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Best ways to learn German: 8 practical tips

Do you want to learn German or improve your German language skills?

As the famous saying goes, "The first step is always the hardest." There's probably some truth to this, but we think that there is something exciting, even magical, at the beginning when a new language world opens up and you begin to understand conversations on the street, radio broadcasts or announcements on the train!
It's important that you choose the right methods so that learning German is both fun and successful.

Here are 8 practical tips for you:

1.    German courses for beginners

Specially designed German courses are the best for beginners.
Trained teachers can help beginners get over the first few hurdles and to stay motivated by providing them with practical tips and tricks. Having regularly scheduled classes also helps beginners to stay on the ball and to quickly establish a solid language foundation.

Advantages of a German language school:

  • Direct support from trained teachers (they provide tips and tricks and help overcome low motivation and obstacles.)
  • Sustainable and long-term learning
  • Formation of language learning groups with other participants that extends beyond the course itself
  • Mutual motivation and self-discipline from the course group

Discover effective German courses in Basel

2.    Learn German online with apps

There are many ways to learn a language and there is more than one path to success. Language learning apps are the perfect companion for people on the go because they can support continuous learning very successfully.

Overview of the most popular learning methods with their advantages and disadvantages.
3 practical apps for learning German on the go:

  • German trainer (A1) from the Goethe Institute for iOS and Android (free)
    Vocabulary on topics from everyday life can be practiced. 10 chapters are available.

  • Busuu for iOS and Android (basic version for free)
    Vocabulary and grammar training. Assistance from a community of over 60 million native speakers.

  • Babbel for iOS and Android (first lesson free, then paid)
    Vocabulary and grammar training. Helps to train and improve pronunciation with integrated speech recognition.

  • Learning adventure German (A2) from the Goethe Institut for iOS and Android (free)

    Which language level do you have? Take the free placement test here.

3.    Take German home with you

The best way to learn a language is to use it on a daily basis. If you have no one to practice with at home, you can use sticky notes (post-its) as learning aids. Hang the most important vocabulary words up around your home, for example on the mirror in the bathroom or on the kitchen cupboard. This easily lets you learn German vocabulary when you're brushing your teeth or cooking.
You can also take advantage of time spent cleaning – listen to German radio while scrubbing your flat. This enables you to memorize various phrases and their sounds subconsciously.

4.    Try to speak German as often as possible

"You only learn to talk by talking." (Marcus Tullius Cicero)
Be brave and use every opportunity to apply what you have just learned. Most importantly, don't be afraid to make mistakes. Only those who make mistakes can learn from them.

5.    Read German texts

Start reading short texts in German as early as possible. Comics, for example, are suitable for beginners, since the content is supported by images.

 – For those who are a little more advanced –

6.    Tandem partners

A popular way to test and improve your own language skills is to regularly practice with a tandem partner whose native language is German and who wants to learn your native language. Not only does this method encourage the use of the language, it also lets you experience a new culture first-hand and meet exciting people.
The Language Center at the University of Basel offers a language exchange for tandem partners: sprachzentrum.unibas.ch/de/tandem/.

7.    Read newspaper articles & books in German

Reading newspaper articles in German helps to broaden your vocabulary and consolidate your understanding of German grammar. Start with simple headlines. You can then gradually progress to short text blocks and entire articles.
You can also find a variety of books at a well-stocked bookseller, so that you can select texts that match your language level.

8.    Movies, series, TV and radio in German

Many streaming providers offer the possibility to watch movies and series in different languages. It is an ideal way to complement language teaching, to improve listening comprehension (different dialects) and to expand vocabulary.
So don't be afraid to watch your favorite series in German. Ideally without the subtitles. But turn the subtitles on if it is too difficult at the beginning, some providers may offer them in your native language.
News programmes also provide a great opportunity to learn German. You can listen to and watch all the SRF radio and TV programs with the free SRF app. The SRF4 News channel broadcasts news in German almost continually 24/7.

The VHSBB has been offering German language courses in Basel and Laufen for the last 40 years. Thanks to our qualified instructors, we are able to offer you up to 40 language courses for German as a foreign language ranging from level A1 to C2 each year.

Current course program for German as a foreign language
Do you know someone who wants to learn German or do you want to improve your own knowledge? Then take a look at our current course offerings for German as a foreign language (A1 to C2).

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