How to Become Fluent in German
Germany has become an interesting location for immigrants. In the year 2013, approximately 167,000 people started an integration course in Germany which prepares immigrants for the German labor market. The current development shows that German is a very attractive language and people are willing to face the challenge of learning the complex foreign language of one of the most successful economies of the EU.
The good news is that Germany is welcoming immigrants. Germany is in need of qualified professionals especially doctors, engineers, software developers and nurses for the eldery (Due to the demographic development, the number of elderly people in need of care is steadily rising!)
A great number of my students have asked me to become fluent in German. I have been teaching German, my native language, for the past 7 years and have come to understand what it takes to become fluent in German. I have compiled a list of tips below that might help you in the attempt to master the language of my home country.
1) High-Quality Sources
Use material from high-quality sources. My absolute favorite source is Germany’s international broadcaster Deutsche Welle. I love using this website as I can find learning material for every level from A1 to C2. The websites provides courses adapted to each proficiency level. The highlight is the interactive German course that covers levels A1 to B1 and includes interactive exercises and activities with audio, video, gap-filling activities and texts. The topics that were covered are constantly repeated and at the end of each level, you can take a test which will reveal how much you have progressed. The Deutsche Welle website also offer a placement test for all those that want to know their level of proficiency. The website also includes an audio trainer. It provides 100 lessons which can help you to learn basic vocabulary and improve your pronunciation. For beginners you will find radio reports where 2 fictional characters host 26 exciting episodes. B1 learners will find international news reports in simplified language with vocabulary and comprehension questions that are accompanied by slowly-spoken audio. Another interesting feature is the 33 video episodes which deal with the adventures of a Brazilian girl in Cologne, Germany. It includes interactive exercises and grammar explanations. B2 learners will find the slowly spoken news highly interesting. In the Community D, you can get to know German learners from around the world. Once a week, a new German learner is introduced. The “Dialektatlas” is for C1 and C2 learners. It introduces you to the variety of German dialects as well as the regions where they can be heard. This is especially interesting for those wanting to discover the German culture.
Another great source is the website by Nancy Thuleen. She is a German professor who published a large quantity of grammar exercises from A-Z as well as activities, vocabulary exercises, videos, reading and writing exercises, lyrics and exercises on German history and culture. There are various activities on every topic. This is truly interesting for those that really want to polish up their grammar knowledge and vocabulary or want to become proficient in using the German cases Nominativ, Dativ, Akkusativ and Genitiv. I have been using Nancy’s material for my German online classesfor years now and I am very happy with her material.
GermanwithJenny provides great exercises for free. This blog is updated with exercises on a daily basis and provides material for all proficiency levels. You can download worksheets in the PDF Format and you are even provided with the solutions so that you can correct your mistakes after finishing an exercise. Jenny produces videos about the German grammar, vocabulary and useful words and phrases and gives advanced students the chance to improve their listening comprehension by talking about various topics in German.
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2) German Classes with a Teacher
Besides the material, it is recommendable to take German classes. Why not take them from the comfort of your home? Online classes are a great option for those who do not want to travel to a language school or who simply want to learn from the comfort of their home. There are numerous online schools you can find online. These are a few of the better ones:
- VerbalPlanet - VerbalPlanet is a language services company from the UK, where you can choose the teacher you want to study with. You can make your selection depending on the teacher's nationality, native language, price, availability and earned reviews.You can study from home, your office or any other convenient location. Teachers are qualified native speakers who provide you with worksheets, exercises, articles to read, videos to watch and motivate you to speak as much German as possible during the classes. The classes are tailored to the students' needs and can be taken around the clock and whenever you have a free slot in your schedule. All you need is a headset with a microphone, a computer or laptop and an internet connection.
- Language Real - This online language school targets students from Russia who are looking for a reliable e-learning company. Classes are conducted via Skype by native teachers.
If you think online classes are not your thing, why don’t you go to the Goethe Institut closest to you? In the US you can find the Goethe Institut in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco and Washington. The Goethe Institut is the world-wide market leader for teaching German. They provide highly qualified teachers, state-of-the-art teaching methods as well as the famous Goethe examinations that are often required for working and studying purposes in Germany.
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3) Listen to German on a daily basis
If your goal is to become fluent in German you need to ensure that you are listening to German native speakers every day. If you cannot take classes every day, watch German movies and documentaries. You can do this right from the start with a level of 0. Choose movies with a lot of action where you can understand what is happening only by looking at the pictures. You will see how quickly you will start to distinguish words and small phrases only by listening to the characters speak. You can find interesting scientific documentaries, television shows and movies on 3Sat or Arte which are recommendable for advanced learners. Arte is one of my favorite TV channels. It is a French-German TV channel that broadcasts shows, movies and documentaries that are synchronized in German as well as French. A show I really like is Real Humans which is about "Hubots", a new generation of robots that humans make use of in their daily lives. However, they are not just robots. They eventually start to develop feelings and even build up relationships with the humans. A controversial but highly interesting show!
There are also some German Tutorials on Youtube of which the following channels are the best: Deutsch für Euch, Get Germanized, girls4teaching and GermanwithJenny. The native teachers on these channels are young, dynamic and will help you learn numbers, the alphabet, greetings, colors and much more. The best about these tutorials is that they are free and not too long and you will also get a good laugh with these fun Tutors.
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10 More Useful Tips on How to Become Fluent in German
1. Reading, writing, listening and speaking are equally important when learning a language. Each skills needs to be practiced equally and neither one should be neglected.
2. Repetiton, Repetition, Repetition!!! Don't forget to repeat what you have learnt and don't rush from one topic to the next. Scientists have found out that the more we repeat a word the better we can remember it. There are neural connections responsible for remembering new vocabulary. With every repetition these connections are hardened and with every repetition, the probability that you forget a word is reduced. Many people are under time pressure these days and learning a language with a full-time job, kids and a husband/wife might seem like an impossible challenge. But all you need to do is study regularly, even if you are only available 10 minutes a day. But 10 minutes a day are already 70 minutes a week and more than 4 hours each month. It adds up and in the end you will have gained some valuable knowledge on the basis of a minimal effort: only 10 minutes a day!
3. Make a schedule: You need to be persistent and create a schedule for your daily study sessions. It might help to give yourself a reward after each 10 successful study sessions (a meal in your favorite restaurant, a day trip to a city you always wanted to visit or even a longer trip to a destination where the language you are learning is spoken after you have successfully completed 100 study sessions.
4. High-quality sources are the key to learning to speak a language fluently. You will find some useful sources above
5. Listen to German native speakers as often as possible: Watch German tv shows, German movies, listen to the German radio and talk to your German teacher.
6. Write German texts and correct them with your German tutor.
7. Plan a trip to a German-speaking country and immerse yourself into the German way of life. You can join a Meet-up or meet native people through Couchsurfing. Don't speak English because people will respond to you in English and you won't get the chance to pratice your German.
8. Make flash cards with useful phrases and vocabulary and take the flash cards to your office (you can spare 10 minutes of your working day to study vocabulary)
9. Talk to German speakers on MyLanguageExchange: You can talk to people from all over the world and write emails with them or talk to them on Skype. They can teach you slang and colloquialism that you will not learn in a traditional language course.
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I hope these tips were helpful for you and you will be able to find the learning method that is best suited to your needs and objectives. If you have any other question about learning German, feel free to send me a message on Hubs and I will be happy to reply!
If you are not a student but a teacher, take a look at
- 7 Tips on How to Become a Successful Online Language Teacher.
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Have fun learning German! Tschüs!