Language learning skills

December 29, 2015

Language learning skills

In order to learn a foreign language we need to develop the four language learning skills:
hören:           listening       
sprechen:     speaking       
lesen:            reading
schreiben:    writing


telephone.gif                        readnewspaper.gif
Sprechen Sie, bitte!                                 Lesen Sie, bitte!

Please speak!                                            Please read!

                             Schreiben Sie, bitte!
                                         Please write!

Hören Sie, bitte                                    (Please listen)
Und sprechen Sie, bitte                        (and speak, please)
und jetzt                                                (and now)
Lesen Sie, bitte                                     (Please read)

Lesen - to read

The biggest mistakes Foreign Language Learners make

The biggest mistake Foreign Language Learners make is that they expect words expressed in a certain way in English to work the same way in German.

In order to learn a (foreign) language we learn how words function together to form thoughts. Most words cannot be translated in isolation. They follow a pattern where they go in a sentence. Each word must do its job to make the sentence work, in order to express meaning. Often there are more terms for what has basically the same meaning, but no exact equivalent exists. Don’t expect words expressed in a certain way in English or your mother tongue to work the same way in German. Different cultures communicate in different ways. You have to look for an approximate equivalent and context.
As an example please look at the word “bitte”.

The word ‘bitte’ in German means both ‘please’ when asking for something and ‘you’re welcome’ after an expression of graditude. It is also used when presenting something, such as ‘here you are’ or ‘here you go’. It can also be used to ask someone to repeat something you did not hear the first time, either by itself or as part of ‘Wie bitte?’ Finally, ‘ja, bitte’ or ‘bitte schön’ is used to open a dialogue between a functionary and a customer, such as summoning the next person inline at the post office. Context will tell you which sense is appropriate.

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