How do I explain my limited knowledge?

tad-m August 25, 2013, 11:35 pm
My German language skills are at the bottom threshold of intermediate. I think I have pretty good pronunciation. This can lead a German-speaking person to assume that I am pretty fluent. When I don't understand the response, I generally say, "Ich spreche nur ein bischen Deutsch." That can have the effect of switching the conversation of the other person to English. I would like to practice what I do know and hear the response even if I can only pick out some of the words. Should I add the dependent phrase, "but I like to practice speaking German" and how would I say that? Any other suggestions?
How do I explain my limited knowledge?
Bob-D August 26, 2013, 11:53 am
Hi. My experience with Germans and Germany is generally most will work with you as long as time is not an issue. For instance, if you are trying to order a meal in a restaurant, time is not that important and I think you are fine to go ahead and try to speak German. But unless you are truly fluent (I doubt most of us on here are), then in places like an airport and a busy shop, English will be better, as I can guarantee that almost all Germans who work in places like that speak nearly flawless English. The word for practice is "praktizieren." I would be interested in what others have to say.
How do I explain my limited knowledge?
Byron-K21 August 26, 2013, 1:18 pm
I agree with Bob completely. You have to pick your spots. I have been to local restaurants and small mom/pop shops where the waiters or clerks don't speak fluent English, but in the big city hotels, train stations, airports, etc, the service people are all very fluent in English (likely much more so than our German), and when you are in a busy queue, that is not the time to practice speaking German. The best time to practice is in a more casual setting, perhaps in a bar or with people you meet on a tour or excursion.
How do I explain my limited knowledge?
moritz September 7, 2013, 2:33 pm
I would have to disagree with Bobs translation of the word "practice".

In this case the word "üben" for practice would be more proper. A good translation for your phrase would be "aber ich übe gerne Deutsch (zu sprechen)" but more likely you would say "aber der Übung wegen würde Ich gerne weiterhin Deutsch sprechen wollen. (Wenn das in Ordnung ist?)" Actually I would consider this phrase pretty formal

native German speaker
How do I explain my limited knowledge?
Kathleen-H21 September 22, 2013, 11:02 pm
Looks like the responses pretty much covered what I was going to say... I'm in a similar situation... and I haven't yet had the opportunity to practice what little Deutsch I "know" face to face with others yet. When given the chance I'll definitely be apologizing for my own lack of fluency, as I'm picking up where I left off in college (four years of German language study pretty much dissolved through disuse), though I think I'm probably better equipped to re-learn... I recognize that words are coming back to me quicker than I expected.

My sweetie spent time in Berlin and said that it seemed to be appreciated that he attempted to speak Deutsch, no matter how limited his fluency. He also said that even though it may be somewhat embarrassing to show your less than fluent language skills that it does get easier...Read More
Looks like the responses pretty much covered what I was going to say... I'm in a similar situation... and I haven't yet had the opportunity to practice what little Deutsch I "know" face to face with others yet. When given the chance I'll definitely be apologizing for my own lack of fluency, as I'm picking up where I left off in college (four years of German language study pretty much dissolved through disuse), though I think I'm probably better equipped to re-learn... I recognize that words are coming back to me quicker than I expected.

My sweetie spent time in Berlin and said that it seemed to be appreciated that he attempted to speak Deutsch, no matter how limited his fluency. He also said that even though it may be somewhat embarrassing to show your less than fluent language skills that it does get easier. I hope to get to try, and hope I don't lose my courage when I need to speak up! (I get very shy when there's a chance I might feel like a fool.)

What are the chances of "getting stranded" in a place where there is not much English spoken? That might be a blessing... hmm. Necessity and all that.
How do I explain my limited knowledge?
Byron-K21 September 22, 2013, 11:29 pm
Since you can read and speak some German, I think you'll be OK even if you are not fluent. As long as you can read time tables and directions for the basic necessities, you won't be really "stranded". The stations in smaller towns don't always repeat the arrival and departure times in English, but your college German should be sufficient to cover that sort of thing.
How do I explain my limited knowledge?
doug-st September 26, 2013, 7:53 am
I learned Slovak before and I know many who switched to English with me but I kept speaking in Slovak. Kind of strange for an English speaker in Slovak and a Slovak speaker to talk in English but they appreciated it later and remarked that I kept at it even when I could speak English. If you can continue in German, I would keep trying.
How do I explain my limited knowledge?
Elaine-L9 October 3, 2013, 6:58 pm
It depends on who you are speaking too - some will be happy for you to practice your German - others just won't spare the time. Some people will go out of their way to help and again others won't.
How do I explain my limited knowledge?
DebbieC October 13, 2013, 10:54 am
Thanks for everyone's input. I often wondered how frustrated German people would get with me 'practicing'. I am less confident in speaking Deutsch when they speak English but if I am in a situation where people don't speak English then I am much braver!!!
How do I explain my limited knowledge?
Gay-Lynn-B November 1, 2013, 3:04 am
When I was in the German-speaking part of Switzerland a couple of years ago, I had the funniest encounter. In our hotel's restaurant, I tried to order a cup of tea, but got very nervous and asked for coffee. When I got flustered and tried to get it right, the waiter spoke up with an English accent "I could understand you much better if you spoke in English". We both burst out laughing. We became fast friends he and the rest of the staff enjoyed my rudimentary German and provided much coaching for the rest of the week.
How do I explain my limited knowledge?
doug506 January 11, 2014, 4:51 am
I would love to join the forum! (My profession is working with developmentally disabled adults.) I enjoy learning Deutsch so much! Please contact me. I think that all of us( Deutsch Sprechenden Personen ,) (Did I say/ spell that right?) could help each other!
How do I explain my limited knowledge?
doug506 January 14, 2014, 5:28 am
I am learning German for personal satisfaction. I do not know any other German speaking people. Is there any one else out there like me?
How do I explain my limited knowledge?
Byron-K21 January 14, 2014, 2:54 pm
I'm sure there are. I'm in a similar situation. I started trying to learn German many years ago when I was in college, primarily I suppose because it is my heritage. I have since taken a couple of trips to Germany, but am unlikely to have much of an opportunity to use the language. It would have been more practical for me, no doubt, to learn Spanish. But having started, I'm sticking with German. I'm told learning a language is one of the best mental exercises for warding off the mental degeneration that comes with old age. I'm retired now and am making physical and mental exercises a big part of my new life style.
How do I explain my limited knowledge?
doug506 January 15, 2014, 4:54 am
Hallo Byron!!!! I totally relate to your reply! I also was compelled to learn German due to heritage!( My grandmother was German, and although she could speak it, she never taught family members to speak it.) I also use learning a new (preferred) language as mental exercise to ward off mental degeneration! I am very impressed that you are so highly ranked in this course! I am working on it and have no doubt that I will succeed. Thank you for responding. I appreciate it so much!
How do I explain my limited knowledge?
Byron-K21 January 15, 2014, 6:40 pm
Hi Doug

