Is There A Best Way To Learn German? Am I Just Bad At Learning Languages?
So you want to find the best way to learn German, but you’re not sure where to start. Maybe you’ve never tried to learn a new language before. Or maybe you have, but your language learning traumas, challenges, and trip-ups in the past have given you the idea that you’re just not made for language learning. But what if that simply weren’t true? Don’t listen to the stories you tell yourself that you’re not good enough or you can’t do it!
It’s natural to feel discouraged by past negative experiences or the fear of trying something new and failing. But the reality is that you’re likely not bad at learning languages. You just might not have been exposed to the best way to learn German — one that works for you and your particular learning style. Everyone learns differently, and there’s no wrong way to do it.
Besides, making mistakes is all part of the learning process. Learning by doing means trying, failing and trying again. If you can feel comfortable with not immediately understanding things, it’s easier to stay relaxed, curious, and to enjoy the process.
There are plenty of reasons, too, to give learning German a try (or perhaps another try). Learning German is a worthwhile investment that will open you up to a whole world of speakers — 132 million of them, in fact. With German in your repertoire, you can travel the planet and experience the rich history and culture of communities in Europe, North America and even Africa. And you can more readily engage with German-language media, from films to television shows to literature and podcasts from around the globe.
Finding the best, most effective and fastest way to learn German that also fits your schedule, budget and learning style isn’t as difficult as it might seem.
Finding The Best Way To Learn German
When it comes to the best way to learn German, there are many options to choose from, each with their own advantages and limitations:
- Classroom learning and tutoring — You’ll get more regular, personalized feedback from an instructor and be able to practice speaking, but it can take a regular commitment of time and often money, and you might not be able to work at your own pace.
- Immersion learning — You’ll be challenged and required to adapt more quickly to a new language and culture, but the investment is quite extreme and requires money, time and the willingness to overcome major adversity.
- Software and apps — You can work at your own pace and choose content that works for you, but you don’t get as much practice in conversations with actual speakers, and you won’t get individualized interaction with native speakers.
- German-language media — You get to hear and read the German language as it’s used by native speakers in real-life situations (and often for free), but you don’t get to practice speaking or learn the underlying rules and nuances of the language.
Of course, the best way to learn German is finding the right mix of all these elements that work well for you. And there’s no wrong answer!
Is The Best Way To Learn German In The Classroom?
If you’re like most people who have learned a language in the past, you probably did it in a classroom setting. Whether in grade school or university classes, many language learners, especially English speakers in the United States, get their first taste of foreign language learning through the academic approach: sitting at a desk, working through a textbook, practicing vocabulary and taking tests.
Sure, having a dedicated and regular way to practice German is a great way to learn the language for many people. And in a small class setting — or if you’re being tutored one-on-one — you can get more individualized attention and feedback from an instructor who can correct your mistakes and engage in dialogues with you.
But let’s face it; running grammar drills and being corrected by a teacher aren’t always the most effective (or even the most fun) ways to make German stick. A major problem is that, in a classroom context, the teacher does most of the speaking and each student has few opportunities to practice speaking. It’s possible to do all the worksheets and pass every test without being able to have a real conversation in German.
When it comes to your schedule, you might be too busy to commit to a consistent class. And you might be able to find a local community German class for free, but if you’re not in school, most classes, especially private tutors, will cost money you may not be willing to spend.
Is Immersion Really The Best Way To Learn German?
Whatever language you’re learning, no experience will help you better master German than physically putting yourself in situations where you have no choice but to speak the language. Yes, you’ll be uncomfortable and confused at first. But you’ll also be forced to grow and to rise to the challenge. The idea is that, without English to fall back on, speaking German will become a real necessity, a sink-or-swim matter of survival. You will have to learn how to speak German because there will be no other option.
If you want to find the best way to learn German fast, immersion is the way to go.The most important thing that immersion provides is a constant stream of your target language. You will hear it all the time and read it everywhere. Whether it’s living with a host family in Vienna or working at a hostel in Hamburg, moving to a German-speaking community will get you on the fast track towards fluency.
But immersion is the language learning method that takes the most initial investment; after all, you’ve got to put yourself in a new cultural context and learn how to navigate a new home away from home. You can’t forget the high costs of moving to a new place and the stress that naturally accompanies it. If you’re someone who doesn’t deal well with adversity and hardship — and you have an established life you’re not willing to leave behind — then immersion might be too extreme of an option for you.
What About Learning German With Software And Apps?
Mobile apps and desktop software are ideal for people who want language learning to be a flexible, on-the-go, and more noncommittal process. They let you learn at your own pace and on your own schedule, so they’re ideal for people who are busy and less able to commit to a regular routine.
But one major pitfall of many language-learning softwares and apps is that they don’t give you the chance to practice speaking in actual conversations. They can teach you grammar rules and vocab, but there aren’t many ways to put these skills into practice. That’s why using technology exclusively to learn a language can feel like a very impersonal process if you don’t have a way to put your skills to use in real-life dialogues.
On top of that, more top-tier apps and products often don’t come without a price. You might find yourself paying an up-front flat fare or a monthly subscription for higher-end products. Sure, there are free apps and software out there, too, but you often end up sacrificing quality in the end, diluting the power of your learning experience.
Can I Use German Media As The Best Way To Learn German?
Listening to German podcasts and German music, watching German television and movies (with or without subtitles) and reading books in German are all great ways to interact with the same media that real German speakers consume every day around the world — and many of them are totally free to access, especially if you already have a library card or Netflix subscription, for example.
These forms of media can be a great supplement for learning a new language, but alone they’re probably not the best way to learn German. This is because they’re designed to cater to native speakers who are already well acquainted with the language, not to beginners. If you want to know the grammar rules and vocabulary that form the building blocks of German, you’ll probably want additional materials like a textbook, mobile or desktop software or a teacher or actual native speaker who can give you live feedback and help you with the basics.
Why Is Babbel One Of The Best Ways To Learn German?
If you want a mix of some of the best elements of each of these methods of learning German, Babbel might just be the app for you. Babbel is designed by a team of language experts, educators, and designers who know all about what it takes to get the most out of learning a new language — so you are guaranteed a top-quality German learning journey that’s effective, engaging, and yes, even fun.
Unlike many other language apps, Babbel works so well as a language learning tool by immersing you in the types of dialogues you’d have in real life, right from the very first lesson. Whether it’s ordering at a restaurant in Regensburg, booking a hotel room in Hanover or making a new friend in Namibia, Babbel will help you practice having the types of actual conversations you’d have with native speakers in the German-speaking world.
Learning with Babbel is easy and intuitive, and with lessons that only take 10 to 15 minutes to complete, you can learn at your own pace and choose the courses that are relevant to you. Whether you’re too busy for a language class, a complete beginner, needing to brush up before a vacation or business trip or wanting to relearn everything you forgot in high school, Babbel can be customized to fit your needs.
Babbel’s German courses are affordable, accessible online and on mobile devices, and proven to strengthen your writing, reading, listening, and speaking skills. The Review feature brings back information you’ve been learning when you’re most at risk of forgetting it, ensuring that it gets locked in your long-term memory.
We’re committed to making sure you get the most out of learning German. We offer a free first lesson in every language so you can get a feel for if Babbel works for you. And if you don’t like it, we have a 20-day money-back guarantee — no questions asked.
Try a free German lesson with Babbel and see for yourself how quickly you’ll be on your way to speaking German with confidence — like you’ve always wanted to!
Check out our other topics about learning German:
How To Speak German
Learn German Free