OT: Learning German?

Posted by: Piano World

OT: Learning German? - 10/08/10 09:22 AM

As many of you know, we are putting together a group tour of European Piano Makers, Music Museums, Composers Homes, Castles, etc.

We will be touring Steingraeber, Bluthner, Hamburg Steinway, and Bosendorfer.
Tour Details Here

Our tour will be focused on Germany and Austria.
While we will have an english speaking guide I suspect most Germans & Austrians speak ... German :-)

As a visitor to their countries I'd like to be able to speak the language, at least enough to carry on a simple conversation. You know, important stuff like ... bathroom, piano, hotel, restaurant, beer.

I thought of Rosetta Stone, but the courses are expensive.

Any suggestions for a reasonably priced course for learning German?
Posted by: James Senior

Re: OT: Learning German? - 10/08/10 09:28 AM

'Sprechen sie Englische' will cover you in 99.999% cases :-)
Posted by: the nosy ape

Re: OT: Learning German? - 10/08/10 09:55 AM

Do you mean to the point that you can carry on a conversation? Community colleges and adult education organizations often offer reasonably priced courses.

If you just want "survival German" then I would think one of those Berlitz phrase books should get you through.

I learned most of the German I know from a girl friend in college who was German, but the bulk of it would not be useful for most tourists wink.
Posted by: Dave Horne

Re: OT: Learning German? - 10/08/10 10:01 AM

It you're really serious about learning another language I would suggest you hire someone privately to spend a few hours with you everyday to help you with typical conversations.

When I first moved to the Netherlands I attended a two week, very expensive course which immersed me six hours or so per day. It cost a small fortune.

If I had to do it all over again I would have hired someone to teach me for a few hours every day.

Unfortunately if you are not exposed to the language in question on a daily basis it's going to be difficult to become proficient. The Dutch speak English so well because they have so many English speaking programs on their TV. They hear it every day. Unless you spend many hours watching German television every day it's going to be an expensive language course no matter how you cut it.

Hire someone privately to teach you. My two Euro cents.
Posted by: Rank Piano Amateur

Re: OT: Learning German? - 10/08/10 10:18 AM

I expect that most Germans and Austrians speak English, so there should not be a problem On the other hand, learning another language is always a worthy exercise!
Posted by: Piano World

Re: OT: Learning German? - 10/08/10 10:24 AM

Thanks everyone, keep the suggestions coming.

I'm just looking for enough to get by on a very basic level.
First, it would be fun, second I'd like to be able to show some respect to our hosts.

We will only be there for 12 days, most of which will be spent with our group and our english speaking tour guide.

I realize Europeans often speak more than one language, due in part I'd imagine to the fact you can visit 6 countries in an area about the size of New England (a fraction of the United States in the northeast).

Posted by: Dave Horne

Re: OT: Learning German? - 10/08/10 10:38 AM

... one more thing, tipping over here is not like in the US. You don't automatically calculate 15 percent and go from there.

Folks are paid very well here and we typically round up. If the dinner comes to €38 we'll leave a €2 tip.

I have not encountered tips being included in the bill in Germany or Holland but have paid a 'table setting charge' in Italy. I guess they thought we wouldn't tip and added that extra charge to the bill. In that instance I left nothing.
Posted by: Piano World

Re: OT: Learning German? - 10/08/10 10:50 AM

Originally Posted By: Dave Horne
... one more thing, tipping over here is not like in the US. You don't automatically calculate 15 percent and go from there.

Folks are paid very well here and we typically round up. If the dinner comes to €38 we'll leave a €2 tip.

I have not encountered tips being included in the bill in Germany or Holland but have paid a 'table setting charge' in Italy. I guess they thought we wouldn't tip and added that extra charge to the bill. In that instance I left nothing.


Thanks Dave.

I find it fascinating that you live in the Netherlands and rattled off 3 other countries as if they were within a few hundred km of you. Oh wait, they are :-)

I'm so looking forward to my first visit to Europe, I've a feeling it won't be my last.
Posted by: Victor25

Re: OT: Learning German? - 10/08/10 11:35 AM

Europe is awesome, but you could spend a lifetime exploring every single country, they truly are so different.
Most young germans are actually quite capable of speaking english. They do however voice-over a lot of the programs and movies, which in the Netherlands never happens (only for children movies), we always use subtitles.
Posted by: Piano World

Re: OT: Learning German? - 10/08/10 11:51 AM

Originally Posted By: Victor25
Europe is awesome, but you could spend a lifetime exploring every single country, they truly are so different.


No doubt.

I love architecture, history, antiques, music, food, and interesting people.
I'm afraid I'll be on overload in Europe, and may just want to stay :-)

All I need is a high-speed Internet connection and I could run Piano World from anywhere.
Posted by: Entheo

Re: OT: Learning German? - 10/08/10 12:00 PM

my wife & i did a cycling trip along the danube this summer; munich to vienna. the pimsleur approach is by far the best and least expensive (audio course); intro course only $10:

http://www.pimsleurapproach.com/
Posted by: AJB

Re: OT: Learning German? - 10/08/10 12:12 PM

When I learnt German I use the Michel Thomas course, which is available by CD or on-line.

I have some MP3 German lessons which I am happy to email to you Frank (but not dozens of people) if you PM me a private email address.

Also some common phrases etc that will be useful.

My wife is German and we have a house near Cologne, so that helps in the learning process. As an English primary language speaker I found German rather difficult, largely because the sentence structures are radically different.

Whilst many Germans do speak English, the degree of multilingual fluency is nowhere near as widespread as it is in the Netherlands. My first wife was Dutch and in my experience a great many Dutch speak multiple languages - certainly it is common to be fluent or near fluent in Dutch, German, English and French. This is much less true of most Germans unless they have made a specific effort to learn other languages.

Certainly guys like Udo Steingreaber speak fluent English and you will encounter no problems on the Steinway factory tour either (apart from being frozen that far north!).

Adrian
Posted by: Piano World

Re: OT: Learning German? - 10/08/10 12:20 PM

Thanks Adrian.

I've met Udo Steingraeber a couple of times, and Dr. Bluthner a number of times. You are correct, they both speak excellent English.

As for it being "cold" in Hamburg, I only recently moved to Florida (southern U.S.), having spent most of my life in the New England area (northeast U.S.).

In my youth I worked on commercial fishing, lobstering, and tug boats where we sometimes had to chip ice off the rails and masts. I'm pretty tolerant of the cold :-)
Posted by: ChatNoir

Re: OT: Learning German? - 10/08/10 01:56 PM

As for learning German: Fe'get it!
I took German for 4 years at shcool in Norway, and even at the age from 13 to 17 when your memory is soooo much better than at 62, I had great difficulties learning this language, so full of rules and "kasus" and difficult grammar. But finally, 4 weeks before the final exam, the dime fell down, and I got the hang of it. Two weeks after the exam, I went on my first trip to Germany and got a chance to use what I had learned, and after a week, I was almost fluent.
But have no fear, all the Germans and Austrians know English to some extent, and you will have no problems navigating without knowing German. And if you should get stuck when Lufthansa loses your luggage, you may emulate Marlene Dietrich and tell them that "Ich hab' noch einen Koffer in Berlin".
Posted by: Gyro

Re: OT: Learning German? - 10/08/10 02:46 PM

Doesn't make sense to learn German, since everyone speaks English in even the most remote corners of the world. I wouldn't recommend something like Rosetta Stone. These commercial courses are just not practical. They have sentence constructions like: "Which one of the three people is holding the plate?", stuff that you would never say in real life. The best way to learn a foreign language is to befriend a native speaker who will teach you the language like you would learn it in the home in that country.
Posted by: Piano World

Re: OT: Learning German? - 10/08/10 03:34 PM

First, I think it would be presumptious to think "everyone" speaks English, second ... as stated earlier...

I just want to learn some basics because
A. It would be fun
B. It shows some respect for the host country.

Now based on your suggestion Gyro, I'll just have to stay in Europe until I learn the language, not a bad idea:-)
Posted by: Victor25

Re: OT: Learning German? - 10/08/10 03:38 PM

Originally Posted By: Gyro
Doesn't make sense to learn German, since everyone speaks English in even the most remote corners of the world. I wouldn't recommend something like Rosetta Stone. These commercial courses are just not practical. They have sentence constructions like: "Which one of the three people is holding the plate?", stuff that you would never say in real life. The best way to learn a foreign language is to befriend a native speaker who will teach you the language like you would learn it in the home in that country.


