As the most widely spoken mother language in the European Union, there’s plenty of good reasons to learn to speak German. Whether you’re looking to converse with German family or friends, or you’re just enamored by the culture, German is a great language to learn how to speak.
While learning any new language can be difficult, especially at first, these helpful tips will show you the best way to learn German.
#1 Find Your “Why”
The first step you’ll want to take is understanding why you want to speak German. Perhaps you have German family you’d love to be able to connect with. Germany is one of the world’s largest economies; perhaps you’re looking to open new doors in your career by making a move to Germany. Or, perhaps you just like the language and culture.
Whatever your reason for learning the language, keep this in mind as you learn. Learning any language is difficult, and you’re sure to reach some roadblocks along the way that leave you wondering why you’re working so hard to learn the language in the first place.
By keeping your goals and motivations in mind, you’ll be able to push forward through the rough spots you’re sure to encounter by focusing on what makes you want to learn German in the first place.
#2 Immerse Yourself in German Language & Culture
As you start to get a better grasp of the German language, you’ll be able to reinforce the concepts you’re learning and by immersing yourself fully in German language and culture.
The easiest place to start is with television because you’ll be able to use English subtitles to help you along. As you get more comfortable with the language, you can expand upon these concepts.
Try things like setting your web browser to translate pages into German, listen to German podcasts, and put yourself in other positions where you’ll have to speak and understand German.
In doing so, you’ll reinforce the concepts you’re learning while also introducing yourself to new ones, which makes learning a new language far easier to digest.
#3 Learn Words and Context at the Same Time
While German isn’t the hardest language in the world to learn, it’s also not one of the easiest, either. German is a category II language, which means mastery usually takes around 36 weeks or 900 class hours.
Many of the concepts of the German language will already be familiar to you, but arguably the most challenging part of learning German is understanding the masculine, feminine, and neuter nouns. Learning new nouns with their article at the same time is critical to grasping the language.
Take a coffee mug for example, in English, a mug is just a mug, and one would be correct to refer to it as “the coffee mug.” But in German, three different articles may be attached to nouns; der, die, and das for masculine, feminine, and neutral, respectively.
It’s important to remember which article corresponds to each word. A mug in German is considered feminine, so it would be referred to as die tasse, not der tasse or das tasse. By learning the article with the world, it will be much easier to remember.
#4 Study a Textbook
There’s a reason why schools and universities throughout the world rely on textbooks to teach languages to new students: they’re effective.
One major benefit of textbooks is they teach language in a linear fashion, starting with the most straightforward concepts and then expounding upon them with higher level concepts. This helps to keep students on the right track, ensuring that they learn concepts in the proper order.
#5 Find a Mentor
Arguably the best way to learn German is to find yourself a mentor. Ideally, your mentor will be someone who speaks German as their first language (or is at least fluent in it.)
You’ll be able to speak conversational German with your mentor, which will be critical to your understanding of a new language. Your mentor may also be able to put you in touch with other German speakers so you can grow your network of German-speaking friends, which will further reinforce the new language you’re learning.
#6 Travel to Germany
Another ideal way to reinforce your learning is to travel to the home of the language you’re speaking. Not only will this lead to a deeper understanding and appreciation of German culture and language, but it will put you in a “sink or swim” position where you’ll need a functional knowledge of the language to get by.
Another added benefit of traveling abroad to learn a new language is as you’re exposed to the culture, it will be easier to learn the conversational nuances of a language, which is critical to mastering that language.
#7 Use an App or Software
Chances are, you either have a smartphone in your pocket, or you’re reading this article on it right now. Did you know that your phone holds the key to hundreds of helpful apps that can help you master the German language?
Beyond apps, there’s also language software like Rosetta Stone that millions of people have relied on to learn a new language. These apps and software are developed to make learning a new language more manageable, and countless people swear by them.
An added benefit is that they allow you to maximize your downtime and turn it into time spent learning a new language. If you have a long commute to work each day, or if you’re stuck in traffic, or just find yourself with a few spare moments, you can fire up your app or software and spend that time further immersing yourself in the new language.
Learning a new language can be fun and exciting, but it’s also tricky. The best way to learn German may differ from person to person, but one thing is for sure: following the tips and tricks outlined above will put you in the best position to learn and master any new language, including German.
Put these tips to use, and you’ll be fluent in your new language before you know it!