Thanks. I'm sure you will succeed. It's just a matter of time if you keep at it. However, unless you have the opportunity for total immersion I guess all you can do is peck away at it. Time better spent than watching TV in my opinion even if I never get very fluent.

regards,

Byron
How do I explain my limited knowledge?
British-Jim February 1, 2014, 10:35 pm
Whilst living in England, I had some opportunities to travel to Germany and somewhat tried to learn German (via Rosetta Stone). I thought I was doing well but when I actually tried to use my German, it was like everything went out of my head and could not form a sentence, very frustrating (for both parties). I'm now back in the states and will be doing a one week training in Germany this Fall which has prompted me to kick my studies into high gear. Besides doing both Rocket German & Rosetta Stone, my next door neighbor is German and I go one day a week and do a lesson with her from my "learn German" book. I'm finding that consistently doing these different sources, words and phrases start to intermingle and I go "Oh, I remember that from ...Read MoreWhilst living in England, I had some opportunities to travel to Germany and somewhat tried to learn German (via Rosetta Stone). I thought I was doing well but when I actually tried to use my German, it was like everything went out of my head and could not form a sentence, very frustrating (for both parties). I'm now back in the states and will be doing a one week training in Germany this Fall which has prompted me to kick my studies into high gear. Besides doing both Rocket German & Rosetta Stone, my next door neighbor is German and I go one day a week and do a lesson with her from my "learn German" book. I'm finding that consistently doing these different sources, words and phrases start to intermingle and I go "Oh, I remember that from ..." but there is no substitute talking with an actual native speaker. Also I might add, I will sometimes watch German TV via the internet and while I don't understand most of it, I am starting to pick up on the subject and get a few words here and there, more importantly, training my ear to hear German.

Mit freundlichen Grüßen,

-Jim
How do I explain my limited knowledge?
t.t.pandian-- February 11, 2014, 4:10 pm
When I was pursuing my Post Graduate Diploma during 1972, I had joined the Certificate course in German offered by University of Madras. The Text I followed was "Deutsche Sprachlere fur Auslander" It was a one year course. I successfuly completed it. Then after a lapse of nearly 15 years I continued my Diploma course in the same University. My Long Trace Memory helped me not to forget the Language and again I successfuly finished completing the course. It was indeed a satisfying experience for me to have learned a foreign language. Hopefully I wish that I may be able to get along with the people when I set my foot in the soils of Germany.
How do I explain my limited knowledge?
jacinda May 10, 2014, 10:27 pm
Doug / Byron,

While I haven't tried them personally, I've heard that language exchanges over Skype can be really helpful (I'm lucky enough that my husband, while not a native speaker, is fluent in German and is helping me with conversational German). Basically the idea is that you partner with a native speaker in the language you want to learn, have conversations over Skype (or another VoIP system) and you each correct the other.

I did a quick Google search and these came up -
http://www.language-exchanges.org/
http://www.conversationexchange.com/
http://www.xmarks.com/topic/language_exchange

Tad,

I was recently in Germany / Switzerland and had the exact same experience as you (decent pronunciation and just enough knowledge that the other person plunged into German out of my depth or spoke too quickly)...Read More
Doug / Byron,

While I haven't tried them personally, I've heard that language exchanges over Skype can be really helpful (I'm lucky enough that my husband, while not a native speaker, is fluent in German and is helping me with conversational German). Basically the idea is that you partner with a native speaker in the language you want to learn, have conversations over Skype (or another VoIP system) and you each correct the other.

I did a quick Google search and these came up -
http://www.language-exchanges.org/
http://www.conversationexchange.com/
http://www.xmarks.com/topic/language_exchange

Tad,

I was recently in Germany / Switzerland and had the exact same experience as you (decent pronunciation and just enough knowledge that the other person plunged into German out of my depth or spoke too quickly). I found that most people in non-busy places enjoyed if you continued trying to speak to them in German, even if it wasn't perfect. They're often also happy to speak to you in English and have you respond in German if you find that easier. Or sometimes they'll even stay speaking in German and will only repeat a sentence in English if you say you didn't understand it.

Jacinda
How do I explain my limited knowledge?
Byron-K21 May 11, 2014, 2:24 pm
Thanks jacinda.
How do I explain my limited knowledge?

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