Friends International English Conversation Group

Archive for the ‘language’ Category

ExpoLingua in Berlin is THE place to learn everything about language learning for expats in Berlin. Meet representatives of private language learning schools and the Berlin evening class organisation “Berliner Volkshochschulen”. Find out about learning German as a foreign language.

EXPOLINGUA takes place on November 21st and 22nd 10 a.m. till 6 p.m. in Berin-Mitte, Friedrichstr. 176-179.

Today I would like to pass on information about learning German in your mother tongue on the computer. This way of learning has the advantage, if you want to decide on how much and how long you would like to learn. You can also take the programme with you on an MP3-player or your I-Phone and learn whenever there is time.

The reason why I prefer to use these courses is that you can learn words by different tests and word lists or index cards which you can also print out to take along. The best thing about that is that words are repeated until you have memorised them correctly five times. On top, there is information about how you best learn a language. What I like about that is that you can freely choose and try the method which suits you most and is most effective for you.

As a beginner, without any knowledge of German, you would best choose the basic course to start with and continue with the advanced course. If you need to learn German in a faster way, the express couse would be right for you. But even if you are quite fit in understanding and talking German, the special vocabulary collection could help you to improve your communicative competence. An online dictionary is available as well.

The computer courses on DVD are available in 40 languages, so there is a good chance that your language is amongst them. Take a look and decide! If you live in a German-language environment, the conditions to really apply what you have learned are best, but even if you live somewhere where German is not spoken, take a lookout for German conversation groups; you will find them in nearly every bigger city, and, of course, on the Web.

The best of success and fun in learning German!

At our last meeting, we had members from all corners of the world: US, Britain, France, Ukraine, South Korea, South Africa, Georgia and Germany. All of us love to get information about foraign countries, their culture, their history and their current situation.

So I learned a lot about Georgia, a lot of facts I did not learn about. Georgia is situated at the Black Sea, south of Russia. It has a great history, starting long before the history of most European states. It has a language and writing of its own which is far different from any other languages and writing. In some cases, when we have to form a sentence, in Georgian language its contents can be skimmed into one word. The letters are totally different from what Latin or Kyrillic letters look like.

While the Soviet Union existed, Georgia was a part of this empire, but regained its independency after the Soviet Union fell apart. Still, Russia is trying to keep its influence, by military and economic means, e.g. by cutting off gas supplies.

If you are as keen on learning more about different nations and conversing in English as I am, why don´t you join us on Tuesdays at Thai Su restaurant in Berlin-Kreuzberg? Everybody will give you a warm welcome.

During our last Friends Club meeting, somebody brought this up:

Everybody knows the feeling that after a good round of walking, running or playing football or tennis, there is a funny feeling in your muscles which makes it nearly unable to move.

In German, the word is “Muskelkater”. But there is no use translating it literally, as for “Muskel” the English word is “muscle”, but the German word “Kater” means “tom cat” in English, That does not make any sense. Still, there is another meaning for “Kater” in English: “hangover”! And this gets us nearer to the meaning of “Muskelkater”, as you use “Kater” in German for any state of physical indisposition coming from a reason such as too much alcohol or physical exercise.

So, for the German word “Muskelkater” you would use “sore muscles” or “aching muscles”, as the LEO dictionary tells us. The Google translater only knows “ache”, which is fairly unspecific.

For more of these discussions, why don´t you join us at Berlin Friends Club? You will get a warm welcome and you can sure to spend some joyful, interesting hours each Tuesday.

See you then!

In German, there is an idiom for remembering something by using a picture or sound. If you translate it literally into English, it would be “donkey´s bridge”, but this does not make any sense, of course. We have lately discussed the English word in a Berlin Friends Club meeting, and someone came up with something like “memory device”. At least this was what an electronic translator had to offer.

According to LEO, the English word would be “memory hook”, but “mnemonic rhyme” seems also a good alternative.

