bureaucracy

Racist Germans soon Obliged to take ASSimilation Courses

german integration courses
(c) fgmsp via Pixabay

Germany is Reacting to Growing Population

In 2016, Germany welcomed 2.136.954 immigrants and said good bye to 997.552 emigrants (https://de.statista.com/themen/46/einwanderung/). That left a net influx of 1.139.403 people mostly from other cultures (some were Germans returning to their roots)

To guarantee a successful integration of all new citizens, the BAMF (Bundesamt für Migräne und Flüche) has been working on a new edict according to which “difficult” natives are obliged to take so called assimilation courses (short: ASS, not kidding, Ass (n) means ace in German), so Klaus Besserwisser, unofficial spokesperson of the BAMF today. All chambers agreed unanimous that the edict will be become effective today on the first of April 2017.

 

Assimilation for a Better Understanding

The assimilation courses will last 7 months and teach participants the basics (B1) in either High Arabic or the Romanian language as well as the basics of the chosen culture as most immigrants in 2016 came from these countries.

In only 3.5hrs per day participants will study the language and culture of Germany’s newest inhabitants. Highly educated natives as well as common folks from various Arabic countries and from different regions in Romania will teach them everything there is to know about their cultures, values and religions. 
The lessons will be held exclusively in the target language to simulate the pain migrants experience when sitting in integration courses. This way Besserwisser hopes to strengthen the empathy on side of the native Germans who at times struggle heavily with adapting to the changes that meeting new people evokes.

With this approach the BAMF hopes to reduce the gap between native Germans and new German inhabitants and is confident to have found a good addition to the already existing Integration Courses.

Both Sides need to come Closer Together

Integration Courses oblige current migrants to study the German language up to level B1 within 7 months and only 3 hours of study time per day. To make sure they get the most out of this opportunity, participants have to sign in and sign out every single day they attend. They are also lucky to be able to participate in a two week crash course on German politics, culture, religion, society and basic legal matters. In the last decade this approach has been proven to provide immigrants with a solid foundation of cultural knowledge and confident language skills. As many as 60% of course participants pass their B1 exam at the end of an Integration Course which Besserwisser contributes to the outstanding performance of institutions conducting those courses and the genius idea to teach the German language by only using German so that every course participant understands equally nothing and doesn’t feel behind the other participants.

Like in the integration courses, the group size of the new assimilation courses is usually limited to 30 students only and while attendance is voluntary for most native Germans, Germans who have been noticed for racist slurs e.g. on Facebook, Twitter or in public are obliged to participate. The BAMF plans to arrange a special social media task force whose sole task will be to scan the internet for hateful and racist posts and comments to make sure the ASS-courses are filled accordingly. This way Besserwisser says, the courses will become profitable within the next 24 months.

A Win-Win Situation

At the end of the ASS-course participants will take a language exam on level B1 and a multiple choice test with 33 questions (out of 365) about politics, culture, religion, history and society of the culture they have chose.

Successful participants will be granted amnesty in case they had been convicted or a free hand enlargement operation to better cope with their inferiority complex. Voluntary participants will receive the infamous German “feuchter Händedruck”, literally: a wet handshake for their efforts as it is already tradition with all those teachers in integration courses all over Germany.

how to learn german quickly

How to Understand German Faster

How to Understand German Faster
© Pixabay

 

What You Need to Know to Understand German Faster

When you decide to learn German, you want to make a little bit of progress every day. But often, you don’t know how to make progress towards fluency. There are lots of techniques and promises in the language learning world, and it feels like you have to spend years finding what delivers.

What if you could cut the questions and simply focus on the best methods for learning German?

In today’s article, I will share with you three surprising facts from my new course How to Learn German Faster. Knowing these three tricks alone can save you hours, and I hope that you’ll be checking out the course reading to learn how to truly learn German much faster.

Vocabulary Works in Chunks, not Words

There is no way around learning vocabulary and it’s one of the most challenging tasks when learning any language. But when you understand the power of learning in context and in chunks, you will finally start putting words together so that they make sense.

This is why I recommend you throw out the classic wordlist. Instead, focus on learning your word in context. The German word Bank for example is best learnt as bei einer Bank arbeiten (work at a bank) and auf einer Bank sitzen (to sit on a bench), which helps you recall the correct meaning much quicker.

