That means, “Good day! Do you speak German?” but if you didn’t know that, don’t worry. Learning a new language can be tough and intimidating, especially a language like German where you have really unusual verb conjugation and genders for each and every individual noun in the entire language. Plus, you have super long words like Rindfleischetikettierungsüberwachungsaufgabenübertragungsgesetz.
(Seriously, look it up!)
In all seriousness though, German isn’t that difficult. (And not all of their words are that ridiculously long!) There are plenty of ways you can learn German the fast and the fun way, and this guide is here to show you exactly how.
You can stick with this guide for some tips on how to learn German fast, or you can take a beginner-level German language course for a more structured teaching plan. There’s no right or wrong way to learn a new language, as long as you keep on practicing!
Tip #1: Figure Out Your Learning Style
Everyone has a different way of learning things. If you’re stuck using an old method that others have pushed on you, and you’ve found it’s just not working out, then maybe it’s time to move on to something new. For instance, if you’re a visual learner, then put that text book down for a moment and explore new options. There are websites and certain software programs that can teach you new languages visually.
For a visual learner trying to learn how to speak German, seeing a picture of an apple along with the word der Apfel will register more strongly than a list of English words for fruit followed by their German translation. If this is your style, then embrace it. Similarly, maybe you’re someone who learns by practice or experience. Quit boring yourself with grammar tutorials, and pick up a German film or two. Find a German pen pal, or meet regularly with someone you know who can speak German, and make conversation with them. Let them guide you and correct you based on experience, rather than reading down a list of grammar rules in a text book.
Check out this guide on finding your German language learning style for more advice.
Tip #2: Find a Pen Pal
Finding a pen pal, or having someone you can practice your German with frequently, is an excellent way to keep the language fresh in your mind, even when you’re not studying it on an academic level. While exchanging letters or emails once isn’t going to boost your language skills instantly, if you’re dedicated to studying German on a regular basis, this is at least something you can do to accompany your course work.
Every day or at least once a week, you can anticipate a letter from a friend with first-hand pointers on how to improve your speaking and writing skills, that go beyond just points or chapters in a text book. The more friendly and accessible the information, the easier it is to pick up, and the faster you’ll learn the language! For some basic German language lessons, check out this entry-level German for travelers course.
Tip #3: Learn How to Conjugate
While it might not be something you can learn overnight, learning the ins and outs of conjugating verbs will speed up the rest of the German language learning process. Once you know how to properly conjugate, you won’t need to be stuck on other parts of the language, or have to find yourself stumbling over other grammatical concepts, since this is really one of the biggest and most important ones you can know.
What is German verb conjugation? For an in-depth guide, you can check out this post on German verb conjugation. In short, it’s the system for adapting different forms of verbs depending on their subject, plurality, and tense. It’s the difference between I play and she plays, both present tense, but with the verb to play changing depending on the subject. In German, this would be the difference between Ich spiele and sie spielt, but you can check out that verb conjugation guide for a full run-down.
In fact, don’t just stop at conjugation. Learn the basics of all grammatical concepts, since grammar and syntax are the foundational systems of a language, and you’ll be good to go. Check out this guide on German grammar rules to learn the solutions to some easily mistaken German grammar problems. In fact, learn all the German language basics with this course, which promises to teach you how to speak German in one weekend.
Tip #4: Learn Some New Words
Even if you don’t know how to conjugate or even use the word in a sentence, learning some vocabulary is a great way to get motivated to learn German. There’s no denying the fun in being able to communicate something in more than one language, and if there’s a language you’re dedicated to studying, reading up on some translations of your favorite words is an excellent way to keep that interest alive; plus it’s something you can do every day. So, grab an English-to-German dictionary (or whatever your first language is) and get reading! You can also check out this guide on German words for a list of common vocabulary, or check out this course on learning the vocabulary of any language, easily, by improving your memory and language skills.
Tip #5: Test Yourself Every Week
There’s no way to track your progress when learning something new unless you test yourself constantly. If you’re taking German as part of a class, that’s great – they will most likely be imposing exams on you. But if you’re teaching yourself, it’s your responsibility to measure your progress. It isn’t a punishment. Being able to study and learn at your own pace is great, but not if you have no way of knowing just how good you’re getting.
If you’re using a text book, and they offer tests at the end of each chapter, take them! If you have a set of vocabulary words you’re trying to learn from the week, keep them written down somewhere, without the translations and then another separate sheet of paper with the translations, and give yourself a vocabulary test. Check the ones you get right off, and keep the ones you got wrong for next week.
Even better, have someone you know who speaks German follow along in your coursework, and prepare relevant tests according to your progress and skill level at the end of each week. Regardless of which method you choose, you need to have an incentive to improve, and a means of measuring that improvement. Check out this course for tips on how to study for exams for more tips.
Tip #6: Consume German Media
If you’re really, really dedicated to learning German, not just for business or school, but for fun as well, then try to consume as much German media as you can! It’s a language that you want to learn, and a culture that you enjoy, so this is really an obvious piece of advice. Hop onto YouTube or Netflix, or run down to the video store and watch some German movies, TV shows, or documentaries. Listen to German music, read the lyrics, and practice writing them down or singing them. Children learn language through nursery rhymes, song, and educational shows, so there’s no reason why the same won’t work for someone who’s learning a second language.
In fact, if you want to go that far, run down to your local library and see if they have any German language children’s books. Seriously, you might feel silly flipping through them, but if you’re just starting to learn German and can speak it at about a two-year-old’s level, then there’s really no excuse.
For more tips like this, check out this course on how to teach yourself a foreign language, practically and efficiently.
Tip #7: Visit Germany!
This is the last tip on the list, because obviously not everyone can jump onto a plane or a train and go straight to Germany. However, if the opportunity arises to visit Germany, or even stay there for an extended period of time, take it! If you’re in school, travel abroad programs are meant specifically to introduce you to other cultures, study in their schools, and learn the language the natural way – by being surrounded by it all day, every day.
When you’re forced to learn a language because not knowing how to speak it means potentially being lost in a city you’ve never been in… well, if that’s not incentive enough, then I don’t know what is! Check out this travel hacking guide for tips on how to travel cheaply and/or free.
Learning a language is not easy, and there’s no real way to learn it overnight. However, if you follow these tips, you can definitely speed up the learning process and be well on your way to being a fluent German speaker. For more tips, check out this course on how to learn a foreign language fast, and on a budget.