Got some free time on your hands and thinking of learning German while you’re at home?
Great plan. German isn’t as difficult to learn as they say, so trust me: you’ve made a solid choice.
But if you’re looking for the best way to learn this language, you’ll find that some home-based techniques are better for beginners, while others make more sense for intermediate learners. You’ve just got to find the right ones for you!
Then, you can focus on how to stick with it while you’re learning indoors and make real progress. Read on to find out the best way to learn German at home as a…
- Beginner (get our six-step process to success)
- More advanced learner (try our bonus two steps to speak like a native)
… in an effective and enjoyable way.
The best way to learn German at home for beginners: 6 steps to get you started
1. Set yourself a goal
First things first: you need a goal to work towards.
It sounds obvious, but believe us: not having an end goal – a reason why you’re learning – won’t be motivating enough in the long run.
Learning without a goal is like driving without direction – fun at first, but boring after a while. So whether you want to learn to get ahead at work or pick up a few essential phrases for Oktoberfest, pick a goal that floats your boat, write it down somewhere, and set sail.
Haven’t got a piece of paper handy?
If you create a Study Plan with our language-learning app Busuu, we’ll keep a note of your goal for you, plus send you reminders, depending on when you want to study, and for how long.
2. Start off on the right foot
Not everyone has the time, money or confidence to take German language classes, or take a trip to Germany. But don’t be disheartened: that doesn’t mean you can’t start somewhere.
Taking a free online German language course on an app like Busuu is a great way to get started and take your studies wherever you go. A quick bit of vocab revision on the bus or a reviewing new grammar topics like German pronouns at the airport, for instance, turns lost time into language-learning wins!
3. Turn learning German into a habit
It goes without saying that signing up to a term of face-to-face language classes or taking a trip to Germany isn’t on the cards right now. But don’t be disheartened: that doesn’t mean you can’t start somewhere.
Taking a free online German language course on an app like Busuu is a great way to get started without stepping outside your front door. A quick bit of vocab revision on the bus or a reviewing new grammar topics like German pronouns at the airport, for instance, turns lost time into language-learning wins!
At Busuu, for instance, we know from experience that learning in bite-sized chunks – say, 10 minutes a day – will make a huge difference.
4. Practise speaking German with online tutoring
While opportunities to practise your German may be sparse right now, you’re still learning German in order to speak it – so signing up to one-to-one online lessons with qualified German teachers on platforms like Verbling is a great way to start practising your conversation skills early and often.
5. Learn new vocab in meaningful chunks
Connecting words with actions is a clever way to trick your brain into learning more words at once and lodge them in your long-term memory. This is because learning German words in context helps trigger images that our brains store as a vivid memory, instead of a secluded entity. Easy and efficient, right?
So instead of learning Auto (“car”), try memorising common chunks, like mit dem Auto fahren (“to go by car / drive a car”), or example phrases that you read and find useful.
Fun fact: did you know that, if you’re an English speaker, you know more German words than you think? We use lots of German words in the English language. See? You’re further ahead than you thought…
6. Make studying German rewarding
Staying motivated is important when learning German – especially when you’re learning at home. A great way to keep motivated is by rewarding yourself from time to time (ideally, of the German variety!).
Treat yourself after you learn how to greet someone in German by watching a German TV show. Cook a German dish after learning a new tense, or indulge in German chocolate after you’ve memorised a bunch of vocab.
Bonus round: 2 extra tips for more advanced German learners
Once you’ve got past the German basics, you’ll need to become a sponge and absorb German language and culture as much as you can from the comfort of your own home. This is especially true when you reach an intermediate level.
The key to success is to get creative: use every possible learning resource you have available to push yourself past the point of stagnation. Only one way of learning won’t cut it.
Here are two of our favourite language-learning tips for intermediate learners.
1. Dive into German culture with TV
Forget about flashcards, put your textbooks away and… turn on the TV!
Home entertainment at its very best, you’ll find that a lot of German films are nominated at international film festivals like the Golden Globes – so why not dig into some popcorn and the German classic film, Toni Erdmann? Or if you prefer Sci-Fi mysteries, why not try the first German Netflix original series, “Dark”?
Some people will tell you to watch films and series with English subtitles, and that probably feels more comfortable in the beginning. But once you’ve reached a certain level, it can often be distracting, and you’re more likely to end up focusing on reading than on deciphering the actual German.
So try to challenge yourself – try a few scenes with German subtitles, and then a few without. You might be surprised at how much you understand, if you keep at it…
2. Master German grammar with Busuu
Learning German with our language-learning app, Busuu, isn’t only for beginners: it also has a lot for those at an intermediate level – especially when it comes to grammar.
For those of you who tried to learn German once, and are trying to pick up where you left off Busuu’s Placement Test helps you find your language level, and decide which lesson to start with.
Once you’ve done that, you’ll find plenty of complex grammar in digestible chunks and learn a lot of intermediate vocab to talk about politics, finance, the environment or holidays.
So how about it?