Haha, you don't travel much do you?
Posted by: ChatNoir

Re: OT: Learning German? - 10/08/10 04:04 PM

Hmmm, I have been to Italy as well as Costa Rica, and English worked just fine.
But all that aside: There is nothing as rewarding as learning a foreign language, it opens up doors to books, plays, conversations and other things that will enrich your life. And once you have mastered German, no Lieder will ever sound good in English, no matter how accessible. But a language like German is very hard to learn on your own, due to the impossible grammar and pronunciation. Is there a possibility for a tutor somewhere? Free of charge, of course. In any case, feel free to private me for any grammatical question, I will be more than happy to help. (and render you totally frustrated.)
Posted by: BearLake

Re: OT: Learning German? - 10/08/10 04:18 PM

For a while I subscribed to "Schau ins Land" that sent monthly CD's along with a text booklet that explained the vocabulary and colloquialisms in greater context. More supplemental attention was given to help the foreigner understand the background behind these events to help bridge the gap between the foreigner and the native. The CD's were similar to a radio broadcast with in depth coverage of important and timely topics. Learning a foreign language is really about understanding politics, culture, local current events of the country and even a different perspective on American news.

Unfortunately Champs-Elysees Audio Magazines that produced "Schau ins Land" has suspended its operations because of economic conditions.
Posted by: Arghhh

Re: OT: Learning German? - 10/08/10 04:43 PM

I liked the Pimsleur course that I used from my library. It didn't teach any grammar rules, but it did give me a good ear for what the language sounded like, and gave me a lot of practice trying to get my words to sound like the speakers on the cd. I thought the phrases and words it taught were useful. I'm now going through a German textbook (what 1st-year university students use) which is a good complement to the Pimsleur course. The course is expensive to buy, so check your library.

As for everyone speaking English, I would feel guilty assuming that, and expecting everyone else I'm visiting to have the burden of trying to speak in another language.
Posted by: Dave Horne

Re: OT: Learning German? - 10/08/10 05:04 PM

I have a rather conservative friend in the US (who also plays piano). He is a member of an organization that wants to have English as the official language of the US.

He was in Germany a few years ago and was upset that all the train information was in German. Imagine that? You're in Germany and the train information is in German of all languages!

After having lived in Europe for over 16 years I have much more empathy for those folks who don't speak the native language so well.

I remember once, after hearing a Korean saleswoman saying two dollar for the price of something (in the US), thinking to myself, learn the %^&*()__$ language. Now my thoughts would be more generous.
Posted by: Victor25

Re: OT: Learning German? - 10/09/10 04:02 AM

Actually thats 2 different issue's. My simple view is - Learn the language of the country you live in. On the other hand, some American who is telling that signs in Germany should be in English, has ALOT of history reading up to do!
Posted by: Dave Horne

Re: OT: Learning German? - 10/09/10 04:52 AM

I have to give the Dutch credit. Schipol has all signs in English and Dutch. It was also one of the first airports where you didn't have you insert a coin (local currency) to rent a cart to push your luggage. I remember flying into NYC and not having US currency to use the carts.

This is getting further off topic but the Dutch just revamped their public transportation system. You don't need to buy a ticket or a strip card to use the train, bus or tram. You load money into a card and simply wave the card at a sensor before you enter and after you leave. I used that for the first time a few weeks ago while attending a concert in Amsterdam. It was excellent and so easy.

It's always the transportation system that is intimidating and now the Dutch has made it simpler for everyone to use.
Posted by: Victor25

Re: OT: Learning German? - 10/09/10 05:03 AM

Which concert Dave?
Posted by: Dave Horne

Re: OT: Learning German? - 10/09/10 06:55 AM

From 19 Sep (copied and pasted)

Koninklijk Concertgebouworkest
* Bernard Haitink, dirigent
* Till Fellner, piano

* Beethoven - Derde pianoconcert in c, op. 37
* Bruckner - Zevende symfonie in E
Posted by: Norbert

Re: OT: Learning German? - 10/09/10 07:25 AM

One of the best way to learn German is from another American visiting there. To the great disappointment of many, Germany is more visited by Americans than would be anticipated. Don't expect to run into each and every school pal, but the occasional ex-girlfriend may just sit across the corner bench in a bemuetliche Gasthof.

Insider tip: after the second beer none of these concerns don't seem to matter much...

Viel Spass!

Norbert thumb
Posted by: DragonPianoPlayer

Re: OT: Learning German? - 10/09/10 09:12 AM

Frank,

Here's a few options for learning German:

Pimsleur audio course (often available from your library - as someone above mentioned).

Michel Thomas audio course http://www.michelthomas.com/ (again, also available from libraries - his german course is better than some of his other courses due to his accent. Pimsleur uses native speakers.) Very similar structure to Pimsleur except you have to pause the tape / cd to make your response. Pimsleur gives you time for the response.

FSI Language courses - available from http://fsi-language-courses.org/Content.php . These were developed by the US Government, so they are public domain. These take a lot of effort to use and they are also a bit dated.

There are also plenty of free websites for learning german:

BBC:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/languages/german/

Deutsche Welle:
http://www.dw-world.de/dw/0,,2547,00.html

http://www.german-grammar.de/grammar/content/english_german_table_of_content.htm

You would learn more with private instruction, but you can pick up quite a bit just from free resources.

Rich
Posted by: Piano World

Re: OT: Learning German? - 10/09/10 09:26 AM

Thanks for the resources Rich.

And thank you to everyone who responeded.

I'm so looking forward to this trip.
I hope more of our members decide to join the tour, it's going to be a great time.

In case you don't know what I'm talking about, here is a quick list of the itinerary:

Some Highlights from Your Itinerary (not in date order and not complete):


Hamburg Steinway Tour (Hamburg, Germany)

Steingräber u. Söhne Tour (Bayreuth, Germany)

Blüthner Tour (Leipzig, Germany)

Bösendorfer Tour (Vienna, Austria)

Meet & Greet and Concert with Robin Meloy Goldsby (Author of The Piano Girl
)(Cologne, Germany)

Visit the Beethoven Museum in Bonn
PM City tour of Leipzig with Thomas Church
Mendelosohn Museum
Music Instruments Museum
Dinner at famous Auerbach-Keller

Germanisches National Museum, historic music instruments (Nuremberg, Germany)

Visit Wagner & Liszt Museum (Rothenburg, Germany)

Visit Deutsches Museum (one of worlds largest musical instrument collections)

Visit National Museum (possibly with behind scenes visit)

Visit Mozart Haus, the birthplace of Mozart

Castle Schonbrunn Visit

Musical Vienna Tour (a city tour connected with composers and music)
We've also scheduled free time to explore on your own



Plus ...
~ Panoramic Scenic Drives with Photo Stops
~ Walking Tours
~ Breakfast & Dinners Included
~ Lovely Hotels
~ Free Time to Explore on Your Own


Full Details Including Dates and Pricing HERE
Posted by: keystring

Re: OT: Learning German? - 10/09/10 09:58 AM

Rich, a fantastic set of resources.

The BBC link seemed the most promising. Lessons are in different contexts, and there is a variety of speakers with clear enunciation. The American site's pronunciation is fuzzy, as though they used native but untrained speakers. "Guten Tag, Frau Kunzel" comes out as "Gu'ntach, Frau Kunze". I wouldn't worry about German grammar and syntax. If you learn some common phrases like those on the BBC web-site you'll absorb some of those things. It's a bit like learning music by rote imitation and discovering that you've picked up other things.

When you listen to whole phrases, you also pick up the rhythm of the language. This is what makes foreigners hard to understand, when they put the emphASis on the wrong syLAble. If you listen to the flow of the language and imitated it, you pick up something else that helps you understand and be understood.

Most Germans speak English, but anyone loves it when you make an effort to speak their language. I was hired once by a businessman who wanted to be able to introduce his product in German, before continuing in English. 90% of his learning he did on his own. I could help him with pronunciation and understanding the nature of the language.

