How to Learn German (and get your washing done)

by Lingoda Team
August 02, 2018

I want to Learn German, where do I start?

At Lingoda we love learning languages. Which means we’re always looking for new experiences and new ways to improve your language learning.

Our Senior Content Manager, Peter Springett, passes on some useful tips for expanding your vocabulary. (Hint, you don’t have to search very far to find them).

Right now I’m learning German, having moved to Berlin at the start of the year. And while I love the Lingoda virtual classrooms, I’m always on the lookout for other opportunities to learn.

One of my favourite tools is a smartphone camera. How does this help? Simple. We’re surrounded by language everywhere – advertisements, road signs, newspapers. We’re absolutely immersed in vocabulary and grammar everywhere we look.

So I’m always taking photos of headlines, infographics, anything that includes a useful, phrase that I can use.

Example? The humble laundromat. Here’s the instruction banner from a place we visited when moving flats a few months ago.

At first glance it’s just a list of instructions. Wrong! For a beginner learning German, this was really helpful (and not just to make sure that I didn’t put the clothes in at the wrong temperature).

Here’s every step with my language lesson alongside:

1. Maschine einschalten: Switching a machine on and off. Perfect for everyday life when every gadget or device needs starting up or shutting down.

2. Wäsche in die Waschmaschine füllen: Fill this thing with that thing. You can apply this construction to anything from a glass of beer to a petrol tank.

3. Waschmaschinentür gut schließen: ‘Shut it properly’. I can think of many situations where this will come in handy.

4. Waschprogramm wählen: To choose. Another useful verb.

5. Am Kassenautomaten bezahlen: Pay at the X. I also like the way German merges prepositions and articles (am). But hey, that’s just me (and grammar geeks everywhere).

6. Nummer für Waschmaschine drücken: Press (drücken). Another versatile verb that I know I can put to good use.

7. Waschpulver und Weichspüler kaufen: The all important difference between washing powder and fabric softener explained!

8. Waschpulver in die Maschine füllen: To fill (again). But everyone needs a reminder for a useful word to stick, let’s face it. Especially me. 

9. Start-Taste drücken: Waschzeit ca. 45 min: A very useful noun, Taste (Button). Good, there are buttons that I need to press in every area of my life.

10. Am Ende gelbe Türtaste drücken: At the end (Am Ende) sent me searching for at the beginning (Am Anfang). So two phrases for the price of one. Bargain. 

So there you go. While waiting for the spin cycle to finish, I collected some great verbs, prepositions, nouns and adverbs to play with. All of them can be applied in everyday situations. And all of them I’ve put to good use in the past month or two.

In other words, keep your eyes open and your smart-phone handy. I guarantee that every day you will see something useful that you can use in conversation. Start snapping now!

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