Hearing a foreign language, like someone who can talk German, when you don’t understand it, can really put your mind into a spin, but if you are one of those people who actually want to learn spoken German, the best way to do this (and in fact learn any language) is to learn German phrases while you actually learn German pronunciation. This kind of constant practice and language immersion, is still, by far, the way to master any foreign language.
But if you are living outside of Germany, the question is, how can you still immerse yourself so that you can learn to talk German fluently? When we don’t speak a language like a native, we often have to endure all those awkward pauses and hesitations. Not only that but trying to communicate, usually with hand gestures and other amusing facial features, can get quite comical.
If you can relate, keep reading to find some of the fun and creative ways to learn spoken German in your own country – let’s learn German!
The Advantages of Listening
When it comes to learning any new language, the advantages of listening should not be underestimated. In fact, experts agree that this could be one of the first, most important steps. If you want to really learn German pronunciation, or learn German phrases this silent phase, while it may seem a little strange, is actually imperative!
To illustrate this, remember that learning a second language, can be likened to first language acquisition in terms of how babies and toddlers spend much of their first two years listening and interpreting all the nuances of the native language that they are surrounded by before they start to speak properly.
The process is exactly the same when it comes to those who want to talk German! You have to hear it, then process it, before you can actually understand it. All of this works together remarkably well to create fluency.
One of the most useful ways for you to do this, perhaps as a supplement to your German classes, especially if you are outside of Germany, is to watch TV in German!
Learn German Pronunciation Authentically
By listening to German TV, not only will you be able to learn German pronunciation as it should be, because it is being spoken by natives, but you can actually watch how mouths move to create sounds that are completely dissimilar to the English language.
Of course, all the other non-verbal cues like hand gestures, facial expressions, and the environment in which the characters are set, contribute to the essential comprehension that is required in learning a new language.
Perhaps you have heard the saying, ‘teaching old ears new tricks’ – this really describes the importance of listening, especially when trying to master the sounds that we didn’t even know we could make. If you have a group of people to study with, this is a good way to enthuse them when you say, let’s learn German!
What is more, together you can make it fun because when you learn German pronunciation it can be quite amusing – so be prepared to repeat yourselves several times before getting it right.
Some websites actually offer written guidance on pronunciation for the German language. Imitating a native speaker will help you to progress very quickly. Remember that practice makes perfect.
And here’s a tip – if you are using the TV programmes or YouTube to learn German pronunciation you can pause and rewind to your heart’s content until you have perfected it.
Even if you are completely committed to learn spoken German, do bear in mind that as you go, you may have a tough time pronouncing certain words. This is normal and very common. Remember that there are certain English words, like ‘squirrel’ for instance, that German people have a tough time saying.
Have you considered learning German online with a private tutor?
Learn to Talk German like a German Child
Just like English speaking children, consider that even though German children learn to talk German by being surrounded by the language during their every waking hour, this is perfectly supplemented for them by watching age-appropriate TV programmes in their mother tongue.
Whether these TV shows are translated from popular American or British programmes, or whether they are native to Germany, they can provide enormous insight, not only in terms of culture but especially when it comes to how to learn German phrases.
Some of the most popular kids’ TV shows in Germany include Die Sendung mit der Maus and Peppa Wutz (well known in English as Peppa Pig). In fact, if you want to rally a few friends with a cry of ‘let’s learn German,’ you could mention that Die Sendung mit der Maus is so highly acclaimed on German television that it has actually been dubbed as ‘the nation’s school’!
Start off in this simple way, because watching a few episodes of children’s TV, will definitely help you familiarise yourself with basic words and phrases and ultimately help you to learn spoken German.
After a while, you will build up the confidence to progress to something more challenging, like watching an entire movie. You could even watch one that you have seen before which will help you to focus on the language because you already know the storyline.
Learn German Phrases and Vocabulary Through Movies
When it comes to helping you to talk German, series can be good, but because of the extended running time, the themes and other narrative elements can make it more complicated than a 90 or 120-minute movie.
When it comes to a movie, it somehow seems easier to commit an hour or two. The experience of a movie can be quite intense and is sure to help you learn German phrases.
Also, when watching a movie, due to the fact there is usually just one story being told (as opposed to parallel themes that are common in the typical TV series), it’s likely that there will be more repetition. These are the things that will build your confidence in comprehending the overall plot overview.
As mentioned, watching movies that you have already seen will give you a sense of what is going to be said before the lines are even delivered. You could even play a little game with yourself by attempting to translate lines to yourself before they are even said!
If it is a movie that you have not seen before, you could pick one that covers a theme that you are interested in because, by understanding context, you will better understand the context. For example, if you loathe western films don’t choose the Lone Ranger!
Use German TV for Quick Language Boosts
Two hours of watching a movie in a foreign language might be too much for some people. If this is you, then using short TV programmes for quick language boosts can be incredibly beneficial.
So while using TV for education, rather than entertainment, might go against the grain of what you know, it can certainly help as one of the fantastic methods to acquire a foreign language.
It might feel like you are wasting time by procrastinating. You might even feel guilty, thinking that you should be immersed in a German-language textbook. But this is simply not true – there are things that you can learn from TV when it comes to language acquisition that you actually cannot learn from your textbooks. Besides improving your German vocabulary and pronunciation, and helping you learn German phrases that are used colloquially, there are also important introductions to culture, current affairs, and much more.
If you wanted to tune into a classic daytime show for some light-hearted use of German, you could try a game show like Wetten, Dass? This show takes bets on whether normal people can deliver extraordinary tasks. You are bound to be exposed to very basic speech parts as well as words in German that you probably didn’t even know existed!
If, however, you are a thrill-seeker, you may want to replace your crime programmes with a German alternative. You could download something like Tatort, which is very similar to shows like Law and Order and CSI.
Maybe love stories are more your thing. In this case, don’t miss Verboten Liebe, which is one of those quintessential dramas about forbidden love. It’s actually not dissimilar to the soap drama called Eastenders, which is also a very popular translated show in Germany. These Soapie type dramas that include everyday themes like relationships, usually leave you with those annoying cliff hangers at the end of every episode that have a way of making you come back for more! This, of course, makes it a great way to learn German while you are being entertained!
While these are great ways to learn German, bear in mind that formal German classes should form the basis of your learning. You could use a platform like Superprof to sign up with a private tutor. Together, you can tailor-make how you plan to become fluent in German! Viel Glük!