You might want to get a bit of a piano-related vocabulary. The easiest is to find bilingual texts saying the same thing. Linguee resource - (piano hammer example) is a really cool resource.
Posted by: Norbert

Re: OT: Learning German? - 10/09/10 03:02 PM

Frank:

Is your itinery in this order?

You zig-zagging quite a bit between North and South...

Norbert
Posted by: Piano World

Re: OT: Learning German? - 10/09/10 03:07 PM

Originally Posted By: Norbert
Frank:

Is your itinery in this order?

You zig-zagging quite a bit between North and South...

Norbert


Hi Norbert,

No, the actual full itinerary in order is:

June 5, 11 Sun
Arrival Hamburg, city orientation tour, no entrance
Welcome cocktail, welcome dinner, o/n Hamburg Hotel Hafen
June 6, 11 Mon
Morning Tour of Hamburg Steinway, PM free
Dinner at local restaurant, o/n Hamburg Hotel Hafen
June 7, 11, Tue
Full day drive to Bonn via Cologne, to visit the Cathedral (also join up with Robin Meloy Goldsby – the Piano Girl)
Dinner at hotel, o/n Bonn Rhein Hotel Dreesen
June 8, 11 Wed
Morning visit to Beethoven museum, PM free, dinner at hotel, o/n Bonn
June 9, 11 Thu
Full-day drive to Leipzig, dinner at hotel, o/n Leipzig Radisson Blue
June 10, 11 Fri
Half-day Tour of Blüthner Piano with Dr. Blüthner, PM city tour with Thomas Church, Mendelsohn Museum, Music Instruments Museum, Dinner at famous Auerbach-Keller
o/n Leipzig Hotel Radisson Blue
June 11, 11 Sat
To Bayreuth, arrival around lunch time, Tour of Steingräber u. Söhne Piano
Dinner at Hotel, o/n Bayreuth Hotel Ramada Residenzschloß
June 12, 11 Sun
Full-day excursion to Nuremberg (Germanisches National Museum, collection of historic music instruments), continue to Rothenburg, walking tour
Dinner at hotel, o/n Bayreuth Hotel Ramada Residenzschloß
June 13, 11 Mon
Morning visit to Wagner and Liszt Museum, afternoon drive to Munich, prior check-in a panoramic city tour, photo stops, no inside visits, dinner at local restaurant nearby hotel, overnight Hotel Kings First Class Hotel
June 14, 11 Tue
Morning visit to the Deutsches Museum (which houses one of the world’s largest musical instrument collections, with a performance of the music of Mozart on an original piano of his time and comparative demonstrations on instruments from subsequent time periods) and the National theatre (where we have applied for a visit behind the scenes).
Afternoon drive to Salzburg, upon arrival we have a 2 hour walking tour with a local Salzburg guide (local guide is compulsory) and visit the Mozart Haus, the birthplace of Mozart.
Dinner at local restaurant nearby hotel, o/n Salzburg Hotel Austrotel
June 15, 11 Wed
Morning drive to Vienna, arrive around lunchtime, afternoon sightseeing incl. Castle Schönbrunn inside visit, dinner and overnight at centrally located Hotel (name coming up)
June 16, 11 Thu
Tour of Bösendorfer Piano
Afternoon “Musical Vienna”, a city tour connected with composers, with music, of which there are many in Vienna.
Farewell Dinner at local restaurant, maybe in Grinzing, where you dine with local wine and music in a wine village nearby Vienna
o/n Vienna
June 17, 11 Fri
Transfer to Vienna Airport. Auf Wiedersehen

Package includes:

All accommodations listed
Breakfast buffet and 3 course dinner daily
1 glass of welcome cocktail upon arrival pre dinner
Deluxe motor coach with A/C, fridge, bathroom and reclining seats
English tour escort
Local guides
Entrance fees on tours included
Porterage at hotels and airports of once piece per person
Government tax, parking of coach, service charge at hotels and restaurants

As Listed Here With Other Details
Posted by: theJourney

Re: OT: Learning German? - 10/09/10 03:07 PM

Originally Posted By: Dave Horne
From 19 Sep (copied and pasted)

Koninklijk Concertgebouworkest
* Bernard Haitink, dirigent
* Till Fellner, piano

* Beethoven - Derde pianoconcert in c, op. 37
* Bruckner - Zevende symfonie in E


That was a nice concert!
Posted by: Palindrome

Re: OT: Learning German? - 10/09/10 03:51 PM

It's been fifty years since I've studied German, but I'm looking forward to being immersed in it, if not in any great likelihood having to use it very much. Since that time I went through US Army language school (DLI/Defense Language Institute), learning another language, and gained a lot of respect for their teaching method, the foundation of which is memorization of dialogues. So I'd recommend the FSI German course listed by DragonPianoPlayer above (which uses the same techniques) for anyone who's got a couple of hours a day to put into it. Hiring a native speaker, if there's one in your area, would also be helpful, after you've got everything downloaded and printed out. Also, the Goethe Institut offers group courses in some cities in the USA (Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, and Washington DC)

Goethe Institut Webpage
Posted by: Norbert

Re: OT: Learning German? - 10/09/10 05:05 PM

Just realize it's next June right?
Still time to climb onboard?
Could save on interpreter and tour guide fees....
Reserving seat right besides Larry Fine.
Norbert wink
Posted by: Piano World

Re: OT: Learning German? - 10/09/10 05:14 PM

Originally Posted By: Norbert
Just realize it's next June right?
Still time to climb onboard?
Could save on interpreter and tour guide fees....
Reserving seat right besides Larry Fine.
Norbert wink


Yes, next June is correct.
Still plenty of time Norbert, would love to have you join us.
The first payment isn't due until Dec. 1st.

We can hoist a cold one or two in Germany (they do serve cold beer, right?)

Larry hasn't added his name to the list yet :-)
We are hoping for a few industry people to join us though (waiting to hear back from a couple of them as we speak)

You can see a list of those who intend to join the tour (and those who want to but haven't been able to commit yet)...

http://www.pianoworld.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/topics/1474102.html

Posted by: Norbert

Re: OT: Learning German? - 10/09/10 07:19 PM

Quote:
We can hoist a cold one or two in Germany (they do serve cold beer, right?)


Not overly cold though.

Beer is considered "food" in Germany and it's never served with ice cubes.

Just nice and cool to go with

Prost!

Norbert grin
Posted by: Brandon_W_T

Re: OT: Learning German? - 10/09/10 11:29 PM

Hey, I have been taking german lessons for 4.5 years. Im fairly fluent and can get myself around town.


Send a ticket and Ill be your guide!


I absolutely adore Germany. Such a gorgeous country. Beautiful countryside. Nice nice nice people, wonderful food, great speed limits on certain highway systems. smile

And what historic landmarks that are still original, are just incredible. The large churches where Bach, Buxtehude, and so many others performed, on fantastic historic organs like Gottfried Silbermann, and Arp Schnitger.


Oh my I am drooling. smile
Id give anything to visit Germany again.
Posted by: Brandon_W_T

Re: OT: Learning German? - 10/09/10 11:36 PM

Originally Posted By: Norbert
Quote:
We can hoist a cold one or two in Germany (they do serve cold beer, right?)


Not overly cold though.

Beer is considered "food" in Germany and it's never served with ice cubes.

Just nice and cool to go with

Prost!

Norbert grin


The myth on germans drinking warm beer is so false. I asked my grandpa that when we got there.

PS...
Kann man Spielen die pfeifenorgel im Deutschland auf der Reise?
Ich Liebe Baroque orgeln, und dieses Deutches orgelns sind die besten.
Posted by: Norbert

Re: OT: Learning German? - 10/10/10 12:48 AM

Brandon:
Hey, your German needs some beer.... wink
[meant as compliment..]

By the way I never said "warm" beer, only not 'overly chilled'

It's the schapps that goes down icecold...

Norbert crazy
Posted by: ChatNoir

Re: OT: Learning German? - 10/10/10 02:04 AM

Schapps??? Ihr Deutshc braucht bestimmt auch sogar ein bisschen Bier, Herr Norbert. Oder vielleicht einen kalten Schnapps. Mit Gefühl!
Posted by: Norbert

Re: OT: Learning German? - 10/10/10 02:13 AM

Quote:
Schapps??? Ihr Deutshc braucht bestimmt auch sogar ein bisschen Bier, Herr Norbert. Oder vielleicht einen kalten Schnapps. Mit Gefühl!


