How to improve your German speaking skills
8 Tips for improving your german speaking skills both on- and offline
Reading time: 4 minutes
In this post, we will present four offline and four online options which will help you to improve your German.
The many possibilities of the digital world
1. Online courses
This is probably the most convenient option because you can take online courses from all around the world. When using a smartphone, you can even learn German on the go while you are waiting for the bus or relax outdoors in a park.
We want to make learning German easy for as many people as possible. Therefore, ActiLingua provides free online lessons at deutsch-lernen.com. There are lessons for beginners as well as for advanced learners!
Pro: Great for improving your grammar skills. The only thing you need is a working internet connection.
Con: It is hard to practice your speaking skills and there is no teacher you can ask if you are having troubles.
2. German speaking Media
Through the internet, it is easy to get access to German media like books or movies! You can expand your vocabulary, improve your reading and even listening skills – there are almost no limitations.
Here are some suggestions what kind of media you can use in order to improve your German. For movies, series or videos you can start with subtitles in your first language. So you can slowly get used to the German language and as soon as you feel more comfortable, you can also change the subtitles into the foreign language.
- Movies (e.g. Netflix oder Amazon Prime – there are special offers for students available)
- TV-Series (e.g. Netflix, Amazon Prime, Maxdome, serienstream.to)
- Books (e.g. www.bookrix.de, www.thalia.at)
- Magazines e.g. www.kiosk.at)
- Newspapers (e.g. www.kiosk.at)
- Comics (e.g. www.mycomics.de)
- Podcasts (e.g. Spotify, iTunes, Soundcloud, Ted Talk)
Pro: You can pick topics that are of interest to you. That makes learning German even more fun!
Con: Be aware of grammar and spelling mistakes in media content online. If you prefer to be on the safe side, you should stick to official media because their content is usually double-checked.
3. Online communities
Even social networks can help you with learning German. There are countless groups and forums dealing with German as a foreign language. Communities, which you find interesting and you think you can learn from - you should definitely join them. This allows you to become an active user. Ask questions if you are stuck on a specific task or even help someone else with your approach. The purpose of these groups is the exchange of ideas or approaches, which might help you to get a better understanding of something. Who knows maybe this also allows you to organise some group chats, where you can communicate with other users in German.
Pro: It does not require much effort and can still make a difference in your learning progress. Furthermore, the constant exchange keeps you informed.
Con: The content of a community is generally not checked for accuracy. If you are not sure, just compare it with other sources.
4. Email pals instead of a pen pals
Writing letters has now become a rarity. Firstly, because of a lack of time and secondly, because nowadays almost everything is done online anyway. So, why not transfer the pen pal exchange into an online communication. There are even platforms where you can connect with people from all over the world in order to start conversations. Through the exchange of emails, you can learn about different cultures and even practice writing in German. Automatically, you also work on your German grammar, the correct word order and even expand your vocabulary.
Pro: You connect with people from other cultures and at the same time, you improve your German skills. The whole thing is usually free, because in the best case both of you benefit from it.
Con: Again, there is no guarantee for accuracy and not every email contact is permanently available.
That is how it works offline …
1. Native Speaker - an important resource
One of the best ways to put your German skills to the test (and improve them) is talking to a native speaker. This way, you can examine for yourself if you can follow and contribute to a conversation. There are several ways you can get in touch with native speakers: hire a private tutor, look for meetings of a German speaking community in your country (Google will be very useful in finding one) or become friends with exchange-students from a German speaking country.
Pro: You can practice your German skills in real life situations not only in class.
Con: It might take you some time to find appropriate native speakers in your country and hiring a private tutor can be quite expensive.
2. Learn German while playing games
Learning German is not only about difficult grammar exercises. Often you have to work on your language skills outside the classroom. What could be better than learning German while being with friends end enjoying a game night? There are many games, which are perfect and helpful to improve your German skills and get a better understanding of the language.
Here are a few game tips:
- Tabu: It is about explaining a term without using certain words. If you are good in rewriting and defining, you have a good chance of winning.
- Activity: Here the terms are not only explained, but also presented graphically and in mime. Creativity goes a long way!
- A word-picture memory game: It is all about finding the correct counterpart to the image or word. Sounds easy, but for someone who is learning a foreign language, it can be a challenge. By assigning the correct image to each word, you save pictures in your head, which supports a better memory.
Pro: Learning German like this is more fun! Combine an evening among friends with deepening your German vocabulary.
Con: The increased fun factor, however, can also distract, which is why the learning effect is sometimes diminished.
3. Talk to yourself
This may sounds strange, but don’t worry! You do not have to start with a self-talk in the tram, which is full of people. Try it when you are at home while cooking or hanging up the washing. Self-talks help you repeat what you have learned and test yourself. You can practice the pronunciation and even support thinking in the Germen language. It also can help those who do not like to talk in front of people.
Pro: Regular self-talks in the foreign language can increase your self-confidence and you will notice it the next time you need to talk in front of your class.
Con: As the name suggests, you are talking to yourself, which means that no one can help you or correct you.
4. Visit a German speaking country
This might be the best option for learning a new language quickly. Once you are in a German speaking country and want to have conversations with locals or want to understand the news on the radio, you will have no other choice but learning the language! Nevertheless, you do not have to jump in the deep end. In almost every country, there are language schools that help you learn German while you’re abroad. At the ActiLingua Academy in Vienna, our students attend German lessons held by qualified native speaking teachers. After the lessons, there is plenty of time left for experiencing Vienna and participating in our leisure activities. We offer German courses for all levels from A1 to C2.
Pro: Great, if you wish to learn German fast and are interested in the culture of the country, too.
Con: Learning a language abroad can often involve high cost. At the ActiLingua Academy, we strive for a fair price-performance ratio and therefore provide special offers.
It is up to you whether you prefer to learn online or offline. Often, a combination of both can be very helpful. You need to find out which type of learning strategy fits you best, to make your learning sessions efficient.