Here’s a beginner’s guide to German for you, if want to make it happen and learn German but don’t know-how.
First of all: Herzlichen Glückwunsch! Congratulations on this decision. If you’re an English speaker and wish ‘Deutsch zu sprechen’, I can tell you’re a winner already, because you’ve decided to roll up the sleeves and learn German. There are a few things to keep in mind to aid you on your journey to master the German language by yourself.
Fun fact to start with: Did you know that German and English actually come from the same language group? The Germanic language group. So basically English has its roots in German? Well, yes. Of course, it’s been well over one thousand years since the English twig grew on the language branch in the German family tree – so to be fair the roots aren’t of enormous practical benefit here but, anyhow, good to know it anyway.
I know, on paper German always appears to be a pretty overwhelming cryptic language. There are words that can be joined together with other words to explain a compound word and some words even have a triple fff – huh what?! The German grammar isn’t a piece of cake either – it’s well known to be confusing for those attempting to comprehend it in fragments.
Oh but don’t you worry my friend, we’ll start nice and slow from the very beginning.
Learn the German alphabet first, it will help you a great deal in comprehending the words and will also do the same for your pronunciation.
Try the Readle – learn German app instead of using the traditional techniques for example. You can also write down the 27 letters of the German alphabet on paper and repeat them every day. The last option, of course, there is always Youtube, where you can find numerous videos if you type in ‘The German Alphabet’.
Additionally, there are tons of free online German courses for beginners. The Goethe Institute is known to be one of the better providers of German language courses and they’ve made quite a few of their resources available for free on their website in their Deutsch für dich (German for you) section. It offers content for A1 students of German through to C2 masters. There’s also the option to do Tandem. You will find several forums online that show people seeking a Sprachpartner (language partner).
The Euro Vision Song Contest is great proof… German music is made for learning!
Whilst Rammstein is quite progressive and aggressive, although arguably Germany’s biggest music export. If that’s not for you I understand and I assure you that there is plenty of other good music coming out of Germany! Annette Luisanne and Annemariekantereit for instance offer a beautiful portfolio of the German language while sounding quite poetic. Awake the Shakespeare in you and dream yourself through their song collection on any of the music platforms. If you’re more into the Rap style, check out Captain Peng. He’s smart, funny, and has a very intelligent portfolio of words rapped up (Rapped up haha get the joke?! 🙂
Having music in the German language playing throughout the day whilst you’re doing your housework, cooking Lunch, or your daily workout, is an excellent way to get some pronunciation practice in and to improve your listening and vocabulary.
Spotify and Itunes Music have all the great German artists but to start with something simple even more useful might be Goethe Institute has created a Spotify playlist with 29 German songs on it. The selection has a few bands that sing a bit slower. It’s a good idea to get started finding some bands you like and that sing in German and then explore their wide selection.
If you wanna make an extra effort, search online for the lyrics of a song and try to read it while singing along. If you’ve learned the alphabet, this should be fairly easy for you to do and it will a nice push for the ego, too.
A friend recently suggested an adorable series from Andre Klein about Dino and his travels. He just started learning German a few weeks ago and really likes the book series called ‘Learn German with Stories. Amongst their collection ‘Ferien in Frankfurt’ and ‘ Der Karneval in Köln’ are a recommendation from him. A full selection of stories is available online at fair prices. The reasons these books are so great and deserve a place in the Beginner’s Guide to learn German are that they’re appropriate for beginners, they contain comprehensive glossaries at the end of the texts and they pose questions to check your comprehension.
I’m also a big fan of picture dictionaries for absolute beginners. It’s a bit like reading a cartoon. Or how about spending some time with your nephew or little sibling and watch a Disney movie with German subtitles. We learned our native language through exposure to pictures when we were kids; it’s a great way to learn for your second or third, or fourth language, too. On the internet, there is a Picture Dictionary and the Online-Bildwörterbuch.
Ultimately the best way to getting started speaking German is surrounding yourself with everything German, including some German friends. So go out to your favorite café or bar and get to know new people. Of course, if you don’t live in Germany, you’ll need to get creative in order to practice with native speakers (or even other learners). If you’ve got a smartphone, jump on Tandem language exchange or join a German Facebook group. There are plenty of German users that are willing to exchange German for English. You can find affordable teachers who are more than happy to work as a conversation partner, or who can provide you with more information.
Now you got started, the most important is that you stay engaged; continue practicing every day, even if it’s only for 15 Minutes. You’ll see it makes a big difference next time you run into a native speaker… If you want to become more fluent and be able to use the language more naturally, try the Readle – learn German app. You can read a story, listen to it by a native German speaker, learn useful grammar, and see the translation of every word. It’s the best way to get around German fast!
Overall, German is a fascinating language with a long history and yes even some longer words. Rest assured though, learning a new language always pays off! To learn German will not only open up doors throughout Western Europe for you but also offers you a fascinating culture that can otherwise be difficult to discern.
Viel Glück! 🙂