How to Learn German Fast – 17 Learning Strategies + Tips
Looking for ways to get started on your German language learning journey? How about some ways to inject freshness into your learning routine? You’ve come to the right place.
We’ve collected some tips and tricks on how to learn German fast and to make that journey run smoothly and go a little easier, no matter whether you want to work on your pronunciation or different skills, or just need to get a plan together.
How to Learn German Fast – Overview
The Goethe Institute, a cultural association that promotes the study of the German language abroad, recommends it will take at least 750 hours for a learner to reach the CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages) C2 level, which is the highest available. To reach a ‘fluent’ B2 level, you’ll need to learn for about 450-600 hours.
Although that might seem like a daunting number, it’s not all doom and gloom. Like English, German belongs to the Germanic language family, so there are plenty of similarities between the two. Most of the sounds are alike, and there are a lot of words that, while not the same, are close enough that you’ll probably pick them up quickly.
Of course, German is also a very useful language to know. It is an official language of the European Union itself, as well as four countries in it: Germany, Austria, Belgium, and Luxembourg. It is the second most commonly used scientific language and is the primary language of approximately 95 to 100 million people in Europe, making it the second most spoken native language on the continent.
You’ll certainly have plenty of people to speak with, then, so where should you begin?
1. Learn German Fast – Build a Solid Pronunciation Base
No matter the language you’re learning, getting a solid foundation in pronunciation is always a good place to start. Why else would basically every coursebook made for language learning talk about that first?
Luckily, if you already speak English, then German won’t be too difficult to begin with. Both languages are Germanic, so many of the sounds are similar. Plus, you probably already know that if you see a ‘w’, you pronounce it like a ‘v’, so that’s one new one out of the way.
Take some time to study the German alphabet, especially those new letters, ä, ö, ü, and ß.
If you’re having difficulty hearing or producing different but close sounds (e.g., ‘u’ and ‘ü’), then you might find it useful to practice minimal pairs. These are two words that only vary by a single sound, so the learner can get used to noting the difference between them.
Once you’ve got the German alphabet more or less under your belt, it’s time to practice whole words and even sentences. The best thing to do at this stage is to repeat any audio you can get your hands on, even if you don’t understand the meaning behind what you’re saying. Part of pronouncing things properly is physical practice, after all.
Singing is a fun way to improve your German pronunciation, too. There are plenty of lyric videos on YouTube. Or, just search the name of the song and ‘Liedtext’ to get the lyrics to whatever your heart desires. Start with easier, slower songs before you move onto anything more complex or faster. It won’t be long before you’re rapping away with the best of them!
2. Learn German Fast – Get the Most Out of Your Teacher
While you might want to spend much of your time studying alone, sometimes it can come in handy to have a teacher to help you out. The internet will make it easy for you to find a German teacher who is affordable and dependable, but you need to have an idea of what you want before you dive in.
Do you want a teacher from Germany or from Austria? How about one who’ll really drill you on German grammar versus someone who specializes in getting you speaking German? Even if your goals are vague, they’ll help guide you to the best person for the job.
A good rule of thumb is, if your German lessons are online, ask your teacher if you can record them. Most will agree, and this will give you hours of material you can work through again at your own pace later on. Don’t forget to save any notes or chats before the session ends! Your teacher will probably forward any notes they’ve taken, but these can also be an invaluable resource as you progress on your German learning journey.
Some useful things a teacher can help you with include:
- Correcting texts you’ve written and explaining where you went wrong
- Explaining complicated grammar points and colloquial usage
- Tweaking German pronunciation errors
- Finding interesting media for you to watch or read
- Being a useful conversation partner who can help you find your voice
Tip: Ready to learn a language? Browse our lists of best Italian courses or German courses or English courses or French classes or Portuguese classes or Mandarin classes or Japanese classes or Spanish classes online.
3. Learn German Fast – Master German Grammar
Now, if you’ve spent some time thinking about learning German (or if you’ve learned some already), then you might have noticed German grammar can be a bit tricky.
German nouns have genders and are affected by cases. Not only that, but all the nouns have to start with capital letters, all the time. Oh, and verbs in German change far more often than they do in English, and word order can be quite flexible, and:
Don’t panic! Take it slowly and you’ll find yourself speaking German confidently very soon. You will probably have to study a little, of course. Sometimes hitting the books is the easiest way to grasp a slippery concept.
Still, you can also work on other ways to improve your implicit understanding of German grammar. Reading and listening a lot will help, because you’ll repeatedly come across set phrases and they’ll begin to enter your active knowledge.
The same goes for working with a teacher or conversation partner. Even if your partner can’t quite explain why something is said in a certain way, they’ll be able to help you say things that sound natural and get your point across.
Once you’ve got a handle on some basic grammar points, speaking and writing will be your best friends for practicing. Forcing yourself to use what you’ve learned—whether you make mistakes or not—will either cement those rules in your mind or show you where your weaknesses lie. Either way, it’s not a bad thing at all.
4. Learn German Fast – Widen Your German Vocabulary
Once you’ve learned a handful of German words and some basic German grammar structures, then it’s off to the races! Right?
