I had no idea in the beginning what I should do or what I should avoid better in order to make my task easier and therefore progress. At that time, I didn’t know the best ways. I didn’t have someone with experience at my side who could provide me with some keys that would help me in my journey. I have listed for you 10 mistakes you shouldn’t make when you learn German, which in my opinion and my different observations, will be advantageous for you to know.
It may seem strange to you, but when you learn a new language like German, don’t focus on the direct word-for-word translation that takes place in your head but rather on common sense and intuition. This way, you will find the words in your head more quickly and in the right context. It will also make it easier for you to arrange and play with these words when you express yourself or try to understand something.
Create from the beginning a kind of “German” mode in your head, so that you are able to switch from one language to another when and how you want. It may seem impossible at first and strange, but it is perfectly possible and you can do it. I have adopted this method and today I do not regret it at all. It helps me immensely, to such an extent that there are German words that I can perfectly use but that I could not explain in French or English. Quite simply because when I decide to speak German, it is my whole soul that switches. Try it and tell me!
2. Compare the structure of German sentences with that of English
Comparing structures is an inevitable mistake because at the beginning you will do it independently of your will. Each language has its own grammar, rules and particularities. It is true that there are some similarities, but not everywhere and on everything. In German, verbs for example change position all the time so if you want to make the connection every time, you will get lost. Learn as it is! That is why the previous point is important.
Moreover, German is not a language to be learned on the basis of logic. Which means that everything must be taken and learned as it is. This way, you will eliminate stress and headaches.
Finally, you will acquire some automatism with the time and from there you will define the line to follow and therefore no longer need to read the rule in advance. But don’t be afraid of it. Just tell yourself that you shouldn’t compare them and take the language as it is structured.
3. Neglect learning about articles from the beginning
Articles are an important tool for both expression and writing. For this reason, it is always a disadvantage to neglect them. As you may have noticed, German has three articles ( der, die, das). In addition, Nominativ, Akkusativ, Dativ and Genetiv, of which, in most cases, knowledge of them is necessary to be able to know which endings correspond or not. So the best thing is to remember the article of a word at the same time as you try to learn it.
I still pay the costs today. Precisely because I made the mistake of neglecting them and even today I am sometimes forced to search for a word, not for the meaning but to look at the corresponding article. It’s super annoying and time-consuming, so don’t make the same mistake I did. Learn the direct article with the word!
4. Generalize words and not enough contextualize them
German is a very specific language. Contextualization therefore has a very strong place to play here, otherwise we will not understand you correctly. However, it will come naturally as you speak and learn new words and sometimes even simply when you hear others use them in the right situations. Another technique is to read the newspaper or other review from time to time and so on… I also find the Deutschwelle site quite interesting. You will be able to identify a word, its meaning without even having seen it before and its contextual use. In other words, you will kill two birds with one stone: -D
5. Mix languages together
Do not mix English or other languages while you are speaking. Make an effort and think or translate quickly. At worst, if the person you are talking to does not understand, he or she will make suggestions for the word you are missing and you will either remember or discover it. The advantage is that, you will remember this word more easily in these circumstances because the fact that the other one ultimately gives you the word you are looking for, will mark you and you will memorize it. I was constantly adding a little English here, a little French there and sometimes even words whose meaning I didn’t know myself. So for you too it’s possible that it could happen and it’s totally fine… just don’t make sure you say more words in this language than in German, otherwise you’ll always tend to do it over and over again.
6. Not to be attentive to the Pronunciation
Here it is a question of familiarizing yourself with German sounds. Basically, I mean that if you mispronounce a word, you will speak in a vacuum. When in a discussion, one person never directly captures what the other is saying, it is irritating to always have to repeat yourself or to ask the other what he or she has just said. Moreover, it doesn’t make you want to keep up the conversation. Sometimes it’s just your accent that bothers you a little bit so just be careful when a German says that word and try to pronounce it well in your turn later.
7. Swallow the syllables
In German, all syllables must be pronounced. This is a relevant point that escapes many from the beginning and can cause you to have some concerns such as those mentioned in the previous point.
8. Privilege much more theory and postpone practice for later
Filling up on grammar, exercises or vocabulary without using it is a big mistake. If you have the opportunity to talk with someone in german as you want, don’t stifle your potential. Nowadays, there are learning applications; Tandem sites, forums, meet your friends on language courses and many others can be useful. This way you will practice and progress together while having fun at the same time.
Good to know:
My language course friends were the first I had in Germany so at times we would go out and relax (grill, disco, bowling, etc…) and we would also motivate each other. And since everyone’s level was relatively average, no one was afraid to make a mistake. So if meeting Germans seems complicated to you, make connections with your classmates! And above all, speak only German and prefer the quality of your friends to the quantity because some of them might rather want to belittle you. With the real ones, you won’t have to force anything. All you have to do is talk, and talk. You won’t even notice you’re getting better.
9. Don’t be discouraged
When I arrived here, I didn’t know a word of the language, and to tell you the truth, I didn’t even have a purpose or desire to speak because the language seemed difficult. This meant that in my head, every time I came home from school, I thought that this language made no sense and I kept asking myself why I should speak perfectly. I doubted it all the time. When someone spoke to me, the words didn’t come to me or I didn’t understand.It was like I was mentally suffocated and that didn’t really help me.
However, I was fortunate to have a friend who comforted me by saying that this is the case for everyone who decides to learn a new language. It takes time but sooner or later I will see improvements. That motivated me, so I continued and persevered. Today I speak German fluently. All this to say that effort and perseverance always pays off in the end. So don’t give up!
10. Limit yourself to learning only to pass an exam or for the short term
I think it’s the most common and toxic mistake. Having done all these levels, all these tests, spending money and finally not being able to speak as you should because your brain has been in temporary mode is and will not benefit you. Don’t do as those who do it and later regret it, because then you will only have your regrets. In everyday life, you will need the language whether your goal is to live or study in Germany.
The exam will only be one step and life is not limited to an exam. So there is more to be gained from learning once and for all.