Learning German in 6 Weeks

I’ve been pondering lately.

I managed to go from a couch potato to a 5k distance jogger in 6 weeks.  It was hard work starting from scratch, as most things usually are. Running was something I watched not something I ever did and yet I am now a regular runner having completed the 5k and 10k distances and last yr even completed a half-marathon.

And that good habit was established in just a time period of 6 weeks.

21 days makes the basis for a new habit (or to break a bad one).  Jogging and exercise is most certainly a habit for me.  I stopped eating chocolate and cakes, in fact anything sweet (apart from sugar in my drinks) for a solid 21 days.

Between 21 days and 42 a habit starts to become ingrained and established.  It becomes part of a daily routine or a ritual that isn’t even thought about but merely done subconsciously (like walking or making a cup of tea).  I’ve got into other habits that have lasted over 42 days like drinking water, becoming an early riser and writing this blog.

So I was thinking, if I can go from nothing to becoming a slow but confidant jogger in 6 weeks, how long I wonder would it take me to do other things?

Would it be possible to learn a new language in 42 days?

Well the answer is I don’t know.  But guess what, I’ve already started and I’m on my way to find out.

I’ve got a new found passion for all things German (yes thank you Hand aufs Herz), and when I was going through my weekly blog posts of literary words I was shocked to discover how many have their origins from the Germanic language.  Without realising it the German language has more influence than I realised, not only that but it is a beautiful country and I’d really like to be able to visit it again.

So I thought learning the language is a good place to start (especially as there 89 millions speakers around the world, including 5 million just in USA, who knew?!)

To make this project stick I’ve only got two elements to it:

  • I’ve got to have a detailed outcome – just learning German isn’t specific enough so I’m going to say that after 42 days I’d like to be able to understand spoken German and to speak basic German myself (greetings, food, directions and forming simple sentences). I do not intend to be proficient, nor be able to write a letter in German after 42 days.
  • All resources available to me need to be easy to access, easy to use, and easy to monitor my progress.  The internet of course makes this far easier that it would have been a few years ago.
    I’m going to use one smart(phone) application (free), one teach yourself(ish) book (from the library) and will aid myself with a few German radio and TV stations (free).

Finally 42 days is a definitive period to start a new habit but to get it properly established I have decided that I shall spend approx. 1-2 hours per day, 7 days per week studying.

Every day I complete 1hrs of study my plan gets another tick.

Studying solidly for 1hr straight might well be mind-numbing so I expect to split it up into segments as and when throughout the day (it’s not fixed, I’ve just got to get the one/two hours in by the time I go to sleep each night.

The act of sitting down and studying actually fills me with slight trepidation as I’ve not studied anything new for about eight years and to be honest my attention span is about as long as desert fork.  However I’m interested in seeing if the actual process makes me learn something new.  Will the habit create repetition enough to learn?

Or will I just detest it and run away screaming in frustration?

I’ll keep you posted but it’s on my Life Ticket and it’s time to do something about it!  Germany is a country I’d like to revisit so just one more excuse to get going.  The sooner I learn the sooner I can test it out in real conditions.

Anyone want to volunteer to be my German tester?  I train, you test me?  

Better yet, if you’re learning a language or have learnt a language and want to share any tips and resources then please share below, they would be most welcomed 🙂


Cover photo courtesy of Shawn Econo


11 responses to “Learning German in 6 Weeks

  1. What a great undertaking! I found children’s books and TV shows far more helpful when leaving French than anything for adults. The grammar and vocab are often much simpler when geared for children.

  2. Ich habe viel Lust fuer die Deutsche Sprache! I had always wanted to learn it, so during my last two years of college, I immersed myself in it and excelled. However, the thing I have most difficulty with is speaking. I’m much better and more comfortable with written German. I find that if you manage to incorporate it into your daily routine, you will get used to it in no time. I agree with the commenter above, and that watching children’s TV shows and reading children’s books is good practice – it’s kind of like you’re learning as a kid. You’ll learn as you keep going!

    Since I’ve graduated college, I haven’t had anyone to speak German with so it’s been a bit difficult. However, when I went to Germany last month, everything sort of came back. Mind you, I’m not a pro at the language, but the basics stuck with me. As I got used to hearing everyone speak, it’s like a switch went on in my head and I was suddenly thinking in German, processing my thoughts in German, etc. It’s really great. When you do revisit Germany, you’ll know what I mean! 😉 Furthermore, I think if you really immerse yourself with the language, it’ll be much, much easier to grasp. Also, the fact that you have such a great interest in learning the language will make it easier and more fun for you to learn it!

    Lastly, to get used to hearing German as “everyday language”, I would recommend checking out Easy German on Youtube. You can also find many children’s shows on Youtube – try looking up American cartoons and movies in German and you’ll find them! For one project, I had to listen to a song from Mulan “auf Deutsch”. So fun! 🙂

    Hope this helps! Excited to hear about your German language journey!

  3. Good luck 🙂 where have you been in Germany. I went for the first time in january to munich. Had a great time but gosh it was cold

  4. well it is interesting what you wrote. I can say that if you put the same devotion to reach this goal that you put to write or jogging, I think you can for sure see some development in the next weeks. Most of all I think it is important to learn something everyday as you planned. 🙂

  5. I’ve not learned German but I have tried to improve my French and Spanish by watching a euronews channel online (http:/de.euronews.com/). These show a short video-clip news item of about 1 to 2 mins so you can hear the lingo spoken. There is a transcript also given below. You can switch the channel to English or any other language in the top bar to check back what you understood. As news everywhere is endlessly regurgitated you should have an idea what the topic is about which helps for context. Getting the chance to listen to regular spoken languages is often the hardest part of learning as everything on TV gets dubbed over.

    Hope this helps.

    • Thank you, I shall check that out. It sounds like a good idea. Im finding that learning the language isn’t so much about the words but the order in which they are said so getting exposed to ppl talking the lingo helps get a better understanding definitely.

  6. Great one! If you have a question about something of the German language I’ll be willing to help. In Switzerland we don’t speak German (but Swiss-German, French, Italian and/or Rumantsch) but we write and read in (High-)German. Good luck!

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