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how to make German my native language?

My native language in Russian which I strongly dislike. I don't really want to use it anymore.

I've been living in Germany for 5 years (before that I lived in Russia). My German is C2, I speak almost accent-free and write with (almost) no mistakes. I reduced the use of Russian to a minimum (parents, couple of friends left in Russia). I live almost entirely in German and English. Sometimes I feel that German became almost my native language, sometimes it gets a bit worse again.

The problem is, I still think in Russian even though I dislike it so much. and it's still much easier for me than German.

I moved to Germany at the age of 23 and have been living here for 5 years.

How how can I start thinking in German and make Russian my 3rd language instead of the 1st?Russian is a useful language but I want to become native in German.

I'm a big fan of the German culture (and also the Germanic mentality in general) and I totally dislike Russian and everything thats connected to it.

Are there any ways to achieve it? I'm ready to work hard to achieve it.

February 22, 2018



Honey, whatever language you first spoke is your native. Nothing may change that. All I can suggest is that you try to minimize your use of Russian and only speak German for as long as you can.


I think the "native language" has many aspects that cannot easily be acquired if the language is learned later in life. There are so many things, cultural references, that are understood (even if not shared) because the person growing up in the environment of the native language is surrounded by these emotions, thoughts, basic assumptions from their early age.

So I feel that the goal "make it my native language" is a little too far, and I would like to suggest a more cumulative approach.

I do know people who speak German as if it were their native language even though they started learning it later in their lives. They have dedicated a lot of energy into studying the language, got in contact with the language on several levels (professional, in different social contexts), and always followed up on what they knew so far, and have always asked their questions.

So for your situation, I would suggest that you think less about Russian (and how you hate it (which I find very sad)), and more about how to "grow into the German environment". To me, this seems to be a more constructive approach.


Why is it sad that I hate Russian? I want to be a Westerner. I don't want to be an 'immigrant' and 'Eastern European'. In my soul I'm a Westerner, I have the Western mentality and I behave as a Westerner.

Deep down in the consciousness Westerners hate Eastern Europeans. I don't want to be hated. I want to belong to the German nation.


Deep down in the consciousness Westerners hate Eastern Europeans.

This is not true. I don't hate Eastern Europeans, nor does anybody in my environment. (And my preliminary conclusion is that so far you don't understand all aspects of the "Western mentality" very well.)

I have very dear friends and colleagues in Poland and Russia. I really don't know what else to say.

[deactivated user]

    I get where that feeling comes from, but I don't hate Eastern Europeans either.


    well I will ask it differently. have you even met a couple where the guy is Russian/Ukrainian etc and the girl is German/Sweidish/American etc? me neither.


    Yes, but it's probably because I go to a Russian Orthodox church.

    [deactivated user]

      So basically you want to be a "transnational"?

      Well, your native language will always be your national language, there's no way to go around it, but of course you can become a German as much as you want. You're living in Germany already so surrounding yourself with all things German shouldn't be a problem.

      As for learning German... well, you're already C2 so... Other than keep practising everyday I'm not sure where else can you go.

      "Thinking in German" is a bit of an esoteric concept to me... I guess if you keep living in Germany for a few more years you will eventually be closer to that goal.

      In the meantime, make sure Putin isn't reading your post.

      • 2049

      lingots for Putin ;-)

      [deactivated user]

        He's listening... ;)


        My native German language is still easier than my 2nd English language after 23years++ (I have not lived in UK or US, studied abroad or immigrated).

        What is the point?
        Why do you even care?

        IMHO most Germans are lucky - at least for me - when they don't have to think / talk all the time German, and you want to force yourself into it? ;)

        Be lucky for the talent to speak more than one single language and that you think not one-way.

        Maybe it is time for you to start learning even MORE languages, so you do not care too much about this one German language thing? ;)

        There are many people I met at the wakeboarding spots from Czech, Poland, Kitesurfing abroad (French, Italian, Egypt), Skiing (Dutch, Switzerland).

        Maybe you are too obsessed with this German thing ;) ;)

        If I would move to Austria, Switzerland or UK/US, they would probably never truly accept me as a 100% native speaker, no matter how hard I would try....and honestly, I would not care about this immigrant thing too much and being "perfect".

        You can not please ALL people at the same time. Don't ever try.

        If you are already "fluent" and you can suppress your Russian accent: Well-done!
        In my city I met a cool Ukraine guy who speaks perfectly German.

        Not all Turkish people who have immigrated to Germany are truly fluent or still have strong foreign-accent even after years (I have a friend who's mother is from Mauritius).

        Kudos to you for trying that hard. Thanks!

        Not everything in Germany is the best!


        thank you. The problem is, I want to become German and I want Germans and other westerners accept me as German, not Russian.