There are great vocabulary tools out there, and in How to Learn German Faster I have included videos to guide you through the full technique and learn it step by step.

The Difference Between Passive and Active Listening

Most German learners would like to have a conversation in German at one point but real life rarely provides us with ideal conditions for conversations. So instead, many learners focus on listening and understanding more. They spend hours with audio courses and radio shows, and wonder why progress won’t come.

The trick here is that you have to know two types of listening:

Active Listening is more than just listening. This step requires your full focus, and you will need a text and its recording to work with it. In active listening, you are following every word, sound and sentence to grasp an audio piece’s full meaning.

Passive Listening describes those times when you are listening to native German speakers. This will familiarize you with the sounds of German, help you distinguish the words from each other and follow the language at natural speed. Focus on environments with natural atmosphere, so that means you should avoid the news and audiobooks.

Listening is Step 5 in the Learning Cycle, which is my biggest tip. Check the course-video for a first insight. The book will provide you with a deeper understanding of the technique:

 

 

 

Think About the Learning Cycle

At the heart of How to Learn German Faster, I am sharing the exact details of the German Learning Cycle, a simple and reliable system for learning faster and remembering better. If you usually sit down and try a little bit of this, a little bit of that, and feel like you’re not getting anywhere, the Learning Cycle is going to be exactly what you need.

You are going to learn exactly how to follow this cycle. There is a version for beginners and a special level for advanced learners, and my videos will show you exactly how to build this into your daily life.

This course is based on the knowledge I share with private clients who regularly reach level B1 in just 3 months, and it is now available in the smarterGerman shop.

[Click Here to Learn More About How to Learn German Faster]

testimony

Rina

I spend weeks looking for the perfect course that would help me learn the German language effectively and achieve my goal of B2 level in 3 months time. And I´m very glad that I´d chose SmarterGerman, as Smart it was indeed.

Michael understood my results oriented nature along with the time and dedication that I was willing to put in and optimised that in our lessons that has in turn brought out a great result. 

My biggest struggle was always with the grammar rules, and given the amount of them in the German language, my struggle was real. But with the techniques and learning materials, along with Michael´s patience to find every possible way to make me thoroughly understand and feel comfortable in using them, I was amazed and can gladly say it worked.  

Being a perfectionist, I also always had the fear of not sounding perfect or correct when I speak, and although I know I´m still not perfect,  the conversation trainings has done a great deal in raising my confidence and encouraging me to just speak and learn as I go on.

The lessons were personalised, the hard work was present from both sides, and that is what has made the course and experience truly worth it for me. And of course, the results oriented side in me is also pleased, as I´ve passed my B2 exam in 10 weeks time. : )

See her B2 certificate here (coming soon).

testimony

Anitha Diewald

Learning German with a full time consulting job is a complete nightmare. I could never find time to take a proper B1 course but always wanted to do the B1 exam. Getting the B1 Goethe Certificate was a dream for me which i never managed to achieve in 9 years.

Finally i decided to do my B1 level in 3 weeks. 2 big language schools instantly turned me down saying 3 weeks is not enough time to do B1 course(even with an intensive course). I was very much disheartened. I had been following smarterGerman on Youtube. I loved their channel for their smarter way of teaching German. It just occurred to me one morning to write to Michael and ask him if he would help me in achieving my goal. I felt really lucky when he instantly replied me and confirmed me that he would teach me and help me achieve my goal.

I knew i was in the right hands and needless to say with his german grammar videos i learnt everything i need to know in 3 weeks.Michael and Margareth constantly gave me tips and tricks to strengthen my weak areas. I am really very thankful to both Michael and Margareth without whom i would not have achieved my goal. Yes i passed my B1 exam 🙂

See her B1 certificate here (coming soon).

how to learn german quickly

Die Binaurale-Methode zum Fremdsprachen-lernen nach smarterGerman


ENGLISH VERSION BELOW

Die Binaurale-Methode ist eine Methode zum Erlernen von Fremdsprachen. Im Folgenden bezeichne ich die Sprache, die man lernen möchte, als Zielsprache und die Sprache, die man benutzt, um die neue Sprache zu lernen, als Ausgangssprache.

