Listening practice with a language tandem partner 

A few weeks ago I came up with an relatively easy way to practice listening with your language tandem partner. You can try to have a conversation while both speaking your native language. For example, I speak German, you speak English and we both practice listening without the additional stress of making a sentence in your target language. You can just focus on listening and understanding. Additionally,  we don’t make that many uncomfortable mistakes. We can still misunderstand, but it’s less stressful. 

I actually do this with Korean quite often. My spoken Korean is to weak for most interesting conversations. But if I only have to listen and give my answer in German, it’s much easier for me. And my partner can practice listening German at the same time. 

Of course you can also try to say things in your target language, if you already know how to say them. But if you are not certain, I think, you can wait, until you heard them often enough to use them yourself. 

Give it I try, if you like the idea. 

How I learned english

Before I share my little story, I like to clarify what I mean by ‚learned english‘. I can’t tell what my current level is or how many words I know. But I would say I am able to understand between 95-100% what’s being said in most common media and I am able to make conversations about every topic I want to discuss, sometimes missing a specific word or using an easier language than natives would do. In other words, I am still learning and this blog is also supposed to help me to get more confident in producing language. So, you can argue if I already learned english or not. But I would say yes. 

My journey started back in school, where all germans I know were supposed to learn at least some years a little bit english. In my class, I was maybe the worst learner. Most of the time my sentences were wrong, I couldn’t remember the vocabulary, I couldn’t really speak and I had no motivation whatsoever. And motivation is key in learning anything. 

So, in these years even me as a bad student couldn’t avoid learning at least the basics of the english language. But besides the classes I had no real chance using it. Cinema and TV were german or dubbed, the internet was slow, somewhat boring and mainly text-based and I had no foreign friends who hasn’t learned enough german. So, for years nothing happened and I felt like forgetting most of what I’ve learned. 

It changed when I started listing to podcast. It’s my absolute favorite medium. I started around 2008, the first years only with german program. There was a lot interesting stuff, more then I could possibly listen to. 2013 I realized how big podcasts in english-speaking countries became and that I was missing out on a lot great content. 

So I subscribed to some channels and started listening. In the beginning it was really frustrating, understanding nearly nothing of what’s being said. To fast, to much accent, to many words missing. But I said to myself „Scheiß drauf, ich will das verstehen!“ what translates to something like „Fuck it, I want to understand this!“. 

I unsubscribed from all german content and listened to english podcasts whenever I could. At work, at home, on the go. It took only a few months until I was satisfied with my understanding abilities. But I have to say, I really listened a lot. Many hours nearly every day. Maybe 3-8 hours, I haven’t collected any data. Just guessing. 

In the beginning 2015 I decided to work on my speaking skills as well. I found some language exchange partners on the internet and practiced. We didn’t use books, grammar instructions or something. Just met in a restaurant, gone for a walk or had a drink in a bar. Natural conversations without fake topics. I realized many missing words that I was able to understand but not remember when I wanted to use them myself. But that got better very fast just by meeting foreign friends from time to time. I knew the words, I only had to practice using them myself. 

But could I have learned english just through listening? Hard to say. I shouldn’t ignore that I learned the basics in school. And gradually over years grew my reading skills by surfing the web. The main reasons that I succeeded (in my opinion, I did), were high motivation and interest, a language that share many similar words, that is hard to completely avoid and that is very useful these days. Of course the learning never ends. There might be many mistakes in this article, but I’m confident that you got the message. That is what communication is about. 

I’m learning korean for a year now and recently started spanish. For korean I know already the basics and I’m growing my vocabulary mostly with apps. Besides that I’m listing a lot again. Spanish is more an experiment. I’m trying to learn only though listening. Since spanish is not that different from german and english this might work. I’m curious and I will share my experience here in future posts. 

Back in Germany

I’m back in Germany for two months now. I was in South Korea before and enjoyed one of my most exciting trips yet. Since my girlfriend is Korean, I was able to see a lot great places and meet many very kind family members and friends. I’m grateful for this experience. 

Even though it was different in some ways, there where no huge surprises. It was a little bit like I expected the country to be. But maybe that’s because I’m learning the language for a year now and I had already a good idea what it could be like. 