Well, it might not be so easy. For instance, it is said that knowing the most common 800-1000 words in English will make you able to understand 75% of the language spoken in day-to-day life. Of course, you could get a list of German words and just learn them, but you’ll be missing context; not to mention the fact that you probably won’t cover a lot of words related to your particular life and interests.
As you’re working through your learning, make sure to pick out the German vocabulary you’ll use again in the future. You can learn this however you’d like—practice with a teacher or partner, write out texts using your new words, use an SRS (spaced repetition system)… The possibilities are endless.
What about if you don’t know a word? You have two things working in your favor.
One is that German is full to the brim with compound nouns. These are when two nouns come together to make a new word. Take ‘der Handschuh’ as an example. On its own, this word means ‘glove’. It is made up of the words ‘die Hand’ (‘hand’) and ‘der Schuh’ (‘shoe’). So, if you forget what something is called, you can describe it, or try a compound noun of your own creation—odds are, you won’t be far off.
When you’re dealing with verbs, things can be a little trickier. Fortunately, again, German has borrowed plenty of words from English over the years. Lots of verbs that end in ‘-ieren’ have been borrowed from English, like ‘programmieren’ (‘to program’), ‘telefonieren’ (‘to phone/call’), or ‘kopieren’ (‘to copy’).
Stuck on a verb? Try taking the English verb and putting ‘-ieren’ on the end. You might get it wrong, but you’ll probably get your point across, have a laugh, and learn in the process.
Learn German Fast – Some More Quick Tips
Create a plan for learning German
It’s always good to have a notion of how to get where you want to go, and language learning is no different. The easiest way is to create SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-bound) goals and be realistic about the time and effort you can put in. This will help you continue to make steady progress without burning out.
Speak to yourself in German—or your pet!
If you’re feeling too nervous to talk to another person just yet, then why not practice on yourself or your closest furry friend? Just getting the words out can be the biggest hurdle, so keep it low-stakes and try to have some fun. You’ll be ready to have a conversation in no time.
Find a German language exchange partner or a meetup
You can do this online or in person, but working with a partner or going to a meetup is a great way to practice and make new friends. If you can’t find a meetup that caters specifically to German learners, then go along to a multilingual one; chances are, you’ll find someone else who knows some of the languages, just like you.
Watch German TV or play a game
Even if you’re not at a level where you can enjoy German content made for native speakers, there are countless other shows that have been dubbed into German you can try. Enjoy playing video games? Many of them feature various German language tracks, so you can learn while you have some fun.
Go on a trip to a German speaking country
If you can, why not travel to a country where German is spoken? You’ll have to use the German language while you’re there—especially if you visit the more rural areas—and it’s a great way to improve. If you can’t travel far, see if there’s an area closer to home where you might get a chance to practice and try going there instead.
Read and listen to German
Learning to read German can be time-consuming, so try listening to German at the same time. If you read a German book and listen to its audiobook, you’ll have to keep to a slightly quicker pace, but you’ll hear the words as they’re supposed to be pronounced. You can always try speeding up the audiobook later to give yourself some harder listening practice!
Write short texts in German (and get them corrected!)
Practicing speaking German can be hard if you’re shy or aren’t able to arrange time to have conversations consistently. Writing in German is the other active skill, and it’s one you can do all by yourself. As a bonus, get all those short texts you write in German (about whatever you’d like) corrected so that you’re improving and learning German as you go.
Color code German nouns by gender
Having trouble remembering which gender goes with which German noun? Choose a color for each one (masculine, feminine, and neuter) and then write the words out—with their articles—in that color. As you look over your list, it should be a little easier to remember which one goes with which.
Try German tongue twisters for tricky sounds
Tongue twisters are a great way to practice those German sounds you just can’t get right. Make sure you get a recording of how it should sound, then have a go yourself. When you’re getting it all right going slowly, speed up and see how quickly you can say it without making a mistake.
Speaking of mistakes, don’t be afraid to make them! Remember that making a mistake means you’re learning German and that no one thinks badly of you for saying things wrong. You can even set yourself a goal to make a certain number of mistakes per day or week to really keep yourself on track.
Online Resources to Learn German Fast
Lingoda is an online language school that covers CEFR levels A1-C1 for German. Sign up for a specific number of classes per week (between one and ten), and you’ll be in a group of two to four students working with a native German-speaking teacher.
Rocket Languages German
Rocket Languages split its programs into three levels, going from beginner to advanced. They focus on German vocabulary, German pronunciation, and listening, and also feature modules that will teach you about German culture and business.
StoryLearning uses stories to help you learn German up to the CEFR B1 (intermediate) level. Learn in a virtual classroom, where you’ll have access to stories, audio, and video that will explain German grammar points and new German vocabulary to you. The program is useful for learning German in context.
Learn German Fast – Immerse Yourself!
Make your German learning frictionless
Just as there are plenty of reasons to learn a language, there are many reasons not to learn one. These are the excuses your mind will come up with when you don’t feel like learning or practicing German one day, and the longer you go without spending time with the language, the more your progress will stagnate and then regress.
