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Firstly, some context. I’m learning German for fun, a hobby. I don’t live in Germany or a German-speaking country, but I love Germany, and this year I’ve been fortunate to visit numerous times.

I started Duolingo in May 2020 and 121 speaking lessons in September 2020. So just on the speaking lessons alone, I’m more than two years in and have had something like 45 lessons. I have text books, exercise books, dual language books, Flashcards, and use various other apps like Clozemaster, too. I really enjoy it.

But here lies the problem, I’m struggling to grasp it. I know that ideally I’d study more, but as it’s a hobby I don’t study intensely daily or weekly. But either way, with everything I do, I’m not progressing much. So much so that my German tutor suggested I take a step back from various A2 things we are doing, back to A1 because he recognizes that I just haven’t grasped some aspects. I could go to detail about what I am struggling with if it helps.

As I said I enjoy it, but honestly it’s turning into frustration. I have a successful career and was recently promoted to a very senior role, I know I’m not unintelligent, but I’m seriously struggling with German learning.

So what do I do? Do I keep paying for these lessons knowing it’s going to take me an awfully long time? Do I skip the lessons and simply study with Duolingo, apps, all the books I have so at least my slow learning isn’t costing so much? Or frankly, do I just kind of leave it there? Or do I ramp it up and enroll into a course? Or have more lessons?

I don’t want to stop, but something has to change, I think - or maybe it doesn’t? Maybe this is normal?

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  • You do that as a hobby. You are supposed to enjoy and not only endure it. Maybe try a different approach: Read books watch movies, listen to podcasts or radio, practise the living language - with things and topics which are interesting to you in any language Dec 29, 2022 at 23:59
  • You've probably chosen the very wrong place to have yourself convinced to give up ;) (Or, maybe, you've chosen this place deliberately to have yourself encouraged).
    – tofro
    Dec 30, 2022 at 0:00
  • We can not do the decision for you, only show alternatives and paint pictures about "What will be the effect of one decision" and give more information about aspects. The decision in the end needs to fit into your your needs and make YOU happy :) SO you need to do it by yourself Dec 30, 2022 at 14:05

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I'm in a situation somewhat similar to yours; I started with Duo (though I quit about half-way through) and am continuing to learn German as a challenge and a hobby. Yes, after a while progress becomes less noticeable and you can become discouraged. Learning a language is more like a marathon than a sprint, and you have to accept that becoming fluent may take years; it may not even be achievable at all depending on your circumstances. Unlike a marathon, there is no real finish line; you're never going to say "I've learned German." (I'm a native speaker of English, but that doesn't mean I still don't have to look up the meaning of a word in English once in a while.) But just because progress isn't as noticeable as it was in the beginning doesn't mean you're not progressing. And learning as a hobby is different than learning in a college course. I'd suggest finding ways to incorporate German practice into activities you enjoy doing anyway. I enjoy playing video games, so I try to play them in German if a German version is available. If you like to travel then consider taking your next vacation in a German speaking country. You're using a variety of learning methods, which is good, but you only listed study aids; there's no fun activities which just happen to involve the German language. It sounds like you have an idea that you need to just study for x years, and then when you're done with that you can stop studying and start watching German movies or whatever. I think it should a gradual transition, and by now you should have started already. You may be surprised occasionally by how much of the language you encounter "in the wild" you're able to understand; I know I am. The CEFR levels are a useful measure of your general knowledge, but for a hobby you shouldn't feel restricted by them. In other words you shouldn't feel like you can't start on B1 material until you've fully mastered the A2 material, and even if you've started on B1 it doesn't mean you won't have to review A1 material occasionally.

Anyway, I'm not entirely convinced that the question is on-topic for the site since it's more about language learning (for which there is another SE) than German itself. But one thing I appreciate about German is the publicly funded resources for learning it, specifically the DW language courses. They're meant to be fun as well as educational. I imagine that you will probably already know most of the material they cover, but I think they're entertaining and every bit of practice helps.

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If you’re not enjoying it, don’t do it. But in my experience, I learned very little from Duolingo and my language skills took off when I started listening to podcasts and watching more German YouTube channels.

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Learning a language is a huge effort and only makes sense if you want to use the language you have learned. From what you have told us in your question, I cannot see that you are really interested in using the language. You didn't write that you would like to watch German movies or read German books. It looks like you don't have any friends who are native German speakers, and you didn't tell us about business partners from a German-speaking country. Nothing you have told us indicates that you have a need to use the German language.

I don't know why you are learning German, and if you don't either, then I don't see the point in investing more time in learning a skill that you will probably never need.

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You need to decide this by yourself. I see some pros and cons here, but how their weight for you is, you need to decide.

Against speaking:

  • costs
  • rare occasion to use the language, so:
  • rare occasion to train in real life
  • frustration

For learning speaks:

  • enjoying the hobby
  • use your time in a productive way
  • train your brain
  • be able to communicate on a wider variety
  • maybe be able (in the future) to consume media in another language

You should think about, if you need to make progress to feel satisfied. Even to hold your level needs effort, which you should acknowledge and be proud of.

For me learning is highly connected with inner motivation. So if I have a real goal (one I want to achieve, not another person want me to do so), learning is easy for me. But I do not like a lots of repetitive things. So language learning is not easy for me. My goal in learning English was, to read the last Harry Potter book (not available in German language at this point) in English language. The motivation was high enough to sit with two books (HP and a dictionary) for some weeks and learn a lots of new words about witches and wizards...

I think, if you would have such a goal, you may get back your enjoyment about learning German. If you are not fluent, there are (famous and non famous) books written in simple language (in einfacher Sprache), or written for learning German in school (with information about rare words inside). If you are not interested in books, you may enjoy videos. German is one of few languages, where non-German movies are fully synchronized in German language, not dubbed with a story teller over the original sound. IF you are not interested in media in all, you could try to find a "Brieffreund", who is a person you write letters (or emails, or instant messages) to in German. You can choose, if you want them to be a native and correct you, or simple to have one, you can write in German to and get answers, without feedback about your skills.

Have a look into this german.SE question about Resources to learn (and use) German and you may find something of interest for you.

In my opinion, if you have a heart for learning German and it felt good to you, you should not make the decision to stop too easy. Maybe to change some parameters will bring the happiness back to you, without opening a hole in your schedule, where German was before.

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