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6 tips to learn German faster

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A lot of people think language learning is nothing but a bunch of hard work and rote learning. But they’re wrong. When you learn on your own terms, using methods you enjoy and find effective, THAT is when real learning takes place. Forget how you learned in school, there are so many alternative methods – all you have to do is look.

Remember: if you’re reading this, you probably live in the Leipzig area, which means you’re surrounded by German. Don’t let this mind-expanding opportunity pass you by!

Below are some helpful tips for learning languages that are different from how you learned in school.

1. RESEARCH:

Find out how other do-it-yourselfers are learning languages. Try googling the following terms: “language hacks”, “language bloggers”, “polyglot blogger”. Also, the following blogs are definitely worth checking out: fluentin3months.com, mezzoguild.com, and iwillteachyoualanguage.com.

2. SPEAK:

You live in Leipzig, so get out and meet people! Think beyond the usual Irish Pubs and expat groups and go meet some Germans! Join a niche group like a jujitsu or gardening club, find a tandem partner, look for volunteering opportunities. (Tip: Use google translate if you can’t figure out a page in German.) If you don’t want to leave your house, you can get super cheap lessons via Skype through italki.

3. READ:

Start easy and work your way up. For easier reading, try comics or easy readers. StoryPlanet is working on an app that lets you read a book in German online or on your mobile device: tap any word for a translation, then add words to a personalized learning list as you read. It’s not available yet, but you can subscribe to the newsletter and try the prototype.

4. WATCH AND LISTEN:

Videos and audio in German are also very beneficial. Listen to MDR Info online or on the radio (95.6 FM). YouTube is also full of videos in German – even free lessons. If you or a family member has a Netflix account back home, it will also give you access to the German site, which has both English and German audio options. StoryPlanet is also making simplified videos of the Grimm fairy tales.

5. VOCAB, NOT GRAMMAR:

Words are what carry the meaning, grammar just puts it all in order. Start out by focusing on vocabulary. Days of Deutsch has a cool visual approach.

6. BE BRAVE:

Start using German from your first word on. Be brave enough to make mistakes, because mistakes are an excellent chance to learn and laugh with new friends. You can’t learn in isolation and start speaking after you’ve perfected your skills – it’s just not gonna happen.

Whatever path you take, try to make it fun.

Rotkaeppchen
Using the Brothers Grimm to make learning German more colorful. Image courtesy of StoryPlanet.

That’s what we’re trying to do at StoryPlanet, whether it’s learning vocabulary by diving into interesting stories, or watching beautiful animations of the Brothers Grimm Märchen. Help us create more fun learning material by donating to our crowdfunding campaign (before 17 Jan. 2016 @ 5pm), and signing up for our free newsletter.

We hope these tips were helpful, but most of all we hope you’ll take the opportunity to learn German while you live here!

By David P. Steel, StoryPlanet

6 Comments

  1. I know this is a post FOR story planet, but you can already read like that with kindle paper white. No need to wait 🙂 it has a built in translator for when you’re reading at home (with wifi). Or you can download dictionaries and use them instead. They give you many explanations of how words can be used differently in comparison to the translation function. Plus, it collects vocabulary into flashcards for you to practice.

  2. Hi Megan,
    thanks for the information. As a member of Story Planet I’d like to clarify why our approach is innovative and will give a much better experience than e-books with dictionaries and even flashcards. I don’t know the Kindle paper white’s functionalities in detail but usually dictionaries can only retrieve words as they appear in the text and sometimes plurals or inflected forms. They are also oblivious of expressions or collocations for example.
    With Story Planet not only will a reader be able to retrieve the exact meaning of a word/expression in the text but she will be able to retrieve the original infinitive form of verbs with their preposition (even when a separable prefix is pushed at the end of the sentence!). She will also be able to get the meaning of expressions, conjugated tables, the cases or tips about the words or the grammar to name a few.
    Our exercises will also go further than basic flashcards with for example a state-of-the-art spaced repetition algorithm to remember for the long term.
    These were only some personal comments and not an official answer from my company 🙂

    • Hi, thanks for the information about Story Planet. That will be a good product. I should mention though that Kindle allows for that already if you download a dictionary. Their “built-in” translator function only translates the word (the problem with other products you mention), but the dictionary function gives multiple definitions of the word, examples of how to use it, infinitives, cases and prepositions for verbs, along with common sayings (Redewendungen). I was really looking for a product like one you’re working on, and found the kindle to offer all of that. That was the only reason I bought it. The only thing it has problems with is when verbs in german are trennbar. Then it only can find half of the verb. This could be a good point to improve on. Otherwise almost all words are captured by the dictionary function. I am writing this not to discourage you, but obviously it’s important for you to know what your competition is. Surely the Story Planet app will be a big help to language learners with tablets or so on who don’t want to purchase another device 🙂 looking forward to it!

  3. Hi. I’ve tried different ways to study. But I have not much time. So my last try was when I’ve learned german online with native speakers using skype. To be honest my speaking german now much more better. https://preply.com/en/german-by-skype Now I’m looking for more opportunities to imrove my language speaking skills.

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