The data guy learns German

Many years ago I worked for a company headquartered in Germany.

I was able to go to Darmstadt for a short visit. I did learn a few German phrases, but I did not get around to learning much of the language.

I have always wanted to get around to learning how to read and write in  German, but I kept putting it off.

This year I have decided I am going to focus my personal journey on linguistics, and language processing. Learning another language may or may not help me as I get back into the text processing space, but from a meta perspective of understanding more about the process, we as humans have to go through in order to understand other languages will hopefully give me more insight into providing value to text analysis. Not to mention, most of the linguists I have known speak more than just one language.

I think focusing on learning another language for human conversation may help me as I focus more on language processing.

So I began my journey earlier this year.

The following are the resources that I have been using.
And a few other youtube folks.
The concepts taught in the book Fluent Forever 
       I encourage anyone interested in language learning to read this book. The main concepts in his technique are the following:
A transcription of "IPA" in the IPA
  • Learn pronunciation using the International Phonetic Alphabet
  •  Use flashcards that you make yourself. 
  • Focus on word frequency lists for learning vocabulary. The word Ich is more common than the word Pilz. You may be able to work out more if you know and understand a word that is used more frequently. 
  • Do not translate words from German to English. Draw pictures of the artifacts or concepts. For example, if you do a flashcard for the Sonne draw a picture like the one on the right

I do want to focus on this last point for a moment. I have not so far spent as much time as I would like putting together flashcards the way Gabriel Wyner suggests in the book above. However, what I do is when I take note of a new word I am learning, I only write the word in German, followed by a picture that means something to me that represents the item, artifact or concept.  I do not know if this method has the same effect as what he suggests, but it is what I am attempting. Ultimately I will probably create the full flashcards as he suggests with the word in Deutsch, the IPA pronunciation, and an image that represents the word.

I added one other thing to the list. "read german books". For any L1 language, we naturally increase our vocabulary as we read. I have started with some young adult readers and will work my way through more of them. I am already at the point where I can mostly understand the German text while looking up a few words. This expertise will continue to grow this year.

 I also intend to watch some television shows dubbed into German. Wikipedia also has some really good technical material that can be reviewed in both English and German. I plan to use that resource as much as possible to clarify the technical terms I work with daily.

Google translate is also very helpful because I may think I have a translation worked out but Google confirms the parts I had correct and shows me where I went wrong. 

So here goes my first bilingual post.

Mein Verständnis von Deutsch ist erst am Anfang. Ich hoffe, bald mehr Menschen auf Deutsch zu sprechen. Wenn Sie Deutsch sprechen, schreiben Sie mir bitte eine Nachricht.



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