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Old 01-14-2015, 08:53 AM
 
Location: Altadena, CA
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Have any 'older' people (over 45+) learned a new language like German? I have heard that it's one of the most difficult languages to learn. I may have an opportunity and reason to learn it this year.
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Old 01-14-2015, 12:44 PM
 
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One can learn a new language at any age. It actually supposed be good for your brain to learn a new language when you are middle-aged or older although it might be more of an effort to do so.
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Old 01-14-2015, 06:41 PM
 
Location: Phoenix, AZ
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I'd say it depends on what you mean by "learn German".

German is difficult, if you're attempting full fluency. There's a lot of tedious little grammar rules that natives inherently understand (English is the same way), and you'll easily be identified as a foreign speaker by these mistakes.

That said, I'd say it's easy to get a basic grasp / understanding of German. Tedious grammar rules aside, German has a lot of cognates with English. The grammar structure isn't too complicated for basic sentences, and everything is pronounced exactly as it's spelled.

All the "big, scary, long words" in German are just compound nouns. Once you can break them up and look at the root words, you can look for the meaning behind them combined. Some of them seem kind of silly, but are easy enough to remember. Like the word "Nilpferd". "Nil" is the Nile River in Egypt. "Pferd" is a horse. A "Nile Horse" is a hippopotamus. Another animal example is a Stinktier. "Stink" is, well, "stink". And "Tier" means "Animal". A "stink animal" is, naturally, a skunk.

Given that last example, if I gave you the word "Tierpark", you could probably tell me what it means.

A lot of the people who say "German is difficult" are referring to noun genders, and the cases. "Der", "die", "das", "den" and "dem" all mean "the" -- but the one you use depends on if it's the subject, the direct object, or the indirect object... as well as if the noun is masculine, feminine, or neuter. And if there's an adjective, it's ending will change following the same rules...

...but here's the deal -- if you mess them up, people will still completely understand you. They might laugh that you called the chair "it" instead of "he" (it's "der (masculine) Stuhl", so it's a "he"), but they'll still be able to understand what you're trying to say.

So if you want to know enough that you could travel to Germany and get around on your own, I'd say it's pretty easy. 6 months to a year would have you holding conversations and understanding a great amount. If you want native fluency, it's hard work.
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Old 01-14-2015, 07:20 PM
 
Location: Altadena, CA
1,579 posts, read 1,546,879 times
Reputation: 2949
Quote:
Originally Posted by cab591 View Post
I'd say it depends on what you mean by "learn German".

German is difficult, if you're attempting full fluency. There's a lot of tedious little grammar rules that natives inherently understand (English is the same way), and you'll easily be identified as a foreign speaker by these mistakes.

That said, I'd say it's easy to get a basic grasp / understanding of German. Tedious grammar rules aside, German has a lot of cognates with English. The grammar structure isn't too complicated for basic sentences, and everything is pronounced exactly as it's spelled.

All the "big, scary, long words" in German are just compound nouns. Once you can break them up and look at the root words, you can look for the meaning behind them combined. Some of them seem kind of silly, but are easy enough to remember. Like the word "Nilpferd". "Nil" is the Nile River in Egypt. "Pferd" is a horse. A "Nile Horse" is a hippopotamus. Another animal example is a Stinktier. "Stink" is, well, "stink". And "Tier" means "Animal". A "stink animal" is, naturally, a skunk.

Given that last example, if I gave you the word "Tierpark", you could probably tell me what it means.

A lot of the people who say "German is difficult" are referring to noun genders, and the cases. "Der", "die", "das", "den" and "dem" all mean "the" -- but the one you use depends on if it's the subject, the direct object, or the indirect object... as well as if the noun is masculine, feminine, or neuter. And if there's an adjective, it's ending will change following the same rules...

...but here's the deal -- if you mess them up, people will still completely understand you. They might laugh that you called the chair "it" instead of "he" (it's "der (masculine) Stuhl", so it's a "he"), but they'll still be able to understand what you're trying to say.

So if you want to know enough that you could travel to Germany and get around on your own, I'd say it's pretty easy. 6 months to a year would have you holding conversations and understanding a great amount. If you want native fluency, it's hard work.

