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How To Learn German: An Introduction To Some Of The Different Methods

There are many reasons for choosing to learn German as a second language, perhaps you plan to live there and want to become fluent or are simply looking for a basic understanding to help you with business or travel. These goals are important because the reasons behind your decision to take up German can influence the style and intensity of the learning method you choose and, while one method may have plenty of advantages for one student, few approaches are universally beneficial. This guide to how to learn German will introduce a small selection of different approaches to showcase the pros and cons and ultimately help you choose a direction.

There are many classes available that teach German

German might not have the prevalence of subjects like French and Spanish when it comes to learning a second language but that does not mean that it is difficult to find a class. In some areas, local adult education centres and colleges will run classes on learning German and there is always the option of enrolling in a distance learning school and studying in your own time. Taking up a professional, academic class certainly has its benefits; for people that are looking to use the language long term, or would like a qualification, a course like this can provide the sort of detail and structure you cannot achieve if you are completely self taught. Having said this, the idea of working towards a certificate or sitting in a class with other new speakers can add a lot of pressure and throw people in at the deep end.

Simple, visual aids can be a great first step to learning German

There are clear advantages and disadvantages to learning German in a structured, academic environment but unless you are looking for a detailed education in the language, it may be an extreme option. If you are wondering how to learn German in a more casual way, in order to increase your vocabulary or travel, then it may be worth taking a more simplistic approach via some visual aids or reading material. Reading German, either with a set of flashcards or a phrase book, can be a useful tool because it helps you get to grips with the basics and gives you a better chance of recognising special characters such as umlauts. While the visual approach has its benefits, some would suggest that listening to a language and speaking it can be more advantageous than reading and writing when it comes to retention and speed.

Listening to German is a great way of understanding how it is used

The majority of the time, when we are trying to learn a second language it is not so we can write fluently with perfect grammar and structure, it is so that we can easily converse with other natives and understand what is being said to us. This means that listening to German and repeating phrases aloud can be more beneficial in the long run. Taking this audio route is easy because there is plenty of material and opportunities; you can talk with native speakers in video chats, invest in an audio based language program or listen to cultural materials such as dialogue in foreign films or German podcasts. This immersive form of learning may be daunting to some but it is a great way of hearing the language as it is meant to be spoken and learning real, conversational German over academic German.

Could the Pimsleur approach be the answer?

If this audio based approach to learning German is appealing, and you like the idea of investing in a program that has the results of a respectable course with an accessible method, perhaps it would be worth trying the Pimsleur approach. This course offers nothing but audio files, which are in MP3 form for convenience and portability, and helps users learn vocabulary and phrasing through a carefully crafted set of lessons. This single focus is not for everyone but there is little harm in giving it a months trial and taking advantage of the discounted starter pack thanks to the 30-day money-back guarantee. The only warning with this product is that if you do continue with it, the terms and conditions mean that you really are committing yourself to a long and expensive set of lessons.

How to learn German: which is the best method for you?

To summarise, anybody wishing to learn German as a second, or even a third language, should not be put off by ideas that the options are limited because there are actually many different ways to learn – each with its own benefits and disadvantages. This guide just scratches the surface of the choices available and within each category – the academic courses, simple visual aids and audio immersion – there are a number of options to take. There is no, single method that can be recommended because while some people will learn with speed via the audio-only Pimsleur approach, others will have a need for greater tuition and wider ranging materials. The best course of action to take is to look at why you want to learn, what you want to gain and which approach can provide that in most beneficial and convenient way.

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