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I've studied German for almost three years when I was a teenager. I'm now out of practice. I just managed to keep up minimal functional reading skills by keeping reading books and visiting German sites with the advent of the Internet.

What should I do to catch up?

Edit:

Answers in German are accepted.

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13  
Hint: You want to improve you german. Why don't use it here? –  Em1 Jan 14 '12 at 13:30
    
@Em1: Ich danke ihnen für den Hinweis! –  user1226 Jan 15 '12 at 15:19

7 Answers 7

up vote 7 down vote accepted

That's how I (try to) improve my English:

  • Read online news paper daily
  • Watch TV (news, series) as well as movies
  • Read books
  • Listen to audio books.
  • Work through severals online pages (like stackexchange) daily, where you find interesting new words, idioms, etc. and learn them by heart

and finally

  • Speak as much as possible with native speakers
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I'm a (rather passive) member of Delphi-Praxis: a german formum site. Yet, I can benefit a lot from it since mostly I grasp what is beeing discussed. –  user1226 Jan 15 '12 at 5:00
1  
@menjaraz: Don't read only. Write too. Then you will recognize what is hard with the other language. Reading is much more easy. –  user unknown Oct 23 '12 at 23:55

I'd suggest listening to daily radio on the internet. Simply listen to delta radio or NDR2 or something online.

Another good Idea is to talk to people from Germany on IRC, for instance. I know this is old and all, but this is how I had my first steps with Finnish.

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1  
I do not believe that you learn or improve your language skills in IRC. The internet german (reduced to chat) is a very dreadful german. –  Em1 Jan 19 '12 at 13:47
    
Danke, NDR2 ist gut! –  BryceAtNetwork23 Jan 20 '12 at 2:10
    
NDR 2, <en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norddeutscher_Rundfunk>;, "Popular music station for middle-aged listeners. This is a commercial public service station." –  Peter Mortensen May 15 '12 at 21:58
    
@all: May I recommend: Deutschlandfunk, where they still have "program" (like NPR) dradio.de/dlf –  Quandary Oct 28 '13 at 11:08

For understanding of spoken German, I have gotten a lot out of Deutsche Welle's Learning German podcasts. It includes series on particular vocabulary, as well as the Langsam gesprochene Nachrichten. I find I can now listen to that one on my iPod's double-speed setting. It's no good for Umgangsprach, but great for vocabulary, learning what is going on in German politics and society, etc.

I agree with the other answerers on the value of conversation with native speakers. I found it useful to be in situations where I wasn't too worried about getting every word right. For me, that was in noisy bars after a couple of beers. I am quite certain my spoken German is better under those circumstances! It is important not to switch between languages in the one conversation, or you will keep thinking in English. At some point as you improve, you will suddenly realise that about twenty minutes previously, you stopped thinking of the English and translating, and you'd been producing spoken German directly instead.

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I learned a lot of Italian in a short time by doing a tandem with a native speaker.

There is a website (http://www.slf.ruhr-uni-bochum.de/) where you can easily find a partner for chatting, skyping, ...

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Ist Deutsch ihre Muttersprache? –  user1226 Jan 15 '12 at 15:00
    
Ja, richtig. Habe ich einen typisch deutschen Fehler im Englischen gemacht? –  user1229 Jan 15 '12 at 15:03
    
Meiner Meinung Nein, English ist auch ein Fremdsprache für mich. Ich bin Madagasisch. –  user1226 Jan 15 '12 at 15:09
    
Typisch deutschen Fehler im Englischen kann ich nicht erkennen. –  user1226 Jan 15 '12 at 15:14
    
@menjaraz Es heisst übrigens madagassisch ;p Dies verändert sogar die Aussprache: Mit einem s wäre es /z/ (stimmhaftes deutsches s) wie im englischen zoo, mit zwei ist es dann /s/ wie in sea. –  Em1 Jan 15 '12 at 19:43

The best way to brush up any language is to visit the country outside of tourist routes and try to communicate with natives. Ideally, you should stay for a longer time within a native family and with as less contact to your native language as possible.

Of course this is a question of time and money, since you may not have the chance to do so. So the next best thing is to communicate with Germans via Internet in a chat or better via voice. And here it's a good thing not to think too much about what and how you're expressing things, but spontniously talk, even if you make mistakes.

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Another possibility that has not yet been mentioned, would be to visit the GL&U chat.

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I am German and that is how I improved my English:

I watched a lot of English movies with subtitles if necessary.

That is fun and it helps catching up.

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1  
Solange wie der Film nicht zuviele Fachbegriffe beinhaltet (zum Beispiel aus der Medizin), empfehle ich jedem, Untertitel wegzulassen. Sie helfen nur bedingt, aber bremsen den Lernfortschritt aus. Im Zweifel kann man die unverständlichen Sequenzen später noch mal mit Untertitel anschauen. –  Em1 Jan 15 '12 at 19:45

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