Learning German, or any new language, can be overwhelming, especially for newcomers to the foreign language world. If you have never attempted to learn a second language, you may be asking yourself several questions. Among these questions, you may be wondering what kind of tools you will need in order to succeed. Does this sound like you? If so, read on!
There are several basic tools you will need in order study German effectively. First of all, you need a way to learn the language. There are several different ways to attempt this, the most common of which is structured, formal classes. In the modern world, German is a common language to study. It is highly likely a high school or college in your area offers German classes. The levels of German offered varies greatly, but most schools that offer a foreign language program offer some German classes. If you study German in high school, you can easily test out of beginning levels of German in college. This is very helpful if you wish to become fluent in German. Structured classes can be taught by native speakers, but more often than not, they are taught by men and women who have reached fluency in German and have a college degree in German language.
If you are past your high school or college educations, you can return to school if you wish to make a career out of learning German. For the more casual learner, you can rely on textbooks and websites to help you learn. If you chose to take this path, you need to use as many textbooks and websites as you can. This will ensure you are learning a diverse amount of material. It is a good idea to try and follow the flow of the chapters in the textbooks or follow online lessons so that your knowledge builds logically.
With all of that being said, some of the essential tools you will need are good, college-level German textbooks and some great German websites. It is a good idea to research before you buy any book, and more books are available online than in the bookstores. See what other students recommend, and read reviews if there are any. Websites are much easier to find, and you can decide whether or not they are well put together after checking out the webpage. In a textbook, you should look for chaptered books that are used in colleges, and it is better if they have exercises included. Some will even come with CDs. Webpages should have lessons, helpful articles and advice, and audio files if possible.
If you can get a textbook with an audio CD or find audio files on a website, you already have the next essential item: audio by a native speaker. This is an essential tool because hearing a native speaker will help you with pronunciation. Hearing the words spoken like they were meant to be spoken is much better than just guessing at how they should sound!
My advice is to get other tools to supplement your main method of studying German. This is especially important if you are not in traditional classes! Of the available supplementary materials, I believe you should purchase a good German English dictionary. In my opinion, these are not even optional! You can also look for one online if you find that to be more convenient. There are some really great free ones online, but you can also buy wonderful German English dictionaries put out by language companies.
Some German English dictionaries may also include a thesaurus, but if yours does not, you can always check bookstores and online suppliers to find a thesaurus, grammar book, or other study guide. Having these supplementary books will make it easier on you if you have a question while learning.
Computer programs are also great supplements. You can buy many different kinds, so it is best to look into them before buying so you don’t end up wasting money! You can also find electronic dictionaries and translators. Some of these may have a German English dictionary and others may just function one way. Another way to use technology to supplement your learning is to use flashcard programs. Some of these programs can be purchased, but there are free ones available online. These are really helpful for learning verb conjugations, grammar rules, and vocabulary. You can make your own flashcards or download premade ones. Also, you could always make your own flashcards out of index cards if you do not find a program that suits you.
Interaction with a native speaker is one supplement that I highly recommend. It is my opinion that interaction with a native speaker is essential to any language study because you need to learn how to pronounce the words with a native accent. Listening to a native speaker and conversing with one will improve your sound over time, and this will help you sound less foreign to other native speakers of the language. If you do not know any native speakers and are not in a class taught by one, you can take your search online. There are several language exchange websites that will link you with native speakers of German. You can talk to your speaking partners over these websites, but you can also talk to them via snail mail, video chat, and instant message. These websites are a great alternative for finding native speakers—plus, you can help your speaking partner learn English while they help you with German!
Out of all of the language tools available in today’s world, there are some that are more important than others and should be considered essential. I recommend having a main method of learning German, or any language, but it is also important to have supplements. My advice is to find some good websites, pick up some language books, get a good German English dictionary, and find a native speaker to practice with. By combining several different methods of learning, you can speed up your study routine and achieve your language goals.