https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DiiDoo_Kech

German is much harder than I was told

I started few years ago to learn German, but it wasn't that serious, I was getting new phrases every month or so, until last year, I had my determination to start for good, but it was quite complicated for me, I learned a lot of new words but I couldn't understand or speak, I got into grammar, it helped get over few obstacles, but still, I can't understand or speak, I feel so dumb now hhhhh I always had in my head this idea: learning new skills is like swimming, it seems easy in the beginning, once we get in the sea, we get hit by the waves and we get confused, but that's where we shouldn't lose hope, because once we continue going forward, we reach the cool part where we can swim softly without much trouble, so for me, I'm still in the beach and it's taking too long, I just don't wanna give up, but at the same time, it becomes exasperating. Any advice or tricks please.

February 3, 2019

42 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ARCANA-MVSA

I've heard it a lot that "oh, some languages are super easy to learn."

Well, to a very basic level, maybe. But thinking that anything beyond that will be easy is a terrible misconception. When learning to speak another language fluently, it not only changes how you speak, it also changes how you think. That takes time. Which can be a huge disappointment if people go into it thinking they don't need to put in a lot of time and effort.

When learning a language, first of all, as others have said, have fun. Read a book in German, listen to German music (I recommend learning a few songs as well), teach some German to family and friends, watch movies in German. People learn better when they have fun with the material, and languages are no different.

Second of all, I recommend using an outside app - Quizlet or something - to act as a supplement. Quizlet is primarily for vocab, but it also allows for basic sentences using new grammar. I also recommend a good online dictionary - I like dict.cc but wordreference.com is also good - for finding new words.

Third of all, if you don't have it already, get the US-International keyboard for Germany on your computer. (There are plenty of past discussions about how to do this on DuoLingo.) That way you can practice typing with umlauts (ä, ë, ï, ö, ü) and ß.

Fourth, don't be afraid to make mistakes. No one is expected to ace a new language straight away, so certainly don't expect yourself to. Use them to learn from, and eventually, with time and good practice, you won't be making those mistakes anymore.

Fifth, it sounds like you need to work on listening comprehension. German music and movies in German are both good ways to go. There's also a podcast called Slow German, which is here: https://slowgerman.com/ They have transcripts, news podcasts, videos and more. And, of course, you can always find German speakers on Youtube. They'll be faster and harder to understand, but it's good practice.

Sixth, take your time. Don't expect to understand a native speaker all at once; listen to them multiple times, and, rather than listening to what they say, try to focus on finding bits you can understand. The more you do this, and the further you go in German, the more you will find yourself able to understand them.

And lastly, don't put too much weight to what people say concerning something so subjective. People's input is well and good, and certainly isn't ill-intended; but, in the end, you must decide for yourself what language is hard or easy.

Volgav vitsenanieff nivya kevach varatsach.

February 3, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RedAngel666

What a great and wonderful comment!! I couldn't more agree!

February 3, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mcdonoldk

Terrific advice and pointers for any one learning a language. It takes time and sometimes it's fun and sometimes it feels more like work. I love you suggestions to keep it fun as you move forward. I will be using them myself. Thanks

February 4, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Wanda102021

Thanks. Great answer. I am starting out with Polish and a little under way with German. Still a beginner. I believe what you say applies for any language. The more one learns, the less one would feel one knows as then one wants to have REAL conversations :)

February 5, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/stevealicious1

More of a question here but with what you said about typing umlauts. Are ë, and ï considered umlauts? because they don't exist in german and i was under the impression they acted as an indicator not to use that letter as part of a diphthong in for example french. That and they dont appear on the german keyboard (that I know of) so I was wondering what you think, or why you included those two in that list. Again this is more a question and a little nitpick, but im open to your thoughts. Thanks!

February 4, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ARCANA-MVSA

Hello! Looking into this, it seems like it depends on the language; some languages use the double dot as a diaeresis (which is what you talked about in French, where it indicates the letter is to be separated from a diphthong or digraph) and others use it as an umlaut. Ë and ï don't exist as umlauts in German, but they do exist (much more rarely) as diaereses. Read more here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_orthography

Thank you for the question!

Volgav vitsenanieff nivya kevach varatsach.

February 4, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RedAngel666

Hi Walid,

I feel with you. German isn't that easy. And everybody who's learning a language (or an instrument or what ever) knows what you are talking about.

You could have a break like suggested. Or you try to relax. If you feel like you can't make a step forward, don't try to run but stay.

Do what you like to do. Watch or listen to German stuff you understand. Series for children, good music with German lyrics, whatever. Important is you have fun. Take a break on your level and give your 'brain' the time to work with the knowledge you already have. You are making mistakes, so what? Give a damn about it. Learn from them and go ahead.