Nein, Nein, es sind die Amerikaner ["Amis"] die hier wie verrueckt Schnapps saufen. Deutsche trinken nur ein oder zwei Glaeschen - Amis die ganze Flasche...

[meant as free lesson...]

Norbert wink
Posted by: Gregor

Re: OT: Learning German? - 10/10/10 07:01 AM

Originally Posted By: Brandon_W_T


The myth on germans drinking warm beer is so false.


Indeed. You mix us up with the British smile
Posted by: Gregor

Re: OT: Learning German? - 10/10/10 07:44 AM

Here are some tips for first time visitors of Germany:

- ask: "do you speak English" before you ask something in English
- for tipping in restaurants just round up. A tip must be earned. Poor service = no tip!
- never ever lean on someone elses car! Here it´s more frightening to say "I know where your car is parking" than "I know which school your kids are attending"!
- remember: German beer is really strong
- don´t feel unwelcome just because Germans seem not so friendly like you might be used to. We ARE friendly, even when we don´t look like that.

The other day I heard a nice story about intercultural communication between Germans and a guy from abroad. He is invited for dinner by the German family for 8:00 pm. He heard that Germans appreciate punctuality, so he comes at 7:30. First mistake because the hosts are still in preparation for the dinner, so he disturbes. They serve his favorite dish and when he is finished they ask if he wants more. Of course he wants, but in his country it´s usual beeing asked if refill is wanted. Then one declines due to courtesy, just to be asked again, followed by a new rejection and so on until one feels courteous enough to say yes. But his hosts get that wrong, offer him refill one time and don´t care about his rejection, so he remains hungry. In his country it´s usual to finish the evening and to charm someone out of the house by offering him a coffee. Not so in Germany. Here you drink a coffee after a good meal in combination with a dessert. So, before the hosts offer the dessert they ask if the guest would like a coffee. He understands (he thinks), takes the coffee and jumps up for leaving smile

Gregor
Posted by: Gregor

Re: OT: Learning German? - 10/10/10 07:55 AM

This German is all you need:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YTO5Hwu9PmQ

Have fun!

Gregor
Posted by: theJourney

Re: OT: Learning German? - 10/10/10 08:31 AM

Originally Posted By: Gregor
Here are some tips for first time visitors of Germany:

- ask: "do you speak English" before you ask something in English
- for tipping in restaurants just round up. A tip must be earned. Poor service = no tip!
- never ever lean on someone elses car! Here it´s more frightening to say "I know where your car is parking" than "I know which school your kids are attending"!
- remember: German beer is really strong
- don´t feel unwelcome just because Germans seem not so friendly like you might be used to. We ARE friendly, even when we don´t look like that.

The other day I heard a nice story about intercultural communication between Germans and a guy from abroad. He is invited for dinner by the German family for 8:00 pm. He heard that Germans appreciate punctuality, so he comes at 7:30. First mistake because the hosts are still in preparation for the dinner, so he disturbes. They serve his favorite dish and when he is finished they ask if he wants more. Of course he wants, but in his country it´s usual beeing asked if refill is wanted. Then one declines due to courtesy, just to be asked again, followed by a new rejection and so on until one feels courteous enough to say yes. But his hosts get that wrong, offer him refill one time and don´t care about his rejection, so he remains hungry. In his country it´s usual to finish the evening and to charm someone out of the house by offering him a coffee. Not so in Germany. Here you drink a coffee after a good meal in combination with a dessert. So, before the hosts offer the dessert they ask if the guest would like a coffee. He understands (he thinks), takes the coffee and jumps up for leaving smile

Gregor


Great tips and stories.

Further proof of the fact that language and culture and inseparable and that for a short trip it would be better to spend one's time studying the culture and local conventions and practices rather than trying to squeeze a 10 year language course into a couple of hours of study.
Posted by: Piano World

Re: OT: Learning German? - 10/10/10 09:17 AM

Thanks for the tips Gregor, you mention things one would not likely learn from a book or audio course.

theJourney, I understand your point, but my goal isn't to be fluent in German by next summer, it's merely to be polite.

I suspect we will have some folks in our group who will know a bit of German, and our guide will certainly be able to translate both ways.

From the comments in this thread it appears a lot of Germans can speak English.

I'd just like to learn enough (for now) to be able to properly thank our hosts.
Posted by: Tweedpipe

Re: OT: Learning German? - 10/10/10 09:51 AM

Originally Posted By: Gyro
Doesn't make sense to learn German, since everyone speaks English in even the most remote corners of the world. I wouldn't recommend something like Rosetta Stone. These commercial courses are just not practical. They have sentence constructions like: "Which one of the three people is holding the plate?", stuff that you would never say in real life. The best way to learn a foreign language is to befriend a native speaker who will teach you the language like you would learn it in the home in that country.


Isn't it just marvellous?
Once again this is a post, the content of which had me dumbstruck, but I knew almost immediately there was only one person on this forum most likely to have written that hogwash - the first sentence being absolute nonsense!
My eyes then shifted to top left, and low and behold there was that notorious poster's name again!
When most babies are born, their bottoms are given a slight smack; in this OP's case, if I had been the midwife, I would have suggested that it should have been other than slight - and administered to the mother!

I can advise anyone who has never set foot outside their own country, that nothing inspires more respect from overseas residents than hearing visitors at least trying to communicate in the local language. The word politeness also comes to mind.

Frank,
I admire your willingness to learn the language.
To address your query on learning German, I was always told the easiest, most satisfying way to learn any language was from a native speaker of the opposite sex, effectively using the 'pillow dictionary'.
However without wishing for a minute to distress your OH, I can suggest that there are numerous basic video lessons on the internet, some bad, some very good, and here are two which IMHO are particularly effective, pleasing, and motivating by virtue of their simple charm.
Basic Lesson One

Lesson two

I believe these will at least get you off the starting blocks. Good luck, and let us know how you get on.
Tschüss.
Posted by: Brandon_W_T

Re: OT: Learning German? - 10/10/10 10:13 AM

More and more today German schools are teaching students to learn english. Its like that in many foreign countries. In america its there, but not nearly as strict or long. We start learning a foreign language around 7th grade to 12th grade on average. In germany, many schools start teaching kids english at 1st grade. Therefor by highschool they are quite proficient in speaking it.


In france, I spoke with a French teenager who was about 13. We were in the Louvre Museum, and he approached me as I was speaking english. He had a million questions to ask me. He spoke excellent english, and sadly, I knew hardly any French. I talked about how wonderful Paris was, and how the US doesn't have any landmarks like Paris does.

Wish US schools would teach more like they do overseas.
Posted by: Norbert

Re: OT: Learning German? - 10/10/10 03:02 PM

Here's another one:

Germans are very friendly but get used that they don't beat around the bush. Never 'confusion- city' wink

Another one is that you're expected to do more yourself.

Park your own car. Walk up the stairs in the hotel if there is no elevator. Simply sit at any table at a restaurant, even if there is somebody sitting there already [ a small wink or hello is in place..] Don't smile at the girls - simply ask them out. Some may simply say "Ja" [more in the North than South] Don't return smiles to the girls - if they're smiling at you they're serious already and may ask YOU out...You can jaywalk anywhere but make sure you're not run over: pedestrians are considered non-existing. In fact some may may think you're a deer to be hunted down.. Never make a complimentary joke about Nazis: the Polizei may show up in short order and let you have it. And yeah, Germans don't always "look" nice - they may even stare at you. [they do this to many strangers including me when entering a strange bar] Stare back and say "Guten Tag, ich bin ein Ami" Expect a free beer next. Also expect a lot of 'Germans' not speaking German. Germany has become a huge immigrant country of its own.
Some of them may think you're crazy when you smile at them.
Last not least expect to have some intense "memories of Germany" when back. It's the nearest feeling of being homesick.
My whole family got it.

