I’ve just started reading Heidi in German. It’s actually more interesting to read in German, but also much more difficult. I’ve got to page six. Bearing in mind it’s written in the simplest format possible, this isn’t much of an achievement.
My red pen has held me up somewhat. I can’t go past an unknown word without picking up the pen and underlining the word, then need to look it up in my dictionary. Next, I need to write the English meaning next to the word. Following that, I read a few more times. Finally, I can make sense of the whole sentence, or even paragraph!
So far, Heidi has walked up the hill, hot, with a red face and her older sister has had a conversation with a fat lady about why Heidi should or should not stay with her grandfather in the high Alpine pastures. That’s it and it took me two hours.
My lovely English friends, you might be laughing whilst you recall your five years of French or German at school and that it wasn’t that difficult! It is not the same. It’s not that difficult to learn rules, to learn vocabulary or even complete sentences. Who doesn’t know ‘tut mir leid? But what they probably don’t know is why you use ‘mir’ and not ‘ich’ or ‘mich’. Or that they could use ‘sie’, which could mean ‘she’, ‘they’, ‘her’, in more than one way, or ‘it’ if you literally translate into English. with our lack of genders.
And it doesn’t always matter where it is in the sentence, what matters is the gender of the object, or person (sometimes that isn’t logical – children are ‘es’ which is like ‘it’); then who is the subject, the object, the indirect object (to whom!) or if possession is involved. Now try to get through a paragraph!
Really, the joke’s on me. As I said, I’m reading Heidi. It’s written for language learners and this particular book is less than 400 words and for A1 beginner level. I’m now well through A2, so should have read this a year ago, it’s a bit embarrassing really. It took me this long to realise, that when my (brilliant) language teachers said I should read and listen to German, they meant it!
So just like Heidi took all she learnt to Frankfurt and used it (obviously I haven’t got to that bit yet), she’s helping me take all I’ve learnt and to put together the jigsaw that is learning German. Best of all, Heidi is Swiss, so she ‘hat etw. gehabt’.
I love Heidi, but I have to move on. I have an A2 book ready and waiting!
I wouldn’t be where I am with my German journey without my amazing language school in Zurich, so thank you to Roth Language Atelier, who I highly recommend if you want to learn how to read Heidi too.