After a while you can continue with new stuff.

best regards, Angel

February 3, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DiiDoo_Kech

Thanks a lot :D I'll try a break and see how it goes :p

February 3, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RedAngel666

Great. Do you know how they built Rome? I don't know either but one thing's for sure, it was not in one day. :-))

February 3, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MrKartoffel_Kopf

One of the best things I've learned about 'learning' a new language,...is that it is a "Journey". That should be fun as you explore and learn. Kind of like taking a hike in some awesome hill side country. You don't want to sprint through it. You want to take your time, ...take it in,....enjoy the nuances of any new words you are learning. If you are in the correct Frame of mind, i.e., having fun and enjoying the journey,......the learning will come easier. Viel Glück!!!!

February 4, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ally.x
  • 1192

Learning a language is like learning to walk or learning to run when you're a little kid. If you could understand how many times you're gonna fall on your butt or on your face you would be likely to give up and never even try. Same goes for languages. The best way to learn the language is just like learning to walk. Step by step and without thinking about how hard it is.

February 4, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/alpha3099

I don't ever see it mentioned as a helpful hint, but it is something I do that works wonders.

I follow about 30-40 German Instagram accounts in things I find interesting. I actually work with influencers, so I found about 10 that post every day and talk in their stories so I can both read and listen to the language, and it has to do with my job. Then I follow about 10 tourism accounts that post in German. And about 10 random accounts that post regularly. This way I get a sense of what people are saying and hearing on a daily basis, that is current and it isn't as scripted as several other things, a lot of it is natural.

Just find topics you like with people who are active on the platform and just read and watch.

February 4, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Roji-and-Salsa

Im an easy learner, but for a long time not when it came to languages. I am German but even as a native born into a town with a strong dialect (Cologne) I often struggled with my own language. English and French at school were worse. But as an adult I got interested in learning English, needed it for my studies at the university but also wanted to be more fluent in conversations on vacations. The start in English is pretty easy, but don't underestimate the difficulties if you really want to become fluent. It took me years and hundreds of English books I read. Even now when I read newspapers in English (and I do it nearly every day) I find lots of words or expressions I don't understand. And listening to an English movie is still pretty difficult (that is an understatement) when they are talking quick. That's why I always watch English movies with English subtitles.

Turning 65 I decided to learn another language and started Spain. I started with Duolingo and finished a 483 streak. First I just tried to learn as many words as possible to be able to read small pieces in Spanish. Then I started learning Grammar as well and after a year I tried to read small books an level A1 and A2 . I even tried to read Spanish articles in newspapers about topics I am interested in and know a lot about, that helps. So I'm following Spanish blogs about photography. On Duolingo I finished the following trees: German - Spanish, Spanish - German, English - Spanish and Spanish - English. Doing the reverse trees is more demanding, but it helps a lot.

But even so I was doing pretty poor in listening and talking, failing often when visiting Spanish speaking islands. Just some basic sentences but no real conversation. Then my motivation failed, other interests got the better of me and I made a break for around 400 days.

Just three weeks ago I decided to come back to Duolingo and after a few days I'm back in it. Now I am concentrating on listening and talking, repeating every sentence aloud. When I try to read a small piece in Spanish I always read aloud. It is a lot easier than last time, the advance much quicker. Arcana-Musa has given a lot of good advises and explanations I'm following in my own process to learn Spanish. So for one on my smartphone and tablet I switch the keyboard from German to Spanish to English as I need them. And I use Google translator, speaking or writing English or Spanish and looking at the translation. Translations between English and another language is usually not that bad, between German and Spanish awful.

When I compare the languages I'd say yes, for an English speaking native German is more complicated than Spanish. Even for me as German it is easier to learn Spanish from English than from German. 58 % of all English words have a Latin or French origin. That helps a lot.

But it's the German Grammar that is so different and demanding, especially syntax, inflections and the way of building long words. If you compare a text in Spanish, English and German the German uses by far the most words, Spanish the fewest. It really takes time to get accustomed to the different styles. But once you've got a hold on it it becomes really fun. And it is still a lot easier than starting a total different language from Asian origin.

So enjoy the beach and the life. Make a break then come back. No learning without mistakes, frustrations, breaks, but if you go on a lot of enlightenment and joy is on the way.

By the way it also took me some time to create a Japanese Garden (20 years) or learning how to dance fluently Salsa (my nickname)

February 5, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/alwaysfresh

what i did when i was in the same situation was that i left german for sometime and studied something else until i feel like studying german again, that is it all

February 3, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DiiDoo_Kech

Oh I didn't think about this, I really feel it tho hhhh I'm stressing myself a bit, so I'll try to take a break and see how it goes. Thanks for the advice :D

February 3, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Alex-Trelanei

Same here : "It looks a lot like English , some influences of French and Spanish!"

