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How to learn German words fast

No matter which language you are learning, vocabulary is a predominant part of what you will have to study.

German is no exception to the rule, and when learning the language you might ask yourself how to learn German words fast.

After all, learning the grammar already takes a lot of time, so you wanna shave off as much time as possible in the process.

Here are some ways you can increase your vocabulary learning speed!

Spaced Repetition Method

The Spaced Repetition Method is a method to review material (in this case vocabulary) at systematic intervals.

This means, that at the beginning of learning new vocabulary, the intervals of repeating the material are close together (every hour, four hours in between, one day in between,…).

As you study more, the intervals will become systematically longer (four days, one week, etc).

When having an ideal system of spaced repetition, you can retain the material in your long-term memory, so it’s pretty much the exact opposite of cramming.

While taking longer than cramming, it will actually over time decrease the amount of time you spend learning vocabulary, as you won’t forget words so easily. 

I’m sure you’re asking yourself “How can I use this method?”

There are two options to use the spaced repetition method in your studies:

  1. The “Box Method”: With this method, you create flashcards for your vocabulary. When you create them, you put them in the first box. If at your next study session, you correctly remember the word, you can put it in the second box, which you will review less often. Then, if you can remember the words in the second box correctly after a longer period of time, you can put them in a third box, and so on. If you forget a word again, you move it back to a previous box to study it more frequently.
  2. Spaced repetition software: There are many tools online for digital flashcards. This type of software can take care of the spacing intervals of when to review the different words. Examples of this software are Memorang and Anki.

Flashcard Apps

Touching on the previous point, flashcard apps can be a very effective tool when trying to study more vocabulary in less time.

While not every app follows the spaced repetition method, most flashcard apps offer a system that will help you study the words you don’t know more often, while giving you some time in between reviewing the words you already know very well.

An example of a great flashcard app is Quizlet. The best thing about Quizlet? You can even find pre-made flashcard sets for topics that interest you!

That means, less time spent creating flashcards and more time studying!

Build a solid foundation

The key to effectively and quickly learning German vocabulary is to not save time in the beginning, when learning the basics.

The first 500 words in German should be studied very well in all their forms, shapes, and meanings. 

If you wonder why, it is due to the fact that a majority of advanced German words are simply compounds that were built from the basic German words!

Plus, statistically speaking, most of the everyday German is comprised of the first few hundred words. 

If you’re unsure where to start, here is a list of the 300 most frequent German words to build your foundation!

Learn vocabulary with context

Trust me, this one will save you SO MUCH TIME.

In German, we have this amazing term called Eselsbrücke (literally: donkey bridge).

What it means is basically assigning some kind of meaning or metaphor to new information when studying.

For example, if you want to learn the word Kühlschrank (fridge), you might have already learned the word kühl (cold) so you build yourself an Eselsbrücke to remember that the fridge is cold!

Learning the words with context will also help you understand what the word means. 

You can try to learn a short sentence with any new word you learn. For example Der Käse ist im Kühlschrank. (The cheese is in the fridge). This will help you immediately know what the word fridge means!

If you aren’t sure how to use a new word in a sentence, google the new vocabulary and “Bedeutung(meaning).

Google will present you with the meaning of the word as well as some sample sentences!

Learn relevant vocabulary

It will be hard to remember vocabulary that you can’t use. Plus, the vocabulary you want to focus on at first is the most essential stuff, anyway.

So try to learn vocabulary that is relevant in your everyday life.

If you are into fitness, learn the names for the workouts, muscle groups, etc. in German! If you love philosophy, learn about the most important concepts in German!

When you end up having real German conversations, you will most probably speak about things that are relevant to youyour interests, your job, your life – therefore this vocabulary will not just be more fun and interesting to learn, but also more applicable in your day to day life.

Stay consistent!

Whatever method you end up choosing, stay consistent with it! Even though these are some shortcuts, learning a language still requires a lot of work and dedication.

The more interesting and fun you make it, the more likely you are to stick with it, though! Try out different methods and see which one fits your learning type the best!

Good luck with studying and don’t give up!

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