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One year German challenge - which language to come from?

I am planning to do a one-year personal challenge, to see how much German I can learn in one year. I am trying to decide whether to ladder from French or work from English (native).

My sense is that German is closer to English than French in many ways, but the real challenge to learning German is the more complex grammar. The more structured nature of French grammar might be a better platform.

I would be grateful for comments for anyone with experience of all three languages as to pros and cons of both options.

December 3, 2017



Hi Ian,

I'm a native german speaker and don't speak french so my answer is possibly not really helpful for you.

I'm learning spanish from german and spanish from english and I have to admit it is a hugh difference. It is hard for me to read and understand the grammar explanations in a foreign language (in my case english).

German grammar can be very tricky. So if you learn German from the scratch you have to swot it anyway. Another problem could be that German and French words have different articles. So you should consider that this can cause problems. la chaussure / der Schuh for example.

But why not? In my experience it is a good thing to practice both trees. So you could start with english/german AND french/german and you will see what's the best way for you.

Best regards Angel


Hi. I don't know if it can help you, but...

Well, I don't speak French! My native language is Portuguese (which have many similarities to French).

For me, it was better to learn from English than Portuguese, for many motifs: (1) The genders of many words differ. So this caused me problems. (2) The pronouns can be dropped in Portuguese (i dunno in French), so I always forgot to put it especially the "it". (3) The Phrasal verbs helps to understand the separable verbs. (4) Many similar words. (5) Auxiliary verbs are almost the same. etc.


I don't think it matters that much for German. It will most likely be faster to use English, if that is your native language. However, learning a language using another language you have learned already can be an interesting way to practice them. I did the Italian-from-English tree and after a while, I grew bored with that. But then, I started the French-from-Italian tree, not so much to actually learn French, but to practice Italian in a wholly different way. This method of learning languages is called 'laddering', and is very useful if you want to learn multiple languages as effectively as possible. I'd recommend you look into this concept, I think you might like it a lot.

  • 1103

Native french speaker here, fluent in english. I'm also learning german at the moment from both trees.

You could learn from french if you wanna add some challenge to the exercice, as it'll make you work both languages (that's the main reason why I started german from english). But there might be some difficulties for you, the biggest one that comes to my mind is the articles, there are none in english but you have some in both german and french, and they can be different from one language to another, so unless you know your french very well it might be tricky. Also as you said the french grammar is more structured but it's also different from the german one, and playing with both grammar at the same time might be too much for you? I don't know, only you can tell!

so tl;dr: go from french if you wanna add some difficulty and if you're absolutly comfortable with your french! Otherwise stick to english ^^

Also good luck with learning german ! :D


(Native English speaker who knows French fairly well but not German [yet].) It depends on how well you know the non-native language, which I assume is French.

It sounds like you would like to try learning German from French. Why not give it a try to see how it goes, giving yourself the "out" to simply switch to learning from English if things get too tough?

Or, since you have a whole year, you might try German from English first and then do the German course from French, or even the French course from German.


I will do it from English in the beginning, and after a while you can try from French.

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