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Coffee Break German

Lesson 09
Study Notes

Coffee Break German: Lesson 09 - Notes page 1 of 17


LESSON NOTES

ICH SPRECHE EIN BISSCHEN DEUTSCH


In this lesson you will learn how to deal with language problems and
to say which languages you speak. You will also start to learn about
conjugating regular verbs in the present tense.

INTRODUCTION
Read the following conversation which begins the lesson:

Thomas: Willkommen zurück. (Welcome back to Coffee Break


German).
Mark: Ich heiße Mark.
Thomas: Ich heiße Thomas.
Mark: Und wir sind hier um Deutsch zu lernen.

willkommen zurück
welcome back

wir sind hier


we are here

...um Deutsch zu lernen


(in order) to learn German

Thomas also introduced an alternative expression to los geht’s:

Coffee Break German: Lesson 09 - Notes page 2 of 17


auf geht’s
let’s go, let’s get started

REVIEW
The review section of this lesson used three conversations which gave
Mark the chance to review what was covered in lesson 8.

Mark: Wo ist der Bahnhof?


Thomas: Hmm, der Bahnhof... Gehen Sie über die Kreuzung,
dann die zweite Straße links, und geradeaus über die
Brücke. Dort finden Sie den Bahnhof.
Mark: Noch einmal, bitte.
Thomas: Gerne. Gehen Sie über die Kreuzung, dann die zweite
Straße links, und geradeaus über die Brücke. Dort
finden Sie den Bahnhof.

gehen Sie über die Kreuzung


go over the crossroads

gehen
to go

dann ...
then

dann die zweite Straße links


then the second street on the left

geradeaus über die Brücke


straight on over the bridge

Coffee Break German: Lesson 09 - Notes page 3 of 17


dort finden Sie den Bahnhof
there you (will) find the station

Note the use of the accusative form of the definite article in den
Bahnhof. This is because the station is the object of the sentence.

richtig
right, correct

Mark: Entschuldigen Sie, bitte. Wo ist das Kino?


Thomas: Das Kino? Also, gehen Sie geradeaus und nehmen Sie
die dritte Straße rechts. Dann gehen Sie über den Platz
und das Kino ist auf der linken Seite.
Mark: Langsamer, bitte...
Thomas: Gehen Sie geradeaus und nehmen Sie die dritte Straße
rechts. Dann gehen Sie über den Platz und das Kino ist
auf der linken Seite.

entschuldigen Sie, bitte


excuse me, please

also...
well, so

nehmen Sie die dritte Straße rechts


take the third street on the right

nehmen
to take

Coffee Break German: Lesson 09 - Notes page 4 of 17


gehen Sie über den Platz
go over the square

Note again the use of den for the accusative case of the definite
article. This is due to the preposition über and is only “visible” with
masculine words: the accusative form of the feminine and neuter
articles remain the same, as in über die Kreuzung, etc.

das Kino ist auf der linken Seite


the cinema is on the left (hand side)

auf der rechten Seite


on the right (hand side)

langsamer, bitte
more slowly, please

Thomas: Ich habe mich verlaufen. Wo ist die Schule?


Mark: Nehmen Sie die erste Straße links. Dann geradeaus
über die Kreuzung, und dann nehmen Sie die zweite
Straße rechts.

ich habe mich verlaufen


I’m lost (literally “I’ve gotten myself lost”)

TALKING ABOUT LANGUAGE AND LANGUAGE


PROBLEMS
We have already come across some language phrases such as:

Coffee Break German: Lesson 09 - Notes page 5 of 17


noch einmal, bitte
once more, please

langsamer, bitte
more slowly, please

It’s time to learn some more phrases which will allow you to talk
about the languages you speak and how well you speak them.

ich spreche Deutsch


I speak German

sprechen Sie Deutsch?


do you speak German? (formal)

sprichst du Deutsch?
do you speak German? (informal)

sprechen Sie Englisch?


do you speak English (formal)

sprichst du Englisch?
do you speak English (informal)

To answer this question positively, use:

ja, ich spreche Deutsch


yes, I speak German

We have also come across the word for “a little”:

ein bisschen
a little

Coffee Break German: Lesson 09 - Notes page 6 of 17


ich spreche ein bisschen Deutsch
I speak a little German

To say “I don’t speak German”, you must use the word kein meaning
“no” or “not any”:

ich spreche kein Deutsch


I speak no German, I don’t speak any German

Until now we have used the word nicht to make a sentence negative,
e.g. ich bin nicht von hier, “I am not from here”; es ist nicht
weit, “it is not far”. However nicht is used when you negate a verb -
in the above examples ich bin and es ist are negated with nicht.

