If you have tried learning German you know that it isn’t the easiest language to learn. So what is the best way to learn German?
We’ve all heard the best way to learn a language is by speaking it. I would wholeheartedly agree with this.
However, there is another way to learn that is not discussed nearly as often. Not knowing this can leave language students frustrated, so here it is… I found this out first hand when I was looking for the best way to learn German.
The best way to learn German (besides speaking it) is to identify your learning style.
Something that I hadn’t done when I chose the Wrong Language School.
A learning style is simply how you learn best and this can be applied to learning German. Some people learn best by hearing, seeing or doing. Some people learn better in group settings while others learn better individually.
Each person has their own learning style and by identifying your own learning style, you can then choose the best way to learn German. This way you will learn German more efficiently and more quickly. A good teacher will use a variety of teaching techniques that will hit on all the learning styles, and it should be fun at least some of the time (see 5 Fun Language Learning Techniques) but in reality, this doesn’t always happen.
But the goods news is even if you don’t have a good teacher, there are still things you can do on your own. I didn’t have good German teachers, which is why I ended up Quitting German School.
How I Found My Learning Style
I’ve been taking an Intensive German Course for the past 5 months and have been very frustrated with my progress. Normally I find school quite easy and am one of the “smart kids”, not so much in German class and it is driving me crazy. I know from my education background that aural learning is not my strong point but unfortunately a lot of aural teaching techniques are used to help students learn a language.
I decided to take a free online learning style test at Learning Styles Online to see exactly what I was dealing with and why I struggle so much. Below are my results:
The blue line shows my results. I am very high on social, logical and physical traits. I was pleased to see that I scored so high on the social trait since my course involves interacting with other students. Based on my high social trait this is a better option for me than studying German by myself.
I scored very low on the Aural trait, much lower than my peers as indicated by the red line for people aged 30-39 and the green line for people in Canada. Ah ha – that explains why I’m struggling to learn German! Obviously, if I want to learn German – and I really do since I’m planning to live in Germany indefinitely, aural traits are going to be really important.
Knowing this, I can give myself a break and spend more time Learning a Language by Reading Celebrity Magazines. I can also be aware that anything I’ve learned aurally, I will likely need to reinforce it using another learning style that meshes better for me.
For example, if we were doing a listening exercise in my German class, I can make notes while listening. After class, I could turn this into a social, logical or physical exercise which is how I learn better and will reinforce what I learned aurally.
Why You Should Do The Learning Styles Quiz
I would encourage anyone that wants to learn a language to do the free learning styles quiz at Learning Styles Online. This test is longer than other online learning style tests, but you can still complete it in under 10 minutes and it will give you a very comprehensive review of your learning style.
It also provides more info on each learning style and learning techniques that are best for that learning style. For example, one of the suggestions it gives for people who score high on social traits is role-playing. I found this site very useful. Note: This is an unsponsored review of this website, I just happen to like it and think taking a few minutes to take the quiz to identify your learning style and then apply it will save you a lot of time regardless of what you’re trying to learn.
Knowing your learning styles and some exercises to accommodate your learning style will make it so much easier and much less frustrating when trying to learn a language. Now I’m off to play Scrabble, in German of course, since it incorporates social, logical and physical learning traits all at the same time! If I keep it up, I might just learn German yet.
As an aside:
Identifying your learning style is useful no matter what you’re learning. For the purposes of this post, I’ve just focused on how to learn German.
Sabotaging Your Learning Process
Besides learning styles being in the way, there are other traits that you may possess that inevitably sabotage your learning process. I know, your probably thinking – how could you possibly be sabotaging yourself if you have dedicated yourself to learning German. But here are some points that may put this into perspective.
1) Your Afraid To Make Mistakes
Perfectionists are great students, but terrible foreign language learners. Why?
Language learning requires mistakes. Knowing you’ve made an error and correcting yourself forms a massive part of the language acquisition process. Eventually, your mistakes will be replaced by successes and set you firmly on the road to fluency. So the next time you attempt to speak German just know your mistakes are the best way to learn German.
2) Language learning Causes You Anxiety
Remember all the grammar drills, oral tests, and pointless writing assignments from your English class? Unfortunately, so do I. It’s no wonder so many people have an aversion towards learning a foreign language! This is especially true for German as the grammar is intense, to say the least.
Language learning should be fun, not a source of anxiety. Nothing hijacks your ability to learn a language more than stress, and by eliminating (or at least minimizing) it, your progress will almost instantly improve.
To reduce anxiety, forget those boring, stressful grammar exercises for now and find some fun and interesting ways to learn: read magazines about your favorite hobbies and interests, play games, complete crossword puzzles, or write a letter to a friend. Each of these will activate your foreign language abilities in different ways, helping to propel your progress.
3) Are You Inconsistent?
Like with most things, consistent training can make a massive difference. This doesn’t mean that you have to spend hours a day buried in work trying to learn German. It is much more effective to try to incorporate it into your daily routine, even if it is in small bursts.
Just 30 minutes a day can make a massive difference – be sure to keep your learning sessions short though as absorbing German requires some downtime.
4) Approach Language Learning With The Right Mindset
There’s one thing that language-learning superstars have in common: a boatload of confidence. And if you don’t exude it in spades, you’ve got a Sisyphean task ahead of you.
Sure, we’re not all born as silver-tongued polyglots. But that shouldn’t stop us from thinking like one.
Imagining ourselves as competent future speakers in German can push our progress further than studying our butts off with doubt still in the back of our minds.
The best way to learn German is to constantly affirm your linguistic skills with positive reinforcement and reviews of past successes. Confidence is key.
Why Should You Listen To Me?
I hold a Master of Education degree in Adult Learning and have worked in education for over 10 years doing everything from curriculum development, program design to instruction for people ranging in age from 4 to 89 (my oldest student).
Until recently I taught Adult Education courses in Continuing Education at a university in Canada that taught adult educators how to teach adults, I have conducted numerous staff training sessions and also worked as an ESL Teacher in S. Korea and Thailand. I still teach an online course for a university in Canada.
Have you been trying to find the best way to learn German? I would love to hear about your experiences.
A portion of this article was taken from a guest post by Ryan O’Rourke, the founder of Treksplorer.