Learning German, or any language for that matter, is supposed to invigorate the mind, dip you into a new culture and assist in forging bonds with others around the world.
Why is it that so many German-learning techniques lack the most rudimentary of elements? That being, of course, fun!
Learning apps are fun, books are fun, games are fun, and even some of those exercises in your old high school textbooks are fun. Now that I think about it, learning a language like German is a pretty fun activity, but you know what’s even better? Finding fun learning tricks that you haven’t done before.
That’s what we’re talking about today—the idea that you’ve yet to uncover every little invigorating activity and opportunity to expand your reach of the German language.
Keep reading to learn more about 13 fun and new ways to learn German while at work, at home or while speaking with other people.
Need a Fun Way to Learn German? Here Are 13
Before you even start, here’s a bonus: FluentU!
FluentU takes real-world videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons. Since this is the content that native German speakers actually watch, you get the chance to experience how modern German is spoken in real life.
Here’s just a brief example of the variety of content you’ll find on FluentU:
Watching a fun video, but having trouble understanding it? FluentU helps you get comfortable with everyday German by combining all the benefits of complete immersion and native-level conversations with interactive subtitles.
This way, you get German immersion online without ever worrying about missing a word.
Just tap on any subtitled word to instantly see an in-context definition, usage examples and a memorable illustration to help you understand how the word is used. If you see an interesting word you don’t know, you can add it to your vocabulary list for later review.
Once you’ve watched a video, you can use FluentU’s quizzes to actively practice all the vocabulary in that video. Swipe left or right to see more examples of the word you’re on.
Access a complete interactive transcript of every video under the Dialogue tab, and review words and phrases with convenient audio clips under Vocab.
FluentU will even keep track of all the German words you’ve learned, then recommend videos and ask you questions based on what you already know. Plus, it’ll tell you exactly when it’s time for review. Now that’s a 100% personalized experience!
1. Organize Your Office and Home in German
Maybe I’m not starting off with the most conventionally “fun” activity, but anyone who loves to organize stuff will understand where I’m coming from. You’ll get a great sense of satisfaction from arranging your spaces and study materials. You’ll personalize where you live and work, giving these places comfier and happier vibes overall. And if you’re a procrastinator by nature, then this is a great way to keep yourself busy while avoiding that thing you’re dreading avoiding.
You know your office and home require your attention anyway, so why not start using your organization time to learn German? Start by labeling your files (both on your computer and in your file cabinets) in German. I find that it’s best to use a professional label maker for the file cabinets, since it looks kinda messy otherwise.
Place labels on jars and other food items around the kitchen. This is best if you have jars or containers that contain bulk foods like sugar, salt or flour. You can also label cabinets with each of their contents, saving you time and testing your German each time you move about the kitchen.
Vocabulary Stickers are a great option to use for your home and office if you’re just starting out. They’re fun, colorful labels displaying the most important words in a language, ready for you to slap on the items you see and use every day. The German stickers are even coded by grammatical gender, so you can learn the gender of each word as you learn the word itself.
I also recommend making your calendar in German, whether it be digital or physical.
Consider placing labels on every item in your home. Once you start to get the hang of the words, remove the labels but continue talking to yourself and naming the items as you move throughout the home. This often works well if you assign one room in your house to be your designated German room. You only speak, write and interact in German when in that room. No other languages are allowed in that room.
2. Listen to German Music or Podcasts
The coolest parts of German music and podcasts are that you can listen just about anywhere. Pop in your earbuds and listen on your bike, while on the train, while traveling, while working or while walking around town.
An Expert Tip: Choose music that you actually enjoy, along with podcast topics you can get into. For example, if you don’t have any interest in cars, stay away from German automobile podcasts. It’s also wise to ask a friend to listen to the podcasts as well, so you can discuss them after.
3. Play a German Board Game or Video Game
Imagine browsing for online games, knowing that when you find some cool ones, all the dialogue and directions are in German. If online gaming is your style, consider using a proxy to switch your browsing IP address to Germany. This way, you can search a little easier and locate the games made with the German language.
It’s also not a bad idea to try out German board games, since they have instructions in German and you can try to speak with the other players in the German.
What are a few German board games I recommend?
- Kingdom Builder — Rule over your own kingdom by skillfully building your own settlements and earning as much gold as possible. Play with two to four players and negotiate with each other to get the best cards in the game.
- Die Legenden von Andor — This is an adventure-based game which is best played with four players, but you can go as low as two players. The story-based game system teaches you how to play in this unique and scenario-filled thriller.
