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.
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.
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.
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.
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!