What’s the best way to learn German?

Posted on 14 May, 2018

There is of course more than one way to learn German. Different teachers, schools and students will have differing ideas about learning outcomes. Students from the West are generally used to book-based lessons: grammar books, course books and texts. But many German learners come from regions where copying information from the board and learning it by heart is more common. Not all students are taught critical thinking or how to expand their knowledge independently. Because of this, at Anda Sprachschule it is very important for us to familiarise our students with our learning strategies from the very beginning and to show them how these strategies will lead them to reaching their linguistic goals. 

Learning is about growing and integrating

It’s important to be aware that learning a language is not just a matter of memorizing things. Instead, diving into a language means integrating yourself step by step into a German-speaking environment, culture and history. Learning German helps you to grow as a person and broaden your horizons. New ways of thinking, new encounters, new opportunities, even if they are sometimes difficult – new experiences help us build upon our existing skills. This means that teaching German is also about helping and supporting students in this personal development.

Learning by seeing and hearing

At the beginning, learning German seems like an insurmountable task; you have no idea what people are saying. But if you can see what people are talking about, through pictures for example, it’s automatically a lot easier to understand. After getting used to what German sounds like, you can start to make sense of the phonemes and enjoy making your first attempts at using the language. Don’t forget: the best way to learn a language is taking what you already know and using it with other people, giving yourself the opportunity to build on the skills you already have. After this initial phase, you’re already able to use simple vocabulary and construct small sentences. After that, you’re reading to start talking about things which aren’t related to your immediate vicinity. Your active vocabulary (the words you’re able to produce) might still be relatively limited but you can understand a lot of other words which you can’t actively use (known as your passive vocabulary). There’ll be other words too, which although you don’t understand yet, you recognise from hearing them before. The more familiar the language sounds to you, the easier it will be to improve your proficiency. Part of the learning process is turning familiar sounding words, but which you don’t understand yet, step by step into first, your passive vocabulary and finally, your active vocabulary.

More tips for learning German

Here are a few more useful tips:

  • Make a learning plan and get into a regular learning routine.
  • Try out your new words and phrases in everyday situations. If you encounter gaps in your vocabulary whilst doing this, you can try to fill these in later with independent study.
  • Every time you learn a new noun, also make a note of its gender and article.
  • Sometimes it’s easier to understand the connection between words when you can see it – so make yourself a sketch or little drawing.
  • Start using German-language media as soon as possible. Watching simple TV shows can be a great start.