- KLUGSCHEISSER — This is similar to the American board game Smart Ass, where you work to answer trivia questions that you’ve never given much thought to before. The idea is to guess answers to ridiculous questions and try to come out on top.
- Camel Up — Play with up to eight players, racing across the Egyptian desert on your camels. Players bet on the camels and try to see which of them will make it to the pyramid first.
4. Find a Group or Conversation Partner
I suggest joining a German Meetup in your area, many of which meet for coffee, go to movies or participate in lively discussions.
My Language Exchange is wonderful for locating someone in Germany to Skype or write with. I asked my girlfriend to learn German with me, which makes it easier to speak the language around the house and while eating out.
5. Print Out German Lyrics and Sing Around the House
Singing gives you a connection with the German culture, and it creates a habit of repetition. If you love singing in the shower or around the house, this will never feel like a chore when converting to German.
The tricky part is finding lyrics to your favorite songs in German. Whether you’re looking for classic German songs or translated Top 40 tunes, the About German Language page is a solid place to start.
6. Create Your Shopping Lists in German
When hounding the supermarket for groceries, try using a shopping list app on your phone or jotting the list on a piece of paper. Then, make the list in German!
If you’re writing the list for someone else, draw pictures next to the items so they know what you’re talking about. It helps to read off and pronounce the words when you’re actually shopping. This fun technique works for anything from grocery shopping to clothing shopping. It’s nice for covering a significant amount of words and associating items with those words.
7. Read German Newspapers, Books, Blogs and Magazines
If you like to read, you’re smarter than most. You can even turn that knowledge-absorbing hobby of yours into one that helps with learning German. From newspapers to books, blogs to magazines, reading is one of the funnest and most effective ways to learn German.
The best way is to find articles, books and newspapers that were originally written in German. I recently found a news shop near my house that has international magazines and newspapers like “Die Zeit.” I suggest looking for similar shops.
If you’d rather translate from English, or another language, to German, Google explains how to translate any page when using the Chrome browser.
8. Set Up a VPN to Access Tons of German Programming
German TV shows and movies assist in hearing and sometimes reading (subtitles) the German language. Beginners, consider watching shows that you have seen before so you can follow the story lines.
Essentially, a VPN makes it appear as if you’re using the internet in Germany rather than the United States (or wherever you are). By using a VPN, you can access content as if you were in Germany, Austria or Switzerland.
An easy way to set up a VPN and magically change your location to Germany is by installing HideMyAss! VPN on any of your devices—it works on your computer, smartphone and internet-enabled TVs and game systems.
9. Locate a German Restaurant (or Grocery Store) in Your Area
I recently stumbled upon a small deli near my place where most of the people in there speak German. It turns out, they’re more than happy to speak their native tongue with me!
Try to scope out your area and find a restaurant or grocery store run by Germans. If so, consider speaking German to them whenever you go in. This works well for interacting with other people and talking about important words—like food-related words.
10. Sign Up for Reddit and Discuss Topics You Enjoy in German
This technique is ideal for writing in German, since you can choose different topics and focus on building your knowledge on anything from books to bikes.
Many Reddit threads are based on learning German, but you can also find a few folks who just want to chat in German about anything. The Deutschland subreddit is a fine place to start.
11. Convert Your Phone Language to German
Since we’re on our phones so often, this serves as a powerful way to immerse yourself in the German language.
After converting your phone’s language, consider finding a few German-speaking friends who you can add to your contact list and send texts to.
12. Seek Out Recipes Written in German
Finding recipes helps with food vocab, measurements, time and much more. You can have fun by speaking out the ingredients in German and even pretending you’re running your own little cooking show.
I also suggest using an iPad or kitchen TV to watch cooking shows or one of the cool recipe apps they have on boxes like Roku. ChefKoch is a nice place to start your search, but AllRecipes Germany isn’t bad either. Go for traditional German foods to expand your knowledge of the culture. I like Sauerbraten (pickled roast) or Schnitzel (boneless cutlet of meat).
13. Like or Follow German Companies on Social Media
Facebook and Twitter are often viewed by people numerous times per day, and you receive tons of content and updates on your wall, ranging from simple ramblings to marketing messages.
If you follow German companies, this will start injecting their German messages into your news feed. Read the messages out loud and add a few more once you become comfortable with having that much German in your news feed. I enjoy following FFP New Media GmbH and Schindlerhof Klaus Kobjoll GmbH, because they both post quite a bit, and they’re considered two of the best places to work in Germany.
Of course, fell free to follow German celebrities, musicians, comedians and just some normal folk doing their postings—whatever is fun for you will work best!
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