Unsure if you’d like to try out learning German, because you’ve heard it’s too hard? On the contrary, German is not a complex language for those familiar with the Latin alphabet and Latin language families. The biggest factor is how you learn and your mindset. So, to help inspire you about how easy learning German can be, here are a few tips to help you get started.
How to learn German
1. Ignore the stereotype that German is “too hard to learn”
For many people considering learning German, they’re often deterred by the stereotype that it is too hard to learn, so why even bother. As an American expat living in Hamburg, my first visit to Hamburg resulted in a German friend of mine telling me this exact statement when I expressed interest in the language.
Despite this, I decided not to take her advice and, with quite a heavy amount of determination, I decided to learn German anyway. I spent some time in a language school and after a few months of extremely clear grammar explanations and dedicated practice, I honestly didn’t find German that difficult. After learning Spanish in university, and now attempting Turkish, I’ve learned that the biggest thing holding people back from learning a language is simply the effort you put into it.
Learning German in a short amount of time is entirely possible if you’re determined enough and take the time to practice.
2. Watch German movies
One of the simplest ways to learn German is to watch German movies and TV shows. This integrates really well into evening downtime, because there’s a good bet you’ll be watching Netflix anyway. Watching movies helps you learn various aspects like different accents, emotional intonations, context-specific vocabulary, slang, and even cultural issues – all while feeling like you’re relaxing!
A few suggestions for this method are: either choose a movie you already know the story of so it’s easier to follow, or use German subtitles if it feels too tricky (emphasis on German subtitles, because everyone can watch a movie with subtitles in their native language!). One of my personal favourites is the Sci-Fi thriller Dark on Netflix. This one’s more for advanced learners, but the story line and actors are fantastic, so when I watch it, I don’t feel like I’m “studying” and it doesn’t make me feel more tired.
3. Complete your skillset: listening, speaking, writing, and reading
There are many angles for starting to learn a language: studying abroad, language schools, books, Netflix, and even chat rooms. Whatever method you’re trying, it’s important that you get the full scope of the language. This is especially true with German if you want to simplify your learning process. For example, if you can write really well, but can’t pronounce anything, that’s absolutely going to hinder your learning process.
As a result, you need the four major aspects of learning German: listening, speaking, writing, and reading. The best case scenario is to sign up for classes at a language school. Here at Lingoda, I’ve taken some of the German classes myself and they’re really useful, because you can choose between which topics you’d like to learn with categories like grammar, speaking, special skills, and more. This way you not only learn relevant topics for what you need, but you get a wider variety of practice under your belt. When you make progress with these core elements simultaneously, the process of learning German becomes quite simple.
4. Be patient with yourself
One of my biggest pieces of advice I give to friends who are starting out learning German and feel overwhelmed is to be patient with yourself. It’s not about being perfect – actually Germans themselves don’t even speak the language perfectly. Furthermore, every single person on this planet makes language mistakes!
So, the point here is if you worry about speaking perfectly, you’ll slow down your progress. Be confident, try out speaking German whenever you can, and focus on being understood vs. being perfect. Most Germans will just appreciate that you’ve tried. So, when you take this pressure off yourself, you’ll find that learning German becomes a whole lot easier!
5. Try out an online class
Although in-person classes can be extremely useful for language learning, not everyone has time for that. For many of us learning German, we also work full-time, so attending in-person classes on top of that is just too much. In-person classes are not the only option and here’s exactly where online classes can help.
When you choose an online platform like Lingoda, you schedule 60 minute classes that work for your schedule – be it during work hours, right away in the morning, or after work. You can attend classes as often as you want, choose topics you’re interested in, and there’s no strict curriculum. There’s no tests (unless you’d like to prove your proficiency levels) and the teachers are super friendly. I’ve never once felt like a teacher made me feel bad for making mistakes. If you want a simple and fun way to learn German, I wholeheartedly recommend Lingoda!