This is very informative. Thank you!
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Old 01-15-2015, 08:49 AM
 
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For an English speaker, it takes 750 hours to learn German (to be fluent), more than French, Spanish etc (600 hours).

But it is not bad at all. Learning Chinese, Korean and Japanese takes 2200 hours.

So stop whining about how difficult it is to learn another European language. Did you see all those Asians in the US who speak pretty good English? That's 2000 hours of hard work.

Language Difficulty Ranking | Effective Language Learning

So remember this: when someone boasts about being able to speak 4 foreign European languages, it is as impressive as being able to speak Chinese or Japanese fluently.
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Old 01-15-2015, 10:12 AM
 
2,853 posts, read 6,510,898 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by botticelli View Post
So stop whining about how difficult it is to learn another European language. Did you see all those Asians in the US who speak pretty good English? That's 2000 hours of hard work.
Living in the country where the language is spoken certainly helps with the hours spent learning it. My husband always criticizes my lack of understanding his native language, but it is tough when 95% of your personal and professional life is in your native tongue! I always wish I could go live somewhere for 6 months to immerse myself in the language. I would recommend to OP to find someone who is a native speaker whom they can converse with.

Edit: great link by the way!
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Old 01-16-2015, 01:00 AM
 
Location: Sunrise
10,868 posts, read 14,245,345 times
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I found German to be one of the easier languages.

Many words are close enough. And the Germans just lump more and more words together.

Cake = kuchen
day = tag
birth = geburt

Put them together to make birthday cake: geburtstagskuchken

Looks like a mouthful but it rolls off the tongue more-or-less like English.

And there are so many words that identical: auto, symbol, drama, intelligent. There are hundreds of words that mean exactly the same thing in English and German, are spelled the same, and have similar pronunciation. http://leicht-deutsch-lernen.com/sam...ish-and-german

Getting used to the verb being at the end of the sentence can be a pain when listening, but it's easy enough when reading.
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Old 01-16-2015, 06:42 AM
 
3,274 posts, read 3,693,861 times
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None of the European languages are "the most difficult" to learn for an English speaker. That honor would go to something like Mandarin, Japanese, Nahuatl or Hindi (among common world languages). Since English is a Germanic language, there are many similarities between the two.
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Old 01-16-2015, 07:58 AM
 
Location: Phoenix, AZ
1,070 posts, read 2,366,663 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ScoopLV View Post
Getting used to the verb being at the end of the sentence can be a pain when listening, but it's easy enough when reading.
Just to elaborate -- German is typically Subject-Verb-Object, like English. The verb only takes the end when you start building onto your sentences. You'll run into it in conversation and reading, but you can get by with basic sentences.

So for example, "Ich werfe das Ball" is "I threw the ball" (word for word). But if I want to use a modal verb (would, could, should, want, etc), the verb would move to the end. So "Ich möchte das Ball werfen" would be "I would like to throw the ball" (literally "I would like the ball throw").

Another one of the nit-picky grammar rules -- verb endings depend on subject. The default ending is -en (werfen). When the subject is "ich", the verb ending is -e (werfe, möchte). In the above example of modals, the first verb (möchten) gets the ending, and the action verb (werfen, now moved to the end of the sentence) keeps its root ending.

Just one of the many grammar rules in German. They're pretty easy to learn once you get practice, and if you royally botch them up, you'll still be understood though. So as I said earlier, getting a basic understanding, and being able to formulate basic sentences is pretty easy to learn. It gets more complicated learning all the little ins and outs, but not as hard as, say, Asian languages.

...Oh, and for questions, the verb goes in front. Werfe ich das ball? Though really, I think you would know if you've thrown the ball or not, so a better question would be "Kann ich das ball werfen?" ("Can I throw the ball?"). Like the modals above, question verb takes the place of the original verb (this time before the subject) and takes the ending ("können" is one of the few irregular verbs, though... Just another thing to learn!). The action verb again takes the end spot.

Deutsch ist einfach! (German is easy!)
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Old 01-17-2015, 07:44 AM
 
10,847 posts, read 11,260,811 times
Reputation: 7581
First of all, the pronunciation rules of all other European languages are way easier to learn than English.

Do English speakers realize how irregular and unpredictable English pronunciation is? exampe

great
bread
seat
bear
beard
heart
early
create
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