How can you make your German learning as frictionless as possible?
Start by looking for pockets of time (even a few minutes will do!) and see which activities can fill those free moments. You don’t have to fill every second of the day, but if you have a few minutes here or there, then you can probably learn a few new words, practice saying a phrase out loud, or listen to a song.
Another way to fit activities into your day is to replace things you do in your native language with things you’re doing in German. Enjoy playing video games? Play them in German. Do you listen to podcasts on your commute? Start with some German podcasts that help you learn German fast, then increase the difficulty.
You can even watch TV in German; if you live with people who don’t speak the language, then watch with subtitles. You’ll still be learning, but you’ll be having fun at the same time.
The best thing, of course, if you’re not feeling motivated, is to just get started. Set a timer for a couple of minutes and tell yourself you only have to work until it goes off. Often, you’ll find that once you’ve got into the swing of things, you’ll be happy to keep going.
And if you’re not feeling it? Take a day off. Burning out won’t help you learn faster, but a quick rest should leave you feeling refreshed and ready to come back to German again.
Start speaking German from day one
If you’re learning German to speak to people, then it’s a good idea to start speaking German from day one. Of course, you probably won’t have much to say, but the point is to physically practice saying the words and get used to the idea of speaking to others.
You can speak German to yourself or record yourself if you’re not feeling ready to speak to anyone else yet. Step one is physical practice—your mouth and tongue will be moving into different positions to make unfamiliar sounds, and the more you say new words, the more likely the necessary muscle memory will develop.
You’ll see fast improvements in your speaking ability if you work with a German language exchange partner or teacher, and this will prevent the majority of fossilized mistakes. Fossilized mistakes are those you make over and over, meaning they become very difficult to correct when you find yourself at a more advanced stage in the language.
Practicing German as often as you can is important, though it can be difficult to keep thinking of things to talk about. If you’re going to a casual meetup, this won’t be much of a problem, because the conversation will happen naturally.
If you’re working with a German teacher or language partner, then create a list of topics together that are interesting to one or both of you. You’ll have the chance to look up new or improve vocabulary and practice German grammar structures.
Here are some other ideas of things you can speak about:
- Introduce yourself. This is always a good initial topic because you’ll learn much of the necessary German vocabulary and German grammar early in your learning journey. The more you learn, the more complex you can make your self-introduction.
- Talk about things that are in the German news. You’ll get some reading and listening practice as you research vocabulary and you’re likely to be exposed to a range of opinions, so you can discuss the topic in some detail. If there’s nothing interesting in the national news, then go local—there are often some stranger stories there!
- Read German aloud. So, this isn’t something you’ll speak about, but it’s good speaking practice. Not only will you improve your pronunciation of individual words, you’ll get a chance to practice cadence and where you should emphasize a sentence. You can do this alone or with your language partner or teacher.
Explore different German accents
Wherever you’re learning German, you’ll start out by learning a standard form. This is true even in Switzerland—there is a form called Swiss Standard German, which is different from the more colloquial ‘Schweizerdeutsch’ dialects that are spoken across the country (and are wildly different from Standard German).
Especially once you’re at a more intermediate level, it can be useful to learn more about the different accents and dialects spoken across Germany and Austria. Munich is famous for having its own dialect (Bavarian, or Austro-Bavarian, which is sometimes classified as its own language), which bleeds into Austria.
Despite Austria’s small size, each state has a slightly distinct accent and dialect, with Vorarlberg in the west featuring enormous differences due to the mountains that have historically separated it from the rest of the nation.
TV shows or radio stations that are set or filmed in those regions will help expose you to the German accents, so you’re not floundering once you get there.
It can also be useful to learn some new German words before you go. Use a German-Bavarian dictionary such as Glosbe to look up vocabulary while you’re there, too!
How To Learn The German Language – Summary
Wrapping up our guide on how to learn German fast.
There are plenty of methods that will help you learn German quickly and efficiently, but don’t forget to have fun! You can keep yourself on track with a plan and include a variety of activities that will both be enjoyable for you and will ensure you’re learning German at an encouraging pace that you can maintain.
Pick and choose from our tips on how to learn German fast, and don’t forget that any progress is good progress. Keep working at it, and you’ll see improvements in no time.
How To Learn German Fast – 10 Tips
- Build a Solid Pronunciation Base To Learn German.
- Get the Most Out of Your German Teacher.
- Master German Grammar and Structure.
- Develop and Widen Your German Vocabulary.
- Use All Online Resources to Learn German Fast.
- Immerse Yourself Into The German Language.
- Start Speaking German from Day One
- Speak to Yourself in German—or your Pet!
- Find a German Language Exchange Partner or a Meetup.
- Go on a Trip to a German Speaking Country.
Resources to Learn German Fast
- How To Learn German – YouTube – View
- Learn German Grammar – German with Laura – YouTube – View
- Learn German Pronunciation – Your German Teacher – YouTube – View
What is your learning experience? Have you got any additional practical tips on how to learn German fast?´ Please let us know or contact us via email if you have questions.
Good luck and enjoy learning German!
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