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Well, I am pretty sure that you have heard the term, “Use it or lose it.” This is particularly true when it comes to learning and mastering a new language. I was born into a multilingual and multicultural background, and I have always been interested in learning more new languages.
However, I came to realize that my German was embarrassingly rusty when I was interrailing Munich, Berlin and Düsseldorf about two and half years ago. Apparently, I was losing my ability to use German, simply due to the fact that I didn’t use it often enough to be able to master and maintain it.
Obviously, something needed to be done about my German, and I, therefore, included learning and mastering German to my 2017 New Year’s resolution. I am convinced that learning German back from scratch will definitely benefit me more than just randomly catching up with it.
Having said that, I have developed my own methods of self-study that usually work for myself in learning and mastering new languages, and German in particularly. Further more, if you, just like me, also want to learn and master German on your own, I have included some resources that would hopefully be useful for you as well:
1. Learn the German Grammar and Usage
Learning the grammar and usage of German from scratch is a must in understanding German as written and spoken language. There are other German grammars’ books available that are cheaper and more compact but if you are determined to seriously learn and master German, these eTextbooks are definitely must-reads, which include clear descriptions of all the main grammatical phenomena of German, their use and accessible exercises. The eTextbooks also distinguish the most common forms of usage, both formal and informal.
2. Read German short stories
In my opinion, you simply cannot separate learning German language from reading German short stories. To me, in fact, those two methods are inseparable and symbiotic, even. By reading short – and usually easy to understand – stories, you can learn how to use particular German words in a sentence, for instance.
- Learn German With Stories: Dino lernt Deutsch (Complete Series for Beginner, Kindle Edition)
- Learning German through Storytelling: Baumgartner & Momsen (Complete Series for Intermediate and Advanced, Kindle Edition)
3. Listen to German short story audiobooks
It goes without saying that learning German – or any other language – does not only involve reading but also listening. Listening to German short story audiobooks has contributed to my understanding of the German language. By listening those German audiobooks, you can actually hear and listen how sentences are being slowly and correctly spoken word by word by the author (a German native speaker), and you can repeat them as well.
- Learn German With Stories: Cafe in Berlin (Audio Edition)
- Learn German With Stories: Ferien in Frankfurt (Audio Edition)
- Learn German With Stories: Karneval in Köln (Audio Edition)
- Learn German With Stories: Momente in München (Audio Edition)
4. Practise using Duolingo.com and its apps
I am sure that you, or at least some of you, are already familiar with Duolingo.com. I love it, not only because it is free but it also continues in development, ad-free, convenient (Duolingo app), interactive, and most of all, is fun. I do not believe that one can fully learn a new language only by using the Dualingo.com and its apps, but it is a free, fun tool that is also quite capable to compliment your learning process of the German language, or any available language for that matter.
5. Read, listen, watch German Newspapers and websites
Maybe you don’t have a German relative, lover, friend or neighbour to practise your German with. Me neither. But, remember the term I mentioned above, “Use it or lose it”. In order to practise your German, use it or at least get familiar with everything Germans by reading, listening and watching German newspapers and other websites. My favorites are ZDF and DW because there are more interactive.
- Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen (ZDF): News, Live TV
- Deutsche Welle (DW): News, Media Center, TV and Learn German