Nearly everyone says that German is a difficult language to learn.

However, you never really know until you try – and there are plenty of reasons why this is not necessarily the case!

For instance, English speakers have an advantage when it comes to learning German, as German and English belong to the same language group, which is called the Germanic family.

Of course, learning German is just like learning any foreign language: it requires motivation and dedication.

Our comfort zone is always a good place to be, but if we will be honest with ourselves, nothing good ever comes from it. If we are ever going to create the life we desire, we will need to take some bold steps. There are many ways to do this,from traveling to a new country to doing tasks outside your specialization or learning a new language.

Think about many Canadians who have traveled to work or school in another country. What is common to all of these people? They decided to go abroad, but they have committed to learning the way of life over there, and to some extent, blended.

If you ever plan on making a trip to a German-speaking country, there is no better time to start learning the language than now. It may seem an impossible task considering that it is something you are not used to. However, when you take that bold step today to start learning German, the results will be worth the experience.

Assuming you are keen on learning this beautiful language, where and who do you learn from? What are some German pronunciations you should know? Is there something hidden about the German language you are yet to find out? All these and more are what you will find out in this beginner guide to learning German.

So take ownership of your education and learn to speak like a native German!

Learning German in groups
It's easier to learn German in the company of others. Source: Pexels
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If Footballers Can Learn How to Speak German, Why Can’t You?

It may surprise you, but French football star Franck Ribéry has managed to master the language of Merkel.

When you know the footballer as football fans do, this really can give anyone hope.

Flashback to 2007, when young Franck was a star in the making, playing for the Olympique de Marseille team and when people would often comment on his approximate knowledge of his mother tongue, French.

So, there was surely no sign that this boy could be a linguist – let alone be fluent in German!

Following his transfer to Bavaria, to the amazement of his fans, Ribéry quickly learnt how to speak German fluently. Some would even go as far as saying his German is better than his French.

Another footballing example is that of Pep Guardiola.

The former coach or FC Barcelona spent some time as a coach at Bayern Munich (before his current club, Manchester City) in 2013.

Even though the Spanish aren’t known for being polyglots, Guardiola managed to overcome this stereotype.

From his very basic German in his early press conferences, he has now managed to improve his proficiency and fluency to an excellent level.

How Difficult is Learning German?

For those contemplating whether to learn German as a second language, fear has always sponsored indecision. As such, you find students asking themselves certain questions like these - will ever get to learn German? Won’t I find some of the words difficult to pronounce? How long and how well can I get to learn the language eventually?

These fears and the questions they produce are understandable, especially because everyone has them. While some have them when deciding to learn a new language, others do when switching careers. As a beginner, you must know that the difficulty in learning German is relative to everyone. While some may find it difficult, others find it easy and fun; it is your choice to decide what side of the pendulum you want to belong to.

To make learning German easier for you, you have to ensure it is something you want to do. If you don’t need German, there is no point in investing your time and resources into learning it. However, if you plan to register at a university outside Canada, it is a must to learn the language.

Another way to ease the tension of learning German is to get a flexible learning option. If you are an auditory learner, you can subscribe to audio books in German or listen to podcasts. Interestingly, you don’t have to be in one place to do this. You can listen and learn while walking, jogging, cooking, and even interacting with friends.

Alternatively, if you are a visual learner, you can subscribe to German movies. The learning aside, these movies are interesting to watch because of their detailed plot twist, intelligent character selection, and amazing themes. During your free time, you can watch these movies using German subtitles so you can pick new words and phrases. When you get these words and phrases, write them down, go through them subsequently, and use them in your conversations.

The beauty of learning anything is practicing what you are learning, including the German language. Don’t wait till you are fluent before you start speaking. Instead, speak as you learn till you become fluent.

Do English Speakers Learn German Better?

There is the assumption that English speakers find it easy to learn and speak German better. The drivers of this presumption continue to cite examples of footballers who have left English-speaking countries to German leagues. According to them, these English players find it easier to learn German than a German player to learn English.

Whether these presumptions are true or not is not within our purview to decide. However, if we bring this to our context, it sends one clear message- if footballers can do it, we can do it as well. If you are an English speaker in German, this should be a huge motivation to learn German. In contrast, if you are not an English speaker, it should be a challenge to improve.

Generally, it appears that English speakers learn German better because of the relationship the two languages have. The rules that govern grammatical constructions in English are similar to what is obtainable in German. Unlike French, where there are several rules, particularly about gender, German and English are a bit direct.

Learning German as a second language is as tasking as taking up any other language. The determination to learn and the reason for doing so is what determines the pace of learning. For example, you will not expect someone learning German for fun to learn as fast as someone who is learning because they have an exam to write.

