Chatterbug’s new podcast, Long Story Short, covers beginners German for English speakers. Each episode is in German and English and takes you on a journey. Listen as the characters navigate their way through chance meetings, miscommunications and surprises.

You can also listen on Apple or the RSS feed. Below is the transcript of the fourth episode.

Intro

HELENA: From Chatterbug and produced by Weframe Studios, you’re listening to Long Story Short – Lange rede, kurzer Sinn, ein podcast in Deutsch und English. In Season One, we’ll focus on talking points we found to be most valuable for A1 German learners. Our podcast coincides with topics in our Curriculum at chatterbug.com. So, if you’re looking for a deeper dive into language learning, check us out there! For those of you following with Chatterbug Curriculum remember to look out for a few key themes today, covering: asking some essential pieces of information, chatting about the week you’ve had, the crucial party invitation and last, but probably most important of all, public holidays. Today’s episode is “Soziale Wesen”, meaning “Social Creatures”. What if you’ve found a friend without knowing it? Astrid finds herself, navigating life in a foreign country, language and social scene. But you’re only the new kid for so long.

Social Creatures

[01:13]

ASTRID: I’ve always considered myself a social creature. I love meeting people, learning about their stories, gaining a world view that is unlike my own. And as every friend you make is different, so is every friendship. Each kind has its own language, the in-jokes and pastimes: it’s a whole unique dynamic. Some prefer more passive connection, whilst others push for confidantes, mentors, even a family of sorts. Something, I guess, I hadn’t quite grasped though was that each one, regardless of it’s nature, not only deserves, but requires attention, real thought through recognition for what it is and the value it brings to the people who cultivate it. Maybe I sound like I’m preaching, but this was something I learnt the hard way. The lesson began in unfamiliar territory.

GIRL 1: Kannst du einen Platz weiter rutschen?

ASTRID: It was probably the fifth time I heard those words just that day. I was doing an exchange year in Germany, it was my first week at the university. It wasn’t that people were unfriendly, I knew that. I was just new and hadn’t found my ‘in’ yet. Oh, klar! Kein problem. I responded and looked up to see if there was an opening for conversation – but their’s happened to be a two-hander, and I didn’t feel like playing a third, unwanted, wheel. I shimmied over to give them space. But as I made room for them, I realized I was in the wrong one. Entschuldigung, ist dies der Kurs “Kulturen im Kontext”? To which they answered with a solid…

GIRL 1+2: Nein.

ASTRID: Oh okay, wisst Ihr, in welchem Raum der Kurs ist? Almost irritated, they managed a…

GIRL 1+2: Ja.

ASTRID: With no elaboration I might add. Their backs then promptly turned. I pressed on. Uhh, Entschuldigung, dass ich store. I said injecting myself into their clearly pressing exchange. Könntet Ihr mir zeigen, wohin ich gehen muss? I was pointing at my campus map, which certainly didn’t up my ‘worth knowing’ factor.

GIRL 1+2: Nein.

ASTRID: And, subsequently, after a very long pause, I figured that was my cue. I didn’t have time to dwell. But was unfortunately forced to collect my belongings that uncomfortably lay under their folding seats. Then, pushed my way through an aisle of knees and made a run for it. I was clearly bounding through the corridors wildly though. And in my panicked state I crashed into someone.

GIRL 3: Woahh … wohin gehst du so schnell?

ASTRID: She said, while grabbing her bag that I knocked into the floor. Oh Gott, tut mir leid, ich komme zu spät zum Kurs. I apologized, trying to steady myself.

GIRL 3: Weißt du, wo du hin musst?

ASTRID: I guess everyone could tell I was new… Nicht wirklich. Zum Kurs “Kulturen im Kontext”. Kennst du den? I asked back hopefully.

GIRL 3: Oh, du bist nicht zu spat!

ASTRID: I breathed a sigh of relief.

GIRL 3: Du hast es verpasst.

ASTRID: She replied grinning. Oh! Oh nein, wirklich? Wie viel Uhr ist es? I was sure I could still make it.

GIRL 3: Es ist jetzt 1 Uhr. Der Unterricht hat um 12 Uhr angefangen.

ASTRID: As she clarified for me, I looked down to check the time. Mist, ich habe die Uhrzeit auf meinem Handy nicht geändert !! Ah! Rookie error. But she continued:

GIRL 3: Aaah, mach dir keine Sorgen. Der Kurs ist sowieso nicht so toll.

ASTRID: Woher weißt du das? I asked curiously. GIRL 3: Nun, eigentlich weiß ich das nicht. Weil ich den Kurs auch verpasst habe …

ASTRID: She laughed and then parted with a:

GIRL 3: Ok, wir sehen uns beim nächsten Versuch!

ASTRID: Oh ja, bis dann! Cool, a plan – I thought. Well, kind of. From then on, the rest of the week picked up. I met a bunch of people in my WG and was starting to find my feet. And on my second attempt to locate ’Cultures in Context’, I made it to class in good time. I took a seat near the back, with plenty of space, so I wouldn’t be asked to move. I was learning! And then from behind me came a familiar, quippy voice:

GIRL 3: Heyy, wie war deine Woche? Hast du noch was verpasst?

ASTRID: My friend – if you could call her that- from the corridor slid into the free seat beside me. And we began nattering, as if we always did. Oh hey! Gut, danke. Gott sei Dank, habe ich es rechtzeitig zu meinen anderen Kursen geschafft. Freitag, bin Ich in meine neue Wohnunggezogen und am Wochenende bin Ich sogar mit meinen neuen Mitbewohnern ausgegangen. I told her of my week as she asked me more:

GIRL 3: Ah Toll! Wohin seid ihr gegangen?

ASTRID: Kennst du den Club in der Stargarder Straße ? I forgotten its name.

GIRL 3: Ja!

ASTRID: She responded enthusiastically. I had been told it was a favorite on campus. Da waren wir. Er hat mich an Clubs zu Hause in Frankreich erinnert. It had and I’d never expected to feel homesick in a club of all places.

GIRL 3: Ah, ich habe mich schon gefragt, ob du aus Frankreich kommst. Dein Deutsch ist aber ziemlich gut! Seit wann lernst du Deutsch?

ASTRID: She smiled as she spoke. I guess I should take that as a compliment. Oh danke, seit 4 Jahren. Ich hatte einen Deutschkurs an der Uni. She really seemed to care, responding with:

GIRL 3: Cool, wo hast du studiert?

ASTRID: Paris. I said, to which remarked:

GIRL 3: Schön! Ich habe gehört, es ist von der Atmosphäre her ähnliche wie Berlin – eine richtig internationale Stadt. Aber etwas kleiner und vielleicht nicht so viele Hipster.

ASTRID: Laughing I explained that: Du wärest überrascht. And as the weeks and months went on we became kind of buddies – two people from different countries and backgrounds – but with a lot to talk about. Our topics of conversation though never really exited our ’Cultures in Context’ class bubble. Until one afternoon a beautifully decorated little card dropped into my lap, as she took her seat.

