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How to improve your German , when you already have a busy schedule

September 27, 2017
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Although you don’t need it in class, the German language, seems to be a must-have if you’re an international student who would like to increase your job opportunities and settle down in Germany in the long term. After acknowledging the reality, “learning German” turns out to be top priority and highlighted with triple stars on my new year’s resolutions list every year. Unfortunately, like most Frankfurt School students, I am very busy with not only the school work but also my part-time job. Regularly attending German courses seems like mission impossible.

If above description resonates with you, maybe the following tips can help you keep learning German in an ongoing.

Tip1: Googling and Youtubing:

When you don’t understand something, what is the first thing you might do? “Google it!” The same trick works for learning German. If you see any new word or forget any grammar, just google it. You can find different kinds of resources to help you understand the language. Also, many Germans create their own YouTube channels for internationals to learn German. Here are some channels I prefer:      

  • Easy German: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCbxb2fqe9oNgglAoYqsYOtQ
    I like the series “Learning German from the Streets” especially. The host, Cari, interviews people randomly on the street on some interesting topics and recent events. You can find out how local Germans express their ideas and train your listening in real practices. Besides, they add both English and German subtitles to all videos, so that you can learn new and practical vocabularies quickly.      
  • Learn German with Jenny: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UClBrbJXNh2sFxOuvH4o5H9g
    Jenny is a professional translator and can therefore explain grammar and translate an idea from German to English or the other way around very well. 
  • Learn German: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8Km0txKTlSPYIJF9HwPZMA
    This channel collects audio books and provides the text from level A1 to C2. If you are an advanced learner, you can also check out their daily news with subtitles. They upload the news clips with captions every day.
  • TheSimpleEconomics: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCDkA4UVxKNjlTMSEYOISIjw
    At Frankfurt School, we learn everything in English. We usually don’t know how to explain those Financial and Business terms in German. On this channel, two guys transform business lectures into animations (with German subtitles!). It’s worth watching.

 Tip2: Practice grammar
Get yourself some textbooks around levels B1 and B2. Textbooks are dry but useful materials to lay a concrete foundation. Schedule a time to read them and do some grammar exercises especially from time to time. It helps.

 Tip3: Use German in your daily life as much as possible
I know this is very difficult because our German classmates can all speak English fluently. Nevertheless, try to speak, write, and read German on any occasion you can, like making a phone call with customer services for example. You can try many times until they understand what you need. It may sound embarrassing, but this conversation practice is free of charge. 😉 If your part-time job requires only English, let your German colleagues know that you are learning German and are very willing to speak. They are usually very understand and would love to respond in German if you initiate a German conversation.

 Tip4: Do online courses if you want to practice German with a teacher but can’t attend regular classes
There are also some online courses, like Lingoda, charging a certain amount per month. This offers a flexible way to force yourself to practice German.

 Tip5: Mental preparation
Learning German is like losing weight, it comes along with a lot of frustration. You need to live up to your goal while seeing the same number on the scale after being on a diet for half year. You sometimes manage to speak but sometimes can’t keep up with a conversation. It can be hard, especially as most of us juggle two foreign languages (English and German) at the same time. Still, please don’t give up. Keep trying and stick to the learning materials you find useful. Your German will improve bit by bit. 

Like you, I am still trying to improve my German day by day. I hope the above tips have been helpful and I would be very excited to hear how you learn German too!

 

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