German has a reputation as one of the more difficult languages to learn. But it’s easier than you think!
Each lesson starts with a conversation or story in German, then presents lists of vocabulary and grammar. Reviewing lessons reinforces new information at the moment when it is most likely to be forgotten, ensuring that you lock it in!
Whether you’re learning German for business or pleasure, a firm grasp of grammar is essential. Without it, you’ll struggle to express yourself clearly and may end up sounding like Tarzan when you speak (you know, “Me Tarzan, you Jane…”).
German grammar is challenging for many language learners – for example, the definite article, gender and case systems are often a huge hurdle for students starting out. But there are plenty of resources available to help make it easier.
Pimsleur, for instance, teaches you phrases by having you repeat them syllable by syllable with a native German speaker. This pronunciation practice helps you get the sounds down before moving on to word order, conjugation and idioms.
Another great way to improve your pronunciation is by listening to native German media on FluentU, such as movie clips, news segments and inspiring commercials. Remember to watch these videos without subtitles and take note of the sentence structure. This will help you internalize the rules of German grammar.
One of the most important aspects of any language is vocabulary. Learning German is no different, and there are a variety of ways to learn new words.
You can use a traditional German dictionary, or you can use an app such as Duolingo or Memrise to build your vocabulary. Another great way to learn German vocabulary is by watching movies and TV shows in their original language. This helps you get a feel for the inflections and nuances of native speech. It also opens the door to learning slang and informal language, which can make communication with native speakers more fun and engaging.
FluentU is a unique language learning tool that offers an interactive video-based approach to learning German. It takes real-world videos like music videos, news clips, inspiring talks and more and turns them into personalized German lessons that feature in-context definitions, vocabulary flashcards, audio pronunciation and quizzes. This helps you understand and use the language in a natural, everyday context and builds your vocabulary naturally over time through spaced repetition.
When learning German, it’s crucial to get lots of listening practice. It can help you perfect your accent, understand more German TV shows and films or catch the responses to the words you’ve practised in a conversation.
One of the best ways to train your German listening skills is with dictation exercises. These require you to listen intently to a recording and then write down what you hear. This is an old school language learning technique that’s surprisingly effective if you make it part of your weekly German workout routine.
Deutschlernerblog has plenty of free dictations ranging from beginner to advanced levels. It’s worth trying them all out to see which are the best for you. Another great resource is Slow German, which offers podcast episodes of current German news spoken very slowly. Transcripts are provided for each audio clip and the site also has grammar lessons, fairy tales and other learning materials for a small fee.
A new language can feel intimidating at first, but making progress on a daily basis will boost your confidence and open up opportunities for personal growth. You can start by changing the language settings on your phone or computer, watching movies dubbed in German or with English subtitles at first and then switching to German as your skills improve, or finding an online learning community that offers a mix of real-life lessons and digital resources for accelerated learning.
It’s also a good idea to learn some German idioms, which are expressions with a figurative meaning that don’t translate exactly in the same way as the literal translation. Listening to native speakers on podcasts is a great way to practice this and get familiar with the rhythm of speech in German. Once you’ve gotten a handle on pronunciation and grammar, chatting with native speakers in person or over Skype can help you put everything you’ve learned into practice and gain feedback on your speaking skills.