GIRL 3: In drei Wochen ist ein Feiertag und ich habe zufällig auch Geburtstag. Ich habe ein paar meiner Freunde zu einer kleinen Party eingeladen. Komm doch auch!

ASTRID: So far it had seemed as though we were the kind of friends who told each other what they did on the weekend. But not the kind that actually did anything on the weekend – together – if that makes sense… In 3 Wochen? I checked GIRL 3: Ja, Karfreitag, am 19. April.

ASTRID: She confirmed. Du bist ja organisiert … I teased. Aber im Ernst, echt nett von dir, dass du an mich denkst. I genuinely thought so. GIRL 3: Ja, ich dachte mir, irgend jemand sollte dich mal zu was einladen.

ASTRID: She teased me right back. Ugh, danke… I responded laughing. Soll ich was bestimmtes anziehen? I wondered.

GIRL 3: Schick aber lässig, also keinen Schlafanzug, falls …

ASTRID: Aah…she was always with the jokes. In our next class, it felt as though we’d hit a kind of friendship milestone – we were closer.

GIRL 3: Hey!

ASTRID: Na! As we greeted each other she lowered her voice.

GIRL 3: Hast du gesehen? Wir haben neue Leute im Kurs.

ASTRID: She just turned to the new kids, a bit ‘us and them’. Our teacher proceeded to explain how we’d all be working together on an upcoming project and would need to get to know them. Her plan to do this was for us to make the rounds through class, introducing the group to the person that we sat next to. This wasn’t exactly something we had to prepare for – we spoke every week, I even had a birthday invitation to prove it. Still, I was trying to think of something witty I could say, to give her intro a little color… Until, out of nowhere, I couldn’t remember her name. Just like that. What on earth was going on?! My mind began racing through options – was it A? Yes, yes. It definitely begins with an A. Or maybe, ugh no it’s D, isn’t it? I started to look at the people around us – how was it possible that I could remember all of their names, but not the one person I actually spoke to?! It’s a German name right? Why doesn’t she have it written anywhere? I tried to scan her belongings for a clue. As new friends were introduced, it felt as though I was swiftly about to lose mine. My thoughts were on overdrive. When I hopelessly looked into her eyes – like a some kind of crazed animal – and as she recited a whole archive of my history to our audience – I realized it wasn’t happening. And so, attempting an out of ear shot surrender, I leaned in with… Es tut mir echt leid zu fragen, Ich habe gerade einen Blackout. She glanced over at me. Cheerfully still… Aber wie heißt du nochmal? She looked at me funny. But not in our usual ‘haha’ kind of way. And then, muted, she murmured…

GIRL 3: Rebekka.

ASTRID: As soon as the name came out of her mouth, a wash of remembrance came over me, as these things always do. But it was too late. It didn’t matter that I’d managed to follow it up with any meaningful facts and anecdotes. This wasn’t a language barrier issue, or even cultural one – this was a worldwide warning of a bad friend. We were paired off with the new faces for the remainder of the afternoon. And as it came to a close, she swiftly made her departure, giving me no chance to make amends. The incident toiled with me. I wanted to reach out, but I realized I’d never even asked her for her number. It started to feel like this wasn’t just an arbitrary event. Instead, it was something I could have prevented. Had I put any effort into our friendship? By the time our next class came around, I was sure I’d be sitting alone. When I arrived, I scanned the room for Rebekka. What I saw when my eyes landed on my seat, I wasn’t expecting. It was another note. A revised version of her invitation. I noticed little details crossed out. I went to pick it up, when that familiar voice returned…

REBEKKA: Mir ist aufgefallen, dass ich die falschen Zeit auf die Einladung geschrieben habe. Ich wollte dir nur schnell die richtige geben. ASTRID: Oh, du möchtest immer noch, dass ich komme? I anxiously replied.

REBEKKA: Ja klar. Also es fängt um 20 Uhr an – deutsche Zeit. Ich weiß ja, du hast es mit Details.

ASTRID: She laughed and then smiled at me knowingly. Because she really did know me. And from there on out, we were the kind of friends that didn’t just talk about plans. We made them.

‘Social Creatures’ Breakdown

[14:28]

HELENA: You’ve just been listening to our story “Social Creatures”, or in German “Soziale Wesen”. I’m your host, Helena, and this is Danielle, our A1 German learner. Welcome again, Danielle.

DANIELLE: Hi, Halina!

HELENA: So great to always be able to talk to you. So let’s first recap what happened in this story. So basically it’s about a girl named Astrid and she’s just moved to Germany and started university here. She is in her first class and a little bit confused, she’s not sure if she’s in the right place and she has kind of some mean interactions with these girls next to her. And then all of a sudden, when she’s realizing she’s in the wrong room and running to her next class, she bumps into a girl.

DANIELLE: And she’s an exchange student, right?

HELENA: Yeah, she is. Yeah I can imagine that when you’re an exchange student, it’s really hard to make friends on your first day. You don’t really speak the language or… Astrid actually is really good in German, but it’s still like your first day. You don’t know anybody in the city or the country so.

DANIELLE: Right.

HELENA: So she realized that she’s in the wrong class and she runs over to her other class and she also ends up running into a really nice woman. Throughout the story they become friends.

DANIELLE: Yeah.

HELENA: Which is wonderful. She eventually invites her to her birthday party, which is in three weeks. But then something awful happens. What happens?

DANIELLE: The teacher has instructed the students to introduce the person that they’re sitting next to, or a friend or something like that. So Astrid, you know, she’s trying to think of all these interesting things to say about her friend and she realizes that she has forgotten her name.

HELENA: Oh yeah.

DANIELLE: Yeah, for sure. And so she’s trying to figure it out, hoping that it’s going to come from the sky into her brain, but it doesn’t. And she has to ask her “What is your name?”.

HELENA: So bad. This has happened to me before.

DANIELLE: Yeah. I think it’s a pretty, a fairly normal thing to happen, isn’t it!? So she tells her that her name’s Rebekka and then she’s sure that the girl is never going to want to be friends with her again, or never want to talk to her again. And the next time she sees her, she still wants her to come to her birthday party but the time has changed.

HELENA: Yeah. She realizes that the time on the invitation was wrong. And so she lets her know that it’s actually at eight.

DANIELLE: She had assumed that she was going to be disinvited.

HELENA: Yeah. She did see something cross out. It’s like “actually I cross out your name and replaced it with my new best friend”.

DANIELLE: “I don’t want you to come to my party anymore”. That moment sort of signifies that they are going to go on and be really good friends.

HELENA: Yeah. Sometimes embarrassing moments actually are bonding.

DANIELLE: It’s like you thought.. everybody has a brain fart, you know.

