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As a Chinese, I've learned English for more than 15 years and English is undoubtedly my second foreign language. Then I learned German for 3 years at college. There are a lot of similarities between the two languages as they derive from the same language family (the Germanic stock). However, this also form obstacles for me to learn German grammar and esp. to form a German way of thinking. Till now, I still cannot use it as well as English in terms of speaking and writing. I wonder if native English speakers also have such problems with German learning. If so, how do you solve the problem?
Well, as a native German speaker I can say that achieving a certain language skill depends on your very own effort. Learning English is easy nowaday thanks to the internet. English (good and bad English) can be found everywhere. For this reason, it's hardly surprising that understanding/speaking/writing English seems more comfortable than German.
If you would invest more time in German, for example, by reading German newspaper articles, German books, by listening to German radio/podcasts, watching German TV and talking to German people, your German skill will soon become as good as your English skill.
For Germans, it's exactly the same with French (or any other language beside English we learn at school). Why is French so uncomfortable although we've learned it for years? Because we don't use it. We just learned some grammar, some vocabulary. That's all. But we hardly ever read French, listen to French and never talk to French people. (And if we meet French people we tend to use English instead.)
A few years ago, I was quite fluent in French. (My French was even better than my English back then.) Almost ten years later, I can't even write it correctly anymore.
Thanks for your answers!:) I agree with Nina's opinion that more efforts must be made to learn German and that the level of individual's language skill declines with little application. Actually, I learnt German as my major and devoted fairly much time to it during the years. However, I could hardly find opportunities to use it apart from taking exams or having classes. I guess that's also a main reason. Besides, there are relatively fewer resources for German learning compared to that of English -- As can be seen, English is widely used and spread through TED talks, open courses online, various books, magazines, TV shows, movies and advertisements... I would really like to find similar German resources!
I do think German outweighs English in terms of its logic -- it is undoubtedly suitable for academic writing! But it is really hard to remember those phrases with more than one declination case or speak a long, grammatically correct sentence fluently. Perhaps it requires more practice than English -- one has to think grammatically...
Vielen Dank fuer Steves bilinguale Antworten! Sein Deutsch ist super:) Um die deutsch Grammatik habe ich mich viele Muehe gemacht, deren Komplexitaet gefaellt mir gar nicht! Wegen Ihrer Verwandten haben Sie die Motivation, Deutsch zu lernen. Aber solche Motivation habe ich nicht -- ich moechte nur nicht darauf verzichten. Vielleicht soll ich mehr mit Deutschen, Schweizern oder Oesterreichen umgehen, oder? :P
Haha! I like your final conclusion about the two languages which is reaaaaally interesting! Besides, I saw your revising of the sentence... It's so hard to make every Genus correct, isn't it? Und villeicht ist es "Nina ist eine deutsche Muttersprachlerin"?
Steve, English is also sexist, although not as strong as German. In English you have "man" and "woman". Why not just one word for adults?
Germans want to know everything exactly. You can change order of words and still you can recognise subject and object etc.
For example: In english you say, "I love you" but you cannot say, "you love I"
But in German you can say either "Ich liebe dich" or "dich liebe ich". Both are correct.