AMD1 – Berliner Philharmoniker, Johannes Brahms

Prior to deciding to learn German, I had already viewed the Berlin Philharmonic as one of my favorite performing groups (I was devastated when I found out that I missed their performance in Ann Arbor, even more-so when I found out that my friend ran into Simon Rattle, their principal conductor in a Starbucks). Having played the violin since I was little, German composers have played an instrumental role in shaping my repertoire. The music scene truly drew me to German culture in which the epicenter seemed to lie in Berlin—perhaps this naturally lead to a bias on my part?

For this assignment, I listened to nearly an hour’s worth of classical music by Johannes Brahms, a German composer born in Hamburg. Many of these pieces were performed by German groups such as the Berliner Philharmoniker. The first piece is the Academic Festival Overture by Brahms. Composed in the summer of 1880, Brahms was originally against the idea of even writing the piece. Its purpose was to serve as a form of gratitude for being awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Breslau; Brahms hated the indulgence of celebrity, and only intended to leave a thank-you note until he heard that the university would accept nothing less than a musical composition. So, in the end, he composed the overture, which exhibited a boisterous, light-hearted theme that was meant to convey a drinking song. Funny, Brahms.

I discuss the Academic Festival Overture first because it is the only piece that I found that loosely follows a narrative, which brings up an interesting aspect of German history being its occupancy of absolute music and German Romanticism. In essence, absolute composers, often developed under Romantic schools of thought viewed music is only to be enjoyed as music itself, and free of any narratives or underlying meaning. My interpretation of this is enjoying music for how it makes one feel, regardless of how you may analyze its intention, which heavily contrasts the styles of composers from other countries. For example, Russian composers Dmitri Shostakovich and Sergei Prokofiev were famous for the political themes underlying their compositions. Shostakovich’s Symphony 5 was actually known for bringing its audience to tears because they resonated with the political message in light of treatment under the Stalin regime. In my time researching Brahms, I struggled to find any meaningful messages behind his works, which is likely the intention.

In researching the Berliner Philharmoniker and German composers such as Johannes Brahms, I found myself learning about the significant ways in which German culture has contributed to some of the things that I enjoy most, being classical music and the violin. I believe that learning about culture and history is a critical component to language learning, because these various aspects come together to form a cohesive package. In addition to the Academic Festival Overture, I also listened to the Violin Concerto in D Major, and the Symphony No. 3.

AMD 1- Bundesliga Round up- Thomas

I was initially somewhat concerned about this blog post because I don’t commonly use a lot of german functions or features on a day to day basis. However, once I thought about features that I do use on a day to day basis that don’t necessarily utilize the german language, the idea of browsing around the official German “Bundesliga” soccer page occurred to me. I’ve always been a huge sports fan, and especially one of professional soccer. It’s incredible what you pick up from an interview from just a few weeks of exposure to the language. The interviews with German players such as Marco Reus, Thomas Mullér, and Manuel Neuer highlighted how the tone of a response follows similarly to english interviews. Phrases such as “das spiel in der Hand zwei und eins” I was able to understand because of the context and similarities to the english delivery.

Despite it being a german based league most of the information on the page’s interface is in english. Therefore, the majority of the german exposure that I got on the page was from interviews. I tried to shop around and learn as much as I could from what each athlete had to say based on how there club is doing. Translated into closed captaining as “we did what we had to”, I recognized terms from “wir” to “hatten” as word froms that we have been studying since the start of chapter 1. It’s difficult for me to read and analyze important terms, but for some reason I understand notable verbal queues much better. I think this comes from Professor Marquardt’s tendency to test our listening to learn the material better.

The last thing that interested me was to find out where the concentration of Bundesliga clubs were oriented. I made a quick google, and it was interesting to me that a large portion of clubs fell in the west region of Deutschland while Bayern Munich is one of the most southern and isolated clubs in the league. It was interesting to see how close or far certain inner league rivals were from each other.


AMD1 – Travel in Heidelberg – Julie

I was super excited when I found one of the AMD idea is a travel guide to Germany.  I love and enjoy travelling, and always do the travel plan myself.  I immediately decided to investigate more about Germany through the travel guide for this AMD assignment.

I traveled to Germany once and my favorite city is Heidelberg.  This was almost five years ago.  What I can still remember is there is a bridge in the Heidelberg with a monkey (it might be another kind of animal) on the one side.  There is a story saying that if you touch the monkey’s foot, you can come back to Heidelberg again later.  Unfortunately, I didn’t touch the monkey, which I totally have no idea why I didn’t.  But I do very much want to visit Heidelberg again.  The other side of the bridge connects to the Philosopher Walk, a scenery trial which I enjoyed.  Another place I still remember is the castle, but I don’t recall any details.

I wanted to confirm that all my recalls are correct and also remind myself more details about my trip in Heidelberg.  Therefore, I went to the Travel Planet and searched Heidelberg.

According the Travel Planet, Heidelberg is Germany’s oldest and most university town.  How could I forgot the University!  There was once in a time that I was actually thinking about applying to the Heidelberg University.  However, it was not very realistic.

I didn’t know that Mark Twain stayed in Heidelberg for three-month and recounted his observations in A Tramp Abroad.  I guess I will read this book one day.