Norbert grin
grin
Posted by: Brandon_W_T

Re: OT: Learning German? - 10/10/10 07:00 PM

White socks and baseball caps are also apparently not the style in Germany so my german teacher says. White socks are strictly for tennis. smile
Posted by: BerndAB

Re: OT: Learning German? - 10/10/10 09:08 PM

Originally Posted By: Brandon_W_T
White socks and baseball caps are also apparently not the style in Germany so my german teacher says. White socks are strictly for tennis. smile


Yess! One of the most important insights. To this belongs: no short trousers in the Deutsches Museum Munich and inside Cologne Cathedral..
;-) ..even if it may be the hottest day since emperor Augustus once was born.. Any american group visiting Europe can easily be identified normally by wearing baseball caps and short trousers even if the visitors are 90++ yrs.. ;-)

..and a savvy hint: being in Hamburg on the famous Reeperbahn... even if the officer is wearing a prussian pickel hat he is NOT a high german police officer.. .. but he may try to involve you with some precious bar girls behind the red painted door.. ..smile at him, wish him politely a pleasant evening.. Example why? The advertising outside tells you "One Beer 5 EURO only". Then the girl inside ask you "Do you like a Gedeck?" It's a beer plus a schnaps. Don't think it may cost two times 5 EURO. NO. The price list should be reviewed in advance. This "Gedeck" (setting) may cost 39 EURO. Or was it 59? Sorry.. Forgotten..
;-)

Or travel with your beloved lady. She will probably know of these circumstances.
Posted by: Brandon_W_T

Re: OT: Learning German? - 10/10/10 09:41 PM

Aha.

Yes I did feel quite odd when I was over there.


One sad fact is that I was wearing shorts when we were at the Louvre. shocked Unacceptable, but oh my it was HOT that day. Of course walking 5 miles on average a day was tiring, so shorts was the most comfortable option.
Although at the Louvre entrance, I got a big taste of home. A gentleman in front of us was wearing a Nebraska Cornhuskers sweater. I had to ask him what city he was from of course. Omaha!!!!! yay! Thousands of miles away, and here we are with a fellow Nebraskan. It made me feel a bit more comfortable.
Posted by: theJourney

Re: OT: Learning German? - 10/11/10 02:38 AM

Yes. American men tend to never stop dressing like little boys.
On the other hand, too many older Dutch and German women tend to dress like cougars with skin tight animal print leggings or tight skirts, too much makeup and snug blouses with decolletes lurching dangerously into major sagging wrinkle territory. Such are the delights of cross-country cultural differences.
Posted by: Norbert

Re: OT: Learning German? - 10/11/10 03:15 AM

Few more things:

Never ask a waiter innocently for a "glass of water"
They'll bring you a whole BOTTLE of costly mineral water.Minimum price: Euro 5.00. In a store: 1-2 Euros.

Icecream: delicious and cheap. So are bakery goodies - fabulous & everywhere.

Re baseball hats: they're long out again. They once were in some 10 years ago. Now you see some old men wearing them - in reverse.

Forget the whole eros centre circus.They're for guest workers. Germans have sex in city parks....

Norbert grin
Posted by: Dave Horne

Re: OT: Learning German? - 10/11/10 04:54 AM

I think we're resorting to cultural generalizations though Americans tend to stick out in a crowd. I am amused at seeing people who clearly don't exercise wearing sport clothes in public. (I didn't know clothes could be engineered to withstand that kind of pressure.)

You can specifically ask for a carafe of tap water and your request might be honored. Here in the Netherlands I've asked for a carafe of tap water and was not charged and in another restaurant charged a small service charge which I feel is acceptable.

Over here the coffee is richer than what most Americans are accustomed to and the cups are not refilled.

Driving over here is different than in the US. I've lived in the Netherlands for 16 years and can count on one hand the number of Stop signs I've encountered ... in the entire country. We yield to the right of way but there signs to indicate whether or not your road has priority.

I once received a speeding ticket from Germany after I came home from a vacation there. It seems a camera on a bridge had caught me speeding (slightly, the fine was only €12 I believe) and the ticket was mailed to my Dutch address along with a photo. My wife was the passenger and her face was digitized out for privacy reasons I suspect. They had tracked me down using the license plate, sent me a ticket and a photo as well. I was impressed.
Posted by: Mark R.

Re: OT: Learning German? - 10/11/10 07:49 AM

On a lighter note:

The European Union commissioners have announced that agreement has been reached to adopt English as the preferred language for European communications, rather than German, which was the other possibility. As part of the negotiations, Her Majesty's Government conceded that English spelling had some room for improvement and has accepted a five-year phased plan for what will be known as EuroEnglish (Euro for
short).

In the first year, "s" will be used instead of the soft "c".
Sertainly, sivil servants will resieve this news with joy. Also, the hard "c" will be replaced with "k". Not only will this klear up konfusion, but typewriters kan have one less letter.

There will be growing publik enthusiasm in the sekond year, when the troublesome "ph" will be replaced by "f". This will make words like "fotograf" 20 per sent shorter.

In the third year, publik akseptanse of the new spelling kan be
expekted to reach the stage where more komplikated changes are
possible. Governments will enkorage the removal of double letters, which have always ben a deterent to akurate speling. Also, al wil agre that the horible mes of silent "e"s in the languag is disgrasful, and they would go.

By the fourth year, peopl wil be reseptiv to steps such as replasing "th" by z" and "w" by " v".

During ze fifz year, ze unesesary "o" kan be dropd from vords
kontaining "ou", and similar changes vud of kors be aplid to ozer kombinations of leters.

After zis fifz yer, ve vil hav a reli sensibl riten styl. Zer vil be no mor trubls or difikultis and evrivun vil find it ezi tu understand ech ozer.

Ze drem vil finali kum tru.
Posted by: Piano World

Re: OT: Learning German? - 10/11/10 08:35 AM

Thanks for the cultural tips everyone.
I will have to try to put together a list of these tips for our group.

My sisters advice was "Try not to act like a typical noisey rude American tourist".

Interesting about the glass of water.

Kathy often asks for water, and will frequently ask for a glass of ice (ice cubes) because we both like our white wine kept cold.

Mark R., love the adopt English story.
Posted by: appleman

Re: OT: Learning German? - 10/11/10 09:27 AM

Rosetta stone doesn't really help, because it focuses more on conversational German, and not restaurant / where's the bathroom stuff that you're going to use. Look for courses that focus heavily on that, since restaurant stuff is where you'll need the most detail.

Here's my observations
1. Pay toilets are usually mandatory in Austria, and it's usually tip toilets in Germany. Always have a few euros on you, because you never know. Don't expect a fast food place to have a toilet, let alone a pay toilet.
2. Drinks are very limited compared to America. A large is often considered "two drinks" and there are no free refills. Expect to lose a lot of water weight.
3. People in Austria are a bit more outgoing and willing to speak English than people in Germany.
4. Beer is cheaper than water. Beer and soda is not warm, just not as cold as in America.
5. Johann Strauss II is the classical master of Vienna.
6. The Mozart residency is way more worthwhile than Mozart's birthplace. Mozart's birthplace is just creepy.
7. Schönbrunn's garden is worth more than the inside. If I had to do it all over again, I would have skipped the inside entirely.
8. If you order water, you get seltzer water. You must specify still water.
Posted by: BerndAB

Re: OT: Learning German? - 10/11/10 09:31 AM

Hello Frank,

Originally Posted By: Piano World

Kathy often asks for water, and will frequently ask for a glass of ice (ice cubes) because we both like our white wine kept cold.


White wine has to come with a right (cellar or refrigerator) temperature of around 8 to10 degrees Celsius (i.e. 46 to 50 Fahrenheit).

If the wine then (...) grows warmer a little bit: that`s not a bug, that's a feature of good wine, shows modification and makes the "nose impression" more interesting. (On top there do exist "chamelelon wines" which may change their arome profile by every minute and one degree plus Fahrenheit.. ;-)

If the wine is coming warm, with room temperature: this is wrong and not acceptable in "not-so-simple" restaurants. Just let it go back and demand a cold bottle.

If you want to keep the bottle cold on the table, let the waiter bring a wine cooler (german-like pronounced "wine kühler"), maybe with icy water around the bottle (..and a piece of cloth, collar to wipe).

To put ice cubes into the glass with white wine, melt them by the wine, so make the wine thinner - that's like wearing a baseball cap in Cologne Cathedral.. ;-) - .. you are allowed to do so.. - but be aware that people will smile about this..

