Does learning German feel difficult to you? Do not Despair. There is Hope.

German is actually much easier than you might think

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Does learning German seem difficult to you?. Nicole Waring-Getty Images

I don’t think it’s the German language’s fault that you are struggling with it, nor is it your fault. Over the years, I've had quite a few students and have spotted the same problems and mistakes again and again. I realized that I had made them all myself before. Luckily those times are over and I'd like to share what I have learned from those mistakes so that you can fully enjoy your German learning.

Artificial vs Natural Learning 

The first time most of us come in touch with a foreign language or at least with the need to study it, is in school. But learning a language in school is like learning to swim in one of those Japanese public swimming pools. It is simply an artificial situation and all efforts to make learning a language in a group worth everyone’s while are pretty much bound to fail. They call it the conversational or interactive approach. But isn’t using a language always interactive? And is a classroom really the right place to practice a language? Wouldn’t it suffice to instruct learners on how to learn it own their own and how to find a way to put it to good use?

Overhaul your Learning Techniques 

Most of us get by in school as our brains are learning and survival machines. But only rarely have I come across someone who has actually learned how to learn a language. We all still often rely on those techniques that we have acquired or developed on our own in those times because they simply worked well enough.

And it is these learning strategies that you might still use to learn German nowadays. But with the difference that nowadays it is not to improve your grades or to make your parents proud, but to deal with a real live situation. There are but there are two elemental factors that make a significant difference when you are learning German.

The Main Keys to Success in German Language Learning

The first thing that I demand from every learner is that they will take an exam at the end of our cooperation. And although this goal is just part of their success, it sets a very clear direction, enables us to develop a structure for our actions and sets a measurable time limit to our efforts. Without a clear goal and structure, any language will simply be overwhelming. There are thousands of words to learn, the grammar, and German grammar, in particular, seems impenetrable. When we try to speak we feel like there’s goo coming out of our mouths. 

Setting up an exam date right away does wonders for your learning. The problem is that we usually have no idea how long it will take us to reach a certain level. And that’s why I always recommend…

Get a Guide

You are not the first to learn another language and there have been many men and women pulling their hair out over the question of how we can learn a new language the most efficient way. Some pulled a bit stronger and came up with miraculous methods which very often claim to teach you a language with very little effort and/or in very little time. Needless to say, you’d better refer to your "gesunder menschenverstand," your common sense, when you come across anything that seems too good to be true.

Good teachers are among the most undervalued people in this world. If you find a good teacher, you have an invaluable companion by your side. She will fight off the wolves, pick up the pebbles and thorns from your barefoot path and get you to just go a few meters farther when you waver and doubt whether you can reach your goal which still seems so far away. She is your walking cane, the whistled tune on your lips and the umbrella when it rains. 

Of course one could also learn German on one’s own with one's proven techniques but I can state that from my experience, learning German with a tutor and with a clear goal makes a big difference. You will still have a lot of work to do but you will suffer significantly less.