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How to Learn German By Yourself


Wilkommen! German was the first language that I really dove into. My fiancée is German, but grew up in the States. She does not speak the language, but the first time I went to Germany with her, when I was just 19, I got hooked. I immediately picked up Duolingo and started just trying to learn basic vocabulary. Then I would practice with her Oma (german for grandma) at the dinner table. I always thought that German was a nasty, stiff language but as I was exposed to it, I honestly thought it was beautiful.

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I have come a long way in my German studies, I wouldn’t say I’m fluent by any means, although that is an objective measure. I can at least get around when I visit, and I do enjoy listening to German music or even watching TV in the language, and I am able to understand a good portion of it!

Well, whether you want to order a Wienerschnitzel or chat with Freunde at Oktoberfest, here is how you can begin learning German by yourself, just like I did.


Best Tools to Get Started Learning German

Here are the apps or tools that I have used for German, and I will break down why I like each one in more detail:

  • Duolingo
  • Youtube (Easy German Channel)
  • Netflix
  • German Music
  • German Textbooks

Duolingo

So, Duolingo is probably the most well-known language learning app. It definitely has its perks being free to start, and basically no barriers to begin. What Duolingo really excels at is it is a great introduction to vocabulary for any language, and also gets your ears going to hear all the little nuances so you can differentiate words.

Youtube

Youtube has great resources for everything including language learning, however, I have to give a special shout out to my favorite Youtube Channel, Easy German. In this series a crew of people travel around Germany, interviewing people on the streets, in their native German. In the videos, there are subtitles with German and English. The “easy” in Easy German is a bit of a misnomer, because the people are speaking full-speed German, and also sometimes in slang, but it really trains you to hear the everyday speaking.

Netflix

Once you get a bit more advanced, you will want to try and watch some German TV. Netflix has great shows in the language. My favorite is Dark. When watching, be sure to use German audio, and whether you want to use English or German subtitles is up to you. Honestly, you can watch any of your favorite shows in German. Try watching the Friends episodes for example!

Music

Whatever type of music you like, you can find in German. For rap their are artists like Cro, my favorite German band is Annenmaykantereit. Their lead vocalist has a nice baritone voice, but also sings clearly enough that I can pick up on most of the lyrics

Textbooks

Alright, so i didn’t truly learn German on my own. I did take a class in college where I picked up on some of the grammar and weird sheisse (shit) that is prevalant in the language. Textbooks or any classes can really help you in understanding some of the grammar and why some of the things are the way they are. Also, my class was essential to learn how to say certain words and sounds (never use the hard American “r” when speaking German, it is the dead American giveaway).

Most Importantly – Speak With Others If Possible

This is a bonus one. Even though, it is not truly a by yourself activity, if you can speak with others then it will do amazing things for your proficiency in any language. Not only will you train your brain to access your german vocabulary and sentence structure, but who knows what words you will learn from a conversation!

How Hard Is It to Learn German?

Is German hard to learn? Well, yeah, learning any language is pretty challenging, but it is definitely doable. At least we can look at a word, and make a guess as to what it should sound like. Try doing that with 中国人.

What makes German hard? Well:

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  1. Grammar is Tricky

There are 3 ways to say the word “The” and there is no really great way to ever know which one to use. For example, a table is masculine “Der Tisch“, but a door is feminine “Die Tür“, and that doesn’t even include the neutral “Das“. Not to mention there are several different cases where you change these words, depending if a thing is doing an act, if an act is happening to a thing, or if an act is done for a thing. Whew

2. Compound Words

Yes, sometimes their words can be a little long, but once you realize that Germans just like compiling a bunch of smaller words into one, instead of coming up with a new one, you will be better of, For example: Flugzeug means airplane. Flug means “flight” and Zeug means “stuff”. Are you afraid of flying in flight stuffs?

3. Some Funky Sounds

There are sounds that the English language doesn’t have, but this is true of any language. With a little practice you can say all the ë, ä, and ü’s!

4. WTF Word Placement

You can only have one conjugated verb in the middle of the sentence. Everything else has to be tacked on to the end. You’ll get it, don’t worry

How Long Can It Take to Learn German?

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Learning German can go as quickly as you want. For those that fully commit and immerse themselves, they may be able to learn the language in a couple of months, however, the key is for you to enjoy the experience at your own pace.

For many people the fear of messing up and pressure of not being able to speak a new language is exactly what keeps them away, so the key is to have a good time and learn at your own pace! Nowadays, there are even more tools at our disposal. For example, you can use ChatGPT to learn a language. Whatever way you decide to learn, enjoy the journey!


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