Take Me to Those German Castles

I saw the new Beauty and the Beast in the movie theater a few weeks ago. I already want to watch it again. And again and again. It’s a gorgeous, nearly flawless movie. I’ve seen the Disney animated original more times than I can count, but it was only upon seeing the new one that I began to realize how enchanted I am with castles.

It got me wondering whether America has any castles. A quick Google search led me to “The 12 Most Beautiful Castles in the United States.” One of them, the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina, I have actually visited. It was incredible. Still, I’m more enamored by all the Instagram photos I’ve seen of castles in Germany. Take me there.

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Where I Am in My Journey to Learn German: March 2017

If you’ve read some of my other blog posts, you’ll know that I started learning German at the end of 2015 through Duolingo. In 2016, I went through the Pimsleur series. Today, I do a little bit of this and a little bit of that to keep progressing in my journey to learn German. I haven’t taken a test in a while, but I’m likely at A2 level, which means I’m no longer a beginner but am approaching intermediate level.

I know 100+ verbs and a few hundred more nouns, adjectives and adverbs. I understand the basics of German grammar. I can string together a simple sentence although I may leave out a word here and there due to some oddities in the German language, such as separable verbs, reflexive pronouns that need to accompany certain verbs, and so forth.

My Instagram language is set to German, so I’m always tapping the “Übersetzung Anzeigen”option to see if I can correctly translate back and forth between German and English Instagram captions. I assume Instagram uses something similar to Google Translate, so I’m obviously not naive to the fact that the translations probably aren’t 100% accurate. Frankly, I don’t care, though. I am constantly learning new vocabulary through my favorite social media channel, so I’ll take a less-than-perfect translation.

How would I hold up in a conversation with a native speaker? Nicht so gut, I’d guess. Maybe someday soon I’ll actually do some Skype lessons or go to a German Meetup in Dallas. For now, I’m proud of the progress I’m making for someone as busy as I am. Learning German is my favorite hobby, and I’m basking in the journey of learning it rather than fretting about not being more fluent yet.

German Restaurant Review: Kuby’s in Dallas, TX

My husband and I took PTO yesterday and today, so yesterday we went to Kuby’s Sausage House and European Market in Dallas, Texas. It’s in a shopping plaza not too far from SMU. As you approach the market, even before you see the sign, the building’s German-looking exterior is a dead giveaway that you’ve arrived at Kuby’s.

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Kuby’s is both a European market and a German restaurant, so it offers all the traditional German cuisine you’d imagine eating there: wursts, schnitzels, sauerkraut, cabbage, potato salad and more. In my opinion, German food doesn’t look appetizing. It’s hard to make a bratwurst or schnitzel appear Instagram-worthy. Screen Shot 2017-03-14 at 11.56.18 AM

That being said, our meal was hearty, delicious and inexpensive. In fact, we liked it so much that we’re going back today and taking our son, nephew and mother/mother-in-law.

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As you can see above, the menu has a few German words and phrases, most of which I can understand even without the translation provided (e.g., Spezialitaeten des Haus, Kinder Teller, etc.). I wish more of it had been in German, but alas, we’re not in Germany. There’s more German on signage inside the restaurant, so today I plan to be more observant and absorb more of the language within.

For a family-owned business that’s been around since 1728, Kuby’s provided a pleasant and unique cultural experience. If you’re visiting or local to Dallas, swing by for dinner or simply a treat!

Buckling Down and Learning the Language

You know what’s fun, easy and addictive? Reading articles, watching videos, and listening to podcasts about language learning but not actually buckling down and learning the language. I’m guilty of this.

Studying about the language learning process is enthralling. Learning new memory techniques, study methods, and shortcuts can entertain me for hours. Those are hours, though, that I’m not putting toward my end goal of learning German.

This weekend, I resolve to keep my language research (learning about language learning) and my language study (learning the German language) at about 50/50. The former keeps me motivated and inspired. The latter keeps me progressing forward in being able to communicate in my target language. Maybe another research-t0-study ratio works better for you, and that’s OK. Being self aware and staying on track toward your specific language learning goals is key.

Hab ein schönes Wochenende. Und viel Glück in your language journey!

I Gave Up Facebook to Learn a Language

If you struggle with having enough time to learn a language, it’s time to assess how you’re spending your day. If you’re working three jobs, taking care of an elderly parent, and raising children, I understand that you may not have the time, or the mental energy, to learn a new language.

For the rest of us, though, a busy schedule is no excuse for not learning a language. If you’re really serious about language learning, you’ll find a way to better prioritize your time.

As a new mom with a full-time job in 2015, I knew I’d need to give up something in order to add language learning into my day. It was then that I decided to give up Facebook. I had joined Facebook in 2005 as a freshman at the University of Arkansas. For 10 years, I was active on there — posting, commenting, sharing, liking, poking, and so forth.

Over time, the value of Facebook in my life began to level off and then decline. Using Facebook wasn’t helping me grow as a person, so it was only natural that I break up with Facebook in order to start my relationship with language learning.

I quit Facebook in 2015 for the purpose of replacing the time I’d spent on there with my new hobby, learning German. Today, I have a Facebook account and log in almost daily, but I only have two “friends” on there, and I mainly follow pages related to language learning.

If language learning is a goal of yours — or perhaps a 2017 New Year’s resolution that you haven’t started yet — my question to you is this: What will you give up to make this dream happen?

Feel free to leave a comment about what you’ve sacrificed in order to learn a language (or embark on any other type of dream, journey or goal). I’m curious to know!

Post in German: Heute ist Rosenmontag

In German:

Heute ist Rosenmontag. Mein Sohn hat sein Elefantenkostüm getragen. Das Rosenmontagthema war Zirkus. Morgen ist Faschingsdienstag. Mein Sohn wird seinen Elefantenkostüm wieder anziehen.

In English:

Today is Rosenmontag. My son wore his elephant costume. The Rosenmontag theme was a circus. Tomorrow is Carnival Day. My son will put on his elephant costume again.
Corrections in German made by a Lang-8 user.

100-Word Book Review: 101 German Verbs: The Art of Conjugation

If you’re a beginner German learner, grab a copy of  101 German Verbs: The Art of Conjugation. I got mine at Half Price Books, but it’s also available on Amazon. Each page highlights a different verb with a corresponding graphic that depicts, and even artistically spells out, the verb. With so many vocabulary books lacking pictures, 101 German Verbs stands out from the rest.

In addition to the graphical representation of each verb, each page lists out that verb’s conjugation in an easy-to-read table. The vibrant colors and the quirky photos make verb study fun and the actual verbs, easy to remember. It’s almost as if you’re reading a comic book instead of flipping through yet another boring verb guide.

Other books in the 101 Language Series:

101 Spanish Verbs: The Art of Conjugation
101 French Verbs: The Art of Conjugation
101 Italian Verbs: The Art of Conjugation

Catch me on Instagram at @YearofGerman to see more of my language learning journey.