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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.

6 Reasons to Learn a Language Before You Travel

6 Reasons to Learn a Language Before You Travel

There are plenty of destinations where you can get by with English, but sometimes you want to do better than just ‘get by’. Here are 6 reasons you should learn the basics of the language of your next trip destination.

What are the 6 reasons you should learn the basics of the language of your next trip destination?

1. You will be able to discover your destination better than other tourists.
Getting by is one thing, but actually experiencing a trip abroad is quite another. No amount of guidebooks and online research can compensate for a basic lack of language ability. Speaking the language of your destination permits you to explore that destination beyond the regular tourist traps. Your language skills will not only allow you to dig into all the hidden gems of your destination, but they will also allow you to mingle with the locals to get a true experience on your holiday. Think of it this way: you’re not restricted to talking to the people at the tourist desk anymore.

2. Knowing how to communicate with local police or medical personnel can be life-saving.
Before you leave for your destination, make sure you learn how to ask for help in that destination’s local tongue. Do you know how to ask the waiter if this dish has peanuts in it? Or tell your host family that you’re allergic to fish? Can you tell the local doctor where it hurts? Moreover, an awareness of an environment improves your chance of remaining safe inside it. For example, walking around a busy marketplace, dazzled by an unfamiliar language, signs and accents will instantly render any tourist a more attractive mark for pickpockets. Communicating with other people, asking questions and looking confident will make you look like a semi-local yourself, and will ward off potential thieves.

Click here for German Survival Phrases that will help you in almost every situation

3. It helps you relax.
Traveling is much less stressful when you understand what that announcement at the airport was saying, or if this bus line reaches your hotel. These things stress you out when traveling and they disappear when you understand the language. This allows you to focus on planning your trip in a better, easier way.

Speaking the language can provide you with a way to get to know people you’d never otherwise have the opportunity to speak with.

4. Speaking the language can provide you with a way to get to know people you’d never otherwise have the opportunity to speak with.
Sometimes those relationships turn into friendships, and other times they’re nothing more than a lively conversation. Either way, as Nelson Mandela said: “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.” When you approach someone – even staff at a store or restaurant – with English, rather than their own language, an invisible divide has already been erected. Making even a small effort to communicate in the language of the place you’re visiting can go a long way and you’ll find many more doors open up to you as a result.

Click here for the Top 25 German Questions you need to know to start a conversation with anyone

If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.

5. You’ll be a better ambassador for your country.
If we’re honest with ourselves, we know very little about other countries and cultures, especially the local politics. And what we do know is often filtered to us by the media, which tends to represent only certain interests. When you can speak the local language, you’re able to answer questions that curious locals have about your country and culture. Are you frustrated with how your country is presented in global news? Are you embarrassed by your country’s leaders and want to make it clear that not everyone is like that where you’re from? This is a very good opportunity to share your story with people who have no one else to ask. We all have a responsibility to be representatives of the place we come from.

6. Learning another language can fend off Alzheimer’s, keep your brain healthy and generally make you smarter.
For more information, check out this blog post about the 5 Benefits of Learning a New Language.

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year From GermanPod101.com!

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year from everyone here at GermanPod101.com! We’re grateful to have listeners just like you, and we’re eagerly waiting for the upcoming year to learn German together!

And when the New Year comes around, be sure to make a resolution to study German with GermanPod101.com!

Have a healthy and happy holiday season.

From the GermanPod101.com team!

Soccer craze in Germany! 2

Germany won last night 3:2 against Turkey, after a very spannend (exciting) match. Both Mannschaften (teams) played exceedingly well. Of course LOTS of people were watching, many of them at public viewing places, so they could share the Erfahrung (experience) with other fans. One of the largest public viewings was in Berlin between the Brandenburger Tor (Brandenburg Gate) and Yitzhak-Rabin-Straße. 500,000 people could fit there - and already one hour before the match that limit was reached and further fans could not be accomodated. Can you imagine that? A tenth of the Bevölkerung (population) of Berlin’s larger metropolitan area was there to see the match, one hour before it even started!

Also a lot of people were probably watching the match in their local Kneipe (pub) or on their TV - public television broadcast the match live, though with some Sendestörungen (disruptions of the transmission).

Anyway, now Germany will face either Spain or Russia in the finals. The Gegner (opponent) is decided tonight, and the big match will be on Sunday. If you are at all into soccer, don’t miss this! Of course the best thing to do for your German is to watch the match with German commentary - after you have studied Advanced Audio Blog #6 for some basic vocabulary.

German: one word at a time

Welcome!

This new category of blog posts will help you gradually improve your German by mingling German words with the English blog text (with translations in brackets). It is a very painless way of learning, much less tiring than reading an entire text in German, and you can easily include it in your schedule because it doesn’t take much time. The posts will be about learning German, living in Germany, topics of German news or any kind of interesting observation really. The posts may also include short examples of real authentic German language, for example quotations or newspaper excerpts.

Let me know what you think of this idea! I hope this blog will become a very useful and entertaining way for you to add some German to your life!