HELENA: I definitely forgotten the name of people like… actually it’s usually university friends because we sit next to each other in class every single day, you never really have like this formal introduction “Hi, I’m so and so”, “Hi, I’m so, and so”: usually you just like end up talking with each other and walk to the train station together, this sort of thing, and then eventually realize you are friends.

DANIELLE: My experience living here in, well I live in Germany but I also live in Berlin and Berlin is a big city. In big cities people tend to be a little bit more standoffish in general, I think, because they’re sort of only, you know, concerned about the people that they actually know. But I did like that she noted that it wasn’t that the people weren’t polite and that’s what I actually have found: all Germans that I’ve come in contact with to be very polite. But, you know, I don’t get the sense that people are going to go out of their way to sort of…

HELENA: Be your friend.

DANIELLE: .. chitchat. Right. And, you know, coming from the US, we are very much chitchatting people. We don’t actually have to like the person in order to just have random conversation. But with Germans, I find it to be the opposite: they tend to be a little bit more concerned about getting to know you once they want to get to know you, and not just because you’re sitting next to them, which I think… I find to be actually a little bit more authentic way to make friends. Even though it’s more difficult from an outsider standpoint.

HELENA: True. Yeah, when I was living in Munich, it was even more difficult than in Berlin because they have a little bit more of like this mentality where you have the same friends since you’re in elementary school, and those are the people basically that you grew up with and then you have jobs together and then you have like kids together. And basically you have like a really, really tight knit friend circle, which is really hard to penetrate.

DANIELLE: Yeah. Sure.

HELENA: And I find that in Berlin it’s a little bit more open, but in other cities in Germany I think that this sort of closeness is a little bit more pronounced.

DANIELLE: Yeah, sure. I thought it was interesting that the protagonist, she’s from France and I guess the French maybe have a similar culture, don’t they?

HELENA: Actually don’t know.

DANIELLE: Yeah. I mean, at least in Paris, they’re not the most polite and friendly, but I really think that that’s also a big… something that you will find in most big cities.

HELENA: Yeah. New Yorkers are like that too.

DANIELLE: Exactly. Yeah.

HELENA: So, let’s just dive into the story now and listen to these conversations. Let’s learn some German.

DANIELLE: Let’s learn some German.

ASTRID: Oh Gott, tut mir leid, ich komme zu spät zum Kurs. I apologized, trying to steady myself.

GIRL 3: Weißt du, wo du hin musst?

ASTRID: I guess everyone could tell I was new… Nicht wirklich. Zum Kurs “Kulturen im Kontext”. Kennst du den? I asked back hopefully. GIRL 3: Oh, du bist nicht zu spat!

ASTRID: I breathed a sigh of relief.

GIRL 3: Du hast es verpasst.

ASTRID: She replied grinning. Oh! Oh nein, wirklich? Wie viel Uhr ist es? I was sure I could still make it.

GIRL 3: Es ist jetzt 1 Uhr. Der Unterricht hat um 12 Uhr angefangen.

ASTRID: As she clarified for me, I looked down to check the time. Mist, ich habe die Uhrzeit auf meinem Handy nicht geändert !! Ah! Rookie error. But she continued:

GIRL 3: Aaah, mach dir keine Sorgen. Der Kurs ist sowieso nicht so toll.

ASTRID: Woher weißt du das? I asked curiously.

GIRL 3: Nun, eigentlich weiß ich das nicht. Weil ich den Kurs auch verpasst habe …

ASTRID: She laughed and then parted with a

GIRL 3: Ok, wir sehen uns beim nächsten Versuch!

ASTRID: Oh ja, bis dann!

HELENA: She does not know where she is or where she should be. She also has a time on her phone wrong.

DANIELLE: Oh, I was not clear on that. I understood that something was wrong with the time on her phone. But I didn’t… How can you put the phone.. the time wrong on your phone?

HELENA: Well, she’s from France.

DANIELLE: Auch so!

HELENA: So wherever she is… where she was coming from was an hour earlier, right?! And in the dialogue says: “Mist, ich habe die Uhrzeit auf meinem Handy nicht geändert” so that means: “Shoot. I forgot to change the time on my phone”.

DANIELLE: I see.

HELENA: And there’s another funny moment where she comes to the class and the girls are like “Oh, du bist nicht zu spat! Du hast es verpasst”. You know what that means?

DANIELLE: It sounded like she said “You’re not so late. It’s actually… it actually already passed”.

HELENA: Like you’re not late. You missed it. Exactly.

DANIELLE: You actually missed it.

HELENA: Oops! I mean the first day at university, actually it’s pretty important because that’s when you get all your seminars. I mean, if you’re studying Social Sciences. ‘Cause it’s when you have to decide what you’re going to report on in maybe five weeks.

DANIELLE: Oh, wow. In the first..?

HELENA: First day, yeah.

DANIELLE: Whoa! German uni is pretty intense.

HELENA: Yeah. I mean, that’s the only intense part about it.

DANIELLE: Oh, okay then.

HELENA: Well, that’s just kidding. It’s very much like your own.. you have to do your own study. There’s no one holding your hand.

DANIELLE: Wow.

HELENA: So earlier in the conversation, she’s asking a few questions these girls were just not having it. They’re not there to make friends. She says things like “Entschuldigung, ist dies der Kurs “Kulturen im Kontext”? So it’s “Excuse me. Is this the class..?”

DANIELLE: Culture in Context.

HELENA: Wow. You’re so good at German.

DANIELLE: Culture in Context.

HELENA: And then there’s also the question: “Wisst Ihr, in welchem Raum der Kurs ist?

DANIELLE: Do you know where the room is? Where the Culture.. was it Culture in Context room is?

HELENA: Kulturen im Kontext.

DANIELLE: Kulturum?

HELENA: Kulturen.

DANIELLE: Oh. Kulturen im Kontext.

HELENA: Kulturen im bla la bla…

DANIELLE: Ok. I’m going to teach you German.

HELENA: Sounds good. Yeah. And then she has asked another question – Well, it’s not a question, it’s like a nice way of like saying “Excuse me, can you help me?” like “Entschuldigung, dass ich store”. Do you know what that means?

DANIELLE: No, I didn’t know. I don’t know that one.

HELENA: It means “Sorry to bother you” or “Excuse me for bothering you”.

DANIELLE: Okay.

HELENA: So, what are some other questions you might need to ask strangers?

DANIELLE: Hmm. Where’s the bathroom? Pretty important question.

HELENA: Wo ist die Toilette?

DANIELLE: Wo ist die Toilette? Which is such a weird question in English. It’s like “Where’s the toilet?”.

HELENA: Do you not say that? I guess I say that now, but I should probably stop. It’s been ingrained in my brain.

DANIELLE: Yeah. Wo ist die Toilette? What time is it?

HELENA: Wie spät ist es?

DANIELLE: Oh, okay. Wie spät ist es? Because her phone isn’t working, so she needs to know what time it is.

HELENA: And… “Wo ist die Straße (so and so…)?”

DANIELLE: Wo ist die Straße.

