langauge immersion without a plane ticket

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i swear everyone has asked me that question at least once since i moved to london. like i’d just stop making any effort to keep up my german learning after months of studying. i did not power learn verbs for nothing. unlike my french, i plan to keep up my german. actually, i’d like to take this moment to mourn the fact that i thought learning french was not worth my time. you were a fool, past tara. a fool!

but these questions. give me some credit, people! mother, i’m especially referring at you.

let’s not forget that plenty of people learn a foreign language without having gone a country where it’s always spoken. immersing oneself is obviously ideal but it’s just not possible for everyone. instead, it’s about creating that immersive environment as best you can for yourself. even if it’s only for a few hours a week. sure, you might not learn as many new words or phrases as you’d like but you’ll ingrain what you do know even better and that’s not nothing. kind of like learning to cook one dish and learning to cook it so well that you can do it with your eye closed. then you learn a next dish.

here are the ways that i’m making sure to keep up my german while not being in germany. plus, they’re all free!

many languages will have podcasts dedicated to learning that certain language, albeit you’re not learning something too obscure. my favourite german ones are Grüße aus Deutschland  from the goethe institute and Schlaflos in München mit Annik Rubens. annik also has a beginner german podacast called Slow German that i highly recommend. i pop these on whenever i’m in transit. i try to listen to one episode a day. i will also repeat the episodes until i’m sure i know every word. i’ll also write down the new words i hear, as i re-listen to the podcast. i’ve heard that transcribing a podcast is also a good way to learn but i’m just sticking to listening and jotting down the occasional word.

still watching them! here are my favourites.

i recently went to a german language meetup here in london. this group meets up every other week for a few hours and just speaks german. if that’s not a great way to keep up german, i don’t know what is! if you can’t find a meet up, the internet is full of people wanting to find a language partner. i signed up for one in hannover and just the other day i skyped with mine! boom! language immersion without having to even leave the house or put on proper clothers. the internet, it can be a wonderful place.

Meet Up


the least fun of this list. i love reading but i do not find reading in german at all pleasurable. i read slower and have to re-read constantly to make sure that i’ve understood everything. i keep doing it because i know the only way it will get better is if i keep doing it. so do that. find something you’ve read in your mother tongue and then read it in the language you’re learning. then you have a translation at hand. a bit tedious, i know, but think of the sense of accomplishment you’ll feel. or something. ugh. i really wish the reading was more enjoyable instead of feeling like work.

i f anyone else out there has ideas or tricks they use to learn languages, feel free to leave a comment! share that knowledge!

your friend and mine,

i like london in the rain

london tara 2012
london. i am in you.

but, tara, what happened to deutschland?! you were doing so well! what about all that german you learned?

end of my visa happened, that’s what.

and apparently it’s not cool to stay beyond your visa. yes, there’s a bunch of ways i could have applied to stay longer but being 30 also happened.

the UK and canada have an agreement that youths under 31 can apply for a two year work and travel visa, the youth mobility scheme visa. it’s been my dream to do that so i applied a few months before i turned 30 and got it. seems like a waste not to use it. not to mention there are far more work opportunities here for me than germany.

i’ll still be keeping up my german and writing about how that’s going. i’ll be exploring london and england and hopefully i’ll write about something that hasn’t been hammered to death already. i’ll still be writing about cooking with my oma’s cookbook – ingredients are so much easier to find here!

anyhow, i hope you’ll stick with me and please do tell me what i should see and do and eat!



5 tv shows to help you learn german

netflix! i love you! how easily i am coaxed into devouring a season of a show i’m not even sure i like. i love you even when you’re a bit judgey with the whole “are you still there?” messages. yes i am. let me and my grey’s anatomy binge watching alone. how else will i learn the importance of female friendship in the workplace?

sadly, my mediahinted american netflix’s selection of german television shows to watch is dismal. all i want to do is verbessern my german, netflix.

oh, the past. you were so cruel. now is where it’s at. the thing i love (netflix) and thing i wanted (good german tv) came together. german tv shows galore! all in the name of learning, of course.

[to address the question you might be asking: but tara, what about german cable? surely there is german shows to watch there. much like the reason i never subscribed to cable in vancouver, i like the convenience of netflix and other web based viewing platforms. and i’ve griped about the dubbing of english shows before, yes? ugh. so terrible. it also makes it hard to learn because you can’t watch their mouths. i find it creates this weird disassociation because i can see what the characters should be saying but hear another. not to mention i’m fairly certain they only have four people doing the voice dubbing of non-german shows. plus, the subtitle feature never seemed to work with our television.]

but german netflix! the selection of english programs isn’t quite up to any english language version but boy oh boy is it ever a goldmine for german shows to help me learn! not only to do they have some choice disney films (disappointingly, no ‘the little mermaid’, of which i know all the words and i feel that knowledge could only help), they also have some easy to understand german films and tv shows. plus, they have my coveted subtitle option. that being said, i should mention, that the subtitles, like with almost all shows, are not word-for-word. often the characters speak faster and so the subtitles simplify their lines. still, it’s a handy tool. i like to watch it once without subtitles and then again with so i can find out what some of the words i missed or didn’t understand were.

here a some shows that i’ve been streaming and make me feel proud that i’ve made it this point that i can get what’s going on and understand the jokes. i’ve made sure that most of these are also available on youtube so that if you can’t get german netflix you can still benefit from these suggestions.


not at all a polish comedy like i first thought because of the name. pastewka a german comedian and, as with many comedians, got a stab at his own show. he succeeded, as the show is now in its sixth seasion. here, pastewka, starring as a ficitionalised version of himself, questions the amount of meatballs he got with his meal (14) versus the amount of meatballs he was promised (15). available on german netflix and selected clips on youtube. 


because every country needs it’s version of ‘the office’. this is germany’s. in that way, ‘stromberg’ is immediately familiar and although it gets to be a little quick and there’s definitely a lot of word jokes, it’s still a good way to sharpen up those listening skills. plus, it is actually pretty funny. the series was so successful that two ‘stromberg’ films were made. available to watch on german netflix and on youtube.

Der Tatortreiniger

from the people who brought us ‘stromberg’. this show follows heiko schotte and the strange and curious people he encounters while he cleans up crime scenes. i almost with they make an english version that’s how much i like it. available on german netfilx. episode one of the first season and selected clips are available in full on youtube.


okay, okay. so all german cable tv isn’t terrible. this show is a perfect example of that. ‘galileo’ is a magazine show that covers two to three topics per episode. it’s great because it covers current events  with interviews with regular folk and thereby  a great way to get used to the cadence and speed of every day german speakers. available on youtube.

Easy German

not technically a tv show but it’s one of the first things i started watching. this is part of a youtube channel called ‘easy languages’ . ‘easy german’ comes with german and english subtitles and it’s great because, like ‘galileo’, it’s with every day german people, including an episode focused on that unique bavarian accent. the 5 to 10 minute episodes are a series of interviewees and every episode has a specific theme. available on youtube.

i hope these suggestions help you as much as they’re helping me!  and do let me know what your favourite shows or movies are for learning or if you’ve watched any of these.

you know, i thoroughly enjoy that in watching these, you can totally be a couch potato and totally claim that you’re learning BECAUSE YOU ARE.

television, you are a great thing indeed.