Learning German is similar to learning most other languages. You must learn new grammar rules (sometimes totally different from your native language), new vocabulary, a new logic, and of course, you will have to practice a lot. But if you really want to, you will learn to read and write in German, you will understand spoken German, and you will even learn to speak German.
It’s not so easy, but not so hard either.
Sometimes you will have the feeling that you’re improving your German very quickly. At other times, you will feel that your learning has become blocked. Do not blame yourself; this is natural. Take it step by step, and take as much time as you need. Some parts of German are harder to master than are other parts. But if you trust in your skills and work as hard as you can, you will make it.
Immerse yourself in the German culture.
The German culture is rich, amazingly rich. The German language is spoken in several European countries (Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, and Luxembourg), so that German culture is diverse. The German culture has much to offer in music, classic and modern art, architecture, plays and cinema, and written literature. Plunging yourself into the German culture (reading about it, discovering its music and movies, etc.) will increase your motivation to learn the German language.
Live the language.
The best way to learn German is to live for a time in a country where it is spoken. In this way you can practice using German in its daily context and in the way that native speakers use the language. Of course, this may not be practical for you. If it is not, then watch as much German TV and movies as possible. German TV offers plenty of hilarious talk shows, deep and beautiful intellectual movies, and some very cool bands like Tomte and Die Sterne. Also try to watch news programs that are broadcast in German.
Learn with a friend.
What is more exciting than challenging people and being challenged yourself? Learning German with a friend is a fun experience that will provide you with another perspective other than your own. It’s really fun to make up little games as you study with a friend. For example, the first one to master a certain grammar rule wins a free ice cream. Learning with a friend is always stimulating, and you will motivate each other to do better and better.
Use what you learn.
Don’t wait until you master German before you begin to use the language. At any point during your learning, practice whatever you have learned at that point with as many people as you can. If you live in or visit a German-speaking country for a time, opportunities to do this will be all around you. If not, see if you can join a German social group in your community. Go to a German restaurant and try ordering in German. You’ll know how well you did by what arrives at your table.
Learning German is like learning anything new. Practice makes perfect.
This article contributed by Marie-Helene Lapina of DeutschAkademie.