In this article I’m going to explain you the best German learning strategies that I consider most effective after my years-long experience teaching German as a Foreign Language.
Depending on your German level, the learning strategies for German I propose are different.
1. In your flat, put post-its on every new object whose name you learn in German (put them on your desktop, your furnitures, in the kitchen, the bathroom…).
Tip: Use 3 different colors of post-its, one color for every gender, so it will be easier for you to remember the correct articles of the German nouns.
2. After every German lesson, order all the newly learned words, expressions and sentences in different groups: adjectives, verbs, prepositions, conjunctions and nouns.
Tip: for nouns use the same 3 colors as above also in your notes, so you may be able to remember the “color of a noun” that is the article (der, die, das? ?).
3. Try to find grammar rules right from the beginning, either by yourself or asking your teacher. Collect them on a separate sheet.
Rules are essential in German because they can always give you a clue about a noun’s gender or the word order (right under each rule you could write the exceptions, so you can learn them together). See my examples.
Rules are also very important because they help you understand how the German language works and they will be very useful as you progress.
4. Write a sentence with every new word you learn. This is especially important for verbs because you have to conjugate them and put the words of the sentence in the correct order (vital in German‼).
This will also help you remember better the vocabulary because it has been shown that new words are always learned more effectively in context than isolated.
For intermediate to advanced learners
Create a German environment by:
- Listening to German music ? and reading the lyrics (it’s not necessary to understand everything!).
- Watching short video series such as German Swap, extr@, Erste Wege in Deutschland, Jojo sucht das Glück, etc.
- Listening to the audio tracks of your German book on your smartphone in the bus, when waiting, etc.
- Listening to a German radio station every day (radio.garden).
- Trying to read a German newspaper about topics you have heard about in your own language first (e.g. Zeit, Welt).
- Listening daily to the German News in 100 Seconds.
- Changing your smartphone’s language to German.
- In social networks, following German people, reading the captions and comments (and commenting yourself).
- Meeting German people whenever you have the opportunity and try to keep in touch with them via social networks, WhatsApp, Skype and email.
- Doing tandem (language exchange) with another person who wants to learn your language.
- When doing something usual, stop and think how you would say this in German (even better would it be to write it down and then ask a German speaking person you might know to correct your sentences).