Students preparing for a German test, exam, or interview will most likely put more effort into learning the language than one who is learning for the fun that comes with it.

Genders in the German Language

If this subtitle appears slightly ambiguous, don’t worry – all will become clear.

For people who speak English as their first language, gendered nouns are often frightening at first.

This is simply because nouns in English don’t have a gender and a simple ‘the’, ‘a’ or ‘an’ is enough, whereas, in German, they could have one of three: masculine, feminine and neuter.

This sort of classification of nouns may seem illogical to native English speakers, but it is an essential part of learning most major languages including French and Spanish too.

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Learning how to use der, die and das with each of the 4 cases will be a challenge
The concept of gender may seem alien to native English speakers, but only at first ¦ source: Pixabay

For example, the phrase “the word” is “le mot” in French and “das Wort” in German. The translation of “the” in each of these cases tells us that "word" is masculine in French and neuter in German.

It may seem odd in the beginning that there is no rhyme or reason to the gender of each noun, but you will quickly get used to it.

German is unique in that it has 3 genders, compared to just 2 in French:

  • Feminine: die Rose (the rose), die Schule (the school), die Backerei (the bakery)
  • Masculin: der Sommer (the Summer), Der Wind (the wind), der Wagen (the car)
  • Neutral: das Feuer (the fire), das Kilo (the kilo), das Museum (the museum)

Most of the time, German genders match those of other languages – giving you an advantage if you are already a linguist.

However, when learning a new language, it is advised that you cover 100% of the grammar rules to ensure you don’t miss any important points.

This also means moving away from what you already know of the language and not relying too heavily on similar grammatical structures or cognates.

Although the similarities between German and English can be helpful in the beginning, bear in mind that there is a good amount of ‘false friends’. These are words that appear the same in both languages but are not, in fact, related in meaning.

To get the hang of all these rules and exceptions, you need to be diligent in your revision and above all, you need to learn how to learn.

Learning a language requires dedication and effective revision skills from you as the learner.

Don’t let laziness get the better of you: it is essential that you master the basics of German to access the more complex notions.

Why is Pronunciation So Important in the German Language?

One of the frequently asked questions about how to learn German is why pronunciation is vital. Not only in German but across many of the major languages. Pronunciation goes to the root of any language because one word wrongly pronounced may mean something else entirely.

The importance of pronunciation in German is why many tutors invest a lot of time in it. In many German classes, you will discover that students are encouraged to listen to German speakers and watch films with German subtitles. The goal of doing this is to help them learn new words and phrases alone and familiarize themselves with how these words are pronounced.

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What Are Our Suggestions on How to Learn German Easily?

We believe that with the right motivation and guidance, anyone can learn German easily. From our many years of interacting with students, here are some proven ways to effectively learn a new language.

  • Start with simple words and phrases

To learn German easily, you will need to start from the basics. It is a common saying that Rome was not built in a day, and you shouldn’t be expecting to become a fluent speaker overnight.

You have to start learning basic terms used in everyday transactions. Remember, your fluency is not how many German words you know but how often you use them.

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Learning German
You can learn German easily by pronouncing simple words. Source: Pexels
  • Be consistent with your learning

German is not a language you will learn if you are inconsistent. It is better to learn gradually but consistently than to want to do so at once. Don’t start learning German only to stop and expect to pick up after a month. It doesn’t work that way, except you want to truncate your learning process and sign up for frustration.

Immerse yourself as much as you can in the German culture as a way to pick up slang words and specific phrases that only natives can teach you.

  • Don’t be scared of making mistakes; neither should you get overwhelmed

Everyone who speaks German fluently as a second language had times when they made mistakes. Instead of feeling bad, frustrated, or overwhelmed by your mistake, you should learn from them. Stay around people who don’t only point out your language flaws but help you to correct them.

Surprisingly, there is something about making mistakes that helps you be conscious when using that word or phrase again. What better way to perfect your German than to put in the effort and be cautious about everything you say?

Why English Speakers Have a Head-Start when it comes to Learning German

If you speak English as a native language, it is a fact that the knowledge of your mother tongue will help when you begin to learn to speak German.

Nearly 97% of the most commonly used words in English are of Germanic origin.

Besides the German alphabet being identical to the one used in English, there are much deeper similaries which make German so easy for English speakers to learn.

Ethnologue, an American linguistic organisation which has been researching languages and their uses since 1951, has created a method to determine lexical similarities between languages.

After assessing the links between English and German, the review concluded that English is 60% similar to German.

So it’s no coincidence that so many German words are easy for English speakers to recognise.

Some examples include:

  • Schule = school
  • Sommer = Summer
  • Museum = museum

This is because both German and English belong to the family of Germanic languages, which are all rooted in ancient dialects spoken in Northern Europe.

