Making the decision to learn German can prove to be very enjoyable, but it can also bring you into a brand new world of business and personal opportunities. By taking on German as a second language, you can start a career abroad, or you can work as a translator from your home country. You can also choose to live abroad for personal reasons, such as wanting to experience a different culture up close. Keep reading to get some tips on how to learn German effectively!
The first thing you should consider is if you truly want to learn German. There is nothing wrong with trying a language out and then changing your mind, but if you already know your interests lie elsewhere, don’t waste your time! Make sure studying German, or any language, is what you really want to do! Don’t study a language if you don’t think you can stay committed to it. If you plan on getting business opportunities from learning a language, you definitely need to stay focused and committed to your task. Otherwise, once you get a job, you may lose interest in your work completely (and having a job you don’t like is hardly worth the time)!
The good thing about beginning to learn German is that, as an English speaker, you have an advantage. English and German are related linguistically, with both of these languages stemming from the West Germanic branch of languages. Since the languages are related, you do not have to struggle with learning a different sentence structure. Many grammar rules are also similar.
Another advantage for the English speaker learning German is you do not have to learn a different alphabet. German uses the same Roman script that English uses. The exceptions are as follows: sometimes, you will see a letter that looks like this ß. All this letter means is “ss.” In newer German documents, you most likely will not see this letter since it was removed under the language reforms of the 1990s and early 2000s. It was replaced by the double “s.” Some people still continue to use the ß, but the official language no longer recognizes it as a letter. The second exception is vowels that have umlauts. If a vowel is marked by an umlaut, you will see two small dots over the top of the letter. These dots simply change the pronunciation of the vowel slightly. The rest of the alphabet is the same as the English alphabet, but pronunciations differ.
Since there is no new alphabet to learn, you can jump right into German by learning some basic phrases. While you are learning these, you should also be learning how to correctly pronounce the German alphabet. My recommendation is to find an audio recording online of a native speaker teaching the alphabet. This way, you will be sure you are pronouncing the words correctly, and you will know how to pronounce new words correctly.
Some of the basic phrases you may start out with when you decide to learn German include: Hallo (hello), Guten Morgen (good morning), Guten Tag (good day/hello), Guten Abend (good evening), Gute Nacht (good night), Wie geht’s? (How are you? *informal), ja (yes), nein (no), and Ich bin gut (I am well).
You should also learn how to introduce yourself when you begin studying German. For this you will need a very basic verb: heißen. Once you learn how to conjugate verbs, you will know how to say “I am Annelisa” (literally “I am called Annelisa” – Ich heiße Annelisa). From there, keep building on the basics!
Be sure you gather the resources necessary to be successful on your journey to learn German. If you are taking German classes, ask your teacher for some recommendations on supplementary sources. Your course textbook is also a great resource—your instructor chose that book for a reason! See if there are any other books by the author(s) of your class textbook. These can also be good resources to look into.
If you are not part of a class, getting several textbooks is a great idea. You can see how each book teaches the language and use a combination of all of the lessons so that you are getting a more diverse experience. Get some books that focus on different areas of the language—these types of books often go more in depth about a certain function of a language. Books that deal with a specific aspect of a language are great resources for when you have questions, but they are also great for expanding your knowledge. You can find books on grammar, vocabulary, and more.
Another resource you should invest in is a dictionary. There are many kinds of dictionaries on the market, so my advice is to do some research first. Decide what kind of dictionary you want, and read reviews online before purchasing one. You can also search for free dictionaries on the internet. There are many free options available, and they are sometimes more convenient than traditional paper dictionaries.
You can also invest in language learning multimedia. This category includes products like language learning computer programs, language games, educational videos, and online language help websites. Computer programs are great for listening to native speakers talk, and some of the programs teach the language similar to how a college course would. Language games and educational videos are also very powerful—you would be surprised at how much of a language you can learn and memorize from sources like these. And never forget the resources available online! The internet makes it so easy to find resources for almost any language. You can track down some interesting websites with helpful articles, games, and quizzes. All would be beneficial for your study of German.
Taking on a new language can be a big task—but by choosing a European language that is closely related to English, your success is definitely likely. As long as you stay focused and work hard towards your goal, you can learn German in no time!