German appears to be torture for people who begin studying it after English. They deal with incorrect word placement, articles, separable prefixes, and situations that affect endings. In the end, it comes out that the term “Mädchen” (a girl) is neuter. It just breaks your brain!
1. Learning the appropriate items at first is crucial
Words from level A1 will often appear at later stages, so it is important to learn them first. They usually make up the semantic base of the texts.
Once you have learned most of the basic words, you will already be able to understand the meaning of “Der Spiegel” (the popular German publisher), which is actually a great success! 🙂
2. Hang stickers of new words if you spend a lot of time at home (sorted by color, of course)
In the areas where you spend the most time, stickers should be shown at eye level. The phrases you write on your kitchen cabinet doors, office wall, or refrigerator doors are the ones you pick up the quickest. There ought to be an abundance of papers.
Hang word lists or stickers around the house. Even if your family or friends think it’s weird!
3. Practice paying attention to and memorizing the translation and meaning of prefixes and suffixes
When learning German, it is essential to pay attention to the prefixes and suffixes that are added to words, as they can significantly impact their meaning. This is especially true for verbs, where the addition of a prefix can change the entire meaning of the word.
To practice paying attention to and memorizing prefixes and suffixes, it is helpful to start with some common examples. Here are a few examples of German prefixes and suffixes and their meanings:
- “ver-” – this prefix indicates a negative or opposite meaning. For example, “kaufen” means “to buy,” but “verkaufen” means “to sell.”
- “be-” – this prefix often indicates a change of state. For example, “kommen” means “to come,” but “bekommen” means “to receive.”
- “ent-” – this prefix often indicates a removal or undoing of something. For example, “decken” means “to cover,” but “entdecken” means “to uncover.”
- “-ung” – this suffix indicates a process or an action. For example, “singen” means “to sing,” but “das Singen” means “the singing.”
- “-heit” – this suffix indicates a state or condition. For example, “glücklich” means “happy,” but “Glücklichkeit” means “happiness.”
- “-lich” – this suffix often indicates a characteristic or quality. For example, “freundlich” means “friendly,” but “Kinderfreundlichkeit” means “child-friendliness.”
4. Using your visual memory to remember content is the simplest method
In German, every noun has a gender: feminine, masculine, or neuter. Remembering the gender of a word can be challenging, especially for beginners. However, a helpful trick is to use color coding to associate each gender with a particular color.
For example, you can highlight all feminine words in red, masculine words in blue, and neuter words in green. This strategy can be highly effective for remembering the gender of words. Even years later, you may still recall the colors associated with certain words, such as “der Löffel” (the spoon) being blue, “die Gabel” (the fork) being red, and “das Messer” (the knife) being green.
By using color coding to help remember the genders of German words, you can improve your vocabulary retention and make it easier to learn and use the language.
5. Write anything you wish to remember and comprehend by hand
Write down everything you want to remember and understand by hand. It is important to clearly indicate the gender of each noun, the plural form, and the verb-preposition combination.
By taking notes by hand and being precise in your record-keeping, you can improve your memory and understanding of German grammar. This method can be especially helpful for memorizing noun genders, which can be tricky for non-native speakers. Additionally, noting the plural forms and verb-preposition combinations can help you master more advanced aspects of the language. So, grab a pen and paper, and start taking notes to enhance your German language learning!
6. The gender of each new word should be grouped together
When learning German, it is important to pay attention to the gender of each noun. One helpful strategy is to group together nouns with the same gender by using different colors on separate pieces of paper or columns.
For example, you can use green paper or a green column to represent all the nouns that are neuter. You may notice that neuter nouns often have similar characteristics, such as a verb in the infinitive, like “das Essen” (the food), starting with “Ge-” like “Gespräch” (conversation) and “Gesetz” (law), or having “-s” or significantly altered endings in the plural, like “Kaktus” (cactus) and “Kakteen” (cacti).
By grouping together nouns with the same gender, you can more easily recognize patterns and remember the gender of new words. This can help you learn German more efficiently and effectively.
