Learn German: Learning German Guide for international students

Have you always wanted to learn German? This step-by-step guide helps you learn to speak German quickly, even if you're a complete beginner.

German is not a difficult language

Yes, you’ve read that correctly. German is not at all a difficult language to learn. While you may have come across the word “Rindfleischetikettierungsueberwachungsaufgabenuebertragungsgesetz” at least once in your life and it may have shaken your mind, you’ll be delighted to know that this 63-character word has been dropped by the EU.

It is true that learning a new language takes a lot of time and effort and the same fundamentals apply to the German language. However, if you stay committed towards your goal and give your best shot, you’ll be able to learn the language fast. Why worry when we are here? We got lots of interesting tips and tricks in store for you in this guide. Keep reading to uncover the secrets to learning Germany language in a fast and simple way.

Fact: Research shows that Native English speakers can learn German faster than people speaking other languages.

10 reasons why you should learn the German language

We will never run out of reasons why you should learn the German language. Here are 15 reasons why you should do it:

  1. German ranks among the top ten commonly spoken languages in the world.
  2. There is not much difference between German and English. Numerous German words sound like English words such as Finger = finger, Haus = House, Schule = school. Did you know – German and English belong to the same family?
  3.  German is the second most widely used scientific language across the globe.
  4.  Out of all the books that are published in the world every year, 18% of the books are published in the German language.
  5. Several written pieces of Philosophy, Physics, Chemistry, Engineering, Literature, etc. are written in the German language and continue to be written in German language.
  6. The economy of Germany ranks at the top in Europe and fourth worldwide.
  7. Most of the native speakers in Europe speak German.
  8. If you are a foreign student who wishes to pursue higher education in Germany, you may be required to clear the German proficiency test in some of the universities of your choice.
  9. Most of the renowned international corporations are in Germany.
  10.  German is the language of innovators and inventors. 

Fact: Both, German and English are a part of the family of Germanic languages (a group of Indo-European languages).

Learning the German language – how long will it take?

If you speak a native language that is not a part of the Indo-European languages group, it may take you a little more time to learn the German language as compared to native English speakers. So, hold your horses and don’t lose patience if you are taking more time to learn German as compared to your friends. Prepare yourself for obstacles and keep going strong.

No specific duration outline can define how quickly you’ll learn the German language. Consistency is the key here. If you think you’ll be able to speak German is a couple of days, that’s not happening. Some people learn the German language really quickly as compared to other because of their dedication and efforts.

If you’re looking forward to becoming a pro in the German language and speaking it fluently, remember that you’ll require a few years of practice.

Beginning the journey towards the German language – how to start?

It’s best to start everything with the basics. Therefore, let’s begin with the basic of the German language, i.e. alphabets.

The number of letters in German is similar to the number of letter in the English language – 26. There are a few letters in German that have different pronunciation – ä,ö,ü, and β. You will not find them in the English language.

The first step towards learning the alphabets is knowing the pronunciation by heart. Use this table to identify the pronunciation of various alphabets in German.

Alphabet

Pronunciation

A

Ah

B

Beh

C

Tseh

D

Deh

E

Eh

F

Eff

G

Geh

H

Hah

I

Ih

J

Yott

K

Kah

L

Ell

M

Emm

N

Enn

O

Oh

P

Peh

Q

Kuh

R

Err

S

Ess

T

The

U

Uh

V

Fau

W

Veh

X

Iks

Y

Ypsilon

Z

Tzett

The German grammar review

Well, the words “grammar” and “difficult” are synonymous. Whether it is English Grammar or German Grammar, it is bound to be difficult. However, if you want to obtain fluency in the German language, you must focus on the grammar part.

There are four types of cases in the German language – Nominative, Accusative, Dative, and Genitive.

Nominative Personal Pronouns

The subject in a sentence is denoted by certain forms of personal pronouns such as I, you, they, he, she, etc. Nominative personal pronouns in German are:

I = Ich

You = Du

She = Sie

He = Er

It = Es

We = Wir

You = Sie

They = Sie

Y’all = Ihr

 

Accusative Personal Pronouns

The object in a sentence is denoted by certain forms of personal pronouns such as me, him, her, them.

Me = Mich

Us = Uns

You = Dich

You = Sie

Him = Ihn

Her = Sie

It = Es

Them = Sie 

Dative Personal Pronouns

The indirect object in a sentence is denoted by certain forms of personal pronouns such as me, him, her, us, they.