Beschreibung der Methode

Im ersten Schritt wird ein Text in der Zielsprache Wort-für-Wort in die Ausgangssprache übersetzt.
Diese wird im Folgenden “Spiegelung” genannt. Diese Spiegelung darf jedoch nicht zu wörtlich genommen werden, da an manchen Stellen eine wörtliche Übersetzung eher verwirrt und den Sinn des Textes in der Zielsprache verstellt. Die Spiegelung wird entweder neben dem Text in der Zielsprache dargestellt oder Satz für Satz darunter.

Die Spiegelung in der Ausgangssprache soll in einer blasseren Schrift oder in einer anderen Farbe gedruckt werden, um die Aufmerksamkeit des Lerners auf der Zielsprache zu belassen. Der Lernende soll die Spiegelung – die z.B. unter einem roten Vordergrund verschleiert liegt (siehe Beispiel unter: http://www.taponet.de/projects/verschleierung/) – entweder mittels einer entsprechend farblich getönten Brille oder mittels einer diesem Prinzip entsprechenden Software-Applikation sehen können. Die Spiegelung erübrigt das Nachschlagen einzelner Wörter und kann je nach Lernfortschritt ein- bzw. ausgeblendet werden.
—–
Anhand dieser schriftlichen Vorlage wird nun der Text eingelesen bzw. eingespielt.
Dabei ist darauf zu achten, dass die Textversionen in der Zielsprache und in der Ausgangssprache auf zwei getrennten Stereokanälen von den Wortsilben her möglichst deckungsgleich aufgenommen werden. Auf dem Daten- oder Tonträger soll der Text in der Ausgangssprache später auf dem linken Ohr zu hören sein, während der Text in der Zielsprache auf dem rechten Ohr zu hören ist. Jedoch ist auch eine umgekehrte Anordnung der vertonten Texte denkbar und hier miteingeschlossen. Ziel ist dabei, dass der aufgenommene Ton von Ausgangs- sowie Zielsprache so deckungsgleich wie möglich zu hören ist. Ein Beispiel soll dies illustrieren:

Die Sonne scheint. Es ist ein schöner Tag. (rechts)
The sun        shines.      It   is  a      beautiful  day.   (links)   oder umgekehrt

Der finalen Aufnahme können noch Klangeffekte und Hintergrundmusik hinzugefügt werden, um die Atmosphäre zu vertiefen.

 

Vorteile der Methode

Die Spiegelung eines geschriebenen Textes ist nichts Neues. In der hier beschriebenen Darstellungsform sowie in hörbarer Form gibt es sie jedoch noch nicht. Vorteile der geschriebenen sowie der auditiven Spiegelung sind die folgenden:

Der Lerner muss keine unbekannten Wörter oder Satzstrukturen mehr nachschlagen.
Die Struktur der Zielsprache wird mithilfe der Ausgangssprache deutlich gemacht. Der Text in der Zielsprache wird somit vor-analysiert und der Zugang zur Zielsprache erleichtert.
Durch die Vertonung beider Versionen des Textes wird ein weiterer kognitiver Zugang genutzt. Neben dem visuellen wird auch der Hörsinn des Lerners angesprochen.
Das simultane Hören beider Versionen bringt die Vorteile der geschriebenen Spiegelung auf eine auditive und somit auch weitere emotionale Ebene.
Dem Lerner ist es durchaus möglich, sich bewusst auf jeweils eine Version einzustimmen und die andere in den Hintergrund zu verbannen und sogar spontan zwischen beiden Versionen hin- und herzuschalten. Dies hat eine tiefere Auseinandersetzung mit dem zu lernenden Material zur Folge.
Der Lerner kann selbst kontrollieren, wie viel neuer Information er sich aussetzt. Diese Kontrollmöglichkeit vermittelt ihm Sicherheit, die den Sprachlernprozess aller Voraussicht nach positiv unterstützt.

 

Ausführung der Methode

Der Lerner spielt die zweisprachige Audio-Datei mit einem geeigneten Abspielgerät ab. Um in den Genuss der möglichen Vorteile der Methode zu gelangen, muss der Lerner einen Kopfhörer benutzen, denn das gleichzeitige Abspielen zweier Sprachen über einen Lautsprecher ermöglicht keine Trennung des zielsprachigen Textes von seiner Spiegelung und würde nicht zu dem angestrebten Effekt führen. Der Lerner hat den zielsprachlichen Text idealerweise bereits vorbereitet, z.B. indem er das Vokabular gelernt hat oder den Text gelesen hat. Beim Hören versucht der Lerner sich auf die zielsprachige Version zu konzentrieren. Ein wiederholtes Hören kann von Vorteil sein, da jede Wiederholung hilft, das Erlernte im Gehirn zu konsolidieren.