Still there are parts of the culture I couldn’t experience yet, like work life. And because of my limited Korean, most things I was only told by my girlfriend. Not directly from other people. She had to translate a lot. I hope, next time I will be able to make some long conversations myself. 

Update on minimalism 

I made a lot progress since my last post. There are only clothes left I’m really wearing. Now I can pack all my clothes for summer in one luggage and I have still some space. For winter it’s a little bit more difficult, because they are heavier and eat up more space. But that’s okay, they still don’t need much. 

I will be in another country for the next few weeks. So it’s really helpful that everything I need fits in one luggage. And it’s just around 15 kilogram. So I can bring some new stuff back home, if I want to.

Now I have only things left I want to sell, when I’m back in Germany. And I still have my desktop computer. I can use remote software, if I need something while I’m not in Germany. Because I don’t live alone, I can ask to boot the PC for me, that I have access. But for accessing data there shouldn’t be a reason. If I haven’t forgotten anything, all I need is in the cloud. But I might need to use some software, that’s not available on Android devices. 

It’s an interesting situation. I never felt so free. Everything is in order, besides the fact that I don’t know yet where I will work or learn, when I’m back, but that’s fine. I’m used to an unknown future. And it’s not bad. Kind of exiting. 

By the way: Maybe I will bring some updates about my trip. Haven’t decided yet.

100 MB for 2 Euro and getting rid of clothes

I don’t want to bore you with my internet-smartphone-thing. But I want to mention, that I have some kind of mobile internet again. I realized, that it’s just much easier to have at least internet for an hour before meeting somebody somewhere. It’s always a little complicate to meet people you can only call or send sms. And sometimes it’s just not practical to call people while being outside somewhere. To noisy, bad connection or just people arround me I don’t want to disturb with my phone call. So, 100 MB a month for these situations.

Another thing I’m doing for the next weeks: I took all my clothes out of my dresser and every day I choose only clothes I put outside. When I’ve done the laundry, I put the clothes back in the dresser. So I make sure I wear everything again and I can decide, what I don’t want to use or what maybe doesn’t fit anymore. I already got rid of some, I don’t like anymore. Hopefully, this will reduce my stuff as well.

For me, it’s always a good feeling to have less stuff. Maybe I’ll try to throw or give away one thing every day or seven things a week (so I don’t have to do this every day). Yeah, maybe that’s a good idea and I should start next week …

New battery, no mobile Internet

As I mentioned in my post before, my phone was dead and I ordered a new battery. After my phone worked again, I realized that I started using it too much again. When I’m with friends, it stays in my pocket most of the time, but when I’m alone I use it a lot.

But since I enjoyed the time without phone, I decided to get rid of my mobile Internet. I have WiFi at home and at work, if I want to send a few messages, download a few Podcast or do something with my phone I need Internet for.

I installed offline maps I already used on my tablet during vacation. So if I have to navigate, there is a solution.

Till this post I’m not missing my Internet connection when I’m outside. It’ll be interesting, when I’m visiting my grandparents for a whole weekend. They have no Internet at all. But my connection there was always very slow and I enjoyed talking to them. I guess I will maybe just be curious, if I have some messages from someone. Everything else can wait till I’m back home. Or maybe they have free WiFi somewhere nearby in a cafe or something. I will see …

Now what?

For a long time nothing happened on my blog, but I think it’s time for a fresh start. Actually I study english for myself, so I thought it might be useful to blog in english as well. So, if you found some mistakes I made, feel free to correct me in the comments.

Usually I take a lot of photos with my phone and post them on facebook and instagram. Unfortunately my battery died yesterday, so I’ll give my tablet camera a try. If the pictures are to bad, I have to find another option. I ordered a new battery, but I like the idea to be without smartphone from now on. I still have my tablet for music and podcasts, but I have no internet without WiFi. I like the feeling not to be available all the time, so maybe, I ged rid of my phone or just buy a very simple one. I’ll decide later.

Yeah, so from know on I try to post regulary. We’ll see how it goes.

See you soon!?