Describing your German level in German

I was wondering about ways German learners might positively describe their current German level. I quite often find myself wanting to describe my ability in a way that suggests that I can understand a decent amount, but which also mentions that I’m still in the process of learning.

When I am struggling to understand what a native speaker is saying, I might blurt out something like: Mein deutsch ist nicht so gut, or slightly better, Ich spreche nur ein bisschen Deutsch.

Both of these are a bit negative and self-defeating. I don’t always resort to making such admissions, but occasionally I find myself needing to say something along these lines.

So my question is: are there some more positive ways that suggest to people that you can and want to talk in German (and not revert to English!), and at the same time gently inform that you are still working toward fluency?

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Good question @rynmnfrd! I would love to get an answer myself.

One day, someone told me that she would express that as: “Ich kann Deutsch sprechen aber sprechen Sie langsamer bitte”.

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That’s a very good point, @rynmnfrd! I like the idea of not expressing our lack of fluency by using negative explanations.
As @gcamus points out, you could say:

Ich lerne gerade Deutsch und spreche sehr gerne, aber sprich ein bisschen langsamer, bitte!

or

Ich lerne gerade Deutsch. Kann ich mit dir ein bisschen üben? Du kannst mich auch gerne korrigieren :slight_smile:.

I think people are usually very supportive when they know someone’s learning their language. So we should just “take advantage” of that and practice away!

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I really dislike “Mein Deutsch ist nicht so gut”, so I’m glad you brought this up!

From experience, asking someone to speak slower is always a good start. If you notice them switching to English then go ahead and ask “Können wir (zusammen) Deutsch sprechen?”

The most effective method though is to just keep speaking German. As soon as you revert back to English, the German conversation is doomed :smiley: Even using the little words and interjections like Achso/Verstehe/Wirklich?/Naja/… help, because it implies you’re “listening” in German.

Finally, if you’re feeling a little cheeky and someone asks you how your Deutsch is, you can answer “Weiß ich nicht, was denkst du?” :nerd_face:

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After reading your post, @antomorr, I thought about this great article @tjohnson wrote: Fake it till you make it!. Using those interjections will get you far while you keep learning German :slight_smile:

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When I started to learn Spanish, I always asked people to speak to me like they’d speak to their grandma :older_woman:: Slow, clear and loud ! :joy:
And whenever they would forget about it and speed up again in a conversation, I’d repeat “Sorry, I didn’t get it. Remember, in Spanish I’m like a grandma!” And they would laugh and repeat it again.

So, @rynmnfrd, maybe you wanna say in the future: “Ich kann Deutsch sprechen, aber du musst mit mir sprechen wie mit einem Opa: langsam, deutlich und laut!” :older_man:

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I will give you my perspective as an American who has been using Chatterbug to learn German, however, I am not sure everything is right (so feel free to chime in, wenn ich falsch bin). Here are a couple things I use to add some positivity when describing my progress and not using a harsh brutal German tone or connotation :stuck_out_tongue: (this may be necessary to fit in with the culture :joy:)

“ich bin stolz auf meinen Fortschritt” - I am proud of my progress

“ich würde gern mein Deutsch verbessern” “ich würde gern Deutsch lernen” - I would like to improve my German or I would like to learn German

“ich habe Spass beim Deutschlernen” - I have fun learning German

Also, if you want to start off with a positive but add a disclaimer that you are still learning German start off with a positive sentence and connect it with “aber” (but) or “trotzdem” (nevertheless).

You can even use them together… “ich wohne jetzt seit … in Deutschland und ich habe jeden tag (oder viel) deutsch gelernt aber trotzdem muss (will) (sollte) ich noch mein Deutsch verbessern” or I just started working in a German office and I will say “aber trotzdem muss ich noch die Fachsprache lernen”

Fun fact to make yourself feel better – Germans will always use since in English like this construction. Then you can feel better about them using their second language!

Hope this is helpful. Good luck!

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thank you everybody for all the suggestions! In those situations you feel nervous and the first thing that comes to your mind are these somehow negative sentences. I really appreciate having these positive sentences in mind for the next time I don’t understand something.

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Here are a few others I remember after last night searching for my new “Stammkneipe” in a new city.

“Mein Deustch ist auf keinen Fall perfekt, aber ich glaub(e), dass ich ein bisschen Deutsch reden kann”

I find dropping the “e” when conjugating with ich helps you sound more natural.

“Ich denke, dass ich ein bisschen auf Deutsch unterhalten kann”

Also, in regards to people switching to English… you can always kill them with kindness and then remind them of the practicality and importance of learning German when you are living in Germany (this is something most people will respect)

“Du kannst schon sehr gut Englisch. ich wohne jetzt in Deutschland und ich muss die Sprache lernen”

Another thing I would like to add in regards to people switching to English is not to get too offended. There are some Germans that enjoy and like to practice their English and you may be the perfect opportunity. When I first moved to Germany I would get really annoyed because I was trying really hard to learn German (and still am :P), however, now I just try to look at it as if they are trying to do the same thing I am.

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