During my time here, I have heard alot of Germans speak English. I have learned almost as much from hearing them speak English as I do from hearing them speak German. What I find interesting is how the errors they commonly make correlate with their native language. For example, Germans tend to use the word "make" alot. This is because "machen" is used so much in their language. They might say "We make a walk." Or something similar. So, by paying attention to the words they use, you find out how they would say it in German. For example, one of my students wrote the possessive of "companies" as "his", because in German, "company" is masculine. I did not know that until then.
In addition, listening to the way they pronounce the words gives you clues as to how to pronounce German words. It's easier to pick up the differences in the ways they pronounce vowels and some consonants when you listen to it in your own language. Then, you can take that and cross apply it to their language. Sometimes I have to pretend I am speaking English with a thick German accent for a moment (only a moment!) in order to wrap my tongue around German. I also sometimes notice a difference in the inflections when German people speak English, which is really helpful for hearing the melody in their native language.
Now, I am not one to give any form of language advice--that is certain. These are just observations I have made. My German is still a disaster, but I am working on it. I found a book series at the library that I really enjoyed reading when I was younger, and I have started reading that everyday. The other German books I have attempted reading were very difficult for me because they were written in a narrative writing form. This book, however, is written in conversational German, which is so much easier for me to read. In the more proper narrative form, most of the verbs change form slightly, so it is harder to understand. However, this is more like the German I encounter everyday. It's also very helpful to pick up common phrases, because I know the English vocabulary and speaking style used in the book so well. I'm actually enjoying reading it. Weird.
Some day I will have to read The Awful German Language by Mark Twain. He lived in Germany for a time, and actually really loved the language. He took lessons throughout his life and had a collection of books in German. His book was a bit of a love letter to language, but also emphasized something that everybody who encounters the German knows:
So, do you have any tips for teaching foreign languages? Anything that helps you? Let me know in the comments below, because I need all the help I can get! I just wish I knew someone who used to run a language school....(Max).
Mit freundlichen Grüßen,