Weitere Übungen sind angeraten. Ziel der ganzen Übung ist es den Text ausschließlich in der Zielsprache hören und verstehen zu können. Hierfür sollte eine gesonderte Aufnahme erstellt werden. Diese Methode wird von smarterGerman auch für musikalisches Lernmaterial in Form von Liedern und kurzen Audio-Übungssequenzen verwendet.

(c) 2016: Diese Methode wurde im Rahmen der Unternehmung smarterGerman erdacht und entwickelt von Michael Schmitz, 12047 Berlin und Margareth Jabczynski, 12045 Berlin. Alle Rechte vorbehalten.

 

ENGLISH VERSION

The Binaural-Method to learn foreign languages developed by smarterGerman

The binaural method is a method to learn foreign languages. In the following, I will call the language that one aims to learn “target language,” and the language that is used to assist the learner in learning the target language is the “helper language.” The helper language might be the learner’s native language or any other language he speaks on a level of B2 or higher.

 

Method description

In the first step, a text in the target language is translated word for word into the helper language. This almost literal translation will be called “mirrored text” from here on. A mirrored text is always written in the helper language. The mirroring process should not be taken too literally as, at times, a too literal translation would rather confuse the learner than be of help. The mirrored text is being placed either next to the text in the target language or sentence per sentence below it. The mirrored text should be presented in a lighter or different color than the text in the target language to help the learner focus on the text he aims to learn from. The mirrored text could be hidden under a red foreground, as in these examples: http://www.taponet.de/projects/verschleierung/. Ideally, the learner should have to use accordingly colored glasses or a suitable software application to be able to read the mirrored text. The mirrored text makes the process of looking up words in a dictionary redundant and can be made visible or invisible according to the learner’s progress.

Based upon the written version of the text, it is now being voiced over / recorded on two separate stereo channels: The text in the target language, as well as the mirrored text, will be recorded separately, but when played on a suitable device later, the target language text will be heard on one speaker and the mirrored text will be heard on the other speaker. Both texts need to be congruent so that when, e.g., the learner hears the German words “Die Sonne…” on the one ear, at the same time he will hear “the sun…” on the other ear. One example:

Die Sonne scheint. Es ist ein schöner Tag. (rechts)
The sun        shines.      It   is   a     beautiful  day.   (links)   oder umgekehrt

We suggest that the target language should be recorded on the right stereo channel while the mirrored version is recorded on the left channel. However, the di
rections might as well be exchanged. Additional sound effects and background music can be added to the final recording to deepen the learning atmosphere.

 

Advantages of the method

Producing mirrored texts is nothing new. However, in the form described here, as well as in audio form, it does not exist yet and is, therefore, an invention of smarterGerman. We believe our approach brings the following advantages to language learners:

The learner doesn’t have to look up unknown words or structures in a separate dictionary.
The structure of the target language is being clarified with the help of the helper language. The text in the target language is pre-analyzed, and accessing the target language is, therefore, a lot easier.
By recording the audio of both text variants, as described above, the learner can use an additional cognitive channel during his learning process.
Next to visual cognitive input, the learner also gets auditive input. The simultaneous listening of both versions transfers the advantages of mirroring onto an auditive and therefore also another emotional level.
The learner can focus on each version of the song individually and, with a bit of practice, will be able to switch between both versions with ease. This way, he is engaging with the material on a much deeper level than normal.
The learner can control by himself how much information he exposes himself to. This possibility leads to a feeling of being in charge of the learning process and provides him with a sense of security, which is crucial for any language learner, and therefore most likely has beneficial consequences for the language learning process.

 

Execution of the method

The learner plays the bilingual audio file with a suitable device. To make use of all the benefits described above, one needs to use headphones as only then can our brains differentiate between the two versions. Ideally, the learner has prepared the text in the target language by having learned its vocabulary and having read it once or several times, for instance.

