(Kein) Fortschritt mit Deutsch – (no) progress with German

As I have mentioned here before, I have been learning German for over a year now. Unfortunately I have not progressed so far despite a lot of effort. There are many reasons for this but the main one is ironically the reason why I am learning German in the first place – my girlfriend.

Here are some things that I have done to learn German. I used both classical and modern methods to learn German. All of them are helpful but none of them pushed me forward sufficiently to be able to converse fluently auf Deutsch.


This was the first application on my mobile telephone. It is very easy to use, fun, well-designed and free of charge. I used it while travelling on the bus to and from work as well as other occasions where I had time to kill.

Duolingo is very good but it has a big flaw – it does not encourage users to speak the language which is the most important language skill. I learned a lot of words from Duolingo and got a good idea about German grammar but I did not get to speak except for some words or phrases that users are asked to say. It does not encourage speaking which is what I want to do.

There was a REALLY annoying bug on Duolingo. It would offer one word for you to learn but then in a later question it would not accept the word that it taught earlier. I tried it a few times but each time it said that my answer was wrong. This really annoyed me so I decided to uninstall the application from my telephone. I had completed the course twice. You have to keep the lessons active and complete in order for all of the lessons to be highlighted.

So in conclusion, while Duolingo is easy to use, looks great and teaches you words and some grammar, it doesn’t get users to speak which is the main way to learn languages. Also its annoying that it does not accept words that it teaches. I used it as much as I could but did not get me talking German. It was about as far as I could use it so it was no loss to uninstall it and move onto something else.

German classes

Since I now live in Germany and I was not satisfied with the applications and other resources that I was using to learn German, I decided to enrol in a German class. It was for eight weeks on Saturday mornings.

The class was at the A2 level which is for people with a little amount of German. There were ten people in the class from many countries – Korea, Poland, Nepal, Mexico, Cuba, Russia, Syria, Colombia, and me from Ireland. The students had different levels of German but we were all false beginners.

While I did learn some things in the class, unfortunately I was unhappy with my progress at the end of the eight classes. The reasons are simple. The school focuses on German grammar which for me is not very important. Don’t get me wrong – grammar is important but it is not the main thing that I needed. I wanted to learn conversational German.

The other reason why I did not like the class very much and why I did not learn so much is that the teacher annoyed me. She had a deep voice like a man, and she spoke too much, not giving the students enough opportunities to practice speaking. This was a disaster for language learning.

Needless to say I was disappointed with this class and chose not to do any more classes there. Their emphasis on German grammar ruined it for me.

Vocabulary stickers in my apartment

A nice language learning aid that I discovered earlier this year were German stickers to put on things and places around the apartment. There are different companies making these but the best ones that I found were Vocabulary Stickers.

The pack has four sheets of stickers in it for many household items and places such as the bathroom, the kitchen, the bedroom, knives, spoons, forks, clothes, shoes, etc.

It was fun to walk around my apartment placing the stickers on various things. Visitors to the apartment find them amusing. They think it is hilarious to see stickers aroud the kitchen and in the fridge showing the German names of things.

While nice to use stickers like this, the truth of the matter is that they do not teach German. They only teach the name of particular items. They are fun but they only offer a superficial knowledge of German.

The Vocabulary Stickers have some odd choices such as a sticker for skis. How many people have skis at home?


I bought an audio course last year called Glossika. It has many lessons but I found that the lessons are cold and a bit flawed. Some of the German translations do not match up with the English phrases. While it is a good system, I found them somewhat unenjoyable.

Another product that I discovered is Earworms audio lessons. They offer lessons in a few languages. The magic of their lessons is that they base their lessons in music. The idea is that languages are better learned if they are learned with music. The music makes the language stick in your head/ear like an earworm, hence the name.

I think that this idea is true. I bought two volumes of lessons at first and then a third volume. There are ten lessons in each volume. The lessons consist of a woman and man talking to each other while music is played behind them. The voices are warm and have a hint of flirtiness. It is clear that the actors are smiling when they talk unlike the Glossika lessons.

One nice touch, as an Irish person, is that Irish music is used for one of the tunes.

I like these lessons a lot. They are fun, short and they encourage the learner to repeat and learn. The lessons are focused on everyday situations such as asking directions, booking an hotel room, food and eating, numbers, shopping etc. They are very useful.

They need to be listened to frequently in order to learn from them. Unfortunately, I do not have the time to listen to them frequently enough.

The biggest problem why I am not learning German

The main reason why I am not progressing in German is nothing to do with the resources or the quality of classes. It is actually to do with my girlfriend. She loves to talk English. She finds it easier to speak with me in English rather than trying to speak to me in German that I will find difficult, or maybe impossible, to understand.

The reason I want to learn German is to be able to speak with her family and friends, but since my German is not good enough yet, she speaks with me in English. If I never speak German with her, I will never improve my German! It is the horrible vicious circle.

I am slowly, slowly, slowly learning and improving but for all the efforts that I have done and money that I have spent on lessons, books, and classes, my level of German should be much better.

I need to change tactics and talk more and hope for a reply in German from a gorgeous German lady 🙂

classes, Deutsch, Duolingo, Earworms, German, language learning, stickers, Vocabulary Stickers

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