(..you also won't go into the Hofbraeuhaus in Munich and ask for American Pizza.. There of course you would like to have a real bavarian Eisbein.. ) ;-)

(..and please I don't want to show any behaviour like a teacher nor like a "super cultivated" European who seems to think that americans were not cultivated.. - nose up - my english is simply not as good that I always would be able to avoid any wrong impressions.. please excuse, I don't want to make anybody angry..)

Bernd A. B. - piano (& wine.. & .. ) enthusiast
Posted by: ChatNoir

Re: OT: Learning German? - 10/11/10 12:36 PM

And, don't forget the most important thing:
Never ask for a Martini, you will only get a glass of dry Vermouth.
Ask for a Martini Cocktail!

As for noisy, rude American tourists, I had a lot of them when I worked in hotels in Norway. Compared to the Germans, the French and the Italians, the Americans were the best behaved of them all.
Posted by: Fritz Heberlein

Re: OT: Learning German? - 10/11/10 01:10 PM

Originally Posted By: BerndAB

(..you also won't go into the Hofbraeuhaus in Munich and ask for American Pizza.. There of course you would like to have a real bavarian Eisbein.. ) ;-)


My suggestion is to avoid the Hofbräuhaus at all. Go to Augustiner (Neuhauser Strasse) or Pfälzer Weinstube (a few steps from the opera house).

Greetings from Bavaria,

Fritz Heberlein

Posted by: LisztAddict

Re: OT: Learning German? - 10/11/10 01:23 PM

Originally Posted By: appleman
1. Pay toilets are usually mandatory in Austria, and it's usually tip toilets in Germany. Always have a few euros on you, because you never know. Don't expect a fast food place to have a toilet, let alone a pay toilet.


Same in Germany. Costs 0.5e to 0.75e for each trip to the toilet in department stores, fast food restaurants, and convenient stores. Some fast food restaurants let you use the toilet for free if you show a valid food receipt.

Originally Posted By: appleman
4. Beer is cheaper than water. Beer and soda is not warm, just not as cold as in America.


Yes. They don't run refrigerators and freezers very cold to lower the electric power consumption. Soda and water are not too pricy when you buy from grocery stores or convenient stores. Under 2e for one 1L bottle. In a restaurant, it's easy 3e or more for one 250mL or 330mL glass.

Originally Posted By: appleman
8. If you order water, you get seltzer water. You must specify still water.
seltzer water = carbonated water. If you want to be sure there is no bacteria in the water, carbonated water is what you want. But carbonated water tastes a little weird. laugh
Posted by: Gyro

Re: OT: Learning German? - 10/11/10 03:49 PM

I still think you should forget the German. Everyone you meet will speak better English than the German you could learn in five yrs. of hard study. German is not "fun" to learn. The first class session in German 101 might be kind of fun, but you soon learn that German nouns have gender, masculine, feminine, and neuter, with no way to tell except by experience. The gender of the nouns determines how you say things, and if you don't know the gender of the nouns, you essentially can't speak the language.

I can communicate in the most disgracefully rudimentary German, but if I went to Austria, I wouldn't even bother trying to speak it, as it would be insulting to the people there. The impression I get is that Germans are now much like the French; they won't listen to you unless you can speak the language perfectly.
Posted by: BerndAB

Re: OT: Learning German? - 10/11/10 03:54 PM

Originally Posted By: Fritz Heberlein
Originally Posted By: BerndAB

(..you also won't go into the Hofbraeuhaus in Munich and ask for American Pizza.. There of course you would like to have a real bavarian Eisbein.. ) ;-)


My suggestion is to avoid the Hofbräuhaus at all. Go to Augustiner (Neuhauser Strasse) or Pfälzer Weinstube (a few steps from the opera house).


Ja, Fritz, of course. It was only an example - as the gorgeous itinerary of the PianoWorldExcursion doesn't include an evening stop at Munich as I think.. Yeah, avoid the Hofbräuhaus, please. There is no real fun.

If you might have an additional hour beneath the instruments exhibition of the Deutsches Museum please go to the Karl-Valentin-Musäum. It is on the way back to the Viktualienmarkt. Take with you anybody who is fluent in german and may be able to explain the funny german sentences and thoughts of this comedian. Or if you don't have, just stroll along the Viktualienmarkt.

Posted by: Norbert

Re: OT: Learning German? - 10/11/10 04:03 PM

Quote:
impression I get is that Germans are now much like the French; they won't listen to you unless you can speak the language perfectly.


Sorry, I can't agree with this.

Especially the young and middle aged will bend over backwards to help you.

You never know: they could have had an American Papa who once was stationed nearby...

Norbert wink
Posted by: the nosy ape

Re: OT: Learning German? - 10/11/10 04:29 PM

Originally Posted By: Norbert
Quote:
impression I get is that Germans are now much like the French; they won't listen to you unless you can speak the language perfectly.


Sorry, I can't agree with this.

Especially the young and middle aged will bend over backwards to help you.

You never know: they could have had an American Papa who once was stationed nearby...

Norbert wink

My experience is that, in Paris anyway, if you start off trying to speak English with someone you run the risk of being ignored. But if you start with rusty high school French then most of the people instantly become very friendly and helpful.
Posted by: Norbert

Re: OT: Learning German? - 10/11/10 04:56 PM

Yeah Paris...

Norbert frown
Posted by: Entheo

Re: OT: Learning German? - 10/11/10 05:12 PM

two phrases worth their weight in euros:

entschuldigen sie -- sprechen sie englisch?

excusez-moi -- parlez vous anglais?
Posted by: Brandon_W_T

Re: OT: Learning German? - 10/11/10 08:50 PM

Paris... understandable...
Northern france, Rudeness is unheard of!


I visited the Hofbrauhaus, and have a Beirglas and pulli to prove it. wink

Fun place. Great food. You sit at large tables with people you dont know around you and have a great time. Singing, laughing some dancing. Traditional german polka bands. Tubas and accordions.


One of the best times of my life. smile Sure many say the Hofbrauhaus isn't what it used to be, but its still fun. And still the oldest bar in the world! (If I recall correctly)
Posted by: Brandon_W_T

Re: OT: Learning German? - 10/11/10 08:52 PM

Originally Posted By: Entheo
two phrases worth their weight in euros:

entschuldigen sie -- sprechen sie englisch?

excusez-moi -- parlez vous anglais?



Dont forget -bitte- after Sie. A tad more polite. (please)


If you say that first, you are bound to be treated far more better than going in saying, hello sir/miss, do you speak english.

For saying something like that, a slap to the face with a white glove to whom who done it!
Posted by: Fritz Heberlein

Re: OT: Learning German? - 10/12/10 04:58 AM

Originally Posted By: Gyro
The impression I get is that Germans are now much like the French; they won't listen to you unless you can speak the language perfectly.


"I beg your pardon" - but that's simply not true ...

Greetings from Bavaria!
Posted by: Dave Horne

Re: OT: Learning German? - 10/12/10 05:32 AM

Whether or not you address a German by asking Do you speak English? or May I speak English to you? in English or German, that extra step will be appreciated nonetheless.

It's just plain rude to approach someone in another country by speaking English without first asking if they do. If you're at the check in desk of a hotel, that's a different story, but in general, it's more polite to take that extra step.

My wife and I were on vacation either in Holland or Germany a few years ago and were driving through the German countryside. In the middle of nowhere we saw a big farm type restaurant and the parking lot was filled. This was on a Sunday and it was between 12 noon and 1 PM. We thought, great! We'll stop by and have a cup of coffee and a piece of pie or pastry.

When we looked inside the placed was packed and the Germans were eating tons of mashed potatoes with pork, ham and chicken. It was a tad too earlier in the day for us to have a large meal. This was more of a food factory than a restaurant.

German cuisine is best known for its large quantities of meat, potatoes and gravy served with large quantities of beer. smile
Posted by: Tweedpipe

Re: OT: Learning German? - 10/12/10 03:42 PM

Originally Posted By: Fritz Heberlein
Originally Posted By: Gyro
The impression I get is that Germans are now much like the French; they won't listen to you unless you can speak the language perfectly.