While listening, the learner tries to focus on the version in the target language. It is certainly beneficial to repeat this process several times as repetition consolidates any information that has been learned before.

It is advisable to perform further exercises. The aim must be that, at the end, the learner is capable of listening to the target language version of the text and understanding it to a satisfying degree. To test whether this goal has been achieved, it is recommended that, next to the binaural version of the audio, an audio solely in the target language is also created. We at smarterGerman use this method also for songs or short audio sequences. Other uses are thinkable.

(c) 2016: This method has been created and developed by smarterGerman, aka Michael Schmitz, and Margareth Jabczynski, Berlin. All rights reserved.

german language Uncategorized

How does it feel to Learn the German Language from Scratch

Learn German From Scratch

It’s kind of weird. I will actually be trying to learn German from scratch again. I decided to take part in an intensive German sign language course for four weeks from June, 13th until July, 8th. For three hours a day I will go through the experience of an absolute beginner of German and explore my emotions, thoughts and the way it is being taught to me. Without any prior knowledge I expect to feel afraid, frustrated and angry but also joyful and curious. Whatever comes up, I will share it with you in the playlist above (click in the upper left corner or the info sign on the right to get to that playlist).

 

Putting Myself in Other’s Shoes – Sich in Andere Hineinversetzen

I think that a good language tutor needs to know how his clients feel and think to be able to guide them through difficult phases during their German learning process. Last year I studied Greek for 30 days and gained invaluable insight in the language learning and teaching process which helped me to optimize my German private lessons and my material (a new video course which will teach you most of these insights is already in production).  I am very excited about what I am about to experience and learn from this project. Make sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel above not to miss any of the upcoming videos or future projects.

How Gestures can Enhance your German Learning

This is exactly what I would like to find out. A gesture can be seen as a three dimensional word. It takes place in a certain physical space and it has a direction. It therefore might stimulate one’s brain in different ways than other languages based solely on sound. There is a professor A.D. Ludger Schiffler, who has been promoting the use of supportive gestures in foreign language learning for many years now (get his book here). But my problem with his approach is that if you take a look at his videos that he presents at his public speeches (e.g. at the Expolingua in Berlin) his clients do not seem to enjoy those gestures too much. They leave the impression as if they felt silly performing them. I know that feeling from my foreign language tuition in the past. I had to play inefficient and silly games, participate in artificial role plays or sing songs, that made my brain want to jump out of my skull, run to the next river and drown itself.

Adults need to be treated like adults. If they are exposed to material like this (NSFB-Not safe for brain), they could suffer severe motivational damage. Be assured that IF I find a way to integrate gestures into the German learning process it will be in a way that respects Article 1 of the German constitution (Grundgesetz): Human dignity is unviolable.

Let me know what you think of this project and I hope to inspire you to pursue efficient lifelong learning.

Take good care. Pass auf Dich auf.
Michael

german politics Uncategorized

The true face of Germany in the Refugee Crisis?

(c) kytrangho via Pixabay
die Mauer | the (outside) wall — die Wand | the (inside) wall

written by Paris Karagounis

German Transport Minister “closure of the border would see Europe fail” says is true in reverse

The German transport minister stated recently that Germany can no longer show its ‘friendly face’ to refugees. Mr. Alexander Dobrindt pleaded with Chancellor Angela Merkel to close the country’s borders unless other European nations start accepting similar numbers with Germany.

During an interview with München Merkur newspaper, Mr Dobrindt voiced his concern over Merkel’s ‘open door’ policy. “I would advise us all to prepare a plan B; We must prepare ourselves for not being able to avoid border closures”

Denying criticism that border closures would be damaging to Europe, the minister stated that Berlin should act alone if a Europe-wide deal could not be reached. “The sentence, the closure of the border would see Europe fail, is true in reverse. Not closing the border, just going on, would bring Europe to its knees.” If the refugee numbers don’t begin to fall, then Germany should go ahead with its own policies.

Dobrindt is a member of the Christian Social Union (CSU), the Bavarian sister party to Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU). As Bavaria is the main entry point for refugees seeking asylum in Germany, tensions have been rising among Merkel and several of its cabinet members. Most recently, the district’s minister Peter Dreier sent 31 Syrian refugees to Berlin as a protest against the lack of accommodation and resources available to asylum seekers in the town of Landshut.

