Instead of reading a newspaper or a magazine in English, read it in German.
$ But then I won’t know what is going on in the world!
$ How come?
$ I won’t understand everything!
$ I love such assumptions, you know me. Let alone the fact that even in our press we can misunderstand some things, too. I mean highly specialized articles or political mumbling before elections. Obviously, at the beginning we need some time to get used to the press in a foreign language. That is why it makes sense to apply this pleasure in small portions. E.g. you set www.spiegel.de as your start page and read only two headlines a day during the first week. Second week – one article a day. And then you increase the portion. Of course, you don’t need to give up the local press in order to – what you called – know what is going on in the world.
$ Do you want me to stick to the screen with a dictionary?
$ By no means! Imagine that an event, for example the Computer Fair CeBIT that you are especially interested in, is described in our press. Then you search and find an article about CeBIT in German and you just read it. I’m sure you’ll find in it many words and expressions that you’ll understand out of the context, which you didn’t know before and that is how you’ll learn them.
$ How am I supposed to be sure that I understood correctly?
$ Let’s make an experiment. Have a look at this article and the underlined words and tell me whether you know them or not: wahllos schlagen, dunkel gebräunte Haut, kahl rasiert, Hakenkreuz.
$ No, I don’t know them.
$ Have a closer look at them and guess the meaning.
$ Wahl means choice and the particle los stands for without, less. So maybe it means choiceless? And I know schlagen – to hit. So wahllos schlagen is to hit anywhere?
$ Exactly. Are you sure you understood correctly?
$ In fact, yes, I am.
$ And the next? Dunkel gebräunte Haut. I know dunkel – dark. Haut – skin. And gebräunte must come from braun.
$ And look at the picture.
$ O, yes. Suntanned. Dark suntanned skin.
$ Kahl rasiert?
$ Bald shaved? Which means: bald head?
$ And you know what? I felt that kahl meant bald as soon as I saw kahl rasiert before you drew my attention to the picture.
$ Now you can see how it works. And Hakenkreuz?
$ Kreuz is cross so it must be his tattoo. It’s funny to work like this.
$ If you feel like it, make some short notes out of an article like this: a couple of words, a couple of sentences. While writing, imagine that you’re saying to your boss at dinner: I’ve recently read an article in ‘Der Spiegel’…
$ You’re spoiling the fun.
$ You wish! Let’s get back to the list of activities. The second group is looking for information on the Internet. What did you buy last on the Internet?
$ Cosmetics. Tucuma butter, marigold lotion and wheat germ oil.
$ I suppose that before you chose those products you had read about their properties, ingredients, for what kind of skin they are designed and what other products they go best with.
$ Of course.
$ So after having read such information you can switch to the German version of a given homepage and if there’s not any, google out a given product and for a while bite into texts about Tucuma Butter, Ringelblumelotion und Weizenkeimlingöl. Many cosmetics are sold with leaflets attached to the package with information in several languages. Possibilities to learn German knock to your door all the time.