Are you planning a trip to Germany or Switzerland? Interested in learning more about your German ancestry? Getting ready to take an overseas business assignment? How much German do you really know? If you’ve read this far, you need to learn to speak German fluently – and we’ll show you how!
Cheer up – learning German isn’t as hard as all that! Developing an ear for the language is your first step. Pay close attention to a native German speaker as he speaks. Right away, you’ll realize that many German vowels and consonants are not pronounced the same way in English. German speakers pronounce the letter combination “Th” like an English “T.” The letter “G” is never soft, either. Features like this make German sound harsh and hard to the English ear. But the more you listen and identify these distinctively German sounds, the easier it will be to learn to speak German fluently, because you’re internalizing the sound of the language.
To continue your “sound education,” rent a movie starring a German-speaking actor such as Arnold Schwarzenegger. Practice speaking some of the actor’s lines, mimicking the accent as closely as possible. No, you’re not speaking German yet – but you’re getting a feel for the sound of the language. This familiarity with the feel of German will help you learn to speak German fluently, much faster than you would if the language felt completely strange to you.
Of course, neither of those steps really teaches you German. Learning a language requires a systematic program of study. If convenience is a factor, you may enjoy studying online. On the other hand, you may opt for classroom study or a course on CD. Whichever way you choose to study, however, make sure your coursework emphasizes oral conversation. Learning German is a dynamic activity, and you can’t learn to speak the language from a book because the book can’t speak back. In the end, there’s only one way to learn to speak German fluently – listening and talking back.
Remember, German has three genders – masculine, feminine, and neuter. This isn’t something we have to worry about in English, so gendered nouns may be new to you. Der Hund (dog) and der Mantel (coat) are examples of masculine nouns. Die Decke (blanket) and die Ferien (vacation) are examples of feminine nouns. Neuter nouns include house (das Haus) and pig (das Schwein). As you can see, the article “the” can be translated as either “der,” “die,” or “das” depending upon the gender of the noun it accompanies. There’s no way to predict whether a noun is going to be masculine, feminine, or neuter, so if you want to learn to speak German fluently, always remember to learn the proper article at the same time you learn the noun.
Finally, here is the most important way to learn German fast: find a German friend to talk to! Learning from formal language study is fine, but it won’t teach you to speak German like a native. You need a partner for that. Not only will you learn to speak German fluently, but you may make a friend you’ll keep for life!
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