Today on the blog, we have Anna Pastrikos, sharing the second article of her series on learning German on My Swiss Story.
If you have read my last article, you will remember that I gave you an overview of the 4 sub-skills that you need in order to learn any language – including German. Now it is time to dive a little deeper into each skill – today we will look closer into the skill of speaking and I will answer the following questions.
- How can I start speaking German?
- What is the best way to improve your speaking skills fast?
- How do I get more confident when speaking German?
1. Speak as much as you can
If you are planning to learn German you will probably enroll in a German course. One of the first things that you will learn are very basic phrases such as:
|Wie geht es dir?||How are you?|
|Mir geht es gut und dir?||I’m fine and you?|
|Woher kommst du?||Where do you come from?|
|Welche Sprachen sprichst du?||Which languages do you speak?|
|Wieviel kostet das?||How much does this cost?|
|Ich möchte gerne…||I would like…|
These everyday phrases are easy to learn and once you know them they will enable you to have very short conversations at supermarkets, coffee shops, with other students, your teacher, or even strangers. From the very beginning, you should try out every new phrase that you learn in order to get the speaking experience – and most importantly don’t be shy or afraid to make mistakes. It is absolutely normal to make mistakes when learning a new language, it is part of the process! So embrace your language learning journey and start speaking today.
2. Immerse yourself into German and make the language part of your everyday life
My next tip ties in with the previous one, but goes a bit further. If you do live in a German-speaking country such as Switzerland, Austria, or Germany I encourage you to really immerse yourself into the German-speaking community. This doesn’t mean that all your friends have to be German. You can start slow and choose one activity that is offered near you, such as joining a book club, a sports club, a dance class … the possibilities are endless!
Whatever your interest is – get active and meet like-minded people from your local community. But don’t stop there. Try to make your small everyday interactions in German. Grabbing a coffee before work, buying fresh bread from the bakery, greeting your neighbours – make a conscious effort to do it in German!
3. Practice listening & speak along with audio books
In order to have (even a small) conversation in German, it is vital that you improve your listening skills as well. Understanding what the other person is saying can be tricky especially if he/she speaks fast or with a dialect. Therefore, you should practice your listening skills at home or in the German course with your teacher.
Listening is a skill that you can easily practice and improve by yourself with an audio file. There are many German learning audiobooks that you can listen to on your way to work on in your free time. If you are at home you can also try to read along with them, that way, you are practicing both – your listening and your speaking skills.
4. Prepare things to say ahead of time
Your first conversations in German will probably be very basic and short. Therefore, the best way to start is by preparing some phrases ahead of time. When you know you will go to the bakery to buy some bread you can very easily prepare what you want to say, as the conversation is very predictable. Once you know your lines by heart the dialogue will seem a lot easier and smoother than if you are struggling to find the right words. This applies to every short conversation you might have throughout the day in German. Shopping in the supermarket, ordering at a restaurant, or buying a train ticket – most common everyday activities won’t require more than 10 phrases that you can learn by heart.
5. Get a tandem partner
Having small interactions in the supermarket or when ordering food is great, but at some point, you will want to level up your German speaking skills. The best way to do that is by finding a partner with whom you can speak. Paying a private teacher to practice your speaking skills can be expensive, so I would recommend finding a tandem partner. A tandem partner is another person who wants to learn the language that you speak (either your mother tongue or a language you are very proficient in) and who speaks the language you want to learn.
For example, A Swiss person who wants to learn Spanish. You are Spanish and want to learn German. You two meet up once a week for two hours and practice one hour of German and then one hour of Spanish. A tandem is not designed to explain or practice grammar. It is a place where you can speak freely with a native speaker and improve your speaking skills. If you google “tandem partner and your city” you will find many websites where you can sign up and find a tandem partner.
I hope you enjoyed reading this article and that I could give you some useful tips on how to improve your German speaking skills. The most important thing is to just start – don’t be shy and more importantly don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Try to be confident even if speaking German seems hard at the beginning. Don’t worry if you’re underconfident at the beginning, your confidence will grow every time you speak German – so my advice is to just go for it!
Guest author: My name is Anna Pastrikos – I’m a passionate language teacher and the Founder of the German Academy Zurich. On my blog, you can find tips and advice on how to pass the Telc and Goethe exams.
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