How difficult does the German language get?
After about an hour of research about what language one should learn, what language is the easiest, should one learn German or Dutch (because I'm interested in learning Dutch in the future), etc., I have realized most people have been saying that Dutch is easier to learn than German; they have stated that the German language is just simply challenging to learn. Because of this, I have been second guessing whether to continue with German or not. My background in language learning is I'm a native English speaker, I'm currently in my second (out of three) french class, and I started learning German on my own in September. The resources helping me to learn German is Duolingo, Rosetta Stone, Memrise, labeling things around my room, TONS of German music, some German YouTube channels, and my lovely foreign exchange friend back in Germany. Compared to French, my drive and commitment to learn German is far greater, I'm just worried about how challenging it gets. I realize that every language is difficult to learn, I don't know, I'm scared I'm wasting my time I suppose; that I should be learning Spanish like most Americans do (Spanish doesn't really interest me, romantic languages in general don't interest me). I do though love Germany and their culture; I'd absolutely love to visit there. I just need some wisdom and guidance from someone who experienced the difficulties of learning German. Danke!
(UPDATE) Wow! Thank you so much to everyone with the amazing feedback and advice! I am absolutely surprised so many people have offered their nuggets of wisdom to me! Many thanks/Vielen danke/Merci beaucoup! :)
To answer your question, since your native language is English I don't think German is going to be too hard for you. Of course it might appear to be hard at first but once you get the grip of the language it's going to be easier moreover, just like English German is one of Germanic languages. So, if you keep learning I'm sure you'll succeed. If you love German don't listen to what people say about it because what matter is your interest and passion for German, if you don't like Romance languages it's completely okay. I can see you already have plenty of good resources to learn German including a friend to practice with which is great. One more thing, if you learn German you're not wasting your time, lucky for you German is one of the most important languages nowadays. Hence, knowing German for sure separate you from other people. English is my second language and when I tried to learn German, it gave me the same feeling when I started learning English. It was a little hard at first but like I said once you get the concept and the grip of it, it gets easier. German is a pretty specific language, everything has rules. That are what I've seen so far with German. I hope this can help you. Good Luck :)
I can tell you that I study German every day for at least a few hours, and have been living in Germany for a year and several months now.
Somedays I am surprised at how much I have learned, and other days I marvel at what I must still traverse to become a fluent speaker.
It can be easy to lose encouragement when we don't see quick results. I sometimes feel like an idiot because I cannot hold a conversation for more than 10 minutes, but then I pick up a book by Thomas Mann and I am astounded at how much I can comprehend from the written word.
I think we all learn differently too. I am a literary man, so I can recite about a dozen German poems but sometimes struggle with the everyday small talk when I run into a friend on the street.
I wouldn't say German gets more challenging as you go along, but you have to watch out for the "plateaus". These are the spots in language learning where one feels like they are not getting anywhere. You feel stuck, unable to move forward. These are perfectly natural. Also par for course is something called "imposter syndrome". This is where you cannot accept that you have made great strides, and instead focus on the negative aspects--can't memorize certain words, you still make basic errors, etc. It also can feel funny to have another language come out of your mouth--as if you were pretending.
I find these to be some of my struggles, but I have not for a single day given up. I always listen and make an effort to speak in German every single day. I read in a few different studies that it is perfectly normal for an average person to take up to 2 years of learning German intensively to be able to use it in a relatively sophisticated, articulate manner. That gives me hope that I am not too far behind those people who move abroad and "pick up the language in a few months". I still believe that is somewhat of a myth based on my personal experience and experience of my "Ausländer" friends.
This is very true. I have lived in Germany for quite awhile and am C2 level but it took months/years of immersion and constant work. There is this belief that if you just spend 6 months in a country you will be able to master the language just by soaking everything in. Of all the non-Germans that I know here, only one has even came close to that and he had a very strong natural affinity for languages. Most have been here long term and STILL cannot speak the language (partially their own fault- it is simply too easy to speak English here).
To the OP, German is not an easy language by any means but it is not a particularly difficult language for an English speaker compared to other languages, such as Arabic or Russian. Duolingo, Memrise, and so on are all great resources but the absolute best thing you can do is work on your immersion and listening to how people talk in real life. German TV is widely available online and it is extremely helpful. While there are tons of great online-learning resources available too much reliance on things like Duolingo will give you a very limited and unbalanced knowledge of the German language. You might be able to translate sentences out of a book, but as soon as you are on the street in München and trying to understand what somebody is saying to you it may as well be a completely different language.