        I look like Germans, act like Germans, think like them, you would never say Im not German unless i start speaking German to you, you will notice some innatural things and probably think Im a foreigner.

        So i want to change my identity, even pick a different name to hide my Russian roots.


        I, in fact, love Russia. I find the entire history fascinating. I actually have intent to move there someday, and I know people who already have. The only bad thing about Russia is how bland the food is. People (the rude judgemental type, who really don't deserve friends) who hate Russia no next to nothing about it, only it once was communist and they were blamed for Trump's Presidency. In conclusion: The people who don't like Russia are the ones I don't like.


        well i really like russians but you know... sorry but there are thinks in life which you can not chance. you can look for german friends and make sure u rearly use russian than at some point you will start thinking in german but it will never be your native laguage. you can get a german passport at some point ( given the case what the AFD does not take over german goverment completly till the)but that will not chance your russian roots. But there are many russian german people i mean people who are born in russia but the ancestors there germans is that the case for you?


        Native languages are that ones that you learned in your early childhood, without knowing the grammar rules. The patterns and sounds are deep in your brain then and can hardly be changed, so there is no chance to exchange a native language. But you can reach a level in a foreign language so that nobody can distinguish you from a native, with lots of time and practice. That's pretty impressive....


        Hey, you should be happy speaking three languages fluently. Most people aren't able to do so. You should try to keep it that way and use them as much as possible, maybe even in professional life.

        Since you are immersed in German you're going to use Russian less every day and German will become your first language. Like others said, stop brooding about not being accepted as an eastern European in Germany. Since you're C2 you should work more on your self esteem than on your language skills. People (at least those who count) hate idiots, not nationalities.

        By the way, one way to make German your first language could be writing stories like yours in German ;-). Viel Glück

        [deactivated user]

          People (at least those who count) hate idiots, not nationalities.

          Very true Hannibal-Barkas though I would wish more people shared that opinion. There are no stupid nationalities, only stupid people.


          I agree with the other guys that almost No one hates a nationality or a race. But No one like an uneducated arrogant guy, German, American or British, does not matter. So none of us hates Eastern Europeans. I'm a South African, from French descent, Educated in English, thus my brain thinks in any of the Languages, but still when I dream and have no power over it, it's in my childhood language of Afrikaans. This will never change, as there are several words in Afrikaans that just cannot be translated and understood the same in any other language, same for all languages, so I often find myself thinking ín a different language, but my brain stops and cant think of the correct word, then it by default reverts back to Afrikaans, as you will struggle to get your vocabulary as big in any other language as your childhood one, in which you learned to laugh with friends, and get mad in, be sad in and had your first heart break in. I now live and work in Germany and thus I'm studying German, obviously being submerged in the language and culture helps, but I have a few tricks I have used over the years to master all my languages and not forget them when I'm not submerged anymore. Like making sticky notes, and covering my house with them, with the target language words on them. Walking past the fridge, tables, and coffee machine seeing these words on them whenever I use them, forces my brain to think in that language when I'm alone, I even stick them on my fruits, on foods in the fridge ect, the more things I stick them to, the more I imprint them into my vocabulary that I don't have to think of. I have found that thinking in a language is easier than mastering the complete accent and dialects of a language is much harder, as you think you sound perfect, but to natives, you don't. Be proud of speaking Russian and all the other languages, its something most would ever be able to do. And use your accents, most people find you "more" interesting in their country as their own people if you speak the language but you are from another "world"

          I have used this to meet so so many great people in my life that will stay with me all my life, and makes me feel like a local in their countries when ever I am there. Hope all works out for you

          • 2049

          Can't change your native language, when it comes to "thinking" in your new language, it can happen and it probably will happen with you too. It comes with lots of usage, lots of reading, etc. Maybe don't analyse yourself so much, maybe try to have more positive relationship to your Russian and then your Russian will let you think in German :-) I think in English a lot, perhaps more than in my native language, but I don't even think about it, it came naturally to me after I started to use the language everyday. It's not even necessarily tied to where you live. I love languages and I don't care so much which language I'm thinking in as long as I'm making sense speaking out loud :-) Good luck and stay positive.


          I would be blessed if I were you. You are lucky to know 3 languages. In America it is hard to learn even 2 since most parents dont even teach their kid their native language as mine didn't. In Russia you have the opportunity to learn both english and russian (and german I guess), while I have very little options to learn anything other than english. Even Spanish isn't easy to learn around here. Though I guess my Mom's native language isnt that useful considering less than .1% of the world speaks Fijian. In short, I would love to learn Russian in a heartbeat even if I'd never get a chance to use it. Be greatful for what you know and was born into my friend.


          sorry for my extra edgy comment, I guess I am just sad knowing I could have known 2 languages since a young age but now that can never happen because my parents didnt want to raise me that way


          I believe you can learn a language in a way that native speakers will not recognise you are not one of them. Part of my family is from Silesia (now Poland, but historically Austria and Germany). Now I'm living in the UK and see a lot of polish people here.

