Your first month of German lessons is the most crucial to your success. This step by step survival guide to your first month of German lessons will help you get off to the right start. So why do you want to learn German? Write down your number one reason. Then write down any additional reasons that come to mind. Did you know that most people who start learning German don’t reach their goal of conversational fluency?
The biggest reason is that they don’t have enough motivation. Their ‘why’ is not strong enough. Look at the reasons you’ve written down and reflect on them to make sure you’re motivated enough to spend the time it takes to learn German. So before we begin, visualize what it will feel like to speak German and to understand conversations in German.
Will you travel to Berlin and visit other beautiful cities in Germany? Maybe you'll finally be able to connect with that distant relative or co-worker.Once you've written this down, we can move on.For inspiration, check out one of our video on the benefits of learning a language:
How to Make the Most of Your German Lessons in the First 30 Days
Resources for your first month of German lessons
The next thing to do is to get the right resources so that you can use them to develop habits where you regularly study and practice your German. Get resources to focus on reading, writing, speaking, listening. You need a balance of all four elements. Here is a list of what you need to get your first month of German off on the right foot:
- German grammar guide - Unless you’re a grammar geek or grammar guru, you will likely find German grammar daunting. While it's important to have a grammar resource to explain the basics, for the first month, just use the grammar guide as a reference when you have questions. Don’t obsess over German grammar and certainly don’t try to master German grammar in your first month.
- German phrase book - get a basic phrase book for your to memorize the basics. You’ll realize that as you learn essential German phrases you also start to pick up German grammar with less effort than actually studying the grammar guide.
- German dictionary - get a German-English / English-German as a reference. Make a habit of browsing through it from time to time and even make your own flashcards from essential German words.
- The gold list method - to build up vocabulary regularly. It requires a notebook. Its inventor David James explains it on his blog post.
- Install Flipword extension - It will flip some English words over to German for you so each time you scan a web page in English, you’ll automatically get some German practice in.
- The Goethe Institute and meetup.com - for German-speaking gatherings and events in your local area.
Actionable tips for your first 30 days of German lessons
Here is a list of what you need to remember:
- Set habits. Write down in advance how many hours and how many days a week you will study German. Keep a log. A spreadsheet such as Google docs will help you keep track. Don't binge. Language learning is more effective in 20-minute increments than it is in marathon stretches that last hour. Each week you need to spend at least nine 20-minute sessions on your German.
- Write a list of tasks you can do in German and make the habit of doing them in German.
- Expose yourself to the language as much as possible. Go out of your way to use the language.
- Find the method that suits your personality. Do you like to speak from day one? Do you prefer to listen first? Try out both methods and see for yourself which you are more comfortable with. There is no one correct way to learn, but it’s important to note that Germans do like it when their language is spoken properly.
- Get a private teacher. A one-on-one tutor will do wonders for your German. It also helps you overcome your inhibitions of speaking and of making mistakes in front of others.
Immerse yourself in German
The first month is crucial to immerse yourself. If your intent is to learn standard German you have the time and money to spend a month in Germany, it would be the best option of all. Throughout Germany, there are language schools where you can attend classes, participate in activities and excursions, and find a place for room and board. An example is Colon Language School in Hamburg. But trust us, this isn't necessary.
We've seen far more students learn faster by leveraging the resources at their disposal (from their local city). You can watch German movies, listen to German speaking podcasts, work with a German teacher online, and the dozens of other German learning resources available to you.
Set goals for what you want
Make a goal that by the end of the first month, you will have learned 1,000 German words. Or that you can hold a one-minute conversation with a German native speaker. Make sure it feels uncomfortable. Make sure to spend time on pronunciation. You’ll want to focus on the vowel sounds that don’t exist in English. There is also the omnipresent umlaut, or dieresis, the two dots over the A, O, and U. You’ll also need to