Do you want to learn German, but the idea of sitting in a classroom or having a teacher makes you want to give up on the whole idea?
Or are you wondering if you could set out on this task by yourself? Don’t worry, we’ve got you.
Some people hate rigid learning structures and instead of helping them progress, school and teachers will leave them unmotivated and ready to give up the language altogether.
There’s nothing wrong with that, everybody’s style of learning is different, and lucky for you, there are tons and tons of resources out there to learn German by yourself and we have compiled a practical guide on how to use them efficiently!
Is German hard to learn?
This is probably the biggest question circulating through your mind right now.
Luckily, despite its scary reputation, German is not too hard to learn. It is in fact closely related to English, as they both come from the same language family – West Germanic.
So even though there will be differences in Grammar and of course vocabulary, the two languages share common sentence structures, words, and also a very similar alphabet.
So, as you already know English, learning German by yourself will be doable!
5 steps on how you can learn German
These steps will help you become fluent in German. Of course, it is not magic, and you will have to do most of the work yourself, but these steps will make the journey a whole lot easier.
A big part of learning a language successfully is having the right tools and techniques, and we’ll ensure that you have the best possible preparation to start studying by yourself!
1. Use cheap resources!
We are lucky in our day and age that there is an abundance of knowledge and resources on anything we could want to learn for free, online.
Use that to your advantage!! Of course, some content might cost a little bit of money, but most apps or courses have free trial periods, so see what works for your learning type and when you find something you love, get it!
A great course, app, or website can help you loads when it comes to sustainable motivation!
Here are some ideas:
- Apps: Arguably one of the most convenient ways to keep all your study material right in your pocket. This will allow you to study anytime, from anywhere in the world. Use the time on your commute or while you use the bathroom to level up your German! Different Apps you might like are Duolingo, Babbel, and many more!
- Online Course: As opposed to attending real-life courses, online courses usually offer a lot of freedom when it comes to time management! There are a lot of cost-efficient courses that you will be able to attend from the comfort of your own home.
- Websites: If you are worried about grammar, there are many websites online that will not only explain the basic rules of grammar but also provide you with a handful of exercises to practice.
- Videos: Youtube will be your best friend when it comes to learning a new language by yourself. Many tutors offer free content where they explain grammar, and as they are native, you will get used to hearing the language, as well.
- Textbooks: If you generally like learning from a textbook, there are many affordable options! This can be a great option if you like to study from a book, be able to highlight words in a physical copy, and have a bunch of exercises to do!
2. Don’t be afraid of German Grammar!
I know, I know, that is easy to say when you already know how to speak German, but let me tell you, as intimidating as German Grammar might seem, there are really only a couple of things that are most important to sound somewhat fluent!
Here is a little list of the most important Grammar:
- Nouns are capitalized in German
- Every noun has an article (and you should learn the words with the articles right off the bat!). There are 3 articles: der (masculine), die (feminine), and das (neutral)
- Every plural noun has the article “die”
- Conjugation: the articles are so important, because articles, adjectives, and pronouns will need to be conjugated to fit the gender, number, and case of the noun. This is called declension.
- Cases: this one is a bit tricky for English speakers, because they don’t have the same cases in English, but German basically uses the cases to show what role a noun plays in a sentence:
1. Case = Nominativ: when the word is the subject
2. Case = Genitiv: when the word is possessive
3. Case = Dativ: when the word is the indirect object
4. Case = Akkusativ: when the word is the direct object
- Verbs: verbs need to be conjugated to fit the person (similar to English: I run, he runs)
3. Learn the German Alphabet!
The German alphabet is more or less the same as the English alphabet, with only a few additions (ö, ä, ü).
However, before properly learning German it would be advisable to spend some term learning the pronunciation of the German alphabet.
This will help you with reading German, as well as spelling and pronunciation.
Although it might be a pain having to learn the different pronunciations of the letters, at least they are pronounced like that every time!
Unlike English, German pronunciation works exactly how you’re reading it.
Here are the German letters that are pronounced differently than in English:
C is pronounced “ts”, the same as Z
G is always pronounced as a hard “g”
I is pronounced like the English E
J think of Y in “Yak”
S sometimes like the English s or z. Be careful! When it is Sch -> like English sh; sp -> shp; st -> sht
V often pronounced as F
W like the English V
Z is pronounced “ts”
4. Immerse yourself in the language
No matter where you are or which language you are trying to learn, immersion is the number one tip any language teacher will give you.
Spend as much time as possible listening to the language. The more you hear it, the more you will understand and the broader your vocabulary will be.
To be fully immersed in German, you do not need to book a flight to Germany or Austria. There are plenty of options to immerse yourself in the language in the comfort of your own home.
German movies or TV shows: German movies and TV shows are a great way to implement the German language into your day-to-day life. To see a full list of benefits of watching German movies as well as plenty of great show suggestions, click here
Listen to German podcasts: This is a great way to immerse yourself in the language, as you can multitask while listening. Another advantage is the huge variety of podcast topics that will ensure a fun listening experience!
Read German news: You can find plenty of online editions of German newspapers! Reading the news will not only provide you with great vocabulary, but you will simultaneously learn more about German culture!
Learn about the culture: The German-Speaking-World has an abundance of history. Read more about it, or about modern culture in those countries. Learn about the food, the art, and the people, and keep your studies fun!
5. Practice German every day
As with everything in life, consistency is key when trying to acquire a new skill. Even if it is only for 10-20 minutes, try to practice a little German each and every day.
The results will pay off, believe me! When your brain gets used to practicing a language daily, it is a lot easier to stay in the flow of it than, say, studying an hour once a week.
Think of the ideas in the previous points when you feel like you don’t have enough time to practice:
- Listen to a German podcast while you’re at the gym or cleaning the house
- Listen to German music while doing chores
- Use your work commute to study in a German-language app
All these little things might not seem like much, but when repeated, they will add up to great results!
You can do it!
Although German might be a hard language to learn, it is absolutely doable, even by yourself.
Try to use as many resources at your disposal as possible, there is so much valuable knowledge out there, you just have to know how to look for it!
Implement as much German into your everyday life as you can, to have your brain get used to the language and of course to keep studying fun!
Whenever you seem to lose motivation, try to switch things up! There are countless ways to learn a language and you don’t have to choose one and stick to it!
The number one tip is probably to have as much fun as you can while learning, that will make you feel like you aren’t even studying!