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The best way to learn German words and meanings

I've only just started learning German and wondered what the best way to learn the words and meanings. I find it hard to learn words and meanings and sometimes get them confused with other words.

Could you suggest some ways to learn words and meanings below please.

February 9, 2018



Tiny Cards has helped me. The more you practice, the more you will remember. https://tinycards.duolingo.com


Flash cards flash cards flash cards. Practice practice practice.

Tinycards seems ultra-repetitive and tedious, but if you spend 15-30 mins each day just strengthening sets and learning for whatever lesson you're on you'll surprise yourself by how well you'll have the vocab down. And once the vocab is down-pat, cluing into what the grammar is doing becomes much easier.

Personally when I do duolingo for French, Spanish, and Dutch I do timed practice and have a notepad open on the side, and any time I miss a question I write down what I missed and why I missed it. At the end of my lesson set I transcribe the notepad onto cards for a cloze exercises deck I've made for Anki that clozes the parts of the sentence I got wrong.

I'd say also that cloze flashcards are REALLY helpful for not only learning words, but becoming very comfortable with their meaning, how they're used in a sentence, and incorporating them into your regular speech.

Here's a video on making cloze flashcards for Anki: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IRY1rYxd9EM


There is a course on Memrise with German Duolingo vocabulary. You can learn the words there and then practice sentences on Duo. https://www.memrise.com/course/335725/comprehensive-german-duolingo-vocabulary/

[deactivated user]

    I would recommend ensuring you do the background on structure and grammar which I think is not easy to learn from flash cards or Duo style learning, back up your learning with youtube videos, a book or even some classes. I would also recommend trying to find a way you can converse with native speakers, as what you will find is in some circumstances what you learn in duo or other platforms may not be how Germans speak on a day to day basis to each other (as with many languages), it will also help you with accents and dialect.


    There is a link between writing (not typing) and mental retention so you could try taking a German word and writing it down several times (x10) on scrap paper. Then make up several example sentences using the word and write those down too. If you have the privacy then read them out aloud also.

    And learn how German words are formed since this will improve your deductive vocab skills, for example Schmerz = pain and schmerzvoll = painful and schmerzlos = painless...etc. Plus, You can deduce the meaning of most compound nouns if you know the individual nouns from which they are formed, eg Blut (blood) + Probe (test) = die Blutprobe (bloodtest). This way you can add hundreds of words to your vocab list -for free.

    Where possible, try creating a mnemonic aid . Unfortunately 'true' German words usually bear little resemblance to English words and it can be difficult to make up mnemonics. Here's one : "Liam (ge)Neeson enjoys acting" (to enjoy = genießen).

    On the other hand, some words are effortless to learn because they are either borrowed from English/French or have a common Latin origin so look almost identical to the equivalent English word (eg, die Demonstration, akzeptieren - to accept). Some of these words are very common in modern German especially with younger people and in technical jargon, but don't make the mistake of learning them just because they appear easy since they might be obscure and there might also be a harder more German looking equivalent word that is used more often.

    ...which brings me onto word frequency lists. In theory you can save time and effort by concentrating on learning the most frequently used words first, rather than wasting time on words that are less popular or bordering on obsolete. Sadly, even the best of these lists are littered with garbage words like "Squarepants" and "Clinton". (If anyone has found a good list without all the names, place names, English words, finite verb forms, plurals, comparatives, superlatives, declined adjectives, declined nouns etc then let me know)

    Then of course there are Flashcards, and although I am using them, I'm not totally convinced, yet, as to their effectiveness since they are very passive and require little active involvement on your part other than performing a random access search on your memory cells.

    I'm only learning like you, so I'm certainly not an expert and these are just my opinions [disclaimer], anyway, hope some of this helps.

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