The thing that did the most for my German, was watching all 7 seasons of Star Trek: Deep Space 9 dubbed in German. People told me it was trash, and it wasn’t a real German TV show so it wouldn’t help, and all sorts of other bunk. It was dubbed in German for real Germans to watch.
It was really hard to understand all of it at the start, but I enjoyed it and I knew the characters from having watched it a bunch in English years ago, so I could frequently figure out what was going on. By the time I hit the end of the 7th season, I was understanding a LOT of the dialogue.
I had also been reading German Harry Potter while listening to the German Harry Potter audiobook, so that helped too. People also told me not to do that, because somehow I’d only learn the words for “magic wand” and “dragon”. Apparently they didn’t realize that 99.9% of the words in the book are not fantasy words, they were just regular German. And again, it was hard to understand at the start, but it got easier.
It worked, too. By the time I actually got to Germany, I understood pretty much everything I heard or read. Now I’m trying to duplicate the experience with Dutch, reading any Dutch book I feel like. Currently on my desk I have book 11 of Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series (translated to Dutch), a book about the rugby team whose plane crashed in the Andes mountains (in Dutch), The Da Vinci Code (in Dutch), a book on the history of Anarchism in Spain (in Dutch). Basically anything I could find that sounded interesting. I don’t actually own any textbooks about Dutch at all, nor do I plan to. Nothing boring allowed.
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