For many people it can be hard to go to a language learning course because they feel embarrassed about their mistakes or, like me can’t find the time to do so. Today I want to look at what you can do to study German from home.
In the beginning you should look at some free online courses. After you get more confident you can read books, do listening comprehension exercises and search for a tandem partner to practice with.
A lot of people initially start to learn a new language at home. Most of them attend a course after they got some confidence in their own skills, or find the time to do so but some of them also continue studying at home. In this article I want to talk briefly about some methods to study German at home.
Read in German
This is by far my most favorite method, as it doesn’t feel like learning at all. This method works best after reaching a certain proficiency that let’s you read the original German books but it can be used at almost any level. If you are hard working and have a lot of motivation you can easily start reading German short stories before you even reach the A1 level.
If you read specific books for beginners, try asking yourself questions about the text. Initially you can use a list of German questions words to help you formulate those questions. This will not only help you solidify your knowledge on the structure of sentences but also teach you all the most frequently used German question words aswell.
The more you read the more your brain will memorize the patterns of German sentences and it will help you to get an intuition for the German grammar. Of course you need to read a whole lot of German texts to be able to reach mastery, but in my opinion, apart for speaking, reading is the most effective technique for quickly becoming fluent in German.
If you are interested in reading some easy short stories in German you can check out my short stories for beginners here
I have also written an article that goes more in depth about how to lern German by reading
Germanize Your Electronics
This tip is quite interesting but it can only be really used once you gained some experience in the German language. Switching all your electronics to German will work if you start to consciously navigate the menus and have a look at how English words are translated in to German, while you use your devices.
This method should be part of a whole immersion process, but it can also be used alone. The best part about this is not learning new words, but the fact that your brain will have to deal with German over the course of the whole day. Especially if you switch the language of your phone to German you will have a constant input of German.
Listen to German Music
Listening to German music is useful in the beginning, as it can be done almost anywhere and you will be able to stimulate the part in your brain which is responsible for learning German. It will not only help you to get better at understanding spoken German, it will also add towards exposing your brain to German over the course of the day, even at a time where you are not actively learning it. You can have the music playing in the background while you are doing things at home, or listen to it actively and try to understand as much as you can.
After your level of German has risen, you are now able to understand more of the songs, so you should read the lyrics of your most favorite songs and try to recognize what is being said in the song. This will help you understand how Germans can swallow some parts of words in spoken German and it will rise your overall proficiency in German, especially with spoken German. You should try to have a daily routine of listening to German music while you are at home.
Use Free Online Courses
There are a lot of free German courses out there that teach you topics in various difficulties. Some are better of course, while others are simply trying to lure you to the website, but overall there is a lot of great free resources out there, ready to be used to help you to learn German from home.
Even though there is plenty of material available, not all of the courses will work out for you. You will have to try different ones and figure out for yourself, which course works best for you. Especially beginners should avoid these courses that focus only on grammar, as it will be confusing you more than helping you.
For beginners it will be very helpful to look at courses that teach you basic things like introducing yourself, talking about the weather or talking about your family. You don’t need to know any grammar at this point. Once you progress it will be important to also look at the grammar to help you with getting a deeper understanding of why certain things are phrased in a specific way.
Find a Tandem Partner
Finding a tandem partner will be a very crucial thing if you intend to learn German purely from home. You will have to speak in order to get fluent in the German language. Of course some people need less speaking than others, but there is no way around this.
A tandem partner is someone who is interested in learning your own language while at the dame time speaking the language that you want to learn. You will have more or less regularly scheduled meetings in Skype or other VoIP programs to speak to each other in those languages.
This will give you the opportunity to speak with a native speaker who can give you valuable feedback on how you are doing with pronunciation and intonation of the words you learned so far. At the same time you will have the chance to practice your German without having to expose yourself to other people, so you can be very relaxed about the mistakes you make while speaking.
Having a tandem partner can also be extended to having a pen pal with whom you exchange emails (or real letters if you like that) in order to practice your written German skills. In our days it is easy to find people who are ready to help you with practicing any language in exchange for the same kind of help.
There are various websites out there which offer to help you with your search for a tandem partner. There are also paid or free solutions. And you can also use other websites like for example reddit, to find people that are willing to practice together with you.
Even though it is not easy to learn German from home, it certainly can be done but you should be clear about the challenges which you have to face if you chose that way. In my opinion, these techniques which I described above shouldn’t be viewed as a way to study German by yourself, but more like an addition to courses that you already take.
There is a lot of stuff that you can do at home to improve your German, but at the same time there is also equally as many opportunities that come with taking classes somewhere. I think learning German at home will be especially in the beginning and in later stages of your journey, but it can not fully substitute a traditional language course.
Learning German only at home can make the process of learning how to speak fluently a lot harder than it needs to be. Often times you will search for a long time until you find the right resources and you can end up paying a lot more money than you initially wanted to. This doesn’t mean that it is impossible to learn German from home, but it is over complicating the whole process.