"I beg your pardon" - but that's simply not true ...
Greetings from Bavaria!


Of course it's not true.
But then I've rarely seen a true, coherent statement from that particular poster. When we do, it may be time to change his straight-jacket I fear....
Posted by: Rjt

Re: OT: Learning German? - 10/12/10 07:42 PM

+1 Generally the Germans are very happy to speak English and often speak it better than most English teenagers! In my experience they will prefer to speak English than suffer my modest German - it's just easier that way.

I agree it is nice to learn a few foreign words out of courtesy.
Posted by: Gregor

Re: OT: Learning German? - 10/13/10 07:47 AM

As to ordering a glass of water in a restaurant: yes, usually you pay for it. So, ask for a glass of "Leitungswasser" (mains water), that´s for free. No problems with hygiene in Germany.

Mark, funny story about the English writing reformation. Not so funny: we had that for German a few years ago. Really! Not so crass like in your story, but it was bullshit anyway.

Gregor
Posted by: Zindaras

Re: OT: Learning German? - 10/15/10 06:07 AM

Always ask for tap water if you want water. Also remember that you can always drink water from any tap. It's all potable (if I'm correct).

About traffic...well, I'm mostly used to the Dutch rules, so I can't speak for the Germans, but I imagine they are very similar. Pedestrians always walk when it's red, as long as there is nothing coming. This is acceptable for pedestrians and cyclists, but not for automobiles. You're likely to see more cyclists than in America, and they tend to behave a lot more dangerously as well.

Originally Posted By: Gyro
I still think you should forget the German. Everyone you meet will speak better English than the German you could learn in five yrs. of hard study. German is not "fun" to learn. The first class session in German 101 might be kind of fun, but you soon learn that German nouns have gender, masculine, feminine, and neuter, with no way to tell except by experience. The gender of the nouns determines how you say things, and if you don't know the gender of the nouns, you essentially can't speak the language.


The genders do not make that huge a difference. If you get the word right but the gender wrong, people will think you're a silly American, but at least a silly American who's trying. It's better than not speaking a word.

Unlike the Dutch, the Germans do see German as being more important than English, but they also don't get as much education. Older people are less likely to speak English, as are people in Eastern Germany.

If you want to be polite more than anything, there are a couple of words you need to know that you can use in almost any conversation and that will endear you.

Bitte - please (used in polite questions or when giving something, much like the French voilà).
Danke schön - thank you very much.
Entschuldigungen - excuse me.
Frau/Fraulein/Herr - used for women/younger women/gentleman respectively. You can also address people with "Sie", which is the polite form of you.

Check up the pronunciation online and make sure you can get these right.

German breakfasts are very much different from American breakfasts, too. It is common to just eat a couple of sandwiches. The continental breakfast you get at American hotels is an approximation, but the bread is much much better in Germany. Lunch is a more important meal.
Posted by: lilylady

Re: OT: Learning German? - 10/15/10 10:32 AM

I am enjoying reading about how to be a good tourist. I hope that the stories keep coming.

I have another question.

If I stayed a couple of days beyond, could I ship back my main set of clothes and just do an overnite pack? And how? Or is that so expensive and hard that I should just have some disposable clothes?

Are those of you who are helping us here, planning on meeting up with us for a visit? I surely hope so!
Posted by: Agilita

Re: OT: Learning German? - 10/20/10 02:59 PM

I bought "Drive and Learn German". These are CDs with lessons that you listen to while driving. Since I spend 2 hrs a day in the car, I thought it would allow me to to piggy-back a little learning with my commute. The premise of it is a little hokey, the guy is learning German to impress the German girl and after going through each lesson, they sing the new words and phrases.

I haven't yet formed an opinion of it (other than the hokey premise). In a couple of weeks maybe I can tell whether I'm learning any German.
Posted by: Dave Horne

Re: OT: Learning German? - 10/20/10 03:09 PM

How's the driving coming?
Posted by: ChatNoir

Re: OT: Learning German? - 10/20/10 03:26 PM

Gives Fahrvergnügen a new meaning........
Posted by: mikewu99

Re: OT: Learning German? - 10/20/10 04:37 PM

English is the lingua franca in most of Europe. I just got back from Rome where there were many non-native English speakers (for some reason there were a lot of Germans and Dutch there last week) using English to communicate with the locals.

That said, whenever I go to a non-English speaking country I always try to have the basic courtesies learned - "hello", "goodbye", "please", "thank you". If you meet someone and greet them in the native tongue in 99% of the cases they will recognize your American accent and initiate speaking to you in English.

One other tidbit regarding Germany: if any part of your itinerary is in the former East Germany you may find English speakers fewer and farther between - most (former) East Germans over 35 or 40 were taught Russian in school as their second language. That was the only part of Germany where I really needed to dust off the old high school German...
Posted by: tnew

Re: OT: Learning German? - 10/21/10 12:02 AM

First, all of the suggestions for sources are great for learning german. You probably cannot learn any fluency in that short of time without spending every entire day between now and then, but definitely learning a few phrases would be fun.

If you don't have time now, another way to learn a bit is when you arrive. It's a great ice breaker to ask someone 'how do I say ... in german?'

All austrians and germans do not necessarily speak english. BUT...the tour will be at famous sites and probably most all of the people in tourist sights, museums, and piano factories you encounter will speak some english. No worries there.

Probably you will find english menus in most of the restaurants you visit. No worries there either. And of course, ask for Leitungswasser (lightungsvasser) if you want just plain tap water for no charge. Otherwise you will likely get bubbling mineral water when you ask for just 'water'. You can say just 'still' water if you like, or ask for 'ohne gas' (owna gas).

Oh, and no, it is not normal for german speakers to ignore others because of their lack of skill in german!

I am so envious, you guys are going to have so much fun!

Posted by: tnew

Re: OT: Learning German? - 10/21/10 07:09 AM

Lillylady,

It would be a shame to throw good clothes out. If you stay somewhere for more than two nights, you might be able to request laundry service. Otherwise, expect shipping to be somewhere between 50 and 100 euro, depending on how much clothing you have. (as example, 40 lb is likely at least 80 euro to ship by normal post! and a lot lot more as exess luggage)

Oh, and I really hope to meet the group here in Vienna!
Posted by: Mark R.

Re: OT: Learning German? - 10/21/10 10:10 AM

Having German parents, but having grown up in South Africa, I speak German, English and Afrikaans fluently, and have been told by my German friends that my German is practically accent-free.

Now this is a problem, because speaking the language does not equate knowing the local customs. I've only been to Germany a couple of times, and although I spoke their language perfectly, I still felt a bit of a stranger. For example, I made the mistake of asking at a train station information kiosk where I could buy some tickets. In German. The lady at the counter took on a very irate expression and responded,
"Wolln'se mich verarschen? Was'n das für 'ne Frage?"
... roughly translating as
"Are you trying to bullsh** me? What sordofa question is that?"

I had to back-pedal quickly, and explain that I'm actually a complete stranger to the country - at which point she relaxed somewhat and helped me. Since that day, I've switched to English whenever I need to ask something potentially "stoopid" - and I've always been helped with a smile!

Germans don't suffer fools gladly, at least not German-speaking fools. laugh

So, to get back to topic: it's not the tourist speaking bad German who runs into problems.

It's the one speaking good German. wink
Posted by: Piano World

Re: OT: Learning German? - 10/21/10 11:34 AM

No chance I'll be speaking good German, so not to worry.

I've picked up a Berlitz German Premier, hoping to get some very basic stuff from it (has flash cards, software, and audio cds).

Still hoping some folks who already speak fluent German will Join Our TOUR
Posted by: seaotter7

Re: OT: Learning German? - 10/21/10 08:55 PM

I second the learning material from Deutsche Welle:
http://www.dw-world.de/dw/0,,2547,00.html
I have friends who used their free podcasts.

You can also see if you find Deutsche Welle TV. Here (Canada) we have one hour or so per week of German news and reports in German. I expect the potential audience in the US is much larger, so DW will probably broadcast there as well.
Posted by: theJourney

Re: OT: Learning German? - 10/22/10 04:01 AM

Originally Posted By: Mark R.
Having German parents, but having grown up in South Africa, I speak German, English and Afrikaans fluently, and have been told by my German friends that my German is practically accent-free.

