I’m so tired of people crying out that “learning German is so hard and so time consuming” you basically hear those guys and girls everywhere on the Internet and you have to wonder: what the heck are they doing wrong? German is one of the easiest languages to learn if you are already familiar with English and if you’re reading this, I’m pretty sure you are at least moderately familiar with it, otherwise this is just a random string of characters to you and you don’t know what on Earth I’m talking about anyway.
The German and English languages have a lot in common, due to the fact that they share the same Anglo-Saxon language base. Grammar rules are almost the same, they have many look-alike words and although German may seem a bit “rougher”, with more focus on consonants, that barrier can be easily overcome after a few language lessons. If English is your mother tongue, ironically, it will be slightly harder to get a good grip on learning German, since all your grammar rules are natural and have never really been “learnt”, but rather acquired through practice. Someone that has learnt English as a second language, will find it a lot easier to learn German afterwards (or vice versa) since these basic rules have already been assimilated the hard way.
The trick to making the German language learning process easy is to keep everything simple and fun. Yes, those two ingredients, simple and fun, make a great language learning soup. Start out slow even if you’re an adult, start out with “children techniques”. Learn the basic words, numbers, colors, months, days and so forth and familiarize yourself with the writing style, pronunciation and try to find links between these words and their English counterparts (what does the “Montag” day of the week look similar to in English? Etc). The natural progression in any language learning process is to get the grip on some grammar rules after you’ve accustomed yourself with the language through the basic words. Like I said above, this will be easy for an English speaker.
Next up, work on increasing vocabulary in German. Use language games, flashcards, mnemonics and everything in between that can stick a word to a picture. The word-picture combination is a great way to memorize words as they will be absorbed faster by your brain, they’re fun and most importantly, your brain will hardly forget the picture, leaving you with a sidewalk to the word in case you forget it.
One last thing worth noting: this is a general tip but it applies great to learning German. Don’t forget to revise what you’ve learnt, otherwise you will just assimilate new stuff and forget a good part of what you learnt earlier. If possible, try to expand what you learned earlier and not go for a different subject (for example, if you just learn the basic words in the “vegetables” field, try working your way from there to the “kitchen” or “farming” fields so you’ll still use the words you assimilated earlier). Make sure you don’t over-revise either. It won’t hurt, but you will lose precious time for nothing and that time is better spent to improve vocabulary, focus on the grammar or working on pronunciation and spelling.
I’ve seen some disputes as to whether or not “natural language learning” is beneficial or not. It involves learning a language through direct contact with it, instead of taking it step by step. For example, watching a TV show in German, reading a book in German or simply hearing two people speak the language is considered natural learning. The advantage of natural learning is that you can easily grasp new words out of the context. If you understand 70% of what a person is saying, you’ll be able to decipher the other 30% and what those particular words mean by a natural deduction. This is a great way to add words to your vocabulary and if you can’t get a new word out of the context, or you’re not sure what it means, simply write it down and check the dictionary for it later.
The disadvantage of this method is related mostly to TV shows, audio tapes and so forth (less with books and magazines): sometimes the speakers will talk a German dialect or they’ll talk with an accent, making it very hard for you to learn anything constructive from them. That’s why you should always choose the shows or audio tapes that feature someone talking “clean” German as much as possible.
Increase your German language vocabulary at German lessons at Internet Polyglot by playing online games