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How to Start Learning German Smartly

Here are my tested tips that will help you get started on the right foot when you start learning German.

If your German journey just starts, it can be a bit confusing because there are too many options and you have no idea how to start learning German.

Here are some tips for you to guide your German journey.


How to start learning german smartly

1. Set clear goals for your German learning journey
2. Learn the rules of pronunciation first
3. Go through the basic rules of German grammar
4. Use a textbook
5. Have a great amount of German input
6. Collect useful expressions for you

1.Set Clear Goals

On the surface, goals might appear to have nothing to do with learning German specifically. But trust me, they do.Setting clear goals will help us stay motivated and focused as we learn. 

Do you want to be able to hold a basic conversation with German speakers? Do you (only) want to read and write in German for your bachelor or master thesis? 

When you have different goals, the contents and emphasis of your learning should also change accordingly. 

For example, if you only want to have a casual conversation with your German colleagues, you do not need to be too obsessed with every grammatical detail. the others would probably still understand you with your imperfect grammar knowledge. 

On the contrary, if you need to pass a language exam for your study, then you will have to make sure that you can build correct sentences  according to the grammar rules. 

2. Learn the Pronunciation Rules First

Good news for German learners: German is a fairly “simple” language when it comes to pronunciation rules. 

Unlike English, there are almost no exceptions to the pronunciation of German. This means that if you understand the rules of pronunciation you will be able to properly pronounce every German word when you see it, whether you know the meaning of the word or not.

Fortunately, there are many free and systematic resources available on Youtube for this purpose. Usually, you will fully understand how German words should be pronounced  in about 2 days to a week. 

Afterwards, you only need to apply them repeatedly as you go on with your learning. As you repeat more, you will be more and more familiar with the rules. And in no time, you can master the rules completely. 

3. Go through the Basic Grammar Rules

The grammar rules here are not necessarily advanced grammatical rules, but rules around A1-A2 level, such as the word gender, the order of sentences, how to conjugate verbs, how to make interrogative sentences, etc. 

This will help you master the most basic and simple sentences that you need in your daily life.Gather some expressions that would be useful to you. 

For the most basic grammar points, you will need about 3 days to 2 weeks to go through them. 

4. Use a German Textbook

A textbook can help you build the strongest possible language foundation. 

If you want to learn the language more systematically, then I suggest that you choose a German textbook that you like and stick to it until around B1. Especially if you need to take a language exam. 

Here are my textbook recommendations.

If you just watch videos on Youtube, you will most likely only learn bits and pieces. They may be a bit more interesting than a textbook, but they are not systematic enough. When you need to take a language exam, you need to master all the points required for the exam, not just the ones you are interested in. 

Thus textbooks can do a good job of covering the language points that you must know for each language level. This way, you will be better prepared for the exam.

From my experience, even if you don’t need to take the exam, the contents from A1 to B1 textbooks are still worth learning. The most important expressions we need to use in our daily lives are all included in A1-B1 textbooks, such as how to make an appointment, how to express our needs, etc. 

The more basic things are, the more important it is for us to have a solid grasp of them. 

If possible, I would also recommend you take an online course for the textbook you are using. The reason is simple: as a beginner, you may struggle with an all-German textbook. It will be more effective and less time-consuming to have someone who will take you by the hand and lead you through the process.

5. Have a Great Amount of German Input

Movies, series and music are good tools for us to develop a sense of the German language. 

When we first start learning German, movies, TV shows and German music can provide us with a lot of input of the German language, helping us become familiar with the intonation of the language without us realizing it. 

At this point, the goal is not to understand everything you hear, but to become familiar with the pronunciation habits of the language. Adequate listening input will put you in an advanced position for the next stage of communication.

I will write other articles about recommended TV shows, movies and music in German.

Alternatively, you can watch something in German that you are already familiar with. To give you an example from my own experience, I loved Friends and have watched it numerous times in high school. 

So, when I decided to learn German, I changed the dubbing language to German. Because I was already familiar enough with the plot, I could understand what was going on in it even in German.

6. Collect Useful Expressions for You

Many might suggest that you start your German learning by memorizing the 1,000 to 1,500 most commonly used German words. But this method didn’t work too well on me.

Rather than memorizing words, I think it is more important to memorize the expressions and sentences that you need to use the most for yourself.

For example, if your goal is to communicate with Germans, then you will definitely need sentences like

  • My name is Sophia.
    Mein Name ist Sophia.
  • I started learning German in April last year. 
    Ich habe im April letzten Jahres angefangen, Deutsch zu lernen.
  • I am learning German because I want to work in Germany in the future.
    Ich lerne Deutsch, weil ich in der Zukunft in Deutschland arbeiten möchte.
  • Currently I work for Siemens.
    Zurzeit arbeite ich bei Siemens.
  • I take time out of my day to learn German.
    Ich nehme mir jeden Tag Zeit, um Deutsch zu lernen.


The important thing is that the expressions must be relevant to you. So you have to write these sentences yourself.

These expressions are relevant to you and are the ones you will use every time you present your situation.

So, they are easier to remember than isolated words. It is also more meaningful to you because these expressions help you connect with others.

The Bottom Line

These ere are the tips that I have tested myself for German learning. I hope they could inspire you and help boost up your German learning journey.

Remember, these rules are not fixed. You should try them out and see if they work for you!

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