Dobrindt’s concerns followed an announcement from Bavarian CSU leader Horst Seehofer, who has promised to send a request to the federal government demanding that ‘orderly conditions’ be restored at the German borders.

The statements made by Mr. Dobrindt and Mr. Seehofer were criticized by the German foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier. A member of the Social Democratic party, Mr Steinmeier supported the chancellor’s position and stated that “the solution…does not lie in closing borders.”

Merkel’s decision to let refugees enter Germany freely has dominated headlines for several months. In 2015 the country welcomed more than a million asylum seekers, and there are no indications that the influx will slow down.

Responding to criticism of her open door policy in regard of the refugee crisis, Mrs. Merkel said that she will work to reduce the number of refugees entering Germany, but later claimed that enforcing an upper limit would lead to border closures.

The German chancellor is also encouraging Turkey to restrict the refugees’ movement to their borders while also asking for other European countries to increase their intake of asylum seekers.

Germany’s iron lady also agreed with the EU Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos, calling for refugee reception centers, the so called hotspots, to be built on European borders.

Merkel’s CDU party also wants North Africa to be declared a ‘safe zone’. If they succeed, Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia will be classified as safe countries, a move that will dramatically reduce the number of North African nationals being granted asylum.

The decision would allow Germany to provide advanced help and resources to people fleeing war zones such as Syria. 40% of the asylum seekers who have arrived in Germany last year, are Syrian nationals.

The declaration of a North African safe zone would mean that Moroccan, Algerian and Tunisian nationals would no longer be housed in shelters across Germany.

Whether that would help solving the refugee crisis only time will tell.

leisure activities Uncategorized

Bicycling in Germany

A man riding through nature on his bike
(c) Herriest via Pixabay

written by Ó Gaff Mor

Organized or Self-guided Tour?

There is something about cycling that somehow frees us from Earth’s tethers—at least figuratively. The sun in our face, the wind rushing past our ears, the ability to modify our schedules and our destinations spontaneously—all these delightful aspects of cycling make touring by bicycle a decided pleasure, particularly when you factor in the pastime’s overall healthfulness. Don’t think of cycling as exercise—think of it as recreation.

The Ur-bicycle, if I may coin a term, was invented in 1817 by Baron Karl Drais of Karlsruhe. The original was called die Laufmaschine and eventually evolved into what the world now recognizes as the bicycle. Drais was not a one-off inventor. He also invented a typewriter keyboard, a meat grinder, and a fuel-efficient stove. His intelligence, education, and experience are succinctly chronicled at Wikipedia.

Cycling is a thoroughly German pastime and sport and is the true unsung hero of making man and, not long afterwards, woman, mobile as a current Wikipedia article points out:

“[T]he safety bicycle gave women unprecedented mobility, contributing to their emancipation in
Western nations. As bicycles became safer and cheaper, more women had access to the personal
freedom that bicycles embodied, and so the bicycle came to symbolize the New Woman of the late
19th century, especially in Britain and the United States. The bicycle craze in the 1890s also led to
a movement for so-called rational dress, which helped liberate women from corsets and ankle-length
skirts and other restrictive garments, substituting the then-shocking bloomers.”

The feminist movement has even honored the bicycle for its early and crucial role liberating women with the movement’s now world-famous slogan: A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle.

Leap to the 21st century and imagine yourself with a few weeks’ free time and an understandable yearning to see more of Germany’s byways up close. Cycling will satiate that need. One has the choice of either a guided tour or a self-directed tour. Either way, it’s all beneficial with no true negative aspects.

Cyclers can take advantage of more than 200 routes comprising more than 700,000 kilometers. The various routes provide access to leisurely trips along river valleys, with plenty of serendipitous side trips that luck and spontaneity send our way.

For contemporary history buffs, the 160 kilometer Berlin Wall Trail, a circular route in and around Berlin, is an ideal choice. The trail includes museums, the city center, watchtowers, memorials, and border patrol paths. It’s mostly quite flat, all of which is either paved or graveled, and easily negotiable by children.

