Hi friends, hope we’re all keeping well.
German has always been one of my favourite subjects in school. Not only because I was interested in learning languages in general (although that too), but also because I found it to be a genuinely beautiful language.
Despite what one may say, I really don’t think it’s as hard as people make it out to be. Sure, there are the horror stories of German grammar and how there are 16 ways to say ‘the’, but I find them to be pretty exaggerated.
Anyway, I recently got the top mark in my final secondary school exam for German, and suddenly decided I felt qualified enough to share the resources I used to help improve in this language. Keep in mind, a language has mainly 3 key aspects to it: written, aural, and oral. Thus, I’ll share resources which I used to improve in each of these sectors.
What I argue is the most important aspect of learning any language. The more you consume, the more comfortable and confident you get in the language.
1. Easy German
Both the YouTube Channel and Spotify podcast are great. In general, I’m a huge fan of the Easy Languages project, and am currently using their videos to learn Japanese.
What they do on the YouTube channel is basically go up to native speakers in the streets, and strike up a conversation using easy and simple conversation starters. The idea is to get you used to how a native speaker of that language speaks. It’s great for pronunciation and general listening comprehension.
One thing I’d advise against though, is watching a video of theirs once and reading the subtitles the whole way through. Instead, do your utmost best to NOT read the subtitles first, then once you finish the video watch it back again but now with the subtitles. You definitely don’t want to treat their videos as just a reading comprehension!
A great resource for listening to clean, professional German as it’s basically a news platform. This was also a really good resource for learning new vocabulary, since half the time the topics discussed were a bit more related to politics and complicated world events.
This is another German news channel, that covers Germany’s (and the world’s) most relevant topics in just 100 seconds. Their weather forecasts are especially good for familiarising yourself with weather vocabulary!
Honestly, this is probably the area that you want to focus on least.
If you simply want to obtain fluency and become comfortable with the language, I would highly recommend concentrating more on the aural and oral aspects of it, and I can almost guarantee you that your reading comprehension skills will follow along naturally.
If you’re dead set focussed on improving your reading skills though, trying to read children’s books in German helped me a lot. One of my friends even read an entire Harry Potter book in German, which he said helped skyrocket his grade to the next level.
It goes without saying that any words you don’t recognise should immediately be made into an Anki card, in order to learn it off. I’ve made a post already going over how to use Anki (which is a miracle tool when it comes to learning vocabulary), which you can find here.
The best advice I can give to improve your oral skills in German, is honestly preparation.
Prepare sentences for topics that will usually appear in conversations. Such as why are you learning German? Is it difficult? What’s the most difficult thing about it? Do you have any hobbies?
Once you become familiar and are comfortable with these ‘seed sentences’ and their structure, I find it much much easier to begin forming sentences out of thin air.
Another really important thing to remember is that you should always try thinking in German.
The worst early trap you can fall into on your language learning journey is to think of what to say in your native language,and then try translating it in your head. Instead, do your best to think in your target language, and speaking in it will come to you so much more naturally.
Another tip I can give is just verbalise randomly throughout your day what you’re doing in German. For example, if I’m cleaning up my room I’ll try say out loud in German (if there’s no one nearby):
“Zur Zeit, räume ich mein Zimmer ab. Ich weiß nicht, warm es heute so schmutzig und unordentlich ist. Wann habe ich das letzte Mal, mein Zimmer abgeräumt?”
Even if it’s not perfect German, the important thing is to get into the habit of thinking in the target language, and only then will massive improvement follow.
Feel free to comment any other language learning tips, I’m curious as to what you guys feel is the most important advice/tip!