Guten Morgen, wie geht es dir?
Having completed 6 weeks of attempting to learn German, using online mobile apps and “Teach Yourself” books, I’ve established the following:
- I have created a new learning habit. I test/read/write/speak or do something to do with the German language every day now.
- Spending an hour every day was a little ambitious, especially long term, when you have 101 other things that take your time.
- Over six weeks I missed only four days of practicing.
- Learning words is the easy bit (I think). Building sentences up using verbs and adjectives is something altogether hard. Understanding the German way of putting words in a logical order is going to take longer than six weeks.
- The online apps are great for learning words and forming sentences, and even speaking German (to some extent), but it’s not enough really. The sentences are only very basic and without having the opportunity to get my mouth to air them it’s not sticking in my head. They are great for just being able to dip in and out of when you’re stood waiting around and they are excellent for monitoring progress.
- After six weeks I can form basic sentences. I can recognise and spell over 100 German words.
- The recognition of words spoken (TV/Radio) is now a lot easier than it was when I started. This means I at least now get a gist of what is being spoken rather than a total non-clue.
- There are various styles of learning a language. Trying each style out is imperative to finding the style suitable to you (or me). But like anything it’s what you do and how much time you put in that makes all the difference. It’s also what you do with what you’ve learnt.
- Language is so important. Using English everyday I took it for granted that I could just communicate as and when I liked but using a new language, every word is now an important key to being able to say or explain myself to someone else (or not).
- I love the German language. When I started this I didn’t fully appreciate how much I’d enjoy learning about why sentences and words are constructed the way they are.
Six weeks is no where near enough time to learn a new language but it has actually started me on something good.
The habit of learning German
Practicing just a few words and sentences every single day doesn’t need to take an hours worth of my day. Instead just 20 minutes is enough time spent to keep the recognition of the words going and tops up my language knowledge daily. Anything more than that is really less habit and more intense learning project, which would need to be backed up by being in Germany or having German friends (note to self: Find some German friends).
Learning anything new is so good for the soul. It tests the brain (daily), and keeps your brain active. Learning a language is probably one of the best forms of keeping your brain in training that I’ve ever worked on. That’s because it’s so easy to get started and it’s a really good way of investing your time. What I learn I can use straight away (even if I’m just babbling to someone who doesn’t know a word of German), and it’s just one step in learning about new worlds and cultures – something you just can’t beat!
I found a TED talk by Tim Ferriss (Author of 4 Hour Week), who basically learnt Japanese in 3 months straight using a ‘perfect language method’. In other words he laid down the founding principles of what language is, and applied them to be able to learn only that which needs to be learnt in order to become fluent. His principles are amazing and they certainly work, for him. I’ve started work on his elements of language but it’s not something that can be completed in six weeks.
Leaning a language can either be an all encompassing project or a habit building function. As long as you have a fondness for the language you’re learning then 20 minutes or one hour every day is never wasted.
I think it’s much better to mix and match learning styles. So one weekend I wouldn’t practice in the traditional sense, instead I’d watch a German film, or TV program. I don’t get bored doing the same thing every day then and I’m still actively learning because I’m hearing German, processing it and recognising some of the words.
On the speaking front I’m rubbish and that’s because I’ve got no reason to speak in German. So the sooner I get over to Germany the better really because then I’ll have no option other than to actually speak it if I want to be heard or communicated with. I do tend to garble a few German words when at home to anyone that’s listening. It just helps to form the words which is completely different to hearing and understanding them. Mein hund ist schön, or Es tut mir leid are a couple of my favs that I think sound better in German than English.
Yes, yes and definitely yes.
I know it’s going to take me a few months (probably a year) to get comfortable and confidant with the German language but I’m in it for the long term. I’ve set up a new habit which I’m happy to keep.
I’m also now itching to head over to Germany 🙂
Thank you to everyone who shared their tips for learning a new language – it was very useful.
I’m curious to know – how long did it take you to become fluent in another language?
Cover photo courtesy of Nico Trinkhaus