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Johannes Holmberg

UI developer & designer

I would like to try something new. I have a problem that there are lots of things I want to learn but I find myself to be a little bit all over the place at once. I try a bit of this and a bit of that but nothing ever amounts to anything. I even find myself at times doing nothing because I have simply too many options. Not good.

So what I would like to try now is to focus on one subject per month. I pick a single subject or a skill that I want to develop, and then when I have some free time I know where I should focus it. This month I’ve picked German language.

Getting the basics

My German skills has gone both up and down but lately I feel it has degenerated too much. So I want to take a step in improving it. When I started learning German I used Duolingo for getting the basics down. It’s a beautiful app for iOS and it’s a delight to use their gamified approach for language learning.

It was a perfect start for getting familiarized with the sound of the language. I was quite amazed how quick it went to start grasping the fundamental pieces. You get a coach in form of an owl and he almost feels like a regular friend after some time. I was playing this for a couple of months (yes, I see it more as a game than anything) and it felt so great in the end, when I had conquered all the levels and that magnificent gold owl was mine. It’s a bit nerdy I know but it worked well for me.

Duolingo was the perfect tool for getting started. It didn’t cost a dime and thanks to it I could take the next step and started reading some smaller books on my own.

Next steps

Next I want to be able to have real conversations in German. I’ve come up with a plan of action to make it happen.

  • I’ve signed up for a German course. If I want to start speaking German there is no other way than to actually speak it. Sounds obvious, right? As William Zinsser put it—it’s a truism. But I’ve had a hard time starting. I feel so awkward. I need a sort of a trigger. And I think the trigger would come easier among other newbies, that’s my reasoning for the course.

  • In October I will listen to German podcasts when I’m out walking. I usually only listen to English speaking podcasts but I thought this would be a necessary change for the month.

  • I will only read German books in October. Another good change I think needs to happen in order for me to progress my skills. I’ve actually already started with Südlich der Grenze, westlich der Sonne, a German translation of one of Murakami’s novels.

So there we have it, the plan for October. I will continue to report the progress on the website and write down useful things I learn.