HELENA: Wie komme ich zur UBahn?

DANIELLE: Mmmh. Is that like, how do I get to the UBahn?

HELENA: Yeah.

DANIELLE: Okay.

HELENA: Yeah, I think those are some good examples of questions that you need to ask when you’re going to a place. Let’s move on to the next dialogue.

DANIELLE: Okay.

ASTRID: And then from behind me came a familiar, quippy voice:

GIRL 3: Heyy, wie war deine Woche? Hast du noch was verpasst?

ASTRID: My friend – if you could call her that- from the corridor slid into the free seat beside me. And we began nattering, as if we always did. Oh hey! Gut, danke. Gott sei Dank, habe ich es rechtzeitig zu meinen anderen Kursen geschafft. Freitag, bin Ich in meine neue Wohnunggezogen und am Wochenende bin Ich sogar mit meinen neuen Mitbewohnern ausgegangen. I told her of my week as she asked me more:

GIRL 3: Ah Toll! Wohin seid ihr gegangen?

ASTRID: Kennst du den Club in der Stargarder Straße? I forgotten its name.

GIRL 3: Ja!

ASTRID: She responded enthusiastically. I had been told it was a favorite on campus. Da waren wir. Er hat mich an Clubs zu Hause in Frankreich erinnert. It had and I’d never expected to feel homesick in a club of all places.

GIRL 3: Ah, ich habe mich schon gefragt, ob du aus Frankreich kommst. Dein Deutsch ist aber ziemlich gut! Seit wann lernst du Deutsch?

ASTRID: She smiled as she spoke. I guess I should take that as a compliment. Oh danke, seit 4 Jahren. Ich hatte einen Deutschkurs an der Uni. She really seemed to care, responding with:

GIRL 3: Cool, wo hast du studiert?

ASTRID: Paris. I said, to which remarked:

GIRL 3: Schön! Ich habe gehört, es ist von der Atmosphäre her ähnliche wie Berlin – eine richtig internationale Stadt. Aber etwas kleiner und vielleicht nicht so viele Hipster.

ASTRID: Laughing I explained that: Du wärest überrascht.

HELENA: So nice to make a friend.

DANIELLE: It’s funny. She said that it was a club on Stargarder Straße, and I live near a Stargarder Straße: it’s a very family friendly street with lots of cafes.

HELENA: It’s probably not there then. In my university, the Freie Universität, didn’t have a club on campus… or maybe it did, but I didn’t go to any… I didn’t go to uni parties. That was not my thing.

DANIELLE: Oh, okay. You were too cool for the uni parties.

HELENA: Kind of. I was doing other things. Yeah, and maybe she was studying at the Humboldt University.

DANIELLE: Oh yeah. Perhaps.

HELENA: That’s the other one. Or maybe, you know which university might have a club on campus? It’s TU, the Technical University in Berlin. Feel like they would. I actually have gone to a uni party at TU before: it was like one of these Ersti parties. You know what that is?

DANIELLE: No. What does that mean?

HELENA: An Ersti party is like a party for the first years?

DANIELLE: Oh! Ersti? Yeah, that’s pretty cool.

HELENA: Yeah. So you can get to know your fellow colleagues and students. Oh, okay.

DANIELLE: Like a freshmen mixer, I guess.

HELENA: Yeah. That’s the equivalent. Okay. Usually they’re kind of uncomfortable parties though, where everyone show up, standing around, not sure what to do.

DANIELLE: Right.

HELENA: I mean, yeah. Probably the reason I don’t go to them it’s that they are too awkward for me.

DANIELLE: Yeah. I mean, it’s really hard to make friends once you leave like school. Like once you become an adult, and you go into university and then even when you’re an adult, it’s like, it’s really hard to make friends actually.

HELENA: Yeah.

DANIELLE: So I wonder, we had so many when we were like in high school and middle school.

HELENA: Well, we were forced to see the same people over and over.

DANIELLE: Yeah, that’s true.

HELENA: We didn’t have a choice.

DANIELLE: Yeah, that’s true. That’s true.

HELENA: Yeah. It’s crazy how the structure of school really like enforces certain friendships, Like when you leave, then all of a sudden your school friendships fall apart.

DANIELLE: And you’re like “Okay, and how do I make new friends? I don’t know how to do that!”.

HELENA: Yeah. Through your job and through hobbies, I guess.

DANIELLE: Yeah. For sure.

HELENA: Finding people who like to do similar things like you do. So what else did Astrid do on the weekend? And during her week.

DANIELLE: So she went to the club. I definitely caught that. She went to another class, I think she said.

HELENA: She managed to find it.

DANIELLE: She managed to find it.

HELENA: Impressive. Good work.

DANIELLE: Good job Astrid.

HELENA: Yeah. And there’s one more thing. She says “Ich bin in meine neue Wohnunggezogen“.

DANIELLE: Oh, okay. I moved into my new apartment or a new house. “Wohnung” is house or home? Or is pretty much the same thing…

HELENA: It means home basically. Like “house” is “Haus” and “Wohnung” it actually means apartment more than “house”.

DANIELLE: Oh, really? Okay. Yeah.

HELENA: Yeah. And who did she go to the club with?

DANIELLE: Some people from her WG?

HELENA: Exactly. So what does it a WG? Can you explain that to our listeners?

DANIELLE: Well, I’ve actually never lived in one, but I think it’s basically when you have an apartment and multiple people live there, who aren’t related in any way together.

HELENA: It’s called “Wohngemeinschaft”. So “Wohn” means “to live” and “Gemeinschaft” means “community”.

DANIELLE: Okay.

HELENA: And that’s basically when students or people who are working live together with other people or students or other people who are working. So basically friends. It doesn’t always have to be friends though sometimes you’ll have people that you’re not friends with.

DANIELLE: Sure.

HELENA: It’s just like a shared living.

DANIELLE: Yeah. I’ve definitely seen, when I was looking for an apartment in Berlin, I would see like “kein WG” or it would say “WG ist ok”.

HELENA: I actually live in a WG. I have for the past five years.

DANIELLE: Oh, wow.

HELENA: And I live with four other people.

DANIELLE: Whoa! Four?!

HELENA: Yeah.

DANIELLE: And you like it?

HELENA: Yeah. I love it.

DANIELLE: Nice.

HELENA: It’s a really, really beautiful flat.

DANIELLE: Oh, okay. That’s great.

HELENA: And my housemates are now all my friends, so…

DANIELLE: Oh, perfect!

HELENA: It’s a wonderful experience if you find a good place to live, but if you live with people, like when I was living in Munich, I didn’t really like the people I was living with and it was very uncomfortable then to live in like that sort of situation where you come home and you’re like “Oh, I have to see these people…”.

DANIELLE: I can imagine.

HELENA: It’s not very comfortable. Yeah. So make sure you find a nice WG if you’re looking for one. With people that you like.

DANIELLE: Right. And what would you suggest someone do to make sure that they are going to like their roommates?