The castle I mentioned earlier is Schloss Heidelberg (so the Scholoss means Castle), which is ranked at top among attractions.  In the description, it mentions the largest wine cask in the Schloss.  This reminds me when we were there, my aunt and uncle tried few cups of wine, but I didn’t because I really don’t like any alcohol at all.  It also highlights the beautiful view over the Neckar River and the Alstadt rooftops. (I looked into the dictionary, Altstadt = old town).  When I was staying in Heidelburg, I did spend some time in the Alstadt, strolling along those cute stores.  In addition, the red-roofed buildings are the feature of the Alstadt, which were built pretty much from scratch during the 18th century after the city having been destroyed by French troops under Louis XIV.  The Neckar River in the description reminds me there are two main rivers in the Germany.  I then did some research and found that there are actually many rivers in Germany.  Probably what I thought were Rhine and Main.

That bridge is Alt Brücke. (From the dictionary, Brücke = bridge.  But I don’t know the difference between alte and alt.)  And it is true that there is a money next to the tower gate, holding a mirror.  The Philosopher Walk is actually called Philosophenweg, claimed to be the top choice trail in Heidelberg.  I am glad that I didn’t miss it.

Now, I do miss my time in Heidelberg.

Duolingo für Deutsche

For my first AMD post, I thought I’d try out Duolingo für Deutsch. I’ve always been a competitive person, so the Idee of a game I could play while learning German appealed to me. When I first began to use Duolingo, I immediately took a liking to the casual style of the Programm. It first asked me to take a quick test to see how much German I knew- I passed the first few Fragen, but quickly realized I was best off starting from the beginning.

As I went through the first few lessons, most of the content was review. I did learn a few new words- Brot is bread, and Mädchen is girl. After going through the first few chapters, Duolingo informed me that I was now 2% fluent in Deutsch. I’d like to think I’m more around 5%, however, since the program doesn’t know what I’ve learned in class.

Overall, I could see myself continuing to use Duolingo in addition to taking the German Kurs in class. While the site is no replacement for the Schreiben and Sprechen exercises given by German 101, it could certainly prove to be a fun and helpful supplement.

AMD 1 – Duolingo im Deutsch – Allie

I was actually pretty excited to see that Duolingo is one of the suggested activities for the AMD assignments, because I’ve used it before in my Spanish classes! So, because I already conveniently had the app downloaded, I decided to use Duolingo to learn some more German. The first couple of tasks were learning the basics that we have gone over in class, but it was a good review to learn them again. I learned that Junge and Mädchen mean boy and girl, respectively. I also learned some alternative phrases to Auf Wiedersehen! for goodbye. “Bis bald” means “see you soon” and “Bis später” means see you later. I also had a small introduction to some verbs other than the ones we have been studying in class. Namely, essen, trinken, and schwimmen. These were pretty easy to learn, considering that two of them are cognates. I have always heard that German and English are very similar, but I didn’t know how far the similarities went. I learned how to conjugate  I also learned how to say “keine Ahnung”, which may be a useful phrase in class when ich verstehe nicht.

I also learned a little bit about German idioms, which I found pretty interesting. “Practice makes perfect” turned into “Es ist noch kein Meister vomHimmel gefallen”, which literally translates to “No master of heaven has fallen”. Instead of “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours”, Germans say “Eine Hand wäscht die andere”, which is “one hand washes the other”. It was interesting to see the small differences in how Germans express the same sentiments as English speakers.

AMD 1 – Facebook in Deutsch – Pheebe

I decided to use one of the additional ideas listed on the AMD 1 assignment, which is changing the language to Deutsch on my Facebook. I personally think that the coolest part is the “like” button, which is shown as “gefällt mir” in Deutsch. I tried to search the actual meaning through Google and what I found was that “gefällt” means “like” and “mir” means “me.” So if I literally combine the two words together, they become “like me.” However, when I typed in “gefällt mir” on Google translation (which might not always be correct), it shows “I like it.” Therefore, I am not quite sure which one is the literal meaning, but now I do know that “gefällt mir” represents the like button. Another word that seems a little bit overwhelming is “veranstaltungseinladungen,” which means “event invitations.” As I clicked on different buttons, I realized that a lot of german words are actually very long such as “benachrichtigungen(notifications), freundschaftsanfragen(friend requests),” just like the event invitations. In addition, something that I found very interesting is that when someone comments on a video or photo, it actually says “xxx hat [the title of the post] kommentiert.” It is something that we have not learned yet. However, after watching the Kapitel 2 video, I know that we are going to learn about this kind of grammar very soon in Kapitel 2.

Overall, I think that many german words are very similar to english words so it is actually pretty easy and fun to try to use Facebook in Deutsch. Even if the words are long or seem hard to understand, I could actually try to figure out by separating a word into smaller parts and see if I have learned any of the words or by looking at the contexts. For example, the word “freundschaftsanfragen,” which means friend request. If I looked at the first part of the word, I could find the word “freund” and that means friend. Also, the last part “fragen” means ask. These two words are what we have learned in Kapitel 1 and have already helped me identify a really long vocabulary that I have never learned before. I think this is telling me that there is actually so much that we already can understand just with what we learned from Kapitel 1. It also motivates me to learn more and try more with Deutsch. Learning a language could be hard, but if we paid attention to details, we might realize that many words are extensions of what we have learned. There is still a long way to go to master Deutsch, but as we learn more vocabularies and grammar, I am positive that we will be able to understand a lot for sure by the end of the semester.