You won't remember it, but your first attempts to learn language were in response to the sounds of the people around you. You heard speech patterns for months before you finally attempted to duplicate them yourself. Nobody chided you for using incorrect grammar. In fact, your clumsy attempts to speak were always rewarded with delight.
Our brains are marvelous language machines. What we hear is catalogued by our brains and associated with ideas, concepts, and objects. Audio exposure to a foreign language is of prime importance. This article provides tips for rapidly increasing your foreign language vocabulary. Many tips are generic, but a good percentage are specifically focused on German language learners.
How to Find Audio Sources for German and Other Foreign Languages
1. Search the Internet for free sample audio lessons of programs like Pimsleur and Rosetta Stone.
2. Look for online television and radio stations.
3. Search through YouTube. You will find thousands of videos in German and other foreign languages.
4. Try to find good movies on DVD - and do not be afraid to rely on subtitles. Subtitles are your friend while you are learning.
5. Search for good unabridged audio books along with the printed books on which they are based.
How to Find Good Audio Books in German.
It is important to purchase unabridged productions so that you can read along with the narrator. Search for the following German words and phrases as you try to locate just the right audio book for your purposes. If you do not know how to type ö or ü on your keyboard, use 'oe' and 'ue' instead. Here are the terms to watch for:
1. audio book - Hörbuch (Hoerbuch)
2. audio books - Hörbücher (Hoerbuecher)
3. audio books - Sprechende Bücher (Sprechende Buecher)
4. audio book unabridged - Hörbuch ungekürzt (Hoerbuch ungekuerzt)
5. audio CD - Audio CD
6. audio book - Audio Book
7. unabridged - ungekürzt (ungekuerzt)
8. unabridged reading - ungekürzte Lesung (ungekuerzte Lesung)
9. unabridged readings - ungekürzte Lesungen (ungekuerzte Lesungen)
10. unabridged audio books - ungekürzte Hörbücher (ungekuerzte Hoerbuecher)
How to Tell the Difference Between Hardcover and Pocketbooks.
Hardcover books will be more expensive, therefore, try to find pocketbooks or softcover editions. Look for the following terms:
1. Hardcover - gebundene Ausgabe
2. Softcover - broschiert
3. Pocket book - Taschenbuch
How to Try before You Buy
To make sure that the audio and printed material are exactly the same, follow these steps:
1. Purchase material written by German authors.
2. Purchase audio and text editions from the same publisher.
3. Attempt to listen to the audio before buying. Look for a link to Hörprobe or Hörproben (audio sample/s, sound clip/s).
4. Try to get a peek inside the book. Watch for terms like Leseprobe or Leseproben (reading sample/s, reading rehearsal/s).
5. If you are a beginner to the German language, see if you can also find an English version of the book.
6. Concentrate on children's stories at first. The vocabulary is simpler and the books tend to be shorter.
How to Use Your Book and Audio CD.
1. Play the first chapter several times, listening carefully for words that you know. Try to decipher what is happening by guessing at vocabulary that is unfamiliar.
2. Play the first chapter several times while you read along in the book.
3. Grab a red pen and German dictionary. Look up unfamiliar words and note short definitions inline or in the margins of the book. Use the English book if you are really stuck.
4. Read through the chapter several times, noting the meanings of words as you do so.
5. Listen to the audio without the book whenever possible.
6. Write down particularly troublesome words on 3x5 index cards and study them whenever you have a chance.
7. Repeat with subsequent chapters.
This technique will dramatically increase your vocabulary in a short period of time!
Read Kathy's recent dual language German-English book of short stories and poetry, readable on your computer, cell phone, or PDA. Kathy also writes foreign-language articles for A-Language-Guide.com.