Germans love speed (Can you say BMW?) Speed is also deeply ingrained in American culture. Between commuting, emails, microwavable everything, it’s natural we want results and we want them now. How about learning German in just over a week? In the essence of these fast times, here are ten fun ways to learn to speak German uber fast. Was fällt dir denn eigentlich ein? (What’s the big idea?)
1. Go on Vacation
If you’ve always wanted to visit your great-grandfather’s hometown in Germany, there’s not a better time than today. The fastest way to speak German is to travel to Germany and submerge yourself in the language. Not only will you see historic architecture and beautiful countryside, but you’ll also perfect your essential German.
2. Take a Walk
Find German-speaking people in your neighborhood. In most large cities there are culture institutes with language exchange programs. Join a German conversation group, often sponsored by community outreach and heritage societies. . “Language is not a genetic gift, it is a social gift. Learning a new language is becoming a member of the club — the community of speakers of that language,” says Frank Smith, famed reporter, editor and the author of “The Book of Learning and Forgetting“.
3. Make it a Blockbuster Night
Watching a foreign film is another great way to learn German. Amazon suggests, “The Lives of Others”, “Run Lola Run,” and “The Pianist” as a few of the top internationally successful German flicks. You’ll hear German spoken fluently and learn to train your ear. Try to avoid subtitles or dubbing which will distract from the experience. (But you might turn them on after just to see how close you guessed at that 13-syllable word).
4. Become a Bookworm
Checking out German novels, travel guides and books that describe German are excellent resources to enrich the learning process. Parallel-text versions of (German and English side by side) of classics like “Socialism: Utopian and Scientific (Preface by: Karl Marx) by Frederick Engels, “The Eighteenth Brumair of Luis Bonaparte,” by Karl Marx, and “Dream Psychology: Psychoanalysis for Beginners,” By Sigmund Freud. It’s one thing to make a reference to Freud, but another thing to impress people by telling them you actually read the original text in German.
5. Turn on your Radio and TV
One of the key skills in learning a new language is how the mind comprehends the spoken word. Nowadays, many cable companies broadcast German programming. “When you know another language; you suddenly realize there is a multitude of worlds. You can become a member of EVERY club,” says Smith. In addition there are many German radio stations that can be accessed via the Internet such as radio (http://home.comcast.net/~dkalischer/WebRadio/GermanRadio.htm) or nab a learning cd, like this audio program (http://www.pimsleurapproach.com/learn-german.asp). An immersive audio experience can’t be beat for learning quickly.
6. Jam Out to German
Nab some great German tunes and take a look at the notes found on the inside cover. (Kraftwerk anyone?). These handy liner notes often have the song lyrics printed inside and are a great resource to expanding your German vocabulary. Listen to the tunes and skim the lyrics. Soon enough those catchy songs will stick to your brain and you’ll be belting out German with a native accent.
7. Play to Win
Studying a foreign language doesn’t have to be boring. Find your favorite games in German. You’ll quickly pick up on phrases and new vocabulary and have fun while doing it. This is a win-win situation. Playing your favorite games and learning? Who’d a thunk it? Oh and if you’re feeling especially frisky, test your German Scrabble skills. Viel Glück! (Good luck)
8. Get Creative
Put the mojo back into your language learning bag. One idea is to grab some sticky notes and write German words or phrases for everything all over your house. Deck out the living room, kitchen (Enjoy your meal! Guten Appetit!), garage, even the toilet paper in your bathroom (besides, that word will be very useful when you travel abroad) and it’s a fun way to boost your German vocabulary.
9. Express Yourself
Do you have a favorite German expression? Learn another one. Every time you learn an essential German phrase you’re expanding your word power. Soon enough, you’ll be speaking like a native. Warum ist mir das nicht eingefallen? (Why didn’t I think of that?)
10. German Class
When you’re ready, attend a class or get a tutor. The structure will help you develop a routine for quickly learning the language. Try the Pimsleur Approach (http://www.pimsleurapproach.com/learn-german.asp.com), which offers a fabulous program designed to make learning German actually fun. Forget about boring vocabulary lists and repeating pointless verbatim. Imagine simply listening and absorbing language in the same structure you learned as a child. Everything is broken down exactly the way kids learn. It’s simple, fully audio (so you can multitask) and is the easiest program to engage with the least amount of effort.
Now that you have several language learning ideas planted in that brain of yours, the next step is pick a few and run with them. Start incorporating bits of the German language and culture into your routine and soon enough you’ll be speaking like a native in no time. Learning German opens up so many opportunities. Smith sums it up perfectly; “One language sets you in a corridor for life. Two languages open every door along the way.”