Luckily my gf is a native and she helps me a lot. Maybe when we move to Aachen my German will be better

February 3, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DiiDoo_Kech

Lucky you

How long have you been learning it?

February 3, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/SwaggyFatUnicorn

Just stick through it and endure the pain, learning a language is never easy. I recommend setting yourself small goals to achieve one by one and then moving on to slightly bigger goals. Also, talking to natives (such as myself) may help and you can tell them to speak slowly and clearly so that you can get each one of the words rather than having to figure out where one word ends and another one starts. Good luck continueing with learning german! ^^

February 4, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/EliminationRed

I actually felt like German was quite a lot easier than I was told, since everyone had always told me I was going to hate it. Although I only learn it for fun and not for anything serious. Perhaps I found it easier because it is similar to Dutch(Which is close to English). For tips though, I use things like Memrise and Tinycards outside of Duo.

February 4, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/dannysadiq23

The largest obsticle to me in learning German is the complicated words that describe certain functions in a sentence. In English, I (and almost everyone else) learnt language through socialization and trial and error. Since there is no one for me to socialize German with (outside of CS:GO teammates), it is extremely hard to grasp the German sentence structure and the use of words like im, ins, am, um, zum, zu, zur etc.

February 4, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/cjr37

The difficulties can be fun See "Die Schreckliche Deutsche Sprache", Der Grüne Zweig 170, Werner Pieper's Medienexperimente. From "Ein Amerikaner in Heidelberg" by Mark Twain, Der Grüne Zweig 102. ISBN 978-3-925817-70-0.

February 4, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Jasonsudana

Agreed. I'm struggling with the pronouns. Where sie can means she or they, or you when it's capitalized. Where ihr means plural you in nominative, but also means her or their "stuff" (possession pronouns), or your when it's capitalized.

And then Duo picks on me at either the "do/don't" or "does/doesn't". I get that it's important to have good English grammar, but this frustrates me whenever I get a mistake for these. It can confuse you. Especially after a long day.

February 4, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/rb123rb

Do you know Duolingo German podcasts? I think they may help you a lot at your advanced level.

February 4, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JoaoGabriel89192

I actually found german to be quite easy to start, but i really dont know how it will be in more advanced levels, but what matters the most is the method. I learned english by myself and took a while and am still learning, just by watching videos, movies, reading, listening. Eventually I got to a level I started to think in english and then I decided to move on to german, which i'm still starting. So, my advice on learning a new language is to use that language more, watch youtube videos in that language, or watch a series with german subtitles on, and try and look for what you dont know: " whats this word?" "why is it like this?" eventually you'll get very confortable and will start wanting to do everything in that language. Yes, you'll still not be perfect, I am surrelly not, especially in typing, since i am still not dominant with the spelling and structuring of sentences, but keep going and you will get good on it.

February 5, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JMBoston

Advice:

  1. For German you really need to understand & practice grammar. If you don't your German learning will continue to be exasperating, even if you take a break. Either buy a German grammar book or consider the "Learn German with Jenny" videos on YouTube, which are excellent. Preferably do both.

  2. If you don't have renewed energy and your exasperation continues after you take your break, consider quitting. Learning a language should be fun or interesting at least part of the time, but that doesn't seem to be the case with you (at least thus far).

  3. The usual advice is to "stick with it", but assuming German is not a life requirement, my advice is to quit and pick some other language that might interest you. Maybe that different language learning experience will someday bring you back to German.

February 5, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/george.vlachos

sorry no tricks :) just be patient and keep on learning the best way you can (regarding time and resources).

I have been learning German for years (last 6 months a bit more serious about it). I still feel a lot like a beginner! It doesn't help that my time to study/practice German is very limited. Still I keep on it and I try to have fun in the process, enjoy learning, rather than have an absolute goal.

If you can, one really good idea is to live/travel to a German speaking country where you can get significantly more exposure and practice the language.

Regarding tools I really like Linguee (https://www.linguee.de/deutsch-englisch) for which there is also a Chrome extension (https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/linguee-context-menu/agcillhniodhhnjmmigkgpbeodnclmmp).

February 5, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/annefrank_301

Since I was born French and I also speak English, I'm billingual but I've also decided to learn Spanish and while I was beginning to be able to speak about 40% Spanish I've randomly decided to quit learning Spanish and I decided to pursue learning German instead. When I first started to learn German It was litterly Japenese to me because learning German compared to spanish is way harder and way more different. Spanish has a lot of close words related to French and English while on the other hand, German is very unique and has long complicated words for everything. Maybe, get yourself a good reason for learning German (unless you already have one of course) and Set goals. Don't rush into things, learn at your own pace.