In Southern Germany, the 152 kilometer Danube—Lake Constance route is an ideal choice for late spring. Starting in Ulm, cyclers travel to Kressbronn on Lake Constance. Passing first through fields and forests, one glides through Biberach to Bad Waldsee, then down to the Ach River and all the villages, meadows, and thick patches of shrubs and small trees along the banks. Soon the romantic buildings of Kisslegg and Wangen attract and divert cyclers before they move on, mostly downhill through orchards and fields of hops, to Kressbronn. All along the way, there are numerous lakes, spas, and thermal springs. The partly hilly route is almost entirely paved, with a few gravelled sections.

For wine lovers—who isn’t a wine lover!?!—the 250 kilometer Moselle Cycle Route is one of the most popular. Cyclers travel the route from Perl to Koblenz, where the Moselle flows into the Rhine, passing, of course, through Trier. This internationally renowned route is mostly flat and comprises primarily paved roads, farm tracks, and canal towpaths, following the lazy meandering of the river as it zigs and zags through the countryside. It passes through picturesque
vineyards and wine villages, and offers breathtaking vistas of steep valleys, the Rhenish slate mountains, several notable castles, and small, stream filled vales and dales along the way.

The superb German Travel Index lists dozens of such tours as well as a the excellent 88-page Discover Germany by Bike brochure in PDF format, which I’ll gladly send you on request. I’ve always favored self-guided tours and the best web site to research such tours is the unbelievably thorough bicyclegermany.com.This organization covers all the bases, e.g., what to bring (what not to bring), how to pack your bike if you bring it, “where the rubber meets the road” tips, leap-frogging with the Deutsche Bundesbahn, travelogues, etc. And, although focusing on self-tours, it does cover the theory and practice of organized group tours. It is the be-all and end-all (“das A und O”) of cycling in Germany.

For those not quite intrepid cyclers who are more comfortable with organized, guided tours, the world can still be your oyster (“Ihnen liegt die Welt zu Füßen”). German Cycling Tours offers guided tours throughout Germany, e.g., Hamburg-Luebeck-Schwerin,

Elbe Valley-Upstream, Saar-Moselle, Rhine-Neckar, Elbe Valley-Saxon
Switzerland, and Upper Bavaria-Allgaeu. The tours include bicycles, superb accommodations,
maps, tips for side trips, meals, museums, and luggage transfer. If you can ride a bicycle, that’s
all you’ll need. German Cycling Tours will handle the rest.

Augustus Tours also offers numerous organized guided tours, including the Elbe Cycle Path, the Lake Constance Cycle Path, the Moselle River Cycle Path, the Main River Cycle Path, the Lahn River Cycle Path, the Altmuehl River Cycle Path, the Danube Cycle Path, and the Baltic Sea Cycle Path. Of course, these tours include rental bicycles, travel options, transfer & luggage transport service, accommodations, insurance, and, for the organizers among you, package deals for groups.

As another bonus, I’d be happy to provide a link to a PDF format copy of Marcia D. Lowe’s 65-page treatise The Bicycle: Vehicle for a Small Planet, published in 1989 by Worldwatch. Although somewhat dated, Lowe’s paper provides still valuable information about cycling and its effects—current and potential—in developed, developing, and underdeveloped societies.

german music Uncategorized

Kennst Du Das? – German Music

Kennst Du Das – German Music

This is one of Margareth’s first songs from long ago and the first one I heard when we met. I loved it for it’s catchy and witty lyrics. This German song has a few hidden lines or better words which make part of its wit. But even if you don’t find them, you’ll love this song and your German will benefit from it. 

You can download the song for free from out page at Bandcamp above. Simply enter 0 EUR or more if you want to support Margareth. You can also download the lyrics here.

LYRICS

FIRST VERSE

Kennst du das, wenn du morgens aufwachst und dein Ohr ist eingeknickt?
Know you it, when you in-the-mornings upwake and your ear is in-bent?

Kennst du das – bist du schon mal im Unterricht eingenickt?
Know you it – have you ever once in class in-dozed?

Kennst du das – dir steht alles bis hier und du bist so angesickt – oder –
Know you it – you’ve had it up to here and you are so grumpy – or –

Kennst du das – du läufst gegen die Tür und fühlst dich so ungeschickt, sag mal,
Know you it – you run agains the door and feel yourself so awkwardly, tell me

Kennst du das? Kennst du das? Weißt du, was ich meine?
Know you it? Know you it ? Know you what I mean?