HELENA: I mean, there’s nothing that you can really do to ensure it, but there’s usually something called a WG Casting, which is a nerve wracking experience where basically you go to the house where the people are living and you meet everyone who lives there. And usually the people who are living there have to interview like three or four or five people, and then they’re like “Okay, we like this person best”. Or usually it’s more like “this person seem to fit the most into like the dynamic of our WG”. And then basically the person that you choose, you tell them “Hey, do you wanna move in?” and the other four people then are to be like “You have to find somewhere else to live”.

DANIELLE: Oh, nice.

HELENA: So yeah, that’s how you kind of like have like an hour or two to get to know the person. And sometimes it works out really well and you’re like, the person fits really well into the group. And then sometimes the person that comes to the WG Casting ends up being completely different person, once they’re moving in, like from personality, like it’s the same person, but yeah, it’s like “Oof. Didn’t see this coming”.

DANIELLE: Yeah. Don’t like you.

HELENA: I mean, usually it more has to do with like compatibility of living style.

DANIELLE: Sure.

HELENA: Does not about liking the person or…

DANIELLE: Sure, for sure.

HELENA: Yeah. So this actually corresponds really nicely to our conversation we were having at the beginning: we were talking about big cities and she’s describing how Paris reminds her a little bit of Berlin. And when she was in the club, she was like, kind of feeling homesick for Paris. So I guess there’s some nice correlations between these big international cities in Europe.

DANIELLE: I can’t remember which… did Rebekka say.. She said “I heard about that Paris is a cool, international city”.

HELENA: “Eine richtig internationale Stadt”.

DANIELLE: Okay. And, but not as big as Berlin. And doesn’t have so many hipsters.

HELENA: “Aber etwas kleiner und vielleicht nicht so viele Hipster”. I don’t know. Wait, which one has more hipsters? Berlin?

DANIELLE: Berlin. That’s what she’s saying. I would say that’s the case. I mean, I’ve never lived in Paris, but ..

HELENA: They’re kind of more like people that have their shit together and are like falling apart as much as Berlin. I’m sorry. I can’t say that. Try that again. They’re probably more people that are a little bit more organized, they have more money and they’re more… I don’t know. In Berlin, I think people are a little bit “more”.

DANIELLE: People have really embraced the alternative culture here.

HELENA: That’s a wonderful way to say it. Let’s listen to the third dialogue.

DANIELLE: Okay.

GIRL 3: In drei Wochen ist ein Feiertag und ich habe zufällig auch Geburtstag. Ich habe ein ein paar meiner Freunde zu einer kleinen Party eingeladen. Komm doch auch!

ASTRID: So far it had seemed as though we were the kind of friends who told each other what they did on the weekend. But not the kind that actually did anything on the weekend – together – if that makes sense… In 3 Wochen? -I checked GIRL 3: Ja, Karfreitag, am 19. April.

ASTRID: She confirmed. Du bist ja organisiert … I teased. Aber im Ernst, echt nett von dir, dass du an mich denkst. I genuinely thought so.

GIRL 3: Ja, ich dachte mir, irgend jemand sollte dich mal zu was einladen.

ASTRID: She teased me right back. Ugh, danke… I responded laughing. Soll ich was bestimmtes anziehen? I wondered.

GIRL 3: Mmh.. Schick aber lässig, also keinen Schlafanzug, falls …

ASTRID: Aah…she was always with the jokes.

HELENA: So Danielle, did you catch all that?

DANIELLE: I think a little bit of it. I definitely got that they were joking back and forth and she asked what she needed to wear and she said “You can wear your pajamas”?

HELENA: No, she says: “Schick aber lässig, also keinen Schlafanzug”

DANIELLE: Ah, “keinen Schlafanzug”. Okay, so you can’t wear your pajamas.

HELENA: Yeah, don’t wear them. But it should look nice but relaxed.

DANIELLE: Nice but relaxed. Okay.

HELENA: Yeah. So that’s kind of Berlin style, I’d say.

DANIELLE: Yeah. Kind of like jeans and t-shirt and…

HELENA: But not like falling apart or maybe falling apart, but like stylish.

DANIELLE: Stylish way.

HELENA: Exactly. So, she has planned her birthday party three weeks in advance, which then her friend teased her about being like..she’s really organized: “Du bist ja organisiert”. Do you think three weeks in advance is a normal time for planning a birthday party?

DANIELLE: I mean, I never planned my birthday party three weeks in advance. It’s always a couple of days before I send out a text like “Hey, meet me here!”.

HELENA: Yeah. I think that’s a German thing though to get really organized about parties. I definitely have been invited to parties like a year, like half a year in advance.

DANIELLE: Wow.

HELENA: Yeah. Like big birthday parties, for example, like celebrating the 30th.

DANIELLE: I see. Or I guess if you need to rent out a space or something like that. In that case yeah. Well, I’ve never had a birthday like that so…

HELENA: But Germans like to have that kind of birthday party where it’s like a big, nice big organization and really like put together and you tell everyone “Hey in half a year it’s my birthday. Make sure you’re there!”. So what day did she say her birthday party was on? Which weekend? ‘Cause that one was a little bit tricky, ‘cause they’re talking about a certain public holiday in Germany.

DANIELLE: Ah, well she did say “Feiertag” which means “bank holiday”, right?

HELENA: It means, it just means like a holiday.

DANIELLE: It just means a holiday. And then she said that the party is on the 19th of April. So is it near Easter?

HELENA: It is.

DANIELLE: Okay.

HELENA: But it’s not Easter. Easter is Ostern. So it wasn’t that.

DANIELLE: Ostern. Umh… is it Good Friday?

HELENA: Yeah. So how do you say that?

DANIELLE: Gutefreitag?

HELENA: Close! Karfreitag.

DANIELLE: What is it?

HELENA: Karfreitag.

DANIELLE: Karfreitag. And why “Kar-“?

HELENA: I actually don’t know.

DANIELLE: Huh!

HELENA: Let’s look that up. Okay, so Google has a little bit of help for us here. So, Karfreitag comes from “Kar”, chara , which means “wail”, as in like the sound you make when you’re sad, sorrow or lamentation. Lamentation: haven’t said that word in a long time.

DANIELLE: Well, that makes sense.

HELENA: Yeah. So, a less common word for Karfreitag is “stiller Freitag”.

DANIELLE: Ah, “stiller Freitag”.

HELENA: What does that mean?

DANIELLE: “Stiller” is that… breastfeeding?

HELENA: No, “stillen”.

DANIELLE: Okay.

HELENA: Interesting. Well, “stiller” means “silent”. Like, you know the song “Holy night, silent night”?.

DANIELLE: Silent night, holy night.

HELENA: Okay. Clearly I’m not a Christian. Otherwise I would know what Karfreitag means. Just kidding.

DANIELLE: You’re good. Okay, that’s interesting. So her birthday is on the same day as Karfreitag.

