GermanPod101
GermanPod101.com Blog
Learn German with Free Daily
Audio and Video Lessons!
Start Your Free Trial 6 FREE Features

3 Ways to Practice and Master German

3 Ways to practice and master German

When it comes to foreign languages German sometimes gets a bad rap. People are quick to highlight the most difficult parts of the language and write it off as being next to impossible to learn. There are some unique features of the German language that can be challenging to native English speakers, but that need not scare new learners away.

With the right focus, and a little persistence you can start speaking the German language correctly and comfortably. In this post we’ll take a look at how to master three of the most difficult parts of the German language.

Why it’s important to pinpoint the hard parts of learning German

As a new German learner the complexity of the language can seem pretty intimidating. It doesn’t help that everything about the language is new. On top of that you’re hit with German grammar which is not only new (compared to English), but also very complex.

After you have a foundation of phrases and basic words you’ll want specifically focus time and energy into practicing the difficult aspects of the language. This will help you focus your efforts and see quicker gains in your learning. To don’t want your German learning to feel like spinning plates.

So without further delay let’s take a look at what can be three of the common pain points in the German language.

3 Ways to practice and master German

1) Articles

Articles are arguably the hardest part of German to master, but they aren’t something you need to be afraid of. Yes their difficult and yes there are a lot exceptions; but don’t let the grizzly reputation of German articles keep you from learning German.

A great way to master the articles is to learn and practice all German nouns with their appropriate article. This will keep you in the habit of using the correct articles over and over again until you start to feel which ones go with which words.

If you think about it this isn’t far removed from how native Germans learned their articles. German children don’t sit at home memorizing word charts or tables. They spend their childhood using and practicing the articles until they know them by heart.

Another great way beginners can practice articles is to listen to German audio (like a podcast) and pick out as many nouns as they can, making note of the articles that are used. Hearing the article/noun combination in the context of a real conversation will help the correct pairing stick in your mind.

Don’t be afraid of making mistakes when you practice with native speakers. You will inevitably misplace a few ( or a lot) of articles when you first start speaking German. Let those you practice with correct you. Take the feedback and keep the conversation going. You might make the same mistake 20 times but after the 21st you’ll never forget the correct way to say something.

2) Cases

Grammatical cases can be a hard concept for native English speakers to grasp, at least at first. The first time I realized I had to change nouns based on how they were used in a sentence it just about blew my mind (and not in a good way).

For those who may not know, grammatical cases are when nouns change form based on their position in a sentence. In a noun is the subject of a sentence it will be said one way. If it’s the object (the thing acted upon) it will be another, and if it shows possession still another, and so on. There are a total of four German cases.

There’s a temptation to throw in the towel or become discouraged after the first time you fumble your way through your first German sentences. Don’t be discouraged. Keep your head up because there is a method to overcome the madness.

In addition to your regular German learning regimen set aside a time to specifically practice grammatical cases. During this time pick one case and practice making sentences with it (you can write them out or practice them with a partner). Make sure you receive some sort of feedback on your work so you can correct your mistakes.

Just as you shouldn’t be afraid to make mistakes when practicing German articles, you also shouldn’t be scared to make them while learning the grammatical cases.

Practice your chosen case until you’re comfortable with it, then move onto the next one. When you focus on one case at a time it takes a lot of the pressure off. You can relax and hone your skills quickly because you have less rules to think about.

3 Ways to practice and master German

3) Breakdown German pronunciation

Everyone knows German words can get long. Native speakers can also be hard to understand when they talk at normal speed. When words are spoken together sounds and syllables can morph or get dropped, confusing those new to the language.

One of the best ways to develop your listening skills and correct your German accent is to simply break everything down. Start with the letters and sounds of the German alphabet. Focus on the sounds that are the most difficult for you and practice pronouncing them while comparing your voice to native speakers.

Pay attention to common diphthongs (paired vowel sounds) and consonant clusters. Nailing down the correct pronunciation of each will be essential to developing your accent.

Once you get the basics of the alphabet down move onto phrases from dialogues or German music and TV. (GermanPod101’s playback feature is great for this). Select a phrase from your German audio. Then break the words down into their individual letters and syllables. Pronounce the syllables one by one and gradually link them together into words. Once you’re comfortable with the individual words try listening to how the native speaker says the entire phrase.

Most likely there will be some words or parts of the phrase that sound a little different from the way you would read or say them individually. When you notice this do your best to imitate the native speaker. Focus more on how the sounds link together and not only the individual words. This will go a long way toward helping you both pronounce and understand German.

Conclusion

German seems much less intimidating once you break it up into its individual parts. Focusing on the problem points in your learning helps you work more efficiently and effectively. After a while the language that once seemed so foreign will start to feel more natural. Just remember to be persistent and enjoy the journey toward fluency! Sometimes it’s a bumpy road but it is always worthwhile.

101 spots! Click here to PICK the BEST German Deals of 2017!