Me = Mir

Us = Uns

You = Dir

Y´all = Euch 

You = Ihnen

Him = Ihm

Her = Ihr

It = Ihm

They = Ihnen

 

Genitive Personal Pronouns

Mine = Meiner

Yours = Deiner

His = Seiner

Hers = Ihrer 

Its = Seiner

Ours = Unser

Yours = Euer

Theirs = Ihrer

Yours (formal) = Ihrer

 

German Articles

The three articles are:
  1. For feminine nouns – die
  2. For masculine nouns – der
  3. For neutral gender – das

Tenses in German

There are six tenses in the German language:
  1. Prasens or the present tense
  2. Prateritum or the perfect tense
  3. Plusuamperfekt or the past perfect tense
  4. Futur I or the future tense
  5. Futur II or the future perfect plus tense – “will” and “have”

The use of ‘the’ in German

There are 16 different forms of ‘the’ in the German language based on gender and different cases.
Masculine Neutral Feminine Plural
Nominative Der Das Die Die
Accusative Den Das Die Die
Dative Dem Dem Der Den
Genitive Des Des Der Der

Common German phrases and expressions used in daily life

While it is important to know the German grammar rules inside-out, it is not a great idea to start with the complicated part. If you want to make the German language learning a joyful experience, it’s best to know the common phrases and expressions at the beginning of the learning cycle. Therefore, start with a part that is introductory and interesting, that’s how your German language learning will gain momentum. Simply knowing how to greet someone in the German language or saying thank you, can act as a big self-confidence booster and motivate you. We’ve put together a list of common German phrases and expression used in everyday life. They are simple to learn and remember.
Hello! Hallo!
How are you? Wie geht es dir?
Thank you! Danke!
Thank you very much! Vielen Dank!
I am fine! Mir geht es gut!
I am not doing well Mir geht es nicht gut
You’re welcome! Bitte sehr
Happy Birthday! Alles Gute zum Geburtstag
I am from Germany Ich komme aus Deutschland
Good morning! Guten Morgen!
Good night! Gute Nacht!
Good evening! Guten Abend!
My name is Sarah Ich heiße Sarah
What is your name? Wie heißen sie?
Bye! Tschüss
I am hungry Ich bin hungrig
You are late Du bist spät
Excuse me Entschuldigen Sie mich
Do you want water? Wollen Sie Wasser?
What do you want to eat? Was wollen Sie essen?
What do you want to drink? Was wollen Sie trinken?
Do you want to dance with me? Wollen Sie mit mir tanzen?
I cannot Ich kann nicht.
I must go Ich muss gehen.

It’s fun time – funny German words coming your way!

What’s learning without some fun? Like other languages, the German language also has a lot of funny words. In this section, we will be covering them one by one. Keep reading to have some fun learning German! Here’s a list of funny German words and their in-depth meaning in English.
Ohrwurm Ear Worm The term “Ear Worm” refers to a person who listens to a song in the morning and keeps humming it through the day.
Kummerspeck Grief Bacon The term “Grief Bacon” refers to a person who gains weight due to emotional overeating.
Weichei Soft Egg The term “Soft Egg” refers to a person who is cowardly and weak.
Sitzfleisch Seat Meat The term “Seat Meat” refers to a person who can sit in one place for hours together without getting bored.
Donnerbalken Thunder Beam The term “Thunder Beam” refers to a toilet.
Wildpinkler Wild Pee-er The term “Wild Pee-er” refers to someone who pees outside a toilet.
Durchfall Through Fall The term “Through Fall” means Diarrhea.
Brustwarze Breast Wart The term “Breast Wart” refers to a nipple.
Zahnfleisch Tooth Meat The term “Tooth Meat” refers to gums.
Kopfkino Head Cinema The term “Head Cinema” refers to someone who thinks about everything in depth.

Idioms in German

There are countless idioms in the German language. For instance, in English, we say that “Actions speak louder than words,” but there is no action that is speaking. It simply means that it is always better than acting on something than talking about it all the time. Such kind of idioms also exist in the German language, and we’ll be talking about some of them in this section. German idioms are simple expressions which mean something important. Therefore, learning some commonly used German idioms can help you express your thoughts in the German language.

Popular German slangs

You cannot expect the people of Germany to always be grammatically correct or talk in a professional tone with each other. Imagine, you’re walking down the beautiful streets of Berlin and finding it difficult to understand what people are talking about – their slangs!

To solve this problem, we’ve gathered some popular German slangs to make this task easy for you. Let’s look at them.

The vibrant German culture and people

Germany is popular for its rich heritage and culture. It’s a land of some of the greatest global events and renowned people in the world. With more than 81 million people residing in the country, Germany has become the second most popular country in Europe. A major chunk of the population, i.e., 91% of the people are German. The Turkish community forms the minority with a 2.4% share in the total population. 70% of the population is Christian, while 3.7% of the population is Muslim. The remaining population either does not follow any religion or belong to a religion other than Christianity or Islam. German people are very hard-working. They love perfection and don’t entertain any jokes while during serious work. Due to this, they sometimes come across as rude people which they actually aren’t. It is because of their undying love for food that Germany has so many traditional dishes to showcase. Beer is their lifeline, and you’ll be shocked to know that the annual consumption of beer per capita is 106 liters. The biggest German festivals are the Oktoberfest, a beer fest, and Berlin Film Festival, a fest where celebrities from the art and film industry come together to celebrate success.

Traditional German food

Germany is a home to a plethora of delicious traditional dishes and foods. How can you learn German without knowing everything that is dear to the Germans? Here are the top 10 German traditional foods. We bet you’ll feel hungry after reading about them!