HELENA: Yeah. That’s when her birthday party is.

DANIELLE: That’s when the birthday party is. Okay.

HELENA: And her birthday too. Well, actually, do you know this about German birthdays?

DANIELLE: What?

HELENA: Is that you’re not allowed to celebrate before the actual day.

DANIELLE: Yeah, I actually learned that because, yeah, I tried to tell a colleague, a German colleague, Happy birthday before their actual birthday and they were like “No, that’s bad luck!”.

HELENA: Like “Shush! Don’t say that!”

DANIELLE: Because in the US it’s like, if you know the person’s birthday is coming up, then you like say Happy birthday in case you don’t see them on their actual birthday.

HELENA: You can’t do that here. Only “nachträglich” which means “afterwords”.

DANIELLE: Okay. So you can do belated birthday best. Okay. Well, yeah, I learned that the hard way.

HELENA: Yeah. I think a lot of people do. Also no congratulations, no birthday gifts and no parties. You can’t even mention that they have a birthday before their actual birthday.

DANIELLE: Wow.

HELENA: I’m just kidding.

DANIELLE: I wonder why though. I’m always curious about how these things come about.

HELENA: I’m not about to get that Google out.

DANIELLE: No worries. That’s for a later day.

HELENA: After she gets the invite, she says “echt nett von dir, dass du an mich denkst”. Do you know what that means?

DANIELLE: No.

HELENA: So it means “It’s really nice of you to think of me”. Or thanks for inviting me basically.

DANIELLE: Oh, okay. That’s a useful phrase. Say it again.

HELENA: Echt nett von dir, dass du an mich denkst.

DANIELLE: Echt nett von dir, dass du an mich denkst.

HELENA: Dass du an mich denkst.

DANIELLE: Dass du an mich denkst.

HELENA: We’re cutting that out. In a response to that, she says “Ja, ich dachte mir, irgend jemand sollte dich mal zu was einladen”.

DANIELLE: I thought it was nice of me to invite you. Is it something like that?

HELENA: That’s in essence what she says, but she says “I thought to myself, somebody should invite you to something”. ‘Cause she’s like a loner at this point, she has no friends.

DANIELLE: How cheeky!

HELENA: Yeah. But she was, you know…right.

DANIELLE: Oh, but that’s cute though, when you… it really shows when you’re really becoming friends with someone, when you can like make little jokes like that.

HELENA: All right. So let’s move on to the fourth dialogue.

DANIELLE: Okay. Let’s do it.

ASTRID: as she recited a whole archive of my history to our audience – I realized it wasn’t happening. And so, attempting an out of ear shot surrender, I leaned in with… Es tut mir echt leid zu fragen, Ich habe gerade einen Blackout. She glanced over at me. Cheerfully still… Aber wie heißt du nochmal? She looked at me funny. But not in our usual ‘Ha-ha’ kind of way. And then, muted, she murmured…

GIRL 3: Rebekka.

HELENA: Oh man.

DANIELLE: Well, that’s pretty… that’s pretty dark. But I think everybody has been in this situation like that. But first, why is it the teachers still do this? Why they make you introduce the person sitting next to you?

HELENA: Probably ‘cause they don’t know your name either. Danielle, you used to be a teacher!

DANIELLE: I did. And I totally used to have my students do this. HELENA: So why are you asking?!

DANIELLE: I’m also criticizing myself.

HELENA: Yeah. I mean, it must be so hard to know all the names.

DANIELLE: Yeah. And it is just I guess, it supposed to serve as… like an ice breaker as well, to get the students talking ‘cause they don’t really want to do that. So it’s supposed to be a clever way to get them to talk and then also to share out. Yeah, but now that I’ve heard it in the story, I probably won’t do that again.

HELENA: Yeah. I definitely had moments where I couldn’t remember somebody’s name.

DANIELLE: Yeah, sure.

HELENA: Whenever I do that, I just don’t say the name. I’m like, I would do something like “This is my colleague”, so I’m going to be “This is my colleague. She’s blah, blah, blah”. And like pretend I didn’t, I like forgot to mention her name.

DANIELLE: Yeah. And then, yeah. And then, but then what do you do if the teacher says: “And what’s her name?”.

HELENA: I’d be like “I have to go pee”. Just kidding.

DANIELLE: That’s a way to get out of it.

HELENA: Yeah, no. I think actually I would just ask her like “Hey, what’s your name?”. It’s embarrassing.

DANIELLE: It’s embarrassing but, I mean…

HELENA: But as we learned in the story, it’s actually kind of like a bonding moment, you know? And it can be like “Oh yeah, I’ve had that moment too, where I really liked somebody and I just blank on her name”.

DANIELLE: It happens. I forget my husband’s name sometimes. I call him my son’s name. I’m like “Wilder!”. And then he’s looking at me and I’m like “No, that’s not right. What is your name?”.

HELENA: Once my mom called me my cat’s name.

DANIELLE: Oh noo.

HELENA: That was a low point. It was a low point though.

DANIELLE: It’s like the cat somehow takes up a little bit more space or mind.

HELENA: I think that’s really common though for people to mix up names. It happens all the time: I mean names are just not something that are super inherent to our brain for some reason.

DANIELLE: Yeah.

HELENA: Plus half the people on this earth are called the same thing.

DANIELLE: That’s true.

HELENA: Like names are so generic, is not weird? This is a bit of a tangent, but sometimes I’m like: “Okay, it used to have a child and you could choose from like five names from the Bible and that’s it”.

DANIELLE: Right? Yeah, that’s true.

HELENA: Now people are getting a little bit more creative, but it really used to be that: like you would name the child not out of uniqueness, but out of convenience.

DANIELLE: Yeah, sure. That’s true. And I mean, her name is Rebekka, which is…

HELENA: Also biblical.

DANIELLE: Yeah. It is biblical, right?! Yeah. That’s true.

HELENA: Astrid not so much. It’s more, I don’t know… Scandinavian maybe?

DANIELLE: Yeah. I wondered if that’s something, our names very important in German culture, like is that… I wondered because this is the story sort of about, you know, cultures kind of coming together and merging. And I wondered if like, if that had any implication on anything, like with these two women that this woman forgot this German woman’s name. Like I wondered if that meant something or it didn’t mean something.

HELENA: Well, honestly, I don’t think that it’s names that are so important in the culture, but maybe it has more to do with what friendship means.

DANIELLE: I see.

HELENA: Like for her maybe making a new friend is a really big deal. And along that comes like the mutual respect and understanding. And maybe she was like caught off guard she’s like “Whoa, how could she forget my name? Cause I thought we were friends”.

DANIELLE: Right.

HELENA: Though I think she probably… I don’t know, Germans are really reluctant to use the word “friend”. They’re usually more specific about their relationship to someone.

DANIELLE: Okay.

HELENA: Like you would say “This is my colleague” or “This is my classmates” or “This is my mom’s son”. Not mom’s son, my brother…

DANIELLE: … My mom’s son.

