Top 7 Do’s and Don’ts when Learning German

German is not really that difficult. And to be fair, you can easily learn any language as long as you document your learning procedure.

While the language may have quite a reputation, it isn’t as hard as English, which is riddled with tons of inconsistencies, some weirdly nonsensical spelling and plenty of fragile, tense forms—this can confuse even the most expert language learners.

In this post, we will focus on specific do’s and don’ts in learning German. This guide will help you over the hurdles you’ll face when learning the language for the first time. The tips mentioned below will accelerate your progress and make German seem less daunting.

So, without further ado, let’s get started!

1: Avoid Language Interference

Learning German, or any second language, is quite similar in several ways to learning your first. However, there’s one huge difference.

When you’re learning German as a second language, you have some sort of interference from your first (English, Spanish, or whatever language you generally speak). Your brain falls back on your first language’s way of saying or doing things. Thus, you must fight that tendency.

Luckily, you can use English (your first language) to learn German (the second language).

Did you know that English and German are both Germanic languages with a bunch of Greek and Latin thrown in?

What we mean is, there are a few cognates, words which are very similar in both languages. Here are a few examples:

English / German
House / Das Haus
Garden / Der Garten
Sing / Singen
Brown / Braun
Swim / Schwimmen
Is / Ist

And the list goes on…

However, there are some words in German you need to watch out for (e.g., bald). They may sound like something they are not. A good example would be the word “soon,” which is “bald” in German and has absolutely nothing to do with someone’s hair.

2: Try Not to Translate Too Often

Yes; translation is necessary, but don’t let it become a regular thing. It should only be a temporary pass.

If you want to learn how to detox your German-speaking skills, you must avoid thinking in English and doing everything in the “English” way. Here’s what you can do: As your vocabulary enhances, consider relying on quick translations and begin thinking in German. You could also start using German phrases.

Keep in mind: Spanish-speakers, French-speakers, German-speakers, none of them are required to translate as they speak, and neither should you.

3: Consider Learning Nouns With Genders

Unlike English, German is a language of gender. Well, most languages are, but since we’re explicitly talking about German here, let’s show you why it’s vital to learn nouns with their genders.

You need to consider learning each new noun in German along with its gender simultaneously. Not understanding whether a word is die (fem.), das (neut.) or der (masc.) can confuse the listener. It also makes you sound illiterate and ignorant in German. Luckily, you can avoid this by memorizing das Haus instead of just “Haus” for “building/house,” for instance.

4: Buy a Good “German to English” Dictionary

You should have an excellent dictionary (minimum 40k entries). Also, you must learn how to utilize it properly.

You may not know this, but a dictionary could be harmful in the wrong hands. Don’t think too, literally. Also, don’t simply accept the initial translation you find. Similar to English, the majority of German words can have more than one specific meaning.

Here’s an example: The word “fix” can be used in many scenarios. For instance, you can use it like “fix a sandwich,” which basically means making a sandwich. On the other hand, “fix the car” or “he/she is in a fine fix” has an entirely different meaning.

5: Passive Skills Always Come First

It’s crucial to listen and read before you can use your active skills of German-speaking and writing. Remember, your first language had been the same way. As babies, we don’t start speaking until we’ve done plenty of listening.

6: Be Consistent

Learning a new language isn’t like riding a bike. It’s somewhat similar to learning to play guitar or any musical instrument. You forget how to do it properly once you step away from it for too long.

Also, remember that learning any language requires a lot of time and effort. You did not learn English in a few months, so don’t assume you can learn German any faster. Don’t lose hope if the learning takes some time. Use every available resource at your disposal for listening, reading, writing, and speaking.

7: Sprachgefühl

You must develop a “feeling for German” to master the language or any language in particular. Remember, the more you dive into German, the more Sprachgefühl will develop. It is the opposite of a programmed approach, which means getting into the sound and feel of the language.

Wrapping Up

As you can see, learning German shouldn’t be a daunting task. It can be fun as long as you take the right approach. Just remember one thing: Learning a new language is equivalent to learning to think and dream in a new way. You never know German until you can feel in German.

Leave us a comment below and share your thoughts and suggestions regarding learning a new language!

Author Bio

Mary Walton is a professional editor, content strategist and a part of NCSM team. Apart from writing, Mary is passionate about hiking and gaming. Feel free to contact her via Facebook

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