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Learning Tips for German

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More learning tips for German...

Passive skills come first!
A period of LISTENING and READING is important before you can expect to use the active skills of SPEAKING and WRITING. Again, your first language was the same way. Babies don't start talking until they've done a lot of listening.

Be consistent and study/practice on a regular basis.
Unfortunately, language is NOT like riding a bicycle. It's more like learning to play a musical instrument. You DO forget how to do it if you get away from it too long!

Language is more complex than we realize.
That's one reason computers are such lousy translators. Don't worry about all the details all the time, but be aware that language is much more than just stringing a bunch of words together. There are subtle things we do with language that even linguists have difficulty explaining. That's why I say, "Learning a new language is learning to think in a new way."

Sprachgefühl
You have to develop a "feeling for the language" to master German or any language. The more you get into German, the more this hard-to-describe Sprachgefühl should develop. It's the opposite of a rote, mechanical, programmed approach. It means getting into the language's sound and "feel."

There is no "right" way.
German has its own way of defining words (vocabulary), saying words (pronunciation), and putting words together (grammar). Learn to be flexible, to mimic the language, and to accept Deutsch the way it is. German may do things differently from your point of view, but it isn't a matter of "right" or "wrong," "good" or "bad." Learning a new language is learning to think in a new way! You don't really know a language until you can think (and dream) in that language.

Dangerous! - Gefährlich!
Some things to avoid:

  • Avoid the most common beginner's mistakes. See The Top 10 German Mistakes Made by Beginners.
  • Don't be overly ambitious. Set realistic goals and take things one step at a time. Our lessons are designed that way.
  • Don't try to pretend you are a native-speaker of German (Muttersprachler) when you aren't. That means avoiding jokes, swearing and other linguistic minefields that can make you sound and look foolish.
  • One more time: Stop translating! It gets in the way of real communication and should be left to skilled professionals.
  • Also one more time: A dictionary is dangerous! Verify meanings by also looking up the word or expression in the opposite language direction.

RECOMMENDED READING

  • How To Learn a Foreign Language by Graham Fuller (Storm King Press)
  • German Grammar Book: Deutsch macht Spaß by Brigitte Dubiel

SPECIAL RESOURCES

Online Lessons: Our free German for Beginners course is available online 24 hours a day. You can start with Lesson 1 or select any one of the 20 lessons for review. More...

Forums: Drop in on our two forums for help with your German! We have two German forums just for you! Forum I and Forum II both offer help and tutoring for beginners!

Special Characters: See Can Your PC Speak German? and Das Alphabet for information about typing and using uniquely German characters such as ä or ß.

Daily German 1: German Word of the Day for beginners
Daily German 2: Das Wort des Tages for intermediate, advanced learners

MORE > Learning Tips - Index - 31 daily tips
MORE > The Top 10 German Mistakes Made by Beginners

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