Here I will not discuss the technical German learning or study tips to make it easy for you that you might have seen everywhere. I’m gonna discuss how to make the process more fun and interesting. Learning a new language will take a long time, and it’s totally normal for your patience to fail you at times. These tips aim to make it less painful. The goal here is we want to make the language more and more relevant to you, hence making it more fun!
1. Add German to your phone keyboard
The keyboard’s spelling suggestion is extremely helpful in using your phone typing in German. This is probably a lifehack everyone should be overrating!
2. Follow German meme pages/celebrities
I use Instagram and Twitter for this purpose. I started with looking at the hashtags of my city to find the influencers. After that I started to see pages that posts the current discounts they see in popular online and physical shops (#angebot). When you keep this trend of following and looking at those kinds of hashtags, Instagram will do the work for you and fill your explore page with posts/pages similar to those you already viewed/followed.
On Twitter, I started with following the city/museum/polizei/u-bahn pages. To also start your search, you may begin with I Am Germany, a Twitter account ran by expats, telling their experiences. After that, let Twitter do its recommendations.
3. Read the ads around you
Ads are short and sweet. They were optimized to be read, understood and captivate everyone very easily. That means, these are words that people can use in their daily lives and they are so short that it will be a piece of cake to translate on your phone. Plus, they are usually funny too so that will add some motivational kick to your German learning!
4. Learn from the supermarket
When you’re new to Germany, the supermarket is your bestfriend. Here, you can buy what you need to live without having to say a German word! However, you should also take advantage of this situation not only to know how they call the grocery items in German, but also to overhear some supermarket vocabulary that people are using.
5. Learn from these YouTube channels and Podcasts
No bullshit subscription list:
- Easy German– Interviewing people on the streets about interesting topics with German and English subtitles.
- Get Germanized – A German guy explaining German culture. He also has some old videos teaching the German language.
- Deutsch Welle (DW) – They have films that uses exclusively the vocabulary from a given level.
- DW News Spoken Slowly – Literally current news in German, spoken very slowly. Also has a transcript of the news being read on the description so you can follow.
Those listed above are things you will always be delighted to subscribe to. They just always deliver! Unfortunately when you search YouTube for German resources, more often than not the people are not focused on helping you learn but more on vlogging their lives and what shocked them about German culture. I have nothing against those people but when you want to learn German you want a focused place to learn. These sites however might lack some grammar/word usage clarification you require. For that case, you can always type your keywords in the search bar.
6. Take advantage of Netflix
When I was learning English, what really helped me was watching lots of anime, dubbed in Japanese, but with English subtitles. So I tried the same method with Netflix! I started with watching my fave shows with German subtitles and having to pause it from time to time to write an important word I’ve seen. When I got more familiar with the culture, I started watching the comedy specials of Enissa Amani, which made me more aware in how spoken German can sound different based on a dialect and what words are being used on a daily/casual basis.
7. Set your phone language to German
Now this is when you’re more comfortable with German. Probably after your A2 level. With your phone, you probably have memorized where to tap to get what you want. Make it interesting by learning the German equivalent of what it is called!
8. Obsess over the German culture
This might be a no-brainer, but this is very very helpful to enjoy the ride. Fortunately, the language school I got into focused so much on learning via the culture and it really boosted my momentum. It can be the pfand system, searching for a wohnung, fahrrad culture, food etc. Find a topic that interests you and blow your mind at the simplest things you’ll realize. For example, Zuckerberg literally means Sugar Mountain in German.
9. Quiz yourself over and over
This last part is not necessarily an idea of fun, but well it can be fun for some people, and it works. Vocabulary is something you have to repeat many times for it to stick. In our classes, I notice how newly introduced words will just be repeated many times in the chapter. My first instinct was to make physical flashcards to remember my vocabulary, but it’s not portable at all! So I started using Tinycards to keep my vocabulary flashcards and quiz myself regularly. Duolingo, while for me a bad place to learn, is also good in making quizzes more accessible.
10. Connect emotions to what you’re learning
Ever heard this saying “People won’t remember what you said, they will remember how you made them feel”? Well it also applies when learning a new language. In our class, we have discovered that we remember vocabulary better when we associated it to something, most likely funny. For example, a struggle for us as verbs and their respective prepositions. Our teacher started making some rhymes to make us remember the combinations, for example “Ich träume von Fondue”, “Ich treffe mich mit Mimi” and “Ich habe Lust auf Autofahren”. This is good because you’ll develop the feeling of “Hmmm this doesn’t sound right” instead of opening your notes always to check the grammar.