Now this is a problem, because speaking the language does not equate knowing the local customs. I've only been to Germany a couple of times, and although I spoke their language perfectly, I still felt a bit of a stranger. For example, I made the mistake of asking at a train station information kiosk where I could buy some tickets. In German. The lady at the counter took on a very irate expression and responded,
"Wolln'se mich verarschen? Was'n das für 'ne Frage?"
... roughly translating as
"Are you trying to bullsh** me? What sordofa question is that?"

I had to back-pedal quickly, and explain that I'm actually a complete stranger to the country - at which point she relaxed somewhat and helped me. Since that day, I've switched to English whenever I need to ask something potentially "stoopid" - and I've always been helped with a smile!

Germans don't suffer fools gladly, at least not German-speaking fools. laugh

So, to get back to topic: it's not the tourist speaking bad German who runs into problems.

It's the one speaking good German. wink

thumb Great story! It is very true that speaking another language wery vell, um I mean very well, does tend to set high expectations regarding culture and customs. That's why it is often more important or as important to study the practices of the country when will be visiting together with the words.
Posted by: Gregor

Re: OT: Learning German? - 10/22/10 06:23 AM

Some German speak English, some not. But there is a tendency to use Anglicism in German, particularly in advertisements. Researchers found out that this "Denglisch" in ads is liked, but misunderstood. Some examples:

Feel the difference (Ford): Fühle das Differenzial (feel the differential gear)
Powered by Emotion (SAT 1 TV): Kraft durch Freude (ouch, a Nazi slogan)
Come in and find out: Komm rein und finde wieder heraus (come in and find the exit)
Drive alive (Mitsubishi): Überlebe die Fahrt (survive the ride)

But Denglisch is good for English speaking tourists: everywhere you see "service points", "customer center", "sale" and so on. There is a "Verein Deutsche Sprache" wich awards the prize for "Sprachpanscher" of the year.

Gregor
Posted by: Mark R.

Re: OT: Learning German? - 10/22/10 07:18 AM

Originally Posted By: Gregor
"Sprachpanscher" of the year.


which, for the benefit of readers here, translates into "language adulterator of the year".

Oh, and while we're on about learning languages, and you've picked up a Berlitz, Frank, here's something to let you smile on a Friday:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gmOTpIVxji8
Posted by: lilylady

Re: OT: Learning German? - 10/22/10 07:23 AM

Originally Posted By: Mark R.
Originally Posted By: Gregor
"Sprachpanscher" of the year.


Frank, here's something to let you smile on a Friday:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gmOTpIVxji8


ha
Posted by: Lollipop

Re: OT: Learning German? - 10/22/10 10:36 AM

Haven't read all the posts - just responding to the OP, so forgive me if this is a duplicate.

We lived in Germany from 2003-2006. Prior to our move, my husband got a Pimsleur language CD from the library and listed to it in the car on his way to and from work. (I also used the lessons, but much less. I work at home!) He had quite a good command of conversational German by the time we actually moved.

Pimsleur is based on listening only, so is quite good for conversation. There is lots of repetition, so by the end of a level, you know it pretty well. (I am a visual learner, so I missed the written component, but it works really well for aural learners.)

I'd also like to mention that you will find many English speakers in big cities, and among college graduates (especially younger ones). There is a huge population who does not speak English, though, or speaks it like I speak my two years of high school Spanish from 35 years ago. You should be fine in hotels, tourist sites, and many restaurants. Asking a random stranger on the street where the bathroom is, or where the train station is, may or may not work. I spent 40 minutes in a grocery store once, trying to get someone who could understand me well enough to tell me where to find coffee cream. (Which happens to be a shelf-stable item in Germany, and is kept next to the coffee, which is why my forays up and down the dairy aisle were not productive.)
Posted by: ChatNoir

Re: OT: Learning German? - 10/22/10 04:13 PM

Originally Posted By: Gregor
Some German speak English, some not. But there is a tendency to use Anglicism in German, particularly in advertisements. Researchers found out that this "Denglisch" in ads is liked, but misunderstood. Some examples:

Feel the difference (Ford): Fühle das Differenzial (feel the differential gear)
Powered by Emotion (SAT 1 TV): Kraft durch Freude (ouch, a Nazi slogan)
Come in and find out: Komm rein und finde wieder heraus (come in and find the exit)
Drive alive (Mitsubishi): Überlebe die Fahrt (survive the ride)
But Denglisch is good for English speaking tourists: everywhere you see "service points", "customer center", "sale" and so on. There is a "Verein Deutsche Sprache" wich awards the prize for "Sprachpanscher" of the year.

Gregor


Last time I was in a McDonalds in Bremen, I asked the clerk how they said "to go" in German. Do you say "zu spazieren?" I asked, trying to look innocent. He had no sense of humor, and said sternly: "Nein, wir sagen zu Mitnehmen!" German humor should not be laughed at!
Posted by: Dave Horne

Re: OT: Learning German? - 10/22/10 04:47 PM

German language and culture are very strongly entwined.

Germans historically like to collect things (countries for example smile ) and display the importance of things by the capitalization of nouns.
Posted by: Gregor

Re: OT: Learning German? - 10/23/10 05:52 AM

Originally Posted By: ChatNoir
German humor should not be laughed at!


You are completely wrong. Our humor is just different. Have a look on Loriot, who is a very typical example for German humor:

http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=thewurstcase#p/u/21/lliHC7QSiG8

http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=thewurstcase#p/u/8/ytLTSJxmMas

And the best is this: German for foreigners. But it´s without English subtitles, so you need a minimum of German language skills:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jI6UWf46hN0

My girl friend teaches German as a foreign language. She teaches people from nearly all countries of the world. She says that Loriot is obviously funny only for Germans. She showed her pupils some Loriot sketches, but most of them can´t laugh about it. Give it a try: how about you?

Gregor
Posted by: Gyro

Re: OT: Learning German? - 10/23/10 04:10 PM

I believe the reason nouns are capitalized in German is that the nouns and their gender drive the language. You simply can't speak the language without knowing the gender of the nouns.
Posted by: Dave Horne

Re: OT: Learning German? - 10/23/10 04:22 PM

The history of the German capitalization of nouns can be found here .... http://german.about.com/library/weekly/aa020919b.htm
Posted by: Norbert

Re: OT: Learning German? - 10/23/10 04:33 PM

People forget that there are millions of foreigners in Germany that speak neither German nor English.

For anybody needing advice how to have the time of your life without even speaking one single word of German, ask any retired GI who spent his time in Nuernberg,Augsburg, Erlangen or Grafenwoehr.

Most of them will tell you they're still all singing "memories of Heidelberg" - a tune that was a big hit in the 60's

Rest assured, German or not German speaking - you'll have one of the most memorable trip in your life!

It's the American food and drink you will have to get used to after again...

Norbert wink
Posted by: Norbert

Re: OT: Learning German? - 10/25/10 01:28 AM

This one's for keepers, both German and English speakers:

Just make sure you will bring large enough suitcase...

http://www.pianoworld.com:80/Uploads/files/IMG_0777.JPG :

Norbert grin
Posted by: Mark R.

Re: OT: Learning German? - 10/25/10 05:56 AM

Originally Posted By: Gregor
Our humor is just different. Have a look on Loriot, who is a very typical example for German humor


Yes, those are classic examples. Even though I speak the language close to perfectly, Loriot fails to amuse me - time and again. The words "corny" or "stiff" come to mind.

Well, each to his own. wink
Posted by: tnew

Re: OT: Learning German? - 10/25/10 07:48 AM

OK, I admit, I found it funny. smile
Posted by: Zindaras

Re: OT: Learning German? - 10/25/10 08:30 AM

Originally Posted By: mikewu99
English is the lingua franca in most of Europe. I just got back from Rome where there were many non-native English speakers (for some reason there were a lot of Germans and Dutch there last week) using English to communicate with the locals.


Last week was autumn school break in the Netherlands.
Posted by: Norbert

Re: OT: Learning German? - 10/27/10 10:43 PM

Quote:
Germans don't suffer fools gladly, at least not German-speaking fools.


I liked that!

Perhaps that's why so many of us emigrated to other shores...

Norbert grin