Saturday, 6 March 2010

Typing the special German characters ä Ä ö Ö ü Ü ß

Here are six methods for Microsoft Windows.

1. The way I prefer is to use the Windows language bar to switch the keyboard layout to German QWERTZ layout. The physical keys are still labelled for English use but it’s not difficult. Z and Y are swapped but the other 24 letters of the English alphabet stay in place for German.

For a larger picture and licensing details see

Microsoft also offer Visual Keyboard to make it easier to work with different keyboard layouts.

2. Another method is to use the Windows Character Map

Friday, 5 March 2010

Tongue Twisters - Zungenbrecher

Playing with words is great fun and what better than a tongue twister. The Austrian schools site that I recommended for material about spring flowers also led me to some useful sources for tongue twisters in many languages. I was particularly pleased to find a wiki with a page devoted to Zungenbrecher

This also pointed to a couple of videos on YouTube.Here's one of them

Spring Flowers

Today I visited the Weir Garden, a National Trust property in Herefordshire, to see the magnificent masses of snowdrops. Some of the primroses were also in bloom. I'm not so hot on flower names in German. I'm not very good in English either - and don't ask me for Latin names.

snowdrop  is das Schneeglöckchen and primrose is die Schüsselblume

What I really need is an illustrated guide to spring flowers and I found just the thing on an Austrian website Österreichs Schulportal für Volkschule. This site has brought together lots of material about and pictures of spring flowers under the heading Frühblüher.

Sobald die Temperaturen wieder steigen, der Schnee von den Wiesen verschwindet, werden wir sie wieder entdecken - die Frühblüher. Wir haben für Sie verschiedene Links und Unterrichtsmaterialen zur farbenfrohen Frühlingspracht zusammengetragen.

This material is aimed at younger children and their teachers - just the right level for oldies like me.  I particularly recommend Heimische Frühblüher which is an illustrated quiz in Powerpoint format and you can click the i button on the slides to get more information about each plant.

I learn something new everyday. Daffodils have several names in German - Gelbe Narzisse, Märzenbecher, Osterglocke

Try wikipedia for a more academic approach to Frühblüher oder Frühjahrsblüher oder Frühlingsgeophyten

I also found a PDF file with German flowernames and their English translations produced by

Thursday, 4 March 2010


Despite having said so much about sport yesterday I failed to mention Football. Germany lost 0:1 to Argentina and ZDF describes it as Eine 0:1-Demütigung Follow the link through and you'll find plenty more to read and there are video links as well including Deutschland-Argentinien in voller Länge

ZDF Sport offers more than football so explore further

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Sport auf Deutsch

Here are four topics for discussion under the general heading of sport and exercise:
  • Traditional versus 'fun' sports
  • Reasons for taking part in sport/physical exercise
  • Factors influencing participation
  • Links between physical exercise and health

A useful starting place is the Deutsche Olympische SportBund (DOSB).
Regelmäßige sportliche Aktivität beeinflusst Gesundheit und Wohlbefinden positiv. Der DOSB bietet Fitness für einen gesunden Lebensstil. >>>

And you could visit their Fun und Spiele page for a series of light hearted tests and quizzes including - Und welcher Fitnesstyp sind Sie? - Wissen, wie's läuft. Das Fitness-Quiz - Der Fitness-Test.

For more German fitness vocabulary than you will ever need there's a Fitness-Lexicon von A-Z

There are three main areas on fitness. First there is Older people like me can benefit from . Both have long lists of Sportarten. For young people and sport visit

You might also want to find out what anti-doping measures are being taken.

Viel Spass. Sport macht fit.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Record German TV

Thanks to The German Professor for blogging about the OnlineTVRecorder. A free "Beginner" account allows up to 260GB of recorded television in your account. You can choose 15 programmes each month on the free account - from more than 60 channels. Downloads are only possible between 2300 and 0700 GMT which might be a bit of a pain. You also need to download a decoder program to get started.  For a fuller report see Free German TV with OnlineTVRecorder

Ice on the moon

Am Nordpol des Mondes gibt es tonnenweise Wassereis. Das haben Astronomen mit einem Radarinstrument an Bord der indischen Mondsonde "Chandrayaan-1" beobachtet.

To read the full report from about the discovery of frozen water on the moon go to NASA entdeckt Eis auch am Nordpol vom Mond

Monday, 1 March 2010

Martin Luther and the German language

Martin Luther, famous for his part in starting the reformation of the church in Germany, also had a significant affect on the German language. His translation of the Bible effectively created a standard version of German where none had previously existed. Many German expressions stem from his Bible translation.

There's a very useful mp3 file about Luther, including his influence on the language, that you can download from the University of Erfurt and there's an accompanying PDF file. The mp3 file is very clear and lasts about 10 minutes.

These two files are examples of the sort of test foreign students have to take to ensure that they have sufficient knowledge of the German language to undertake study at a German university. This type of examination is known as DSH - Deutsche Sprachprüfung für den Hochschulzugang. Many of the universities give examples of the requirement and many of them include an mp3 file. These are ideal for listening practice and there's a reasonable range of topics. I discovered these thanks to Uli Mattmüller. He has even sorted out those with mp3 files DSH-Prüfungsbeispiele mit mp3-Dateien

Sunday, 28 February 2010


Earthquakes - Erdbeben - and other natural disasters have been in the news rather too often in recent months. When you are learning German it's often useful to be able to talk about such things - their affect on people and their causes. carries an interesting article about the earthquake in Chile Trümmer, Schreie, Verzweiflung. It looks like reality caught up with a Chilean reality show. There is also criticism of the liberalisation of building regulations in Chile.

All the German newspaper websites are reporting this earthquake which has left hundreds dead. There are also fears of a tsunami in the Pacific, particularly as there was another quake centred near Okinawa, the southern most Japanese island. I suspect we'll be worrying about the affect on copper production since Chile produces more than a third of the world's copper. The following quote about the Pacific ring-of-fire is from FAZ and you can view their report here

Chile liegt am sogenannten „Pazifischen Feuerring“, einem hufeisenförmigen Vulkangürtel am Rande des Pazifiks. Etwa 90 Prozent der Erdbeben weltweit ereignen sich innerhalb des Feuerrings.

Coverage in Spiegel online includes some information in the sidebar about die Richterskala and Erdbebenwelle (Tsunami) and they have a forum where you can discuss Tsunamis - sind wir richtig gerüstet?

Quarks & Co the science series from WDR Fernsehen has covered Erdbeben in the past. You can download a PDF file from the broadcast in 2008. The video Erdbeben – wenn die Erde zuschlägt is a 60MB download. I found these broadcasts very accessible and well presented. Having the PDF file means you can look up any unfamiliar vocabulary. For anyone wishing to explore the science a little more than try the Geoforschungszentrum Potsdam which has English as well as German pages.