Deutsch Lernen: The Best Ways to Learn German

photo: Days of Deutsch

Actually fact is that you can easily get by in Berlin without any German. It has happened to me more than one time that I started speaking German in a cafe or restaurants only to be stared at blankly with the response of ‘Do you speak English?’. So why bother?

Because you are missing out on nuances of the German culture. As with every language, there are things that you can only express in German and any attempt of translation will lose the meaning immediately. Jokes are not funny anymore by the time somebody has translated them. Or take the word ‘Schadenfreude’ –  so unique in its meaning that the word is now used worldwide in German and everybody understands what this means. So what is the best way to actually learn German, one of the most difficult languages to learn? Read more about our recommendations after the jump.

Language School

There is a reason there are countless language schools in town. You can choose from public ones such as the many Volkshochschulen that offer really affordable beginner courses, or you can book courses at one of the many independent language schools like the Berlino Schule in Friedrichshain or the Sprachsalon in Neukölln. Any U-bahn or S-Bahn you’re in, you’ll likely see advertising for at least one language school. Get kick-started with a crash course for beginners to get a hang of the basic words and basic sentence structure.

photoShane Global / CC


If you already have some basic knowledge of the language and prefer more one-on-one lessons we recommend finding a tandem partner. This might night be common in the country you are coming from, but here in Berlin it’s huge because Germans love to learn foreign languages, and preferably from native speakers. If you haven’t heard of the tandem system, it’s quite easy (and has nothing to do with riding tandem bikes actually): With your tandem partner you have casual meet-ups where you teach each other your respective language. You will learn the language with everyday conversations and quickly get to know a lot of common expressions. The best thing is that you can do fun things together instead of sitting in a class room, and it’s totally free. There are a bunch of websites that offer you listings of people looking for tandem partners. Even the big universities FU and HU both have listings of people looking for tandem partners.

photo: Sascha Kohlmann / CC


After language school the trick is to surround yourself with German language. Watch German TV and listen to German radio. German language music is another way to practice that is just more fun than the usual class work. This list of iconic 10 German pop songs might help you remember some German and learn the language and it’s expressions ‘outside of the textbook’. Have them on repeat while on the go – ‘Ear Worm’ guaranteed (‘Ear worm’ is a literal translation to ‘Ohrwurm’ which means ‘having a song stuck in your head’. See what I mean? Some things just can’t be translated…)

photo: Spry / CC

German only at home. Or else…

New in Berlin? Find an apartment with a German flatmate. Though most Germans speak good English see if you can find somebody who insists on speaking German at home. If this fails maybe you can agree on a few days a week when only German is allowed at home. Set up a piggy bank and whoever drops a non-German word needs to put 50 cent in. Whatever money you collect – take your flatmate out for a bear at the end of the month.

photo: Phil Trease / CC

Go crazy with post-its

Turn your apartment into a kindergarten and put up post-its with the German description of all the things you would usually need and do at home. ‘Zähne putzen’ on the bathroom mirror, ‘Tschüss, bis nachher’ on the inside of the apartment door, ‘Ich habe Hunger’, ‘Ich habe Durst’, ‘Kühlschrank’ and various contents thereof on the fridge door. The sky is the limit. This is also a nice way to help your boyfriend/girlfriend or flatmate to learn your language. And if you don’t want to plaster your apartment you can check out the blog Days of Deutsch that will introduce you to new German words in a playful way.

photo: Girard Alexandre / CC

Use your Smartphone

No, not for using a translation app, silly. I bet you already know all the commands of your phone by heart, right? So go ahead and switch your settings to German. Maybe make note of how to change the settings so that you’ll always be able to set it back into English should you really struggle.

And while we are talking about smartphones, of course we don’t want to forget all the helpful language learning apps such as Duolingo and Memrise.

photo: Japanexperterna / CC

Use YouTube

There is actually a great amount of language lessons in the form of YouTube videos such as the really funny ones from German with Jenny. But we also really like the Easy Languages video (that come in many languages including German) that are basically like little TV shows shot in the streets about all kinds of topics or practical situation spoken in a very clear and simple German that makes them perfect for beginners to get more into the language. An example below:

Socialize. Don’t do it alone.

Join one of the Meetup Groups to practice German. Not that you need any excuses to get out of the house but isn’t it much better to go speak German and have an incentive to do so while laughing about the process of learning it with similar minded people?

There are also some non-conventional language schools such as Easy Language Classes that offer social activities as a supplement to their classes where you can practice your freshly learned German words in real life.

photo: me is dmtr / CC

Never make assumptions!

Finally found a word that literally translates? Or so you think? Never assume it means the same in German as it does in English. I will never forget my American boyfriend’s disappointed face when he excitedly ordered a pizza pepperoni and instead of pepperoni pizza (meaning pizza with spicy salami) had… well pieces of pepperoni vegetable on his pizza.

photo: Philippe Lorenzo / CC

And last but not least: practice, practice, practice. We know, German is a difficult language, but don’t give up! After all, “Übung macht den Meister”.

PS: Here are some more recommendations by our fellow blogger from Days of Deutsch.

Diesen Artikel auf deutsch lesen.

<a href="" target="_self">Yoori</a>