Kennst du das? Weißt du, wie es ist, wenn es dir nicht passt, wie es ist?
Know you it? Know you how it is, when it you not fits how it is?

SECOND VERSE

Kennst du das, du hast alle Hände voll und der Schweiß steht dir im Nacken?
Know you it, you have all hands full and the sweat stands you in-the neck?

Kennst du das – du bist in der Schlange bei Eil-DI und merkst, plötzlich musst du … ganz woanders sein.
Know you it, you are in the queue at Eil-DI and you realize, suddenly must you ……somewhere else be.

Kennst du das – wenn du dich beeilst und ein rohes Ei fällt dir auf den Boden
-or – Know you it – when you yourself hurry and a raw eg falls you on the floor – or –

Kennst du das – du stehst vor `ner ganz tollen Person und es juckt so schrecklich… am Ohrläppchen!
Know you it – you stand in front of a wonderful person and it itches so terribly… at your earlobe!

german industry Uncategorized

German Automobile Industry Giant BMW Celebrates 100 Years

german-automobile-industry-bmw
(c) Jaffe via pixabay

written by Paris Karagounis

Driving into the Future

Iconic German automobile manufacturer BMW celebrated its 100 year anniversary on March 7th. For one day, the company halted production throughout their 30 international plants, and invited their workers – all 116,000 of them – to join them in toasting a century of success.

BMW bosses took full advantage of the occasion, and unveiled their vision of the ‘car of the future’ – a hyper-modern super vehicle that includes, among many hi-tech features, a self-driving facility and a digital driving companion that has the ability to predict the driver’s thoughts.

It’s the newest innovation of a company that has constantly sought to develop bigger and better ideas. CEO Harald Krüger predicts at least a 20 year wait before the first models come out but used the unveiling to highlight BMW’s innate ability to adapt to changes in the market and society.

The Company’s Nazi Past

Today, BMW is an iconic German brand that enjoys a solid reputation both at home and abroad. Their stats are impressive; steady sales of over 2 million cars a year, sales of over 88 billion EUR per annum, and having overtaken Mercedes-Benz as the world’s leading luxury brand in.

Despite the recent economic slump in China, and stiff competition from other high-end car manufacturers, the company has been holding steady and maintaining growth against the odds for years, leading The Economist to dub them “a benchmark for success in the German automobile industry”.

However, BMW’s route to success wasn’t always so smooth. The company started out in 1916 as the Bayerische Motoren Werke – that’s Bavarian Engine Manufacturers, FYI – and worked solely on producing aircraft engines. They launched their first motorbikes soon after, and in 1928 their first car, the Dixi 3/15, hit the market.

Following the years of the Great War and World War Two, BMW shifted its focus to producing engines for the Luftwaffe. Its owner Günter Quandt was a member of the Nazi party and enjoyed very close ties with those at the top. His business empire exploited over 50,000 forced laborers, many of them forced in concentration camp. 25,000 of them were “employed” at various BMW plants, one of which was situated in close proximity to the notorious Dachau camp.

Until recent years the company was reluctant to admit its ties to the Nazi party, and refused to accept responsibility for harm caused or donate money to survivors.

However, the Quandt family, who still own the company, commissioned a study that dug into their shady past. In 2011, they admitted their Nazi past, apologized and paid their dues.

A Steady rise ever Since

After the war, things looked shaky for BMW when the decline in motorbike sales and stiff competition from mass-market car producers threatened to lead to a takeover by Daimler. Fortunately Herbert Quandt pushed the company to make mid-range cars (such as the BMW 1500 in 1959) and pulled the company back from the brink.

Since then, BMW’s only major fault was their disastrous acquisition of the Rover Group in 1994. After trying to resuscitate the ailing British company for six years, they finally admitted defeat in 2000 and sold off most of the group, keeping only the Mini, which went on to achieve huge mass-market success. The company rebuilt itself again, and has been doing big business since current CEO Norman Reithofer and his “number one” strategy put them back on the map for good.

Experts worry that the company could be facing hard times as their stream of ideas, slows to a trickle. Competitors such as Mercedes, Jaguar, and Volvo are upping their game in a bid to corner a larger share of the luxury market, and typical mass market brands such as Citroen and Ford have been experimenting with premium auto production with varying levels of success.