HELENA: Um, this is my mom’s friend. I think in the US you’d be like “This is my friend” and “friend” is anybody that you like or that’s on your side. That’s how I like to describe it.

DANIELLE: Right. Anybody can be friend, right? Yeah.

HELENA: Yeah. Just somebody that you like, or that is there.

DANIELLE: Yeah. Sure. Okay.

HELENA: And just two minutes ago “This is my friend”, right? Yeah.

DANIELLE: I just met this person: “This is my friend”.

HELENA: In Germany, if you call somebody “friend” it’s usually “Okay. This person I would share my bank details with”.

DANIELLE: Oh, wow.

HELENA: It’s an exaggeration, but that’s kind of like, the end of the spectrum that is on.

DANIELLE: I see. Okay. It’s like “You know what, this is my friend. This means something to me”. Which I appreciate.

HELENA: Yeah, it’s nice. Like, even if you were living with somebody for five years you will be like “This is my housemate.

DANIELLE: It’s like “Have I not been upgraded to friend yet?!”.

HELENA: It depends.

DANIELLE: Yeah. I had a question. She said something, Astrid said something like “Ich habe eine Frage”, like “I have a question” and she said “Can you tell me your name again?”. And I wondered the phrasing that she used for that she said “Gerade” which I didn’t think would necessarily belong in a question like that.

HELENA: Okay. So what she says is “Es tut mir echt leid zu fragen, Ich habe gerade einen Blackout”.

DANIELLE: Ah, “gerade”.

HELENA: Gerade. So she’s saying “I’m really sorry I’ve to ask but I’m having like a blackout”.

DANIELLE: Gerade. Oh, okay. I heard “gerade” and I was like “Huh?! That doesn’t belong there!”

HELENA: Ooh. ‘Cause you’re thinking “straight”. Like “gerade aus”.

DANIELLE: Exactly. So I was really confused when I heard that. Yeah.

HELENA: Gerade it means like “right now”.

DANIELLE: I see. Okay.

HELENA: Like, “in this moment”.

DANIELLE: Interesting. Okay.

HELENA: Or you can also say something like “Ich habe gerade Bauchschmerzen” or something like that. That means “Right now I have a stomachache”.

DANIELLE: Okay, good.

HELENA: Oh yeah. Right at the beginning of the exchange, when they’re saying hi to each other, Rebekka is like “Hey!” and Astrid’s like “Na”.

DANIELLE: Oh yeah. I learned this one once. “Hey. Na” is like “Hey there”.

HELENA: Yeah. “Na” is just the way of saying like “What’s up”, “Tell me about your day”, ”How’s it going?”. But it could also just mean “Hi”. So if common exchange is like “Na” and the other person’s like “Na”.

DANIELLE: Interesting. But how do you know when the “Na” means “What’s up” and when it means “How you’re doing”. Which I guess is.. I guess “What’s up” and “How you’re doing” are kind of synonymous…

HELENA: Yeah, it means “What’s up”.

DANIELLE: It means what’s up. Yeah. “What’s up” can be a greeting or it can be an actual question.

HELENA: That’s true.

DANIELLE: So… is not like that? Where it is a greeting and a question. It got very philosophical!

HELENA: Let me think for a second. I think I’ve definitely asked… I’ve definitely like had this exchange with somebody where I go like “Na” and then I stare at them until they like say something..

DANIELLE: Interesting.

HELENA: Like “Na” and they’re like “Hey! Wie geht’s?”

DANIELLE: But saying “Na” is a totally fine response.

HELENA: Yeah.

DANIELLE: Okay. I’ll use that.

HELENA: Yeah. You should. You have to kind of dragged out though.

DANIELLE: Ok. Naaa?

HELENA: Exactly. You don’t actually have to do that.

DANIELLE: At least it’s like…yeah

HELENA: You could be like “Na”. Na. Okay. Let’s just listen to the last little chunk of dialogue.

DANIELLE: Okay.

ASTRID: When that familiar voice returned…

REBEKKA: Mir ist aufgefallen, dass ich die falschen Zeit auf die Einladung geschrieben habe. Ich wollte dir nur schnell die richtige geben. ASTRID: Oh, du möchtest immer noch, dass ich komme? I anxiously replied.

REBEKKA: Ja klar. Also es fängt um 20 Uhr an – Deutsche Zeit. Ich weiß ja, du hast es mit Details.

HELENA: So what happened on the invitation?

DANIELLE: The time was wrong on the invitation.

HELENA: Exactly.

DANIELLE: Right? Not that she was saying “You’re uninvited”, which is what Astrid thought. I would think the same, like “Oh God, she must hate me now”. Poor Astrid. Yeah. Okay. So then the time was wrong on the invitation and it’s now… what did she say? Eight o’clock Deutsche Zeit.

HELENA: Exactly. Cause earlier she had not…she hadn’t put, set her phone yet to German time.

DANIELLE: Aaaah, I see. I thought it was maybe “deutsche Zeit” like that’s actually the time. Because I do, I have a couple of French friends and they told me that if a party is supposed to start at a certain time, you actually don’t show up when it’s supposed to start. So I thought maybe she said “Deutsche Zeit” because it’s like “No, that’s actually when it starts. So you need to be there”.

HELENA: That’s so interesting. Actually ‘cause I thought like “Oh, is it German time or Spanish time?”. Cause it’s like… And French are bad too. Like when you say “Come at this time”, they come two hours late!

DANIELLE: I think in France it’s actually rude if you show up at the time, when the invitation says, because it’s like – you know – the hosts, they aren’t ready. So it’s actually rude if you show up on time. I was like, wow! That’s interesting. That’s quite the conundrum.

HELENA: I don’t know how I would have dinner parties with that. Cause that’s like… you want the food to be hot when the people eat it.

DANIELLE: Right? Yeah. Hmm. I don’t know.

HELENA: I don’t know when you’re going to like a party, like a huge birthday party you don’t have to show up on time. At a dinner party? You should be there on time.

DANIELLE: Definitely on time for a dinner party. I think that’s, I think that should be quite universal. I would never show up like more than 30 minutes late to a party unless I’ve like explicitly told the host that I was going to be late, but if it’s a dinner party, I’m going to be there on time, for sure.

HELENA: Yeah. But that’s funny that you interpreted it as the cultural difference times. But it is important to clarify that.

DANIELLE: Because Germans are very much… very punctual people. Actually I have been told that if you do not show up at a time when you say you’re going to show up, they actually take that as a bit of a… Like disrespectful.

HELENA: Yeah. Cause it’s like “You’re not respecting my time. I made this time for you, out of my busy schedule, and you’re not here”.

DANIELLE: Yeah.

HELENA: “So you are making me wait around and disrespecting my time and my day”.

