, phrases and sentences spoken to you. Practices and exercises give you the opportunity to use them yourself. These lessons increase in difficulty and complexity in a natural progression. This provides you with constant feedback about how to properly pronounce words and create sentence structures.
The best thing about audio programs is that you can start learning by listening at any level. No experience in the language? No problem! By listening to audio resources, your brain will start to pick it up right away.

You can easily mix audio with other methods

While listening may be a scientifically proven key to learning a language, combining audio programs with other methods will give your brain an extra boost.  A comprehensive language learning curriculum may also include textbooks, written exercises, in-person language practice, TV programs, computer tutorials and others.

FluentU combines audio with elements of all of the above by taking real-world videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turning them into personalized language learning lessons.
Using a combination of different approaches forces you think about language in different ways. It helps you master the breadth of language skills, from writing to participating in real conversation. Try different approaches and see what works for you. It’s not necessary to do everything—just what helps you make progress learning the language.

You can learn at home, during your commute or on the go

Learning a language using audio CD and MP3 programs is one of the most convenient ways to boost your fluency. You can listen to them practically anywhere—whether it’s in the car, during your workout or while doing chores around the house.

Bored on your commute? Waiting in line at the DMV? Sitting at home with nothing better to do? Turn on your audio language program and get learning! If you have a CD player, or a mobile device that plays MP3s, you can make the most of your do-nothing time with these programs.
Even if you’re just passively listening, your brain will still pick up the language.
So if you want to learn a new language, you may as well listen to your audio language programs whenever you find yourself idle. You may be surprised how much learning you can squeeze in!

Listen Up: The 5 Best Audio Programs for Learning a Language

At last, we reveal the top audio language learning programs that will skyrocket you to fluency! We carefully considered the options and selected these resources for their value, effectiveness and entertainment.

These audio resources are highly valuable for any type of learner. In order to really understand a language, you have to practice your ability to hear it and speak it, which are exactly the skills that audio programs test you on.

So listen up, and start acing your language now with audio language learning programs!


best audio language learning Listen Up: The 5 Best Audio Programs for Learning a Language

The gist of the Pimsleur approach is this:
  1. You hear the words and phrases in the target language.
  2. You hear them in your mother tongue.
  3. You translate the word from your mother tongue to the target language.
The course is based on research by Paul Pimsleur, a linguist who sought to discover the fastest way to learn a language. The length of each course varies from around 15 to 45 hours, depending on the language. The courses are broken up into half-hour sessions. Nearly everything is audio-based, and even the provided reading material is meant to be read along with the audio lessons. More than 50 languages are offered.

Pros: With the Pimsleur method, the pressure is on you to respond with the correct translations. This provides a built-in motivation system that inspires you to do better with every attempt. The material from previous lessons is repeated in subsequent levels, so there’s a lot of reinforcement.
Cons: There’s limited context provided in the lessons. Most of the vocabulary seems to be oriented toward people traveling for business. You’ll learn select words and phrases, but not necessarily those that would be most useful to you.

Levels: There are typically up to three or four levels, with 30 lessons per level.
Cost: Price varies by language and format. German, for example, is $450 for a four-level course on MP3 ($970 on CD). All prices are listed on the Pimsleur website.


best audio language learning Listen Up: The 5 Best Audio Programs for Learning a Language

iSpeak is an MP3 language learning program from McGraw-Hill that focuses simply on learning new words. The package for each language includes 1500 high-frequency words and phrases, all in MP3 format. Each comes with a visual cue to associate with the word that appears on the screen.
Simply load the program onto your MP3 player and select the word or phrase you want to hear. On an iPod, you’d find this by going to “Artist” and selecting from a list of themes, then to “Audio” and selecting from a list of topics.

Pros: iSpeak is compatible with iPod and most other MP3 players, so no matter your preference of device, you can use iSpeak to help you with your listening skills in the target language. The portability and simplicity of the program make it a perfect choice for travelers.

Cons: The program is limited, with just 1500 words and phrases. It doesn’t do much for improving grammar and building conversation skills. There are only a handful of languages available. Still, it’s a convenient way to pick up new terms in select languages, especially if you’re a beginner.
Levels: There are no distinct levels. Programs focus mainly on beginning-level vocabulary.
Cost: Programs are priced at $7-15.

Michel Thomas

learn french with music Listen Up: The 5 Best Audio Programs for Learning a Language

This audio-only method provides an opportunity to learn from a “teacher” who reads a lesson and asks you to repeat it. You’re “in class” with two other students also heard on the recording. The course introduces words and phrases that are explained in detail, which you later (along with the other two students) use to construct simple sentences. The total course for each language consists of 12 hours of audio.

Michel Thomas was a linguist and language teacher who spoke many languages and developed a system for rapid language learning. He was highly successful, with diplomats and celebrities numbering among his clients. These audio CDs are based on his methods.

Pros: Because there are other students recorded on the lessons, you get to feel like you’re really in class, and the progression seems natural. The Michel Thomas method is a more economical alternative to the Pimsleur method. The structure of the course gives you the tools to make real conversation in a short time.

Cons: The Michel Thomas method uses a lot of mnemonic devices to help you remember words and phrases. If this doesn’t work for you, it may seem tedious. For some, the pace might be too slow, since it’s dependent on the progress of the other two “students.”