Hallo! Do you have any German TV recommendations or links? I'd like to start watching. Right now besides, Rosetta and Duolingo, I am listening to German talk radio while I'm at work. Any resources would be much appreciated! Danke
It sounds silly but I learned most of my German through trash TV shows. They are great here in Germany- perhaps even more ridiculous than in the USA!
Here is a couple links to two major television stations here in the country, you can watch many of the shows for free.
Hopefully it is available in your country!
If you can watch German TV, some of the easiest I found to watch with interest is : Verrückt nach Meer and in Aller Freundschaft with UT. You can at the moment watch Verrückt nach Meer on ARD.DE site. Here is the address: http://www.ard.de/home/ard/23116/index.html?q=verr%C3%BCckt+nach+meer
Here is more videos with UT - Servicezeit http://www1.wdr.de/fernsehen/servicezeit/index.html
http://www.de-online.ru/index/transljacija_nemeckogo_televidenija_onlajn/0-667 Maybe the link isn't available in your county, but give it a shot. The site is in Russian, but finding a channel's logo isn't too complicated.
"It also can feel funny to have another language come out of your mouth--as if you were pretending" this is the biggest challenge ever for me when speaking in foreign languages.
The language that motivates you the most is the language you will most enjoy learning. Personally, I really wanted to learn German more than any other language. So, this urge to learn the language made it easier for me to overcome obstacles as I progressed in the German Tree. The language that motivates you the most will keep you going when the learning gets tough! Enjoy the process.
Totally agree with what is stated above. Something you want to learn will be easier to learn. Your motivation is higher. Since I am also convinced of that life is not really possible to plan for, then go for your interests. When one asks one self "is this time used in a good way", it is impossible to know the answer. If you want to learn something and you are having fun - I think it is the best we can ask for. Bonus: a good salary/getting paid to do it/making money out of it.
Add coffee in the morning and a few beers now and then, and - there you go! :)
Learning a language is all about "drive and commitment" in my opinion; if you have it for German then why not continue? Lacking drive and commitment would make an easy language impossible to learn.
I have been learning for about four years and I don't think it does get any easier; sure you learn all the grammar and basic structures and gain thousands of words in your vocab, but I find the more I learn the more I appreciate how much I still don't know. What I do know is the better I get, the more rewarding German becomes. German culture is in a boom at the moment: the music scenes in Berlin and Hamburg are thriving; their film industry is on the rise again; they are even making some good TV now as well as having some brilliant young authors coming through. All this combined with Germany's continued economic strength and political importance in Europe means there's never been a better time to learn German, now matter how difficult it is.
I started on Duolingo with German and have found the grammar and sentence structure extremely challenging, but vocabulary relatively easy. It helps that German very often has compound words made up of smaller, meaningful words - for example, Krankenhaus for hospital, Krankenwagen for ambulance.
I enjoy the challenge and I have never found it so difficult as to be discouraging. To me it is like puzzles that need to be solved and once I get the hang of a pattern, I find it very rewarding when I get things right.
The toughest thing for me is genders -- unlike Spanish or French there aren't easy clues like vowel endings -- it all seems kind of arbitrary and even though I've done the entire tree, I am still more likely to mess up a sentence by writing "der" when it should be "das" (or "ein" rather than "eine") than anything else.
But I'm glad I started with German, and of the courses I've done so far I think overall the German course is the most well developed.
I think it depends on your goal. If your aim is to achieve fluency, then maybe it would be better to go with an easier language. For me Spanish is the easiest.... but easy can also be boring.
My personal goal is to challenge my brain. (I'm 62 years old - so anything to exercise my brain cells is good) -- and I also simply enjoy learning about the languages and observing differences in structure from one language to another.
I think any language will get easier the more that you practice, so I'd just say choose the one you are most interested in and keep at it.
The cool thing about Duolingo is that you set your own pace and you can add new languages and switch any time - so why shy away? If you start German now and get frustrated, you can start with Dutch -- or anything else -- any time.
I studied German in college over 50 years ago, and decided to try again because I heard a doctor say that learning a new language was a good way to keep your brain active. Duolingo is different from the text-book way I tried so long ago, and I hope to do better this time.
As many people have already said, drive and commitment is key. If you love German, you'll get through any difficulties. Sure, German can get complicated sometimes, but not to the point of giving up just that easily. My guess is that those who say that German is impossible don't speak a lot of languages, so just ignore them.
One last advice would be to space between your German and (future) Dutch learning, to avoid any mix up. Wait for your German to be strongly rooted in your brain. Dutch learning should be plain sailing after that.
The best tool in learning any language is having the will to do so. If German is the language you're most motivated to learn then stick with it. Whatever you choose, best of luck.
