Min menu


How I Learned German in 6 Months - Learn German

How I Learned German in 6 Months - Learn German

How I Learned German in 6 Months - Learn German

There is not much secret in learning a language, as it involves working with the language as much as possible over a long period of time. However, I can give you advice on how I learned to speak German fluently (and I mean - I could say anything I wanted or had to say) within about 6 months. Konjunktiv II? Kein Thema. Polite speech? Absolut! Telling someone? This too.

Make no mistake - learning German in 6 months was really difficult. I started at level A2 (the second-lowest level) and progressed to C2 (the highest level) and did so without much help outside of school hours. It was really difficult, painful, and even joyful and inspiring. Here's how it happened:

My first German lessons

First of all, in the summer of 2002, I followed 20 individual lessons with a fantastic teacher at Eloqua, a language school in Frankfurt, Germany. I was in Germany without many things to do during the day and to fill my time, I took lessons and did my homework. This teacher was the key - because she prepared me for the construction of German grammar and corrected me by telling me why something was wrong.

Another benefit of these private lessons is that I didn't accidentally learn from the mistakes of others! All I had to hear was my voice and the voice of my teacher - I was immersed in quality linguistic development.

I then reviewed this material when I got home and used it to help me write emails to friends in Germany, repeating what I already knew. These 20 lessons, therefore, lasted from summer 2002 to summer 2003.

Month 1-2

Then, in the summer of 2003, when I moved to Germany for the first time, I took a two-month course at the Goethe-Institut Düsseldorf. I have no money to say it and I beg you: paying the tuition fees for the courses at the Goethe-Institut is worth every penny. I took two intensive courses and the instructor doing the assessments recognized how much I could build in my mind with only a basic knowledge of German from these 20 private lessons. His name is Herr Fluch and he trained me in his MIttelstufe course.

There was a problem, however ... that summer, there was a heatwave in Germany and there was no air conditioning, only a few fans. And I panicked when Herr Fluch gave us a special worksheet ... because I had never heard of N-declination before. It was hot, the subjects were difficult, but the saving grace of the class was, indeed, Mr. Fluch.

He filled our minds and our hours of German lessons. We had a total immersion every day for 3 and a half weeks, homework which reinforced our lessons, and he encouraged us to visit the library to use the additional resources. He was also very direct ... I worked very hard on an assignment, but I didn't understand it. He reviewed my homework, marked them with his green pen ... then marked them again, said, "Das können Sie besser machen. Schreiben Sie es neu." (You can do better. Rewrite it.)

My heart sank, even though I knew he was right. It was * so difficult. * So I went home, rewrote the assignment, and put it back again for minor corrections. My confidence has grown.

Month 3-6

After these two months, I moved to Lippstadt, but I didn't have a job yet, I was looking for one, so I had a lot of free time. I developed two particular routines that helped me learn German quickly:

1. I watched "Little House on the Prairie" every day for weeks. One of the German cable channels showed it every day at 1 p.m. so I cooked lunch at 12:30 p.m., sat down to eat at 1 p.m., and watched the entire episode. I learned phrases, idioms, and regular German every day by watching this show! It was great because I grew up watching the show, so I knew what was going on living it in German.

Very cool!

2. I turned on "EuroNews", a 24-hour news station, and left it running all afternoon. because the news was on a 10-minute loop, I would get the same series of news for 2-3 hours at a time, thus increasing the number of repetitions I had of the same material. This is why I tell my students to repeat as often as possible! So every time I walked across the living room or stood in the kitchen for 10 minutes, I would hear the same story. At the end of the afternoon, I could choose unique words that I had missed and search for them in a dictionary.

Then there were the intricacies that I learned by going to the bakery almost every day. You see, I would only buy enough bread for 1-2 days at a time, so I would have an excuse to go to the bakery and get in touch with more Germans. And I tried to go there in the afternoon so I could spend 5 minutes chatting with a particular employee because she was so open to talking to me. She might have thought she was selling me bread and candy, but she taught me a lot of German!

By the time I found a job about two months later, I was more comfortable in German and comfortable knowing that I could acquire the vocabulary I needed. Since I then started to teach English, I could easily make tutoring appointments with the parents of the students by phone and I also found a job to teach voice lessons (I am a classical singer). Applying for these jobs, interviewing, and starting jobs was the ultimate push for me to speak fluent German as it forced me to speak, to go beyond my comfort zone, and to be able to speak German.

I had a very unique situation to learn German, an open timetable, and I used it! Boy, I used it! And as I say to all my German students: you must seek your luck. Here's what I mean:
  • If you can work remotely (even for a while), create your opportunity to spend part of your summer in Germany. Pack your bags for a long period of linguistic immersion. Rent your house online, hire a cleaning lady (hello, student!), Or call on professional services to take care of your accommodation during your absence.
  • Find unique planning opportunities. One of my students ripped the CD from his book on his smartphone to listen to the documents over and over again during his journey. It's a great way to spend an extra 60 minutes a day learning German!
  • Make it work for you: if you have a morning coffee and blog reading routine like me, sign up for a podcast or RSS feed that automatically feeds you in German every morning. I read 3 or 4 specific blogs in the morning like this and keep up to date on the topics that matter to me. If you are a B1 or B2-level (Intermediate) German learner, this is a brilliant strategy.  Click here to see a list of all the RSS feeds available from the Deutsche Welle

Also read: