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What Are the Different Ways to Learn German?

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  • Written By: Dorothy Bland
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 10 November 2016
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German is one of the most commonly spoken languages in the world and can usually be learned through formal or informal learning techniques. Formal methods of learning the language include classroom-based methods along with extension techniques that extend learning outside of the classroom setting. Informal techniques that can be used to learn German include basic practices designed for beginners. Other informal methods of learning German include constantly listening to the language, becoming more actively engaged in learning the language, and visiting the country.

For beginners, it is possible to pick up the basics of the German language through instruction books such as grammar reference guides, language textbooks, and translation dictionaries. Another way to learn basic German is by going online. There are numerous websites that offer interactive German courses, vocabulary worksheets, and downloadable flashcards. Often, these sites offer resources specifically designed for various levels of proficiency, such as grammar exercises and quizzes aimed toward beginning, intermediate, or advanced learners.

As German is a popular language around the world, German language courses are commonly taught at the high school and college level. High school and college classes in German generally range from introduction courses to German classes designed for advanced learners. Learning German in a college setting usually involves more comprehensive language coverage so students quickly improve vocabulary and learn to properly pronounce German words. This technique may be preferred by those who desire an organizational approach to mastering the language.

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Extracurricular campus activities may also be useful for trying to learn German words. A number of universities that offer the German language as a college major also feature German clubs. These clubs may sponsor weekly events and activities such as conversations in the language and screenings of German films so students better grasp the language and culture. Students can also choose to create their own study groups or visit a German embassy in the area. If students live or work in a community with a significant German population, visiting restaurants or volunteering in the area can also provide some help with learning German.

Constant exposure to the language is necessary to learn German and become fluent. Audio tapes, German language podcasts, and listening to German songs are all techniques that can help learners get a feel for correct pronunciation and accents. Exposure to the spoken language also works to help learners understand the differences between conversational and formal German language. These German audio programs can be listened to while commuting to work or school in order to speed up the learning process.

Additionally, many different engaging and creative techniques can be used to learn German. Playing language games, for instance, can be a fun way to interact with the language without becoming bored. Techniques such as watching German television channels and reading German newspapers and books can also help learners improve their linguistic knowledge of the language.

Full immersion in the culture and language of Germany is generally considered by language experts to be one of the best methods to learn German. Hearing the language through the voice of native speakers and in natural settings will usually result in more rapidly progressing in the language. Study abroad programs are offered by many colleges to assist students in achieving this goal. Some individuals also choose to apply for internships and jobs with international companies that operate offices in Germany in order to learn the language. Those who decide to take a summer vacation to the country can also increase German language learning through hiring a German tutor.

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pleonasm
Post 3

@Ana1234 - Yeah, I've always found that I pick up huge amounts of vocabulary and syntax through talking to native speakers of a language, but I pick up rules and grammar from reading it. I don't necessarily need to be taught it explicitly, but I do need to see how it is arranged in sentences, or I end up speaking in a very broken way.

I can make myself understood in a few languages, for example, but it must sound like the equivalent of "you store go now?" to anyone listening and that doesn't exactly inspire people to talk to me.

I try to read local picture books and work my way up to chapter books if I really need to learn a language well. Getting a tutor who knows your language and the local language is invaluable as well. Sometimes you can even do a swap, where you help them with English and they help you with German.

Ana1234
Post 2

@MrsPramm - I would say that learning German is going to go better if you do at least a little bit of theory as well as talking to native speakers. I always find that learning the rules of grammar and then being able to apply them works much better for my retention than just trying to figure out what people are saying. This is especially true for languages like German where there are different grammatical rules than there are in English. The average person isn't going to just figure out spontaneously that there are three genders used in German if they've never used any in English.

MrsPramm
Post 1

Full immersion is one of the best ways to learn any language at all. I took French for years at high school and didn't learn half as much as I did in a few months worth of living with a host family in France.

If you want to learn German, at the very least you should try and find some place where native German speakers hang out and see if you can get some time in conversation with them.

However, ideally, you will go to Germany or some other area in Europe where the majority of the population speaks German, and learn that way.

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