7. The plural form has to be inserted right after the new words
When learning German, it is important to learn the plural form of new nouns along with their singular form. You can use the following conventions to form the plural:
- Add “-e” to the end of the noun for many masculine and neuter nouns. For example, “der Satz” (the sentence) becomes “die Sätze” in the plural.
- Add “-s” to the end of the noun for some neuter nouns. For example, “das Messer” (the knife) becomes “die Messers” in the plural.
- Add “-n” to the end of the noun for many feminine nouns. For example, “die Gabel” (the fork) becomes “die Gabeln” in the plural.
It is important to note that you should always include the plural form of a noun when learning a new word, rather than treating the singular and plural forms as independent entities. Trying to memorize the plural form separately from the singular form can be confusing and less effective.
By learning the plural form of a noun along with its singular form and using the correct conventions for forming plurals, you can better understand and use German nouns in their appropriate contexts.
8. Be careful with cases (“mich” und “mir”)
When learning German, it’s important to be careful with cases, particularly when using pronouns like “mich” and “mir.” Many people are aware of the importance of cases, but not everyone realizes that this rule also applies to verbs.
Specifically, when using a verb in German, the case that follows depends on whether the verb expresses or implies motion. If it does, then the accusative case is usually required. If not, then the dative case is more appropriate.
For example, the accusative case is used when the question “where” applies to the action, such as in the phrase “denk an mich” (think about me). In this case, the action involves motion towards the object, so the accusative case is used.
On the other hand, the dative case is used when the ultimate point of the movement is more significant than the manner in which it occurs. This case is also used when the question “where” applies to the object of the verb. For example, “sag mir” means “tell me,” in which the most significant thing in the situation is the person being told, so the dative case is used.
Understanding and using the appropriate case can be challenging, especially for beginners. However, by paying attention to the verbs and the implied or expressed motion, you can improve your understanding and usage of cases in German.
9. You should take advantage of the fact that German word construction is comparable to English
When learning German, it can be helpful to take advantage of the fact that German word construction is similar to English. This means that you can often use English words as a reference when trying to translate German words.
One helpful strategy is to choose the translation in the dictionary that is closest to how the German word is formed. For example, if you come across the German word “grundlegend,” which means “fundamental,” you can recognize that it is formed by combining “grund” (base) and “legend” (legend). By using this knowledge, you can more easily translate the word into English.
Similarly, if you encounter the German word “überschütten,” which means “to spill over,” you can recognize that it is formed by combining “über” (over) and “schütten” (to pour). By recognizing these components, you can more easily identify the meaning of the word and choose an appropriate translation.
By using the similarities between German and English word construction to your advantage, you can more effectively translate and understand German words.
10. Make an effort to comprehend and retain the prepositions’ less evident meanings
When learning German, it’s important to pay attention to the meanings of prepositions, even those that may not be immediately obvious. Sometimes, prepositions can have similar meanings to prefixes in English.
English grammar books can be a helpful resource for learning about prepositions in German. For example, one book we came across defines the preposition “an-” as denoting immediate touch with an item. This can be helpful to remember when using phrases like “das Bild hängt an der Wand” (the picture is hanging on the wall), as it can be thought of as “touching the wall.” On the other hand, if something is “auf” (on) the wall, it is not in immediate touch with the wall and is more like floating in the air.
By taking the time to understand the less obvious meanings of prepositions and using resources like grammar books, you can improve your understanding and usage of prepositions in German. This can help you communicate more effectively and accurately in the language.
When learning German cases, it can be overwhelming to try to memorize all the different examples at once. It’s important to not get discouraged and instead focus on learning one case at a time.
The accusative case is a good place to start since it causes the least amount of problems and is commonly used. After about a month and a half of studying, you can start to focus on learning the dative case. Once you feel comfortable and understand both the accusative and dative cases, you can move on to learning the genitive case.
