A logical language, German resembles English, Dutch, and Afrikaans. With almost 95 million native speakers worldwide and roughly 13 million L2 speakers, it can be helpful to learn German if you plan to visit Switzerland, Austria, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Belgium, and, of course, Germany. While picking up any new language is a challenge, German helps learners through an orderly syntax. If you’ve decided to consolidate your language skills, or you want to learn German online from scratch, we have all the tips and tricks to get you on your way.
Like almost anything else in life, you will need a purpose that will keep you motivated enough to learn German online. Try to answer this question: why do you want to learn this particular language? Drafting up a list of goals might help you put things into perspective and enable you not to lose sight of the main objective.
You might want to start learning German because you’re simply passionate about languages and you want to learn more. Or you might want to be able to talk to your Swiss colleagues, to find a job in Germany or be able to read the original works of Kafka. Whatever it is, make sure to write it down. You’ll be surprised to discover how motivated you can be on day one, only to completely forget about your driving force on the second day.
Now that you know why you want to learn German online, what’s the next step? Setting out to learn a new language can be intimidating, but a smooth start could set the tone for the whole learning experience.
1. Vowels and consonants
German does resemble English, however, the vowels and consonant are different in the former. Get accustomed to these so that you can get the hang of the correct pronunciation from the beginning. Use Youtube video tutorials to help you with the sounds. Make sure to check out the extra letters in the German alphabet (Ä, Ö, Ü, ß) and familiarize your brain and tongue with them by uttering them while you’re listening to audio tutorials.
2. Basic words
Now that you know how to pronounce them, it’s time to move on to the simplest words. Choose a few from each category (verbs, nouns, adjectives) and also some common words used on a daily basis: “please”, “thanks”, “good morning”, “goodbye”, “yes” and “no”. Move up to phrases like “my name is” and “she is there”. Duolingo is an amazing platform for learning German online both for beginners and intermediate users.
3. Sentence topic
You’ll want to get a rough idea about how German sentences are constructed. Take a look at the word order and try to make a connection between them and your mother tongue. English speakers will find German very similar to their native language, hence sentence topic won’t be too difficult.
A basic framework is essential for furthering the study of German. Only then you can follow up with more learning.
There’s more to nouns than just remembering what they mean. Beginners will need to learn the genders and case systems. Don’t venture too far when you’re choosing the words or nouns to work with. Stick to basic words in order to improve your vocabulary while you’re still consolidating your grammar. Choose household objects, common places, animals and professions.
The same rule applies to verbs. Before learning how to say “synthesize”, you might want to look at “to be”, “to have”, “to do”, “to say” and “to walk”. Exercise conjugations and expand your vocabulary a little more every day.
To make your German sentences more complex, tackle adjectives. These also follow a case system, so pay attention to the basics before you start learning colors.
To be sure you don’t lose track of the new words you’re learning, you can use Anki. This tool will help you in your endeavor to learn German online for free. It was created as a flash card program and it will help you exercise remembering words. You’ll be shown a word either in German or your native language and you’ll be given time to decide if you know its meaning. Pressing Answer will prompt Anki to show you the translation. Pressing the Right button lets the program know the word was too easy, while the Left button will make the word reappear soon.
Passive learning can only take you so far. If you’ve decided to learn German online, you have access to a slew of tools and interactive courses to help you assimilate the knowledge and practice it at the same time. The best thing about learning anything online is that you can use various resources. LiveMocha, for example, puts you in touch with native speakers that are willing to lend a helping hand and fuel your desire to learn more.
Duolingo has structured lessons that were created by the community itself. You can learn and practice German through games while you’re on your way to work or when you’re waiting for an appointment. Duolingo is not only great for adults, it can also be used by kids thanks to its intuitive design and simple exercises.
Don’t underestimate the power of movies, news, blogs or magazines. Any contact with German will help your brain get accustomed with the new language and it will make it easier for you to find your words next time you speak to a native.
Reading and writing
Don’t neglect any of these if you want to nail pronunciation and spelling. Read anything in German that you can get your hands on: labels, newspapers, blog posts, short news. Watch German movies without subtitles or with German subtitles. This helps you associate the words you hear with the correct spelling. Put pen to paper and exercise writing. You’ll memorize new words and grammar rules faster if you write things down. If possible, make a German pen pal. Not only is it exciting to receive letters, it’s also a unique way to practice your German skills and not lose interest in learning.
Want to learn German online fast? Start speaking German from day one. HelloTalk is a nifty smartphone app that lets you connect with native speakers straight from your phone. You can send voice messages and chat with people from Germany or Austria and meet new friends that might ask you to come visit one day. The app provides access to learning more than one hundred languages (including German) and puts you in touch with native speakers on the spot. You can filter your search by location and you might be surprised by finding native German speakers close to you. At the same time, HelloTalk allows you to help others learn.
If you want to learn German online for free, there are plenty of resources that will help you in your process. Whether you’re a beginner who is still getting accustomed to the alphabet or an intermediate user who is looking to consolidate grammar and basic rules, you can use a combination of Youtube tutorials and Duolingo exercises to improve your skills. However, don’t forget that learning a new language involves speaking, writing, listening and reading. This might seem daunting, but getting a little bit of everything in your exercizing routine will get you on the right path to mastering German.