Reader’s Delight – Learning A New Language

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Günter Grass, Thomas Mann, Hermann Hesse, Heinrich Böll, Franz Kafka, Karl Marx, Friedrich Nietzsche – whether literature or philosophy, German writers have given us some of the finest works in novels, short stories, and non-fiction. Several literary gems have been made accessible to us through translators. The curiosity over what might be lost in translation, however, coupled with the quest to read what the original writer has written, in his/her own words, is something that drives me to learn new languages. The ocean of these literary giants is too vast to dive into so soon, so I’m momentarily dipping my toes into the smallest pond of German literature.

This site has not seen many write-ups lately, because I started German classes a few months ago.  I have daily lectures, along with working full-time, and haven’t had much time to write.

So, I just finished reading my first German book – EINE SPEZIELLE BAND by Sabine Werner. I will attempt to write a full review in German in a separate post. For the time being, this is a YA book featuring its protagonist Michael who hates school, doesn’t like the area he lives in, and doesn’t get along with the kids around him. His only happiness lies in music – listening to his favorite musicians and trying to recreate their music on his guitar. At a concert one day, a chance encounter with a random stranger and fellow music lover, leads him to being invited to join a band. And thus we set out on a musical journey with this group of youngsters who love hearing and making music.

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Sabine Werner narrates a simple story, accompanied with beautiful illustrations for each chapter. The book came along with an audio CD. I highly recommend audio accompaniments when learning a new language. Often, even voracious readers mispronounce words since they’ve only read them and never heard them. When starting a language from scratch, it is important to learn correct spellings and pronunciations. The audio uses different voices for the various characters, which is a good learning aid since people speak differently, even in the same language. There are questions pertaining to each chapter, so the reader can practice how much of the text has been understood at the end of every chapter. Interspersed between chapters, are a handful of pages sharing general information about Germany – something that relates to the chapter you just finished, as well as educates about the country’s culture.

A beautiful package of reading and hearing a delightful story. A must-read for music lovers, or those looking for a simple story on friendships and life surrounding music. It’s always a sense of achievement to learn something new. As a reader, studying a new language gives one access to a whole new ocean of literature in its true form. The giants of German literature are still a long way off, but baby steps with easier books will get me closer there some day.

P.S. If there are any German speaking bloggers who follow this blog, your suggestions and recommendations on German books to read will be highly appreciated.

 

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4 thoughts on “Reader’s Delight – Learning A New Language”

  1. Are you really reading German literature having only begun learning the language a few months ago? I’m in awe. I find the stamina required to read Spanish leads me to articles and esssays rather than whole books, though I can and do read longer material in French. The series you mention sounds brilliant. Is it only available in German?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I joined a Goethe Institut class here about two months ago. The librarian has been very helpful. If you notice the pink sticker on the book, all books for my level have that sticker in the library. Depending on your level of proficiency, she guides you to the relevant color code. And I love books that come with audio CDs. They’re a brilliant aid when learning a new language. I looked up Sabine Werner on Goodreads – her books are available only in German. Let me see if I can find any books with English translations. I’ll let you know.

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  2. “As a reader, studying a new language gives one access to a whole new ocean of literature in its true form.” I love this quote of yours. I’m currently learning Korean and reading Korean novels in the language definitely has a different tone than in English. It brings you even closer to the language, the people.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. It’s beautiful to be able to communicate in a new language. That’s what drives me to learn more – so many books might not be translated and we miss out on so much literature.

      Liked by 1 person

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