Levels: There are no distinct levels, but the program progresses to intermediate difficulty.
Cost: The entire series of each language will run you about $75-100.

Living Language Drive Time

learn french with music1 Listen Up: The 5 Best Audio Programs for Learning a Language

The Living Language Method prides itself on giving language lessons that involve multiple senses. Its regular offerings include CDs and a book in multilevel packages that encompass audio, visual, written and interactive approaches to language learning. The company’s Drive Time series is an audio-based program designed for commuters and anyone looking for language lessons on the go.
Each language comes with eight conversational lessons that guide you through vocabulary warm-up exercises, examples and opportunities to practice. You also get a CD of vocabulary words and a listener’s guidebook with vocabulary lists, dialogue scripts and summaries.

Pros: The Drive Time series gives you a lot of bang for your buck. You’ll progress rapidly through increasingly challenging lessons for a fraction of the price of many other programs. If you like thorough explanations of new material, this course is for you.

Cons: It’s not as immersive as some other programs. The structure is very traditional, and with the explanations, there’s a lot of English on the recordings. Some learners may find the pace to be a little on the fast side.

Levels: The entire eight-disc series take you from Beginner to Advanced.
Cost: The price is about $20 for a basic package, and $35 for the Deluxe Package.


A well-known name in the linguistic world, Berlitz offers a variety of language learning programs, including those that focus on audio CDs. The focus of their programs are typically conversation-based and centered around real-life conversation. There’s less focus on vocabulary and grammar lists.
best audio language learning1 Listen Up: The 5 Best Audio Programs for Learning a Language

Berlitz has one-CD sets, like Spanish in 30 Days, that can get you started for an upcoming trip, as well as multi-CD sets like Italian Berlitz Basic that give more in-depth lessons. The contents of each CD can be easily downloaded to an iPod or MP3 player.

Pros: There are a lot of different Berlitz products to choose from. Using Berlitz means you’ll be able to get high-quality books published by the company to complement your audio learning. Berlitz uses the “direct” or “natural” method that emphasizes learning a language to be able to communicate. For those who want to start using a language right away, Berlitz gets straight to the point.
Cons: The quality of the materials on the audio language programs can vary from language to language. With more than 30 language offerings, you might not get what you expected.
best audio language learning2 Listen Up: The 5 Best Audio Programs for Learning a Language
Levels: Most of their audio-focused products are for beginners. Their Confident series caters to “advanced beginners.” Their textbooks, which come with a CD, come in beginner to advanced levels.
Cost: Price varies widely, but expect to spend $20-30 for one set.

Audio CDs and MP3s for language learning can be the next best thing to a personal tutor.
They’ll talk to you, prompt you and guide you along as you master speaking your new language. Plus, you can take them wherever you go!  Your language learning doesn’t have to stop in the classroom or at home.  Take it with you, increase your practice time and see your efforts pay off!

Friday, June 5, 2015

Short Guide to German slang

FEBRUARY 21, 2015

1.  A German doesn’t “cut school or work…he “makes blue” (Blau machen).
2. A German doesn’t “beat someone up”…he “mixes someone up” (Jemanden aufmischen).
3. A German doesn’t “make fun of you”…he “pulls you through the cacao” (Jemanden durch den Kakao ziehen).
4. It’s not “all Greek to a German”…he “only understands train station” (Nur Bahnhof verstehen).
5. A German doesn’t “turn you down” if you ask for a date…he will “give you a basket” (Einen Korb geben).
6. A German doesn’t have “a skeleton in his closet”…he has “dirt on the stick” (Dreck am Stecken haben).
7. A German woman does not have a “nice rack”…she has “a lot of wood in front of her shack” (Ordentlich Holz vor der Hütte haben).
8. A German is not just “slow on the uptake”…he has “a plank in front of his head” (Ein Brett vorm Kopf haben).
9. A German doesn’t “bite the dust”…he “bites the grass” (Ins Gras beißen).
10. Alternatively, he “hands in the spoon” (Den Löffel abgeben).
11. A German doesn’t “get on your nerves”…he “gets on your cookie” (Auf den Keks gehen).
12. A German doesn’t “commit a blunder”…he “steps in a bowl of grease” (Ins Fettnäpfchen treten).
13. A German doesn’t have a “sharp tongue”…he “has hair on his teeth” (Haare auf den Zähnen haben).
14. A German husband is not “henpecked”…he is a “slipper hero” (Pantoffelheld).
15. A German doesn’t “overcome his weaker self”…he overcomes his “inner pig-dog” (Den inneren Schweinehund überwinden).
16. A German doesn’t make “a mountain out of a mole hill”…he makes an “elephant out of a mosquito” (Aus einer Mücke einen Elefanten machen).
17. A German doesn’t have to “chose between the devil and the deep blue sea“… he has to “chose between pestilence and cholera” (Die Wahl zwischen Pest und Cholera haben).
18. A German is not told to “go jump in a lake“…he is told to “go where the pepper grows” (Geh doch dahin, wo der Pfeffer wächst).  So heisst ein tolles WiseGuys Lied.-rsvb
19. A German is not “friggin’ blind”…he has “tomatoes on his eyes” (Tomaten auf den Augen haben)