DANIELLE: Yeah. Which is, I totally understand. Yeah. But I mean, I guess that’s the tricky part about cultures sort of coming together, right?! Because everybody doesn’t have that, you know, that sense of time in that way. So it’s one of those really interesting things that you want to learn very quickly.

HELENA: Or that you will learn very quickly. Otherwise you’re not gonna end up with very many German friends.

DANIELLE: Sure.

HELENA: Well, that’s it Danielle! We made it through the whole story.

DANIELLE: Oh yeah. It was a very nice story. I really enjoyed it.

HELENA: Yeah. This one was a fun and a really dramatic one too. And let us talk about all sorts of interesting German culture for little tidbits.

DANIELLE: For sure, yeah.

HELENA: Thank you so much for joining me.

DANIELLE: Thanks for having me.

HELENA: And I look forward to talking with you next week.

DANIELLE: Okay. Bye!

HELENA: Bye bye!

Grammatically Speaking

[53:14]

HELENA: That was Danielle and I are breaking down “Social Creatures”. Hopefully you’ve found that useful and can understand the dialogue a bit better now. So guys, as you know, I’m not a trained language teacher, so I’m not about to sit here and teach you some grammar, but luckily we have Inda and Steffi in the house, and they’re going to go over some wonderful memory techniques that you can use to retain all that vocabulary we’ve just learned.

STEFFI: Thanks Helena for introducing us. And so Inda in this story, we have Astrid, the French exchange student who’s now studying in Germany and she’s asked one of the most frequent questions in the world… Well, maybe not in the world, but at least in Germany, do you remember what it is?

INDA: Seit wann lernst du Deutsch?

STEFFI: Exactly. So I guess you’ve been asked about it.

INDA: Yes. This is actually one of the questions that… the most nerve wracking question someone could ask me back in the days when I was still a learner, just because I couldn’t figure out the proper grammatical way to answer it. There are so many prepositions – seit, vor, für – then the declensions that you need with each preposition. So it was a nightmare. I ended up saying “Nicht so lange”, just to avoid saying for how long I had been learning German. But then soon enough people are going to ask other questions, like: how long have you been living here? How long have you been working here? How long have you been…? So the “nicht so lange” is not very scalable.

STEFFI: Yeah. You want to be specific.

INDA: Yeah. At some point I ended up having to learn how to…the grammar involved in answering this question.

STEFFI: Yes. So that’s why we’re here, right? We want to help you memorize and internalize grammar chunks, so you can actually use them when someone asks you a question and you didn’t have to think about the grammar every time you have to answer a question and you just like recall it from memory. So today we want to talk about flashcards. Flashcards are one of the most popularized memorization techniques. And why is that? Why are they so popular?

INDA: Well, they make you practice the active recall which is something that you need when you’re speaking. So imagine when someone asks you a question, if you start thinking about declensions and prepositions in parts of speech, that’s virtually impossible. So what you need is to have this active recall practice and I think that flashcards have proven to be the most effective way to create this stronger neuron connections. And that’s why they’re actually extremely effective. What I find a little bit tricky about flashcards is that sometimes you learn words in isolation and that’s difficult when it comes to grammar then, how you put the words together.

STEFFI: Exactly. You would need like a, like a question and an answer. Like on the one side you have the question and the other side you have the answer, right?

INDA: Right. That will be a good way to learn grammar with flashcards, where you have a question and on the other side you have possible answers that are grammatically correct, and that you can, in those answers you can use them as templates for other types of answers.

STEFFI: Exactly. Okay. So what are we doing today?

INDA: This is exactly what we are doing today. We have brought an audible flashcard quiz that hopefully on the one hand you can quiz yourself right now and see how you’re doing with your propositions and declensions. And yeah, just take the quizzes many times and hopefully it’s going to help you memorize this grammar chunks.

STEFFI: Sounds very fancy: audible flashcard quiz. So the way this is going to work is Inda will ask a question, she will give the answer in English, give you a little bit of time to think about the answer in German and then I will give you the answer. Okay. Should we do an example?

INDA: Seit wann lernest du Deutsch? How long have you been learning German? For a year.

STEFFI: Seit einem Jahr.

INDA: Yeah, so let’s go through different possible answers and you give us a little moment and then provide the right answer in German.

STEFFI: Okay.

INDA: So… For four years.

STEFFI: Seit vier Jahren.

INDA: Since 2016.

STEFFI: Seit 2016.

INDA: Since last year.

STEFFI: Seit letztem Jahr.

INDA: Since last week.

STEFFI: Seit letzter Wohe

INDA: Since Monday.

STEFFI: Seit Montag. Okay. Should we practice another question?

INDA: Yes. So the other type of question that people can ask us, like when you started doing something or when something happened: when did you come to Germany? A month ago.

STEFFI: Vor einem Monat.

INDA: In July.

STEFFI: Im Juli.

INDA: In December.

STEFFI: Im Dezember.

INDA: A week ago.

STEFFI: Vor einer Woche.

INDA: A month ago.

STEFFI: Vor einem Monat.

INDA: Last month.

STEFFI: Letzten Monat.

INDA: On Monday.

STEFFI: Am Montag.

INDA: So how did it go? Take this quizzes as often as you need and use the answers as templates for your own answers. So as always: learn language in context and use grammar to help you tell your own story.

STEFFI: So, yeah, if you want to tell your own story and have your own answers, I prepared a couple of questions for you in German. You can use them in your flashcards and you can add all the possible answers and you could give someone if they ask you that. So for example: Wie lange wohnst du schon in … (and then whatever city it is, you’re living in)? Seit wann lernest du Deutsch? Wann was du das leztze Mal im Kino – im Theater – im Zoo? Wann has du das leztze Mal mit deiner Mutter – oder mit deinem Freund – mit deiner Schwester-telefoniert?

INDA: Yeah. So a few tips to remember: the answer to “Wie lange…” or “Seit wann…” starts always with “seit”. And the answer to “Wann…” is either the point of time in which something happened – for example, a month or a year or a day of the week. It can be July, September, October, and Montag – or you started with “vor”, which indicates the beginning of when something started to happen. Both prepositions are always used with Dative.

STEFFI: Well, we hope you found this helpful. And remember: whenever you are learning grammar, if you attach some meaning or your own story to the, for example, to the answers you come up with, it’s going to be much easier to remember those when someone actually asks you those questions.

INDA: Yeah, so good luck next time someone asks you “How long have you been learning German?” and I hope you enjoyed our episode. See you next time. Thanks for listening!

STEFFI: Thank you. Bye bye!

HELENA: Audio flashcards?!? I think you’re onto something girls. Well, that’s a wrap. Viel dank to Danielle, Inda and Steffi for joining us and a special thanks to our actor Maeva Roth for reading this episode. If you’re following along with Chatterbug’s Curriculum, you can find the links to this episode’s topics in the podcast notes or on Chatterbug’s blog. Long Story Short is from Chatterbug and produced by Weframe studios. We will have a new story for you next Tuesday. I’m Helena and see you next week. Tschüss!