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I will be spending May - Sept 2012 in Germany and want to be fluent in speaking and proficient in reading / writing by May 2012.

I have started the journey to learning German I am currently using Rosetta stone 3.5 and German Demystified. Currently I am spending 30 to 60 minutes per day learning and practicing.

Is 30 to 60 minutes per day enough to get fluent in the Language in 8 months?

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Hi ams, and welcome to German Language & Usage! I've taken the liberty to remove one of your points, since this site is optimal for one question per question. The remaining question is good, especially if you define what you mean by "fluent". The other isn't really a good fit for our Q&A format. If you disagree, feel free to ask it as a separate question or even roll back my edit. –  Tim N Aug 14 '11 at 17:35
    
Fluent for me means that I can have a conversation in a social setting, read the paper, go shopping, read menus in restaurants, talk to people ask for directions ... etc watch German TV and programming. Being able to write German would be great but not essential for my needs in the short run. –  ams Aug 22 '11 at 3:02
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I recommend that after some months you incorporate some listening to stuff from the German region you want to go to. You will not be happy if you listen only to North Germany German and then go to South Germany. –  Phira Aug 24 '11 at 10:14
    
@ams Any progress report? –  Jules Feb 1 '12 at 12:46
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Did it work in the end? –  Glen Wheeler Aug 7 '12 at 8:22

5 Answers 5

up vote 14 down vote accepted
  1. It sounds enough, 60 minutes is an ideal time if you could keep on the good work for 8 months. I had a problem that I couldn't stop learning when I started it and it took 4-5 hours one day. So I had to remove "German" from tomorrow's daily plan.

    like everything else, a little bit a lot is better than a lot a little bit. for example, reading an hour or two a day for five days is better than reading only one day for ten hours.

  2. The thing, I'd like to say is, to learn German grammar you better finish a topic first. otherwise you get confused by a very wide range of grammar topics. For example, make sure you've finished learning everything (necessary) about "sentence structure" then go for the next topic.

    As a side note: Most important parts of Grammar are, Noun genders and The four German cases, as far as I experienced.

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Well, what do you mean by fluent? :-)

I've been learning German for eleven months and has become fluent, but I have been living in Germany the whole time. I have also met loads of German learners during my stay there. This answer is my highly subjective guess at where you'll be in eight months based on this experience.

Reading

You'll be able to read books and newspapers without a dictionary, but not understand every word. Your vocabulary should be at least 4000 words and your English knowledge will enable you to guess the meaning of many other words.

Writing

With time and a dictionary you'll be able to construct well formed and correct sentences, but it will not sound native - your language simply won't have the correct "flow".

Speaking

If you find other German learners or a German "Stammtisch" to practice with you will be able to get your point across, but inelegantly and with lots of errors. (For example errors with noun genders and expressions with fixed prepositions.) If you have only practiced alone you will not be able to say much, but will quickly pick it up as you get to Germany.

Listening

You will be able to understand learners of German, but will understand native Germans only when they make sure to speak slowly and clearly to you. When natives speak between themselves you will only be able to get the general idea of what they are talking about - or not even that.

This last paragraph may seem overly negative, but I have seen again and again foreign learners which can speak intelligently about almost any subject in German, but only with other foreigners. When speaking with natives it becomes all to evident that their listening skills are not up to par. Germans simply speak too fast for them.

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Did you try watching German TV does it help for understanding native German's speaking at their normal speed. I have tried watching a bit of news from zdf.de could not make much as my vocabulary is not very big right now. Is the German on the news spoken slowly relative to everyday speech? I do have a several native German Speakers I can practice with before my trip. –  ams Aug 17 '11 at 3:46
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Yes, I tried lots of stuff! I bought books in both paper and audio form (Verbrechen is excellent) so that I could read along with what I was hearing. At the beginning this was too difficult; I had to translate first, then listen. Then I progressed through watching news and dubbed movies (which is easy) to watching talk shows and German movies (which is hard). –  Stovner Aug 17 '11 at 8:29
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@ams: And yes, German news is quite easy to understand since it is spoken slowly and in perfect standard German ("Hochdeutsch"). You need a quite big vocabulary, though. –  Stovner Aug 17 '11 at 8:32

It also highly depends on which foreign languages you already know and what your mother tongue is. Since you specified Vancouver, I assume it's English. Knowledge of a Scandinavian or the Dutch language would obviously help a lot. Same goes for any language with genders and noun declension. For instance, Russian native speakers also tend to pick up German a lot faster than others, due to familiarity with many sounds and a good feel for grammar.

A part from that, I can only agree with Stovner. You should be more or less okay on a written level, except for the odd article mistakes and maybe poor word order. But speaking & listening will cause a great deal of trouble for you. Especially when you have background noises, e.g. in the pub. You'll also hate how limited your humour and your wit are ("Schlagfertigkeit"), because you'll constantly think how to phrase something.

Also consider which region or city you're going to as regional expressions or strong dialect will knock out any chance of a decent casual conversation with natives ;)

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It took me 2 years of working in an office, in Germany, with Germans. (Now, eight years later, I'd call myself, uh, "conversational" or "advanced" ... I mean I could hold my own in pretty much any conversation, but I don't know that I'd say "fluent" because I still have an accent and still come across the occasional word I don't know.

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For me, "fluent" means that you can take in a conversation without stumbling over words. –  Hendrik Vogt Aug 19 '11 at 6:22
    
Fluent as in having flowing language? –  James Poulson Aug 30 '11 at 7:36

I think as long as you enjoy taking in more German, do it. The amount of time you've mentioned should be a good base, but if you can take more and if you draw happiness from being exposed to a language you love, do it. You will learn very fast that way.

Viel Glück und viel Spaß beim Lernen!

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