Hi Ashley! Good to hear you are learning German and you should definitely stick to it as you already have the passion and commitment. I am a native Italian speaker living in the UK, I studied English, German and Spanish in Italy and here. I like German because I love grammar and rules, I know most people hate grammar but, if you already have a good grammar base, it does help you and support you in learning a new language. I think German is difficult to start with and then becomes easier while languages like English or Spanish become more difficult at a later stage. In addition, if you are interested in the country and culture, I am sure you will do very well in your studies and you will enjoy visiting German speaking countries like Germany, Austria and Switzerland
Learning a language is never a waste of time, it doesn´t matter how long does it take! Just start with the one you are more motivated to learn and when you are ready, move to another one. Why don´t you learn German, and then move to Dutch? You can learn how many languages you want to. That´s what I´m doing.
For many reasons I started to learn German and now I´m at good level with it, but still I need a lot of practice to become fluent. What happened at some point, is that I started to be interested in the Netherlands and I realised how much German and Dutch have in common. I started to learn Dutch and it was surprisingly easy compared to the beginning of my journey with German. Does it mean that is easier? No way. No language is difficult. It depends on the language learner: how does he learn? which languages he already knows? which is his motivation? Probably without my knowledge of German and English I would find Dutch very hard. That´s because I´m Italian and my language is very different. Without motivation and lot of experience in language learning, it would be almost impossible. The cool thing about language learning, is that once you are fluent in one, it can give you easily access to many others.
So here´s my tip to you: keep learning German, the language you are more interested in. No matter what the other people say. They are not you, they have a completely different background and point of view. Anyway is probably too late. Switching to Dutch while you are a beginner in German it´s a bad idea, you will confuse the two languages. If you decide to quit with german, Spanish may be a better choice.
As some pointed out already - its hard to learn in Germany if you are fluent in english (or like in your case a native speaker anyhow). In Germany you can speak English almost everywhere. I am german native tounge and work since many years at universities. We have people who do no speak German after living 10 years there, as it is no problem to survive with English. And really I recogniced it finally when starting to work in northern Chile since a little bit more than 2 years now. Here almost NOEONE speaks English (not even the rectors team, the decanos, the other physics professors, ...). Thus I learned Spanish (or Chileño).
So if you search for a destinatiion in germany to train English well you have to go out far to the countryside in very small villages. Preferrable in the former East German part - there the older generation not even had some English at school - thir foreighn langue at school was Russian.
The other regions were they do not speak English are non touristic regions in valleiys in the Alps of Austria and Switzeland - but to be honest - they do not speak german either even if they claim to do so ;-) (I am Austrian).
The American Foreign Service considers German a little harder than Dutch because of the cases and the declensions (akkusativ, dativ, ...). Other than that, they are both rather easy for an English speaker.
Compared to French, both are easier on the grammar side (French verbs are a nightmare), but French vocabulary is easier (English has a lot of French words).
You are definitely not wasting you time.
If you were a beginner in both German and Dutch, we might say "go for Dutch, it is easier" but you are already learning it since September, lot of the difficulties are behind you :) I guess you already accepted that der,die,das makes no sense:) I only on level B1 in German, so I don't know the most complicated parts, but people say that English is easy at first, and gets difficult in an advanced level, and German is hard at first, but if you learn the fundamentations, it gets easier to use. For example, you don't have to learn that many vocabulary, when you can build up words from smaller ones.
I don't have a learner's perspective but I'd say... Once you get along with the genders and cases, German doesn't do anything too crazy. Sure, there are some weird set phrases and I guess word order and writing words together/apart can also be a bit nasty but the genders and cases seem to be quite a challenge while also being extremely fundamental. Everything else is pretty much neat stuff to heighten your expressive ability but also somewhat optional.
At B1 you probably already know almost all grammar you know in everyday life. Sure, there's more but according to several online curricula, you should know things like Plusquamperfekt at B1 and hardly anyone ever uses that! Not to mention more complicated concatenations of auxiliary verbs!
Danke:) Yes, I have learned the Plusquamperfekt , but I don't know the Konjuktiv moods yet.
The good news is you rarely need Konjunktiv II :)
Most Germans replace it with "würde" + infinitive for all but a handful of common verbs, and for many verbs, even Germans are unsure what the correct Konjunktiv II form would be.
Learn the language you love even if it is more difficult. Dutch is easier for English speakers than German, because the grammar is simpler. You can learn any language if you put the time and effort. German is tricky, but I am learning it and so are other people. In the USA German is one of most popular foreign language to learn.
The most important thing is that you like it. It's a bit time-consuming but not so hard. I think it would be great to set your priority clear. Is your primary interest just to feel free, while chatting with friends or maybe you need German for studying abroad. If second one - you should check on testdaf.de.