Avoid these 8 German language mistakes to stay on the right path

When you start learning a new language, you will make mistakes. There’s no need to feel embarrassed about it as these mistakes will help you in the long run. When you start learning the German language, you’ll notice that you will tend to confuse a lot of things with your mother tongue or your native language. Some of the common mistakes will be your attempt to relate the German words to the words in your native language or the pronunciation. For instance, the German word “bekommen” sounds similar to “to become” in native English. However, its meaning is completely different. In German, bekommen means to get something. While many words might sound similar, it is not necessary that they have the same meaning. Keep this in mind while learning German!

Attention! If you want to learn German the right way, here are a few things that you must remember and avoid.

  1. The “Also” confusion

In the German language, “Also” does not mean the same as the also in the English language. The “German Also” means thus, therefore.

Here’s an example of the usage of “Also” in German

Es regnet. Also bliebe ich zu Haus.
It’s raining. Therefore, I am staying at home.

  1. The “Denn and Dann” confusion

“Dann” is an adverb and means “then”, while “Denn” is a conjunction and means “for” or “because.”

Here’s an example of the usage of “Denn” in German

Ich esse zu Mittag, dann werde ich ausgehen.
I am having lunch, then I will go out.

  1. The “Freund” case

There are two words for the word “Friend” in German, based on the gender. For male, it is “Freund” and for female it is “Freundin.”

The plural form of Freundin is “Freundinnen.” For more than one male or female friend, the word “Freunde” is used.

  1. The “Für and Vor” confusion

These similarly sounding prepositions have very different meanings. “Für” means “for” and “Vor” means “in front of/before.”

Here’s an example of the usage of “Für” and “Vor” in German

Ich habe gute Nachricht für Sie.

I have good news for you.

Vor dem Abendessen habe ich Wasser.

Before dinner I have water.

  1. The “Student and Schüler” difference

In German, “student” refers to someone studying in a university, while “schüler” refers to high-school or elementary school students.

Student (Male), Studentin (Female)
Schüler (Male), Schülerin (Female)

  1. Word-to-word translation

While learning German, you must remember that the structure of sentences in German may be different from the structure of the sentences in your native language while translating.

  1. The sound of the letter “z”

Instead of zed, “Z” is spelt as “ts” in German language.

  1. The umlauts “ü” and “ö”

These vowels are pronounced differently in German. There is no such pronunciation in the English language.

7 free apps to learn the German language quickly

With mobile learning taking over the e-learning space, learning the German language has become easier than ever before. There are several different German language learning apps using which you can learn German quickly and easily. However, you need to be consistent and efficient in your efforts. These free German language learning apps will help you improve your language skills. Let’s look at them one by one!
  1. Babbel – easy, fast, and fun
Using the Babbel app, you can learn the German language at your own speed. The lessons are in a multiple-choice question-answer format, and the app reads them loudly so that you can learn the right pronunciation.
  1. Memrise – joyful learning coming your way
Memrise is a great app for socializing and learning at the same time. It is a user-generated learning platform, where flashcards are used to compete.
  1. Duolingo – 100% free and premium
Duolingo is one of the most widely used free German language learning apps. The app comes with online courses and a digital language proficiency assessment exam.
  1. Anki – learn with intelligent flashcards
Using the Anki app, you can widen your German vocabulary skills using flashcards. You can create your flashcards or download the existing ones. Learning the German language with images, videos, and audio is indeed fun.
  1. Wie Geht’s – an award-winning language learning app
Using the Wie Geht’s app, you can learn German vocabulary, grammar, and phrases. It can also be used in the absence of an internet connection.
  1. Deutsche Akademie – learning German made easy
The Deutsche Akademie app comes with a lot of exercises and vocabulary practice tests. This app can help you a great deal in upgrading your German language skills.
  1. Wordpic – the magic of German words with pictures
The Word Pic app is an amazing app to learn German words with the help of pictures. It is a great way to learn the German language on the go!

Accelerate your German language learning pace

Learning the German language is a time-consuming process, and without patience, you’ll not be able to hit the right notes. By taking the help of our guide, you can speed up your learning process and achieve your targets faster than you’ve decided. However, it is important to keep in mind that there is no specific method to learn German. The learning ability of each person is different. Therefore, try to look for a technique that best suits your learning ability and is perfect for you. Pronunciation is one of the main issues while learning the German language, so watch a lot of videos to hear the correct pronunciation of different words and replicate them in your speech accordingly. Listen to German songs and carefully examine their lyrics to find important words. Keep a German to English and English to German dictionary handy during the course of your learning. It is also a good idea to identify people in your circle who are learning the German language and collaborate with them to understand their style and method. Share your experiences and knowledge. You must accept the fact that you will struggle in the beginning, but as time will pass and your knowledge will increase, you’ll have lots of fun learning the German language. At times, you may get frustrated, but remember your goals and keep moving towards them. Solve difficult exercises as you learn and challenge your brain at every step. Learn for yourself, not for the world around you. Enjoy every step of the German language learning process. Consistency, focus, confidence, and commitment can make you a winner.

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