Speaking is easy, right?
You just need to put your lips together, engage your vocal chords, and then the words will fall right out.
Well, sure, it is pretty easy speaking in your native tongue. But how do you think you would fare in a foreign language, like German?
Learning to speak a foreign language is no easy feat, no matter what level you’re at. Even the advanced German speakers out there sometimes get nervous when they have to show off their speaking skills.
So if advanced German speakers start to quake in their boots when they think about chatting in German, imagine what it’s like for all of the beginning German learners who are only just coming to grips with the language!
Thankfully, it isn’t all quite as bad as you may think. There are lots of ways that you beginners can make the speaking side of the language a lot easier. And one of them is by reading this blog post!
Why Do We Find Speaking German So Hard?
Speaking a language shouldn’t be this difficult, should it? After all, speaking is natural and something that we all pick up from birth. Sure, learning a native language is easy peasy; it’s when you move onto learning a second language once you’re older that things start to get tricky.
We struggle with foreign vocabulary and grammar, and our mind can get a bit muddled, making it hard to talk fluently. Without a lot of German vocabulary and grammar under your belt, you won’t be able to speak very fluently, and this puts a lot of learners off the whole idea. They’re scared and lack confidence! But once you start to improve your language skills as a whole, you’ll find that speaking gets easier and even becomes second nature.
Not many people realize this, but you need to be a good listener if you ever want to become a good speaker. Really, it makes sense when you think about it. By listening, you can pick up on how native speakers pronounce certain words and enunciate sounds. It will also give you a better idea of how native speakers use the words in their language, making it easier for you to pick up idioms.
Lots of beginners find that “impostor syndrome” quickly sets in when they start to learn and speak a new language. What exactly is impostor syndrome? It’s the fear of being exposed when someone discovers that you actually aren’t as good as you think you are. Lots of people feel this when they start to learn new skills or take up a new hobby.
If you do ever start to experience feelings like this, you need to try to nip them in the bud right away before they put you off continuing with your language studies. Just look at all the learning milestones that you’ve hit while learning German! By seeing how far you’ve come so far, you should be motivated to push on and keep going, taking your German language skills even further!
6 Easy Peasy German Speaking Tips for Beginners
1. Speak Along with Audiobooks
Audiobooks are a great resource for practicing your listening skills. To take this up a notch, though, you should start speaking along with them. That way, both your listening and speaking skills get a workout!
If you have the book handy, you can use that as a script so that you don’t miss any of the lines. Ideally, you want to get to the point where you don’t need to read along. One way to perfect your speaking is to rewind any sections which you find particularly difficult. By doing this over and over again, you’ll find that you really start to ace your pronunciation!
2. Find a German Tandem Partner
Of course, there’s no better way to practice speaking than by actually putting it to good use. And you can do that if you find a German tandem partner. The idea with tandem partnerships is that your partner will speak in their native language, German, if you use your English with them as well. Then the two of you both benefit from joining up.
Many language schools and programs can help you find a tandem partner, but there are also websites where you can find one. In many cases, the idea is to meet up face-to-face, but you can also start chatting online with your new German-speaking friends through services like Skype if you’re having difficulty teaming up with someone in person.
3. Watch People Speak German
Watching other people speak German isn’t quite as silly as it may sound. It gives you a chance to really focus on the speaker’s mouth and watch how they use their lips and tongue to make every sound, which is a great way of picking up pronunciation.
There are various ways you can watch people speak German. For example, you can stream some fantastic German, Austrian and Swiss movies and TV shows on Netflix.
To really amp up your video learning experience, use FluentU to watch interesting and entertaining German videos.
FluentU is one of the best websites and apps for learning German the way native speakers really use it. FluentU takes real-world videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
Watch authentic media to simultaneously immerse yourself in the German language and build an understanding of the German culture.
By using real-life videos, the content is kept fresh and current. Topics cover a lot of ground as you can see here:
Vocabulary and phrases are learned with the help of interactive subtitles and full transcripts.
Hovering over or tapping on any word in the subtitles will automatically pause the video and instantly display its meaning. Interesting words you don’t know yet can be added to a to-learn list for later.
For every lesson, a list of vocabulary is provided for easy reference and bolstered with plenty of examples of how each word is used in a sentence.
Your existing knowledge is tested with the help of adaptive quizzes in which words are learned in context.
FluentU keeps track of the words you’re learning and gives you extra practice with difficult words. It'll even remind you when it’s time to review what you’ve learned.
This way, you have a truly personalized learning experience.
Start using FluentU on the website with your computer or tablet or practice anytime, anywhere on the mobile app for iOS and Android.
4. Practice Listening
If you expose yourself to a lot of different sounds that are commonly used in the German language, you’ll pick them up a lot more quickly and you’ll be able to use them yourself sooner.
To turn this into an active exercise, you should make a note of any words or phrases that you don’t really understand. Keep a vocab list of these words and continue reviewing them until you’ve learned them and can correctly pronounce them.
You can get in your listening practice by watching the types of videos mentioned above, but you should also listen to plenty of German music and watch German movies.
5. Talk to Yourself
If you have no one else to talk to, you should just try talking to yourself! The only downside to this is that you need to keep both sides of the conversation going!
This is especially useful if you’ve just learned some new vocabulary or phrases. By repeating them to yourself in the context of longer sentences, they’ll stay fresher in your mind for longer. Eventually, they’ll stick and you’ll remember them for good!
6. Don’t Be Shy
Finally, it’s important to point out that you shouldn’t be shy when you practice your German. You need to be as confident as you can be! It’s crucial that you use your spoken German as often as you can, and being shy will get in the way of you doing that. Don’t worry, though; you’ll naturally grow in confidence the more you use your German. Once you start speaking it, you may surprise yourself with just how much you know!
The best way to build your confidence in your speaking skills is to use them regularly. If you start to follow some of the tips that I’ve mentioned in this blog, then confidence will come naturally. Not only that, but you’ll be continually exposing yourself to more and more German, which means your language skills will also flourish!
Hopefully, this blog post will have gotten you all pumped up and ready to use your German speaking skills!
Once you start practicing with all of the tips and ideas in this post, you’ll find that there’s no stopping you. You’ll want to show off your brilliant speaking skills to anyone and everyone you meet!
Laura Harker is a freelance writer based in North Yorkshire, UK.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn German with real-world videos.