So, as an example let me cite a teacher´s saying in regard to English Grammar:

He, she, it without ‘s’ is shit!

During yesterday´s meeting we came across the German idiomatic phrase “Das Gelbe vom Ei” meaning something is not what you have expected t to be. It alludes to the fact that the inner yellow part of the egg is the best one.

Nobody was relly sure what you would say in English to express the meaning of this phrase, and so we did a bit of research in electronic translators and on the internet. These are the results:

  • This is nothing to write home about, presuming that if you are abroad you want to tell others spectacular news or something you are proud of
  • It is not the best slice of the bread, probably because people don´t like the ends of the bread
  • It´s not the bee´s nees, whatever this may derive from.

So if you think you could help us on any of these language problems, why not join us every Tuesday in Berlin-Kreuzberg?

At our last meeting we discussed that languages are illogical. So English words seem to have a much different spelling for how they are pronounced. The f-sound in “rough” is the same as in “photo” and “fish“, but spelled totally different. And why is it “mice” and not “mouses”? Why is “aircraft” the same, no matter if it is one or more than one?

But is the German language much better? It is said that there, words are spoken as they are written. But what about “Ei“, the egg? Why do you pronounce it “ai” and not “ei“? And why do we have three genders, der, die and das? Why is the girl, “Mädchen“, neutral? Why is the bus male? Nobody will ever understand.

In English, there is a word “postpone” if you put a meeting on a later date. In Indian English, there is also a word “prepone“, a word that does not exist in other varieties of English. Which brought us to the German word “verfrüht“. You cannot use it in a context like “ich habe mich verfrüht”, meaning that I have arrived early. But there is the word “verfrüht” like “Es ist verfrüht, eine Entscheidung zu treffen”, meaning that it would be too early to decide on something.

English for Germans is difficult to learn because there are so many meanings to one word. But German is difficult for English to learn because there are so many rules.

If you would like to learn something about the oddities of languages, why don´nt you join our meetings on Tuesdays? There´s always something to talk about.

During our last meeting we came across some words wwere not quite sure about. Here is the solution.

– Amazing but the English word for the German “Schwermetall” is really “heavy metal”.

– We didn´t find a suitable word for German “krass” in the sense of “amazing”, but this was a bit too ordinary. What I found out from is “far out”, and I think it suits best the colloquial meaning of the German word.

– The German word “Kitsch” is that unique that it is used in English, as well: “kitsch” and the adverb “kitschy”.

– You would exercise your climbing skills in the German “Hochseilgarten”. This is a “high rope course”, according to, but leo does not give a meaning.

– “Räumliches Vorstellungsvermögen” in English would be “spacial sense”, according to LEO.

So you can see that there is always something to learn and talk about in Berlin Friends Club. Why don´t you join us on Tuesdays?

During our last meeting of Berlin Friends Club on Tuesday, we came up on some words which we couldn´t find out on the spot. One of them was:

  • Knochendichtemessung (what a word!) Bone density, according to LEO dictionary, in special professional use also bone mineral density, is the right word for Knochendichte. So, Knochendichtemessung would be bone density examination, I would suppose.
  • We also diskussed the word for Urkunde in the context of sports. I didn´t find any special term, neither in LEO nor in the Oxford German-English dictionary. I presume it should be certificate.

If you would like to discuss more of these complicated words, why not join us next Tuesday at Asia Snack in Kochstr.? We not only talk about English-German words, but all sorts of topics that just come up.

See you then!

Now that the time of snow melting has come you might want to talk about your winter leasure time activities:

There are two basic forms of skiing: Very popular is downhill skiing, which is called Abfahrtsschi in German, and it is probably quite damaging to the environment. The other form is cross-country skiing, which is Langlaufschi in German. It is supposed to be more environmentally-friendly (umweltfreundlich), and it is more exhausting from my experience, but supposed to be an old people´s sport.

For more words to learn and discuss, join our meetings on Tuesdays, so see you then!


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September 2020