What does it take to succeed in this dive?
Like studying any foreign language, to succeed with German, you will need to spend a lot of time reading, writing, speaking, and listening. These four skills together will help you to master German.
This shouldn’t be too hard to learn because German is considered relatively easy for English speakers because of the many similarities. The hardest part for most is learning the four noun cases, which are determined by how the noun is used as well as how it interacts with the other nouns in the sentence. Another dissimilarity is that the German language has three genders, which can be pretty confusing for native English speakers. Becoming familiar with these is a matter of time and practice, but once they’re mastered, you’ll be a German whiz!
For those who really wish to master the language, they should make the commitment to make the pursuit of German a lifelong hobby. Every day, more and more people are learning German, so it will be time well spent.
You will have to find good study materials, good teachers, and good practice partners. More importantly, however, you will have to find the discipline to study and practice and improve regularly. If you don't study regularly, you won't make much progress, or worse, you'll make lots of progress and then forget what you've learned!
The secret to fluency (since we know you want to know) is quite simple: master reading, master writing, master speaking, master listening, improve your pronunciation, and improve your vocabulary. The issue is that most people don't actually do any of these tasks well.
You see, most people only focus on one or two of these skills, or they focus on all six, but at a very cursory level. If you wish to become fluent, however, you need to focus on all six, all the time, and spend enough time with each so that you see regular progress.
Bottom line, if you want to become fluent, do this:
- Read 20 minutes a day in German, and from varying sources.
- Listen to German TV and radio every day.
- Write a new essay or short story every week and get it corrected.
- Speak weekly with others, and ideally those who can correct your mistakes.
- Make sure your pronunciation is as spot on as can be.
- Improve your vocabulary constantly.