          I have many interesting examples:

          • One of my relatives with 100% German roots learned Polish after a war to the degree no one was able to tell he is not from central Poland. He didn't lose the language even after 30 years of leaving in Germany with little contact with correct Polish in all these years.

          • I know 100% German born in the West who learned Polish from his wife, and I was not able to tell he is not Polish.

          • In UK and Germany I saw people (including one of my cousin but surprisingly not all of them) who lost the ability to speak Polish or Silesian - however, in most cases they emigrated when being kids.

          I'm surprised you are not able to think in German. Maybe it will come with time. After 15 years living in the UK, and about 25 years knowing English I can think in English. Maybe it is not always 100% grammatically correct English, but definitely, I'm not translating in my head. Actually, I found translation very difficult - I must think in one language or the other but not both at the same time. I also remember trying to think in English or putting what I would like to say in my head on very early stages of my learning. Maybe force yourself to do it.

          The other thing is the accent. From what I can see people with musical talents are much better at losing it and recognising different accents. I'm a bit hopeless case her ;-)

          I don't know where you live. From two times when I was leaving in Germany, I must say there is a big difference between Munich and Cologne. In Bayern they "hate" North Germans, East Germans, Austrians, Swiss and anyone else not from they Heimat ;-)

          I will suggest finding a hobby which is not popular with emigrants. I must say sailing here in the UK probably helped me to integrate. People see you as one of them because suddenly you have much more in common with them even if you have a different nationality.

          [deactivated user]

            just believe that your German and stop using Russian, and after some time when you cant be distinguished from a native German speaker, people won't even have a doubt about your origins, and in your case you just don't want to be hated for being Russian, dumping your first language may not be possible but speaking at the same level as a native speaker is possible, and that's all you need.


            You'll never be "native" since the word itself means you were born into it, but I believe you can get a close enough level and identification.

            What it takes is time and self-acceptance. When you focus on the discrepancy even in your thoughts it will be there. Stop thinking about something is a hard thing to do, but if you speak and write C2 German then that's what's holding you back. To think you're different makes you different. And you might get surprised that you might think in German if you stop focusing on it.

            I also don't think that Western Europeans hate Eastern Europeans (are you sure you are a fan of Germans if you think we think that?). Sure there are some bigots, unfortunately, they are everywhere, but most won't care.

            And to answer another question of yours, yes, I've seen couples with an Easter European guy and a Western European girl.
            Notably my grandfather, born in Yugoslavia (the part that is now Serbia) and immigrated to Germany, and my grandmother, born in Germany. The reverse is with my paternal grandparents, my grandmother is from Poland, my grandfather from France. I also know younger couples in their twenties and early thirties. Not even seeking them out, it's just what I see with friends and fellow students at university. Two of those - with the guys being the Eastern Europeans - are dating longer than you are even in Germany. So it happens and not just as a fling.


            You can conscientiously correct yourself by making your self talk in German and then start labeling the things you see in German. I've corrected my self talk before. It doesn't take long.


            I guess that's not really necessary since he writes he's at level C2, that's rather advanced. The problem seems to be that he feels unhappy with his heritage. He thinks he'd be more accepted if he had no Russian ancestry. For me, that's like Michael Jackson trying to look "more white". They loved him for wat he was, not for what he looked like.


            trust me, as an Eastern European (especially as a guy) you hardly get accepted in the Western world. By ordinary Westerners. Yeah there are a lot of cool young people who travel, do couchsurfing, have a lot of international friends, they really don't care. But ordinary people DO care. I dont want to be rejected just because I grew up in Russia.


            If you are living near the type of people who would reject you just because you are Russian, you probably shouldn't be talking to those sort of people. We call them 'morons'


            I have a couple of coworkers born in Russia. All have an accent and all of them are accepted for what they do. We have people from about ten different nationalities in the shop so you cannot be racist.

            On the other hand, Russians sometimes seem to like Russian people around them so it is hard to integrate them. Find some German friends (the idea with the hobby seems to be especially helpful) to forget the past and embrace the future.


            Get born in Germany.


            It's a little too late for that, don't you think? Unless you've invented the time machine ...

            [deactivated user]

              It's obvious that this is more a thread on psychology than languages proper. Someone with a C2 level on any language doesn't need Duolingo, but the birth question can also be a philosophical one seeing how no one decides where they were born... we end up being the result of a genetic lottery. Fortunately some of us were lucky enough to have been brought up in a first world developed country and of course, got attached to its culture, people, language, etc.

              Quite philosophical I know...


              That was the point.

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