So already being able to speak English (a Germanic language) fluently means that you will quickly get used to a large part of German vocabulary.

From Latin to German: Cases

As a continuation of the reasons why German is not as difficult as it may seem, let’s take a look at Latin.

Not everyone has the opportunity to learn Latin, and those who do rarely see a reason to continue to develop their knowledge of the dead language.

This really is a shame, as a knowledge of Latin can help when it comes to learning German!

This is because of what these languages have in common: cases.

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Cases is probably the most difficult part of learning German, but with enough practice, they will come naturally!
Once you've conquered cases, you'll conquer anything ¦ source: Pixabay - PDPics

Latin has 7 cases, whereas German only has 4.

Naturally, if you have already put in the work and properly understood cases and their function, it will save you a shock when the topic comes up in your German lessons.

The 4 German cases are called the nominative, genitive, dative and accusative, and each one has its own purpose.

Cases work by altering the construction and spellings of words such as adjectives, nouns and articles in phrases and expressions to get across the relationships between words.

At first, this can seem tricky, but just like anything when it comes to language learning, it will become instinctual.

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German: A Phonetic Language

If you are interested in the inner workings of the English languages, beyond how it is used in everyday conversation, you’ll have noticed its troublesome phonetic situation.

You may have even taken pity on non-native learners of English, who have to learn that through and trough are only one letter apart but yet they sound completely different, even though thorough and borough rhyme.

With the horrors of nonsensical English spelling in mind, you’ll be delighted to know that learning German phonetics is nowhere near as difficult as English ones, as German words and phrases are spelt as they are pronounced!

So, each time you learn a new word, you shouldn’t have to worry too much about the spelling or how to pronounce it, and you'll have a better shot at improving your German accent!

If, as a child, you wished you could spell ‘although’ as ‘oltho’ and ‘because’ as ‘becoz’, then by learning German, your wish will come true!

This simple phonetic spelling and easy German pronunciation does a lot to help you improve your conversational German, reading, writing and oral language skills, and makes for another reason to learn German fast!

Hassle-Free Conjugation

If you’ve learnt another foreign language such as French or Spanish, you’ll know all about how tricky it can be to conjugate verbs.

For those for whom this idea is completely new, here is a basic definition:

The creation of derived forms of a verb from its principal parts by inflexion (alteration of form according to rules of German grammar). Conjugation may be affected by person, number, gender, tense, aspect, mood, voice, and/or other grammatical categories such as possession, definiteness, politeness, etc.

As an example of conjugation in English, let’s look at the verb ‘to bring’.

The basic form of the verb ‘bring’ (called the infinitive) changes depending on who the action relates to:

  • I bring
  • You bring
  • He/she brings
  • We bring
  • They bring

Present tense conjugation is relatively simple in English, but this becomes more complex with a different tense when the verb can end up looking nothing like its infinitive. For example, the past tense of ‘to bring’ is ‘brought’.

You can this how this could be a nightmare for people learning English as a second language.

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You'll never know how difficult German truly is until you try!
Cast aside your fears and fall in love with German ¦ source: Pixabay

However, if you’ve learnt either French or Spanish, you’ll be able to appreciate just have easy native speakers of English have it.

Thankfully, people learning German can get away with not having to revise hundreds of verb tables – as the conjugation is so easy!

Just like in English, speaking German in the present tense is pretty simple, and even the future tense doesn’t require too much extra work.

So, by now you should be convinced that German really isn’t as difficult as people say it is!

So, wollen Sie Deutsch lernen?

Start learning German with a home or online tutor, or look for language courses in your local area!

Is There Something You Do Not Know About the Best Way to Learn German?

You may be thinking there’s some secret no one is telling you about how to learn German. The secret to fluency is shrouded in how much effort you put into learning. The best way to learn German is to know why you want to learn the language, set growth timelines for yourself, and practice consistently.

For effectiveness in the learning process, getting an accountability partner may be very helpful. However, ensure you are going for either a native German speaker or one who speaks German fluently as a second language. This person will help guide you on the part of growth till you become fluent in German. Worthy of mention is that it will take a while, but becoming fluent is possible with consistency.

Are you confused about learning German in Canada and need some professional help? Then, the best option is to consult Superprof as we have all the answers to your learning needs. We can provide you with online German lessons access, quality and experienced private tutors, and professional guidance. All you need is to visit our website, choose a service you want, and we will be ready to provide such a service for you.

If you need Superprof tutors, you will love to work with many of them in Canada. In addition, you get to enjoy certain bonuses like a free one-hour session on your first German lesson with a Superprof tutor.

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Marvis

Marvis Osarhenrhen is a freelance SEO writer focused on helping businesses reach their target audience, get leads and increase revenue using optimized content.