When you say you don’t speak any German it may help to imagine
you are negating the noun Deutsch, so you use kein: ich spreche
kein Deutsch, meaning “I speak no German” or “I don’t speak any
German”.

Thomas offered another example which may make this clearer:

ich habe zwei Brüder, aber ich habe keine Schwester


I have two brothers, but I don’t have a sister / I have no sister

Note also that kein changes to keine when the gender of the noun
changes. We will cover this in greater detail later in the course.

Here is a list of some common languages:

Französisch
French

Spanisch
Spanish

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Italienisch
Italian

Chinesisch
Chinese

Japanisch
Japanese

Mark asked Thomas a number of questions about the languages he


speaks. Here is a transcript of this conversation:

Mark: Sprichst du Englisch?


Thomas: Ja, ich spreche Englisch.
Mark: Gut. Sprichst du Spanisch?
Thomas: Nein, ich spreche kein Spanisch, aber ein bisschen
Französisch.
Mark: Ah. Also, du sprichst ein bisschen Französisch.
Thomas: Ja, richtig.
Mark: Aber kein Spanisch?
Thomas: Kein Spanisch.
Mark: Sprichst du Italienisch?
Thomas: Nein, leider nicht.
Mark: Sprichst du Japanisch?
Thomas: Nein, gar nicht.
Mark: Und sprichst du Chinesisch?
Thomas: Auch nicht.

leider nicht
unfortunately not

Coffee Break German: Lesson 09 - Notes page 8 of 17


gar nicht
not at all

auch nicht
neither, “also not”

Thomas then asked Mark a similar series of questions:

Thomas: Mark, sprichst du Spanisch?


Mark: Ja, ich spreche Spanisch.
Thomas: Französisch auch?
Mark: Ja, ich spreche auch Französisch.
Thomas: Ah, sehr gut. Sprichst du Japanisch oder Chinesisch?
Mark: Ich spreche nur ein bisschen Chinesisch, aber nur ein
bisschen. Nur wenige Worte.

ich spreche nur ein bisschen ...


I only speak a little ...

nur wenige Worte


only a few words

So far we have come across ich spreche, du sprichst and Sie


sprechen, so we can see that the verbs change depending on who is
doing the particular action. It’s time for our Grammar Guru to
explain more about this process.

GRAMMAR GURU

You’ll have noticed that the verb forms change depending on who
your talking to or about. We had ich spreche Deutsch but

Coffee Break German: Lesson 09 - Notes page 9 of 17


sprechen Sie Englisch? These two verbs
have different endings. We do the same in
English actually: we say “I speak” but “he/she
speaks”. The process of changing the endings
for different people is called conjugation
and today I’m going to teach you some verb
endings so that you can start conjugating
your own verbs.
Sprechen is actually not the easiest verb to start with, so to make
it a bit simpler, we’ll use another verb for now and we’ll come back
to sprechen in a future lesson.
Let’s take a verb you already know: kommen, meaning “to
come”. As we heard back in lesson 6, kommen is what we call the
infinitive form of the verb, the form you’d find in the dictionary.
Now the first step in forming a verb is to take the -en ending off
the infinitive, leaving us with what we call the stem of the verb, in
this case komm-. You may like to think of it like the stem of a
plant, or the trunk of a tree on which leaves or branches grow, a
different leaf or branch for different people. So we’re going to add
our endings to that stem, or the branches to our tree.
The ending for the ich form, which is called the first person
singular is -e. So when we add that on to the stem we have ich
komme - “I come”. We’ve seen this already in the phrase ich
komme aus Deutschland. You’ve also used the second person
singular, the “you” form. Indeed, you’ll remember that there are
two different forms of “you”: the informal du, and the ending for
this is -st. Add this to the stem and we get du kommst, “you
come” (informal). Then the formal version Sie has the ending -en
which gives us Sie kommen, “you come” (formal). This form
looks and sounds exactly the same as the infinitive, just as you find
it in the dictionary.
The other forms we’ve come across briefly are the forms of the
third person singular: er, sie and es, meaning “he”, “she” and
“it”. The ending for this person is -t, giving er kommt, “he
comes”, sie kommt, “she comes” and es kommt, “it comes”.

Coffee Break German: Lesson 09 - Notes page 10 of 17


So, let’s some up those singular forms:

SINGULAR PLURAL

I ich komme

YOU (INFORMAL) du kommst

YOU (FORMAL) Sie kommen

er/sie/es
HE/SHE/IT
kommt

So now you know all the singular person verb endings in the
present tense and you’ll be able to apply these rules to almost
every German verb. Now there are some exceptions, like
sprechen, but we’ll come back to these in another lesson, along
with the plural forms.

