15 tips for learning German
Are you asking yourself: How long it takes to learn German? What’s the best, easiest and fastest way to learn German?
We have 15 German study tips for you.
1. Create a study plan and set goals
You can’t learn German overnight. First, you need an overview about the German language and after that, you should divide the whole subject matter into small categories. Create a list with all the topics you want to work on and determine when you want to start with each one. Try to be realistic and do not put yourself under too much pressure. It’s more manageable to learn German step by step then in 2 weeks. A study plan also helps you to monitor your performance and manage your available time. You need to think about your personal goals and why learning German is important for you. Write it down on a piece of paper and every time your motivation drifts away, have a look at it.
2. Study regularly to improve your German
Everybody knows this situation: On some days, you have no interest in studying, while on other days, you can study vocabulary and grammar for hours. In fact, it is important to study regularly. Try to study German every day in shorter segments, but more often. On the website deutsch-lernen.com/learn-german-online/, you can click through German grammar lessons – online and for free. You could take one lesson and the exercises per day for example. Your German language skills will improve faster if you do just one hour every day, instead of five hours once a week.
3. Remove all possible disruptive factors while learning
So, you have finally gathered all your study utensils and are ready to start. Suddenly, your phone rings and your best friend wants to know about your day in school. Of course, you need to respond immediately and the German task has to wait. Help yourself and try to avoid such situations. Turn off your phone and let your friends know that you are not available for the next hour. Even if it seems difficult in the beginning, you will soon recognize that your study sessions become more efficient.
4. Always learn German words with their correct article
You've probably noticed that articles are very important in German. So, when you study the vocabulary you should always consider the correct article. It's not just “Haus” (Eng.: home) but "das Haus". If you do that right from the beginning, it will save you a lot of work afterwards. Additionally, I would recommend to also learn the plural form right from the start. In this case that would be: “das Haus” and “die Häuser”. (Eng.: “the house” and “the houses”.)
5. Create some helpful study tools
First, write vocabulary or important phrases on a piece of paper. You can use a post-it or a large poster for that. Now, place this magic list all over your apartment. Choose places where you spend a lot of time like: next to the coffee machine, above the stove, on the toilet or on your mirror. Whenever you are at one of these places, you will automatically have a look at the list and will be surprised how well it works.
6. Invent some simple memory hooks and outwit your brain
Sometimes you will find words, rules or phrases that simply do not want to stick in your brain. No matter how many times you try to memorize them, on the next day everything is gone. With memory hooks, it is much easier to learn and especially to remember things. In fact, mnemonics are a kind of simple linguistic detour that helps us to understand the context and to remember what we have learned more effectively.
For example: Sei doch schlau und merk dir bloß: Nomen schreibt man immer groß! (Eng.: That is a rhyme and means be smart and do not forget that nouns always start with a capital letter.) 7. Help yourself with sketches and notes
Every one of us has a different learning behaviour and a specific strategy of learning a language. Often, it may help you to visualize things. Start to make drawings for words or difficult connections and if some aspects don’t seem clear to you, start taking notes. It could be helpful, if you worked with various colours or index cards. That helps to nourish your imagination and draws your attention to what is important. Visualizations display complex statements in a simple and comprehensible way. They also give you a better overview of your study matter. Just think of the German grammar, which not only causes confusion but is also very extensive. It may help you to divide the grammar into small categories or groups, which you then indicate with different colours. Pick up a German text and underline the words with the correct colour.
- Nouns – blue
- Verbs - red
- Adjectives - green
8. Use a marker and emphasize what’s most important
It absolutely makes sense to highlight the essential points in a study text. To highlight some phrases means to make a conscious decision what is important and which information is secondary. Additionally, you will improve your memorizing performance. Repeating what you have already learned will be much easier in the future and increases the fun factor. Who would not be pleased to generate faster learning effects? But be careful, because the principle here is: Less is more! If the entire German text is coloured, there will be no learning effect at all.
9. Grant your brain a breather from time to time
After an intensive study period of 40 to 50 minutes, it is advisable to put all your stuff aside and re-energize. Do not regard a break as "lost" time, because what you have learned needs to be processed before your brain can be filled with new information. Get some fresh air and open your window. Your brain needs oxygen to function effectively and it will help you to concentrate again. Don’t forget to stay hydrated while studying!
10. Watch movies and TV series in German
Studying while watching TV? Yes, that is possible. In the age of DVDs and Video-on-Demand providers, movies and TV series can be used as an alternative learning method. First, you should check in which languages the content is available. Maybe your favourite series is also available in German so you can turn on the subtitles in your native language. The vocabulary will wander into your brain without much effort. The coolest thing about it is that you train your listening and understanding skills as well as your pronunciation.
11. Listen to German radio and learn from songs
Of course, you need textbooks and intensive grammar units, but to train your listening skills, you do not have to remain at your desk all the time. For better comprehension, it is important to get to know the sound and the pronunciation of the German language. Whether you are cooking, on your way to the university or at the gym, turn on the radio and get your ears accustomed to the German language. If no German radio channels are available in your programme, then you can use Internet Radio. Here you will find channels in almost every language. Most of them are even live streams and free of charge. If you ever hear a German song that you like and you’re curious about its meaning, try to understand what the song is about. Translate the words or phrases that you do not know and try to understand the context. By and by, you will understand more and more words and meanings, which will also help you to learn more about our country and our culture.
12. Interact with people who speak German
Do you have someone in your family or among friends who speaks German as native language? Arrange some meetings or start a pen friendship. If not, I would recommend making use of the benefits of social networks. You’ll definitely find some groups or forums that deal with German as a foreign language and who knows, maybe thereby you find some new possibilities to improve your German skills. Join these groups and take action as a user. Ask questions or try to get some useful advice. The purpose of these groups is the exchange of ideas or approaches, which might help you to get a better understanding of something.
13. Don’t be afraid of mistakes
Not one linguistic genius has fallen from the sky. When learning a language it hardly helps to focus on theories only. Speaking is pivotal to learn a language and mistakes are human. Remember when you were a kid and had to learn how to speak. I am sure you mixed up some letters and invented some new and funny names for specific terms. People from other countries are pleased about the fact that you are interested in their language and will therefore gladly forgive mistakes with spelling or pronunciation. What counts is that you are willing to learn from your mistakes.
14. Reward yourself after a German session
You have completed another new chapter? Well done. Reward yourself with a piece of chocolate, a cup of tea or a well-deserved nap on the couch. Be proud of your performance, even if you achieved a little more on the one day than on the other. A study session is linked with something positive in your subconscious and therefore, it will be much easier to motivate yourself in the future.
15. Take a language trip to Vienna and learn from locals
The best and most effective way to learn a language is to visit the country where it is spoken as a native language. You are in contact with the language and you need to deal with its cultural context all day long. Vienna is not only worth a visit because of its central location in Europe and the fact we speak High German, but also because of its high quality of life and diverse culture and leisure offer. At the ActiLingua Academy you have the possibility of choosing from a variety of German courses that meet your particular level and find a suitable accommodation. The accommodation options also include staying with a host family who is looking forward to welcome students from all over the world and introduce them into the typical Austrian culture. The best thing about a language tripis the constant exchange with other people and thereby getting to know many different cultures. It is a great opportunity to get to know yourself, to find out about your strengths and weaknesses and to get along in a different environment. Often such an experience can open up new paths, which you might want to take.