By taking the time to learn and understand one case at a time, you can avoid feeling overwhelmed and improve your mastery of the German language. With practice and dedication, you can become proficient in all three cases and communicate effectively in German.
12. Begin reading books that are not level-appropriate from the first day you learn the language
To improve your German language skills, it’s recommended to start reading books early on, even if they’re not at your level. You can use a special approach of reading one line in German and one in English during the first few months, then move on to whole paragraphs. After 3-5 months of immersion, progress to level A2 and read articles on topics like dating, cooking, sports, and lifestyle advice.
As you improve, gradually move on to more complex texts and longer articles, but be sure to find articles with easy-to-understand language. Das Magazin is a good option for reading material, but Der Spiegel is too difficult.
Some people suggest reading aloud to improve pronunciation, but the author disagrees. Instead, reading aloud can help you get used to your voice and exercise the muscles you need to develop proper pronunciation.
13. Reading, writing, speaking, and listening are distinct abilities that need various types of training
When learning a new language like German, it’s important to remember that reading, writing, speaking, and listening are distinct abilities that require different types of training. Writing is a particularly useful way to practice a new language, especially in the early stages of learning.
To improve your writing skills, try writing more essays in German. Even if you don’t typically have written assignments, consider giving yourself additional written homework assignments. You don’t need to write a lot, but writing often can be very helpful in improving your language skills.
14. Do some planning and reviews
Attempt to plan a review once a month (or once a week, if you have the discipline), and put in your notebook or personal dictionary all the new words you came across in the printouts and the textbook.
You’re not required to learn them. Read it once and underline any terms you may want to use more than once (in short, look for the basic vocabulary). For this, by the way, it will also be convenient to use the Langavia Personal Dictionary.
15. At first, attempt to learn more adjectives that give a phrase additional context and relationships
The more adjectives in a sentence, the more understandable and colorful your speech will become!
16. Make daily use of the language
You may do it every day for as little as ten minutes. It doesn’t matter how; it doesn’t matter whether you write, read, or listen to bad German hip-hop (you can learn a lot of sweary new words from there, if you’re interested, of course).
These are prepositions, particles, and other words (also, yet, already, with, because, everywhere, to). They’ll assist you in getting by with your modest but proud vocabulary.
17. Write down and learn additional stable expressions in the stages that follow
Learning stable expressions is important when learning a new language like German because they can help you communicate more confidently and quickly. To improve your ability to use these expressions, it’s recommended to write them down and learn them as you progress in your studies. By doing so, you can better remember and apply these useful phrases in real-world situations.
18. Continue reading in the language if you want to preserve it
If you want to preserve your German language skills, it’s important to keep reading in the language. To improve your vocabulary, it’s recommended to make a deliberate effort to type out new words that you encounter in your reading. Additionally, it’s important to always consult the dictionary, even if you feel that you understand the meaning of a word from context. By double-checking the definitions of unfamiliar words in the dictionary, you can ensure that you are using them correctly and expanding your vocabulary.
19. Avoid learning German if you don’t want to learn it
Don’t use force to accomplish anything at all. Wait until you’re feeling motivated.
Learning new vocabulary
This article highlights numerous German phrases and expressions that you may not be familiar with. Merely reading them once may not be enough to fully comprehend them.
To master these terms, we recommend that you add any new words you come across to your personal dictionary and learn them thoroughly. For instance, you can create language cards that feature the following format:
Click the image to add it to your dictionary
Regularly working on expanding your vocabulary is crucial. Ignoring this activity could hinder your progress in learning a foreign language. Remember, consistent effort is the key to eventually mastering a new language.
If you want to learn German at a decent level, you need a workable study plan that allows you to understand the language logically and stay motivated.
You now have all the tips you need to start learning German effectively. However, if you’re struggling with building a learning system or maintaining motivation, we have a tutorial guide that can help.
Our guide provides a working approach to learning any foreign language, including German. It’s free and offers practical tips that you can start using today.
Click the “get it now” button below to access the guide and start improving your German language skills.