DO YOU UNDERSTAND?
In addition to the verb sprechen, another then another very useful
verb is verstehen:

verstehen
to understand

ich verstehe
I understand

Coffee Break German: Lesson 09 - Notes page 11 of 17


ich verstehe nicht
I don’t understand

Applying what we learned about the word kein earlier, we can see
that it is also possible to say, “I don’t understand any German”:

ich verstehe kein Deutsch


I don’t understand any German

ich verstehe ein bisschen Deutsch, aber ich spreche


kein Deutsch
I understand a little German, but I don’t speak any (German)

CULTURAL CORRESPONDENT
In this lesson’s Cultural Correspondent feature, Julia tells us about
language-learning in Germany, and the interesting language situation
in Switzerland.

Hallo Mark, servus, Thomas, und guten Tag an


alle unsere Coffee Break German Zuhörer. Ich
bin’s wieder, Julia, eure Kulturreporterin.
Today you’ve been learning to talk about
which languages you can speak, so I thought it
would be interesting to tell you a bit about
language learning here in Germany.

For the most part English is the first foreign


language for German schoolchildren: next to
German and Maths, English is one of the main subjects in school
and it’s compulsory, so this means that every student has had at
least 8-10 years of English by the time they leave school. In
addition to this first foreign language, English, children have to
study a second language for at least four years, and some may

Coffee Break German: Lesson 09 - Notes page 12 of 17


choose a third one, which is what I did back in my school time.
Popular second foreign languages in German schools are French,
Spanish, Italian and Latin, bu this may differ from region to
region, also depending on which of the nine neighbouring
countries is close. So, for example, there are schools teaching
Danish or Polish as well. Twenty-three years ago, back in the GDR
or East Germany, every child had to learn Russian.

It goes without saying that English is quite a popular subject for


German teenagers because it’s a language that surrounds them in
many ways. Of course, there’s also a certain pressure, as it’s very
hard to get a job in Germany if you can’t speak English. There are
also more motivating factors: many of the teenagers’ favourite
singers sing in English and they play computer games and watch
TV series and films in English, so they really are surrounded by
the language every day.

In cinemas here in Germany, most of the films are dubbed, but


more and more young people tend to prefer watching the original
versions with subtitles in order to improve their language skills.

Germans are very open towards foreign languages and eager to


learn them, so don’t be offended when they start speaking English
to you right away, just because they are so happy actually to meet
a native speaker and practise their English. They will be just as
impressed by your efforts to learn their language.

Of course, for Germans, language learning doesn’t finish when


they leave school. Many people decide to pick up a new language
in order to communicate in other countries on holiday or to
increase their chances of getting an interesting job, so language
schools for adults are booming in every bigger city.

While we are talking about languages, of course it’s important to


mention that in Switzerland there are actually four official
languages in different parts of the country. In addition to the
German-speaking area, there is a large French-speaking part of
the country which includes the cities of Lausanne and Geneva.

Coffee Break German: Lesson 09 - Notes page 13 of 17


There is an Italian-speaking area called the Ticino, and there’s
also a part of the country where Romansch is spoken.

We could say so much more about languages, but I’ll finish my


report for now. Danke schön und bis zum nächsten Mal!

eure Kulturreporterin
your “cultural reporter”

danke fürs zuhören


thanks for listening

DAS REICHT FÜR HEUTE

Ready for more? Turn the page to continue with the


bonus materials for this lesson.

Coffee Break German: Lesson 09 - Notes page 14 of 17


CORE VOCABULARY
noch einmal, bitte
once more, please

langsamer, bitte
more slowly, please

ich spreche Deutsch


I speak German

sprechen Sie Deutsch?


do you speak German? (formal)

sprichst du Deutsch?
do you speak German? (informal)

sprechen Sie Englisch?


do you speak English (formal)

sprichst du Englisch?
do you speak English (informal)

ja, ich spreche Deutsch


yes, I speak German

ein bisschen
a little

ich spreche ein bisschen Deutsch


I speak a little German

Coffee Break German: Lesson 09 - Notes page 15 of 17


ich spreche kein Deutsch
I speak no German, I don’t speak any German

Französisch
French

Spanisch
Spanish

Italienisch
Italian

Chinesisch
Chinese

Japanisch
Japanese

leider nicht
unfortunately not

gar nicht
not at all

auch nicht
neither, “also not”

ich spreche nur ein bisschen ...


I only speak a little ...

nur wenige Worte


only a few words

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BONUS VOCABULARY
wie, bitte?
pardon?

können Sie bitte langsamer sprechen?


can you please speak more slowly?

können Sie das aufschreiben?


can you write that down?

können Sie das buchstabieren?


can you spell that?

ich möchte gern mehr Deutsch lernen


I’d like to learn more German

Coffee Break German: Lesson 09 - Notes page 17 of 17