If you have already read my other article, When I Decided To Learn German, you might have known that I have struggled a lot in order to learn German. It was not easy to study the language, but it wasn’t a torture either. Many of us would already back down when we hear the word study, but we should change that mind setting. Study doesn’t limit to a 4-corner room, with a professor who monotones in front of the class, it could also be fun. It’s up to you how to make learning in a fun way, but if you really like something you’re learning, then it’s not that hard at all. There’s a joke about a doctor and a patient, where in the patient complains that it hurts if he raises his hand. Do you know how the doctor answered it? You might think, okay, I’ll give you this…yaddah..yaddah..
But no, he said, then don’t raise your hand. Simple.
Okay, if you think studying a language is hard, especially German, then don’t think about it being difficult. It’s all in our mind. Learning German could be fun too, imagine, having new words everyday added to your daily living. Speaking in a foreign language aside from English in your area would draw attention and people think it’s cool. To be cool as your reason for learning German, well, may not really be that effective in order to survive learning it. That’s why I did some form of reflection, recollection and brainstorming how I learned German in roughly 7 months plus a language certificate.
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This one is very important in every step that you take. Even when we wake up, we don’t even ask ourselves why we get up in the morning. Yeah, that’s an automatic reaction in the morning, but some of us don’t just have the motivation to get up and stay rather in bed. Why? Having no idea or motivation to get up. Same with learning. Why are you learning German? I studied German because I need to take a language certification exam, but not only that, I need to speak the language and I want to go to Germany. If I had to describe myself it would be goal-oriented, and I am very adamant to carry it out. You could too.
Photo by Esteé Janssens
Think of one situation or imagine yourself getting there where you wanted to be. That feeling, the advantages and benefits which you may acquire once you get successful in your endeavour. If it’s too nice, then it won’t be easy, and it won’t be cheap either. You need to work for it. Don’t just ask God for something that you’re not working on to achieve it. But don’t think of the hardships to get it, think of the reward in the end.
Daydream, make a list and be motivated!
That word comes with patience and sacrifice. Like mentioned above, if it’s too good, then it won’t be easy. I have sweated for it and cried many times while I studied. Not from learning, but from loneliness. I even asked myself before if it’s worth it, leaving my town and family in order to fulfill my dreams. I was only 21 when I left for Manila, a big city, the former capital of the Philippines, and I was this small-town girl, but that never stopped me. When I failed the B1 German Examination, I was really frustrated, and it wounded my ego, since I was one of the best in our class, but it gave me a lesson. Not to be so complacent. Instead of taking it one more time, people advised me to take the higher-level examination. I did, and I nailed it. I didn’t give up, and I didn’t let feelings of loneliness and frustrations hinder me.
I was living in Quezon city before in a boarding house and I had housemates who were also learning the language, like me, they are also nurses. They were levels ahead of me, I was still in the basic level or the A1 level and they were already on A2 and another was already on more advanced level, the B-level. Whenever I studied and encountered these new words and new grammar rules, I always turn to them after not finding the answers on the books or in the internet. They would then answer me, ah, that’s still too advanced or too early for you, you’ll learn that next month. But I was stubborn to the sole of my foot. I need to have the answers. I won the argument and I learned at the same time. I would say, just don’t be contented and don’t turn to the next page and ignore the questions that bug you. It’s a form of learning although it might be too advanced, but you know yourself, you could assess it if you handle the information quite well.
Those are some attributes and values which had helped me to achieve where I am now. I am not saying that I am already successful, but I had achieved something. I am in Germany, I speak the language and it’s such an honour sometimes, when some people ask me or assume, that I was born here in Germany. I wouldn’t also say that my German is perfect, but I’m still working on it, and I am still learning too. There goes the saying, learning is a lifetime cycle. But values don’t matter sometimes if you lack resources to go with them. That’s why the list still goes on…
Although we live in an advanced world right now, books play a big role in learning. There are materials in internet where you could just search phrases but it’s also better to have books which explain you the grammatical rules. I have favourite books which had helped me learn the language and which I would love to suggest.
If you find traditional books a bit boring with only explanations, you might find Barron’s Learn German Fast and Fun Way by Paul Graves a bit refreshing. This book is also categorized according to topics and settings, and you’ll also learn how to have a conversation according to a setting.
If you want to read more explanations and go deeper into grammatical rules, Collins’ German Grammar. It explains precisely and directly, and the texts look so clean and organized. I highly recommend having a look at this book.
6. Index Card
If you don’t want to bring along your heavy books, these cards are appropriate to jut down notes. As I studied German, it was recommended to us to use these cards. If you want to study verbs and their conjugations, you could also make a table on this card, write how a particular verb is conjugated according to personal pronoun and tense. Easy. No more hustle especially if you are in public, sitting in a train or standing in a crowd and you don’t want to risk your phone getting snatched or lost somewhere.
7. Mobile Applications
Studying is getting fast and easy nowadays with our new technology and new inventions. If you don’t want to bring along and open your hardcopy of Oxford, this mobile dictionary app dict.cc is very convenient for you especially if you are learning a German language. There are over 20 languages available in this app, you have different options if you search one word. This dictionary is highly-recommended and there’s also a browser version of this. Very useful and convenient.
Unlike the English language, German has verb conjugations like any other languages in the world like Spanish and Hungarian, but there is this application where the verbs are already conjugated according to tenses and personal pronouns used. This application is called German Verbs, with a German flag. You might find two versions, one is free and the other one costs 2$ or something, but of course choose the free one.
8. Other Resources
Each person is different, those that I have written above may not suit to your type of personality, but learning has different ways and it is limited. It depends on each person and how he does a thing. If you could see that photo below, that was from a note on my then iPhone 4. I wrote that roughly one month before I went to a German class, without the security if I could really make it due to a financial problem. Regarding to other resources and how you will learn German fast, maybe without going to school because it’s expensive or it’s a waste of time, you could watch or listen German movies and songs. Have you ever heard of Doulingo or Tandem? They are also good for language learning, the latter will help you find a language partner, it is free and fun at the same time.
Last but not the least, in all your endeavour, don’t forget that you couldn’t do it alone. Always remember God and how He could help you, but, help and motivate yourself first.
Viel Spaß beim Lernen!