As part of my self-imposed integration programme, I’m attending an intensive German course and doing 5 lessons of Pimsleur each week. I’m progressing pretty well, I reckon. To spice up the learning experience, Daniel and I visited the library near Frankfurt Süd to borrow some children’s books for ourselves. Yes, you’ve read it right. Children’s books.
Being an absolute beginner, I find myself looking at books suitable for 3 year olds. You might think such books must be easy to read, but nope. There are lots of new vocabulary and grammar structures to learn. Obviously if I were to plough through the grammatical bits, I would be wanting to fly before I could even walk. Instead of worrying about grammatical structures which I’ve not learnt, I pick up new vocabulary and try to have a gist of what the sentence means. It would be quite exciting to see how we’ll progress and when we’ll be able to read books for older children.
Children’s books are great especially when they focus so much on what goes on in their lives eg. spending the day with their parents, shopping, playing with their friends and pets etc. At the VHS, I learn many verbs and adjectives which may be useful when meeting someone but through these books we find ourselves learning more adjectives to describe feelings and the names of things around the house.
It is important to “live the language”. Although I attend a 3hr long German class everyday, that is insufficient to get good at it. My work is entirely done in English and we speak entirely in English at home. In order to associate ourselves more with German, we thought reading would be a great way! Afterall, it is an activity which we love. As much as possible, a learner of any language should try to expose himself to it through different mediums. It could be music, dramas, films, books etc… pick whatever which interest you.
Critics may say that reading is such a passive activity and wouldn’t help much in acquiring the language. That’s absolute bulls***. I hope those people had the chance to learn from reading books when they were growing up! With limited vocabulary, it would be a pain for any native German speaker to have a decent and meaningful conversation with me. Reading is just one of the means to build up vocabulary.
For those interested in getting a library membership in Frankfurt, it costs 12 Euros for a year. It’s free for kids. You can borrow up to 30 books each time for 4 weeks. Apart from borrowing books, the library also has games, DVDs and CDs on loan. There is also an online account which gives you access to various eLearning modules and eBooks. 12 Euros is a really good price. I know there are lots of other countries which do not charge for a library membership. But if you’re living in Germany, this is a good price since buying books is going to cost more in the long run.
I’ll lookout for German audiobooks for children next time I visit the library. I reckon those will be quite good for listening and speaking. If anyone has seen any in the libraries, give me a shout!