<pre> Best regards and the best of luck, Melanie. </pre>
February 4, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/sharon689776

I feel the same way about Hindi. I keep thinking of giving up, then I think about how I will feel in a year from now. If I keep going, I will be better, even if by a little bit. Also agree that it's good to remember why you want to learn - the culture, for holidays, for speaking to someone in particular - and focus on your motivation. I'm sure you are doing better than you think you are.

February 4, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Wanda102021

I meant to give the lingot to Arcana-MVSA for that great comment and those suggestions. Gave you one too for the question, in error. But guess it's fair, given that it elicited the answer. And I gave him/her one too.

February 5, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Gabs-224

Hi! German is a difficult language, yes. But it is not impossible to learn. It is unfortunately a language that takes patience. As some of the comments suggest, try finding some form of media that allows you to listen to the language. You may not understand anything yet, but it will help you learn pronunciation. Watch a movie with subtitles. For instance, I would watch Spanish Telenovelas on Netflix with subtitles. I may not understand everything immediately, but it does help. Another thing is to maybe to communicate with someone who speaks German to help you. Reading a German book (even if you have to use the dictionary for every second word) is also a good tool. For instance, take a book you like and have read a lot, but get it in German. Already knowing what the book is about will help you better understand and learn the language.

If it makes you feel any better, German native speakers (at least many I know) also don't speak flawless German. I actually speak German. I took the German course though more for improving structure than actually learning. It's my mother-tongue, but English is my first language.

Don't lose motivation or hope! With everything new you do, there will be moments where you feel frustrated and want to quit. But you will have your up days as well, when you think, "Hey! This isn't too bad". It's part of the experience.

February 7, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Nafreen

i actually thought it was easier

February 3, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/alwaysfresh

german is really fun but any language takes time to be absorbed

February 3, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DiiDoo_Kech

hhhhhh it took me 2 months to start speaking spanish and 1 year wasn't enough to be able to introduce myself properly in german hhhhhhh

February 3, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Nafreen

It took me 3 months to speak German, I guess it depends on the person and the motivation level lol

February 7, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Roji-and-Salsa

So you're special talented. Glad for you. Not all of us are.

There are even more experienced learners. This guy needs only 6 weeks to learn a new language so he can have a real conversation on a basic leval. And meanwhile he has collected around 50 languages. Listen what he tells about German: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K3IImGiiY1Q But even this guy states it takes around 10 years to speak like a native. I'll never get there.

February 7, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AnnKidd4

Don't give up... anything worth having takes time and effort. Viele Gluck (this mightn't be correctly written so you'd better check it out). Just keep pushing onwards.

February 4, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/BrainCandy626963

Ya

February 5, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Umut550995

If you learn more german, you get used to it. It isn't that hard to learn. Trust me.

February 5, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/sea-mist

Consistency can be very important in learning a new language . That's why duolingo tries to get us to practice daily. I spend SIX HOURS per day on the German (some of that is just singing along to german music) and have been studying this for one year now.

I tried to pass an A1 level German test the other day and failed but I am really seeing the German coming along now, gaining new grammar understanding every day and can understand A2 level German movies if they also have German subtitles and read German text of A2 quite well out loud (fast without hesitation) though I dont know what many of the words mean I can speak them well thanks to lots of practice singing to German lyrics.

To learn to speak it better, go to youtube and learn to sing some of the songs there which are subtitled with the German/English lyrics. I can sing now to those as if I was German :) (what I cant do though is put German sentences together by myself yet very well at all and bad at recalling words if I dont have them in front of me. Trying to remember the gender of nouns eeek!! , its going to take me a lot more consistant practice).

Work out where you have your issues with it and really focus on that (my big problem currently is German grammar in dative cases so I do some practice in that area every day. I so hate dative cases!)

I wonder if part of your issue is that you are focusing on to many languages at once rather then putting in the time needed to learn German. Learning German takes a lot of time. Make sure you also use sources other then Duolingo too so you do not get bored.

Think of babies, it takes them years to speak a language.

February 8, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/jimo54

When I first started learning German while stationed in Germany many years ago, my friends used to caution me: »Deutsche Sprache, schwere Sprache.« But I still think learning English is probably more difficult.

February 9, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/GiottoFerr

the good thing is that germans tend to dub every movie. just take your most favortie movie and watch it in german with subtitles.

i love to watch peppa pig in foreign languages because it is very easy and they usually talk about the topics you study first. it was very good for chinese haha. so i guess it can be also good for learning german.

February 11, 2019
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