As for general workbooks "Begegnungen" of corresponding level are good enough. Also you can use program "Anki" for extension of your basic vocabulary, there are many pre-made decks with words on their site. The dw.com and bs.to can be useful too.
At the beginning, listening comprehension will be the most challenging, but it's just a matter of time. Listen to something in German as much as you can. It's good if you have a text too, when you look through the text while listening, it will help you to synchronize the spelling with pronunciation. Grammar is very important too. The most useful in communication are "Präsens" and "Perfekt". Reading aloud will serve you well too.
I've studied at OVGU for half year, so if you have questions - feel free to ask, but as I see, there are many people which have far more experience than I, at Duolingo. Viel Glück.
If you really want to learn German, stick with it! It's been my experience that I do best in a language I have a great desire to learn. Also, I find that German really isn't that hard once you learn the grammar and build a vocabulary. Ironically I find Dutch a horrible sounding language, and I've lived in both Berlin and Amsterdam. Stay with the language you want to learn.
First off, I would encourage you to study the language you like the most. An easy language that you don't like will be harder than a difficult language you like, because when you love something, work doesn't feel like work.
I would say that German grammar is more difficult than French. French conjugations are hard, but the grammar is actually pretty simple and the vocabulary tends to be very familiar. German vocabulary is familiar in the beginning, but I've noticed that the further I go in German, the more foreign the vocabulary becomes. Word order, noun declensions, adjective declension, and demonstrative declension all make German more difficult for me than French.
German used to be pretty difficult at high school for me. Now it is a breeze because I am way more motivated to learn it( my native Dutch is also finally helping me aswell). Do not worry about difficulty. Difficulty only means that it takes more time to learn but learning a language takes time anyway so it is better to spend time on a language people consider more difficult that you enjoy than on a so called easy language that you don't enjoy. I am mainly learning Russian at the moment and I have heard that many people consider Russian to be very difficult but I really like Russian so the difficulty is not a problem for me.
One thing to consider is that even if German is "harder" (in that it'd be harder to pass a grammar test or you'll make more mistakes when speaking) than some other language, who cares? Think about all the people who learn English, as opposed to other languages that are easier - it's an irritating language in many ways, but there are so many good reasons to learn it that people stay motivated. Sounds like you have some good reasons to learn German, so go for it!
Indeed, learning German is not easy at all. I still struggle a lot with certain things related with its complicated grammar.
My native language is Spanish and where I live it's not necessary for me to learn German and French because knowing English is enough for almost everything. To me, it would be much easier to learn something I really like instead of choosing what others tend to do because they think is the most appropriate thing for themselves. However, the main reason that made me decide if I wanted to learn English was my liking for that language. So, I'm mainly learning German and French because I like them.
I studied German some 40 years ago and I decided to pick it up again with Duo. German is not as easy especially for English speakers because of the 4 declensions. However rules are rules and there are little exceptions. Regarding romantic languages, I learned Italian and I am quite fluent in it, so now I am learning Spanish thinking that it would be easy being another romantic language. I found that although there are some words that are close and mean the same there are many others that resemble Italian but mean something else. Italian has rules, sometimes many exceptions to those rules and exceptions to exceptions
If you want to learn German properly, one needs to buy an interesting basic German Grammar book. That in itself is a bit of an oxymoron, but there are some better than others, If one can overcome this hurdle then the rest become a little easier. The next hard part after writing it correctly is listening to it and understanding the gist of the sentences. There are plenty of German internet sites to hear this. The German grammar is so hard that even many of the natives don't say it right, and of course there are variations in different areas of Germany.
> The German grammar is so hard that even many of the natives don't say it right, and of course there are variations in different areas of Germany.
That's actually good to know! One thing that holds me back with practicing writing or speaking a language conversationally is the fear of sounding stupid because I have mangled the grammar and tenses so badly. So it's something of a relief to know that it's acceptable to get things wrong.
I think German is a lot easier for English speakers than Hebrew was for me. It took a long, long time (with six hours/day of classroom instruction and total immersion) for Hebrew to get to the point where it was fun and not just frustrating, but German has so many "freebies" in vocabulary that it is more rewarding sooner. Also, the fact that the alphabet is basically the same means reading aloud is much less of a trial at an earlier stage.
Yiddish is harder than German, both because of the different alphabet and because so much of it comes from Slavic and other languages. Also, it is much more difficult to find resources for learning. I studied Yiddish in an Israeli Hebrew-speaking classroom, and even they had problems reading it out loud, especially in the beginning.
For the record, I would say go with your passion. Enthusiasm and natural interest are a big help in getting past the initial difficulties to the fun stuff.