When you start learning a new language, it's often hard to get off to a good start. It can help not to use just one learning tool. The right mix of methods and variety in learning keeps motivation up. Let's take a look at a few ideas for learning German!
Before you can express yourself well, you need to see the language in action. Reading, for example, helps you understand the structure. You can take all the time in the world to decipher sentence structure or look up vocabulary. At the same time, you determine the level of difficulty.
Books or other texts aimed at children are easy to understand and suitable for adult language beginners. You can also learn a lot about the culture of the country through fairy tales.
If you are more advanced, you can read short stories or articles in newspapers. In this way you can expand your vocabulary and gain experience with the modern, adult language. Local news from regional newspapers often deal with everyday things.
If you dare, you can also read novels. Here you ideally need a broad vocabulary so that you don't have to constantly consult the dictionary. By presenting a strong context, you can often skip unfamiliar words without having problems understanding them.
💡 Tip: Keep a vocabulary list!
Nevertheless, you should write down unknown words and at least look them up later. When you work with the written language, you can memorize words better and recognize them more easily. You have them in front of your eyes longer and have time to concentrate on them.
To use and practice what you learn, you can either keep a diary in German or find someone to exchange letters, emails or chat messages with. It doesn't matter what you write about. The important thing is that your brain is actively engaged in writing in German.
It is important that you also understand the spoken word and can express yourself orally. The easiest way to do this is through television. You will find many programs on German television that are suitable for this, from soap operas to TV movies. Many programs, especially on the public broadcasters, are produced specifically for German television.
Just as you can practice reading with novels, you can practice listening comprehension with audio books. You can also combine both and have the book read to you while you read along. This makes it easier for you to combine pronunciation with the written word.
Of course, it's not enough just to understand other people. You also need to be able to express yourself. A tandem partner is ideal for this. Meet regularly with someone with whom you can practice German! If this person is learning your native language, you can speak both languages alternately and correct and help each other. Don't be unnecessarily reticent and address even small mistakes and, conversely, don't be discouraged when mistakes are pointed out to you. After all, the point of the whole exercise is to identify and correct mistakes. Even if you're disappointed with how many you make after the session, you'll already be more confident at the start of the next session and remember what you learned last time.
You can find an incredible amount of resources online to help you learn German. These include videos and podcasts as well as texts, blogs, and articles. There are websites that are explicitly for learning and offer different tools for that. One of them is the one you are on right now! On Learngerman.blog you can find texts that explain everything from culture to grammar. The best thing about it is that all texts are available in German as well as in English! So you can read both texts at the same time and compare them directly with each other. That this method works has already been proven by the stone of Rosette. This stone tablet showed the same text in Greek as well as in Demotic and Egyptian hieroglyphics, which made it possible to decode them at all.
Alternatively, you can first read the texts in German and try to understand them without help, and then look at the passages where you had difficulties again with the help of the translation.
📝 A third option assumes that you are already proficient in the German language and are confident in writing texts on your own. Look at the English version of a text and try to translate it into German! Of course, your version will always be different from the German version on the blog, but that's not the point. You practice using the language this way, and if you get stuck, you can look up what a possible translation would have been. You can also show your written text to your tandem partner later and have him or her correct it.
Look around a bit. You can find opportunities to engage with the German language everywhere.
Read, listen, write and speak; alone or in tandem if you can. Pick the methods that you enjoy the most and are within your means. Don't be afraid to challenge yourself, and don't be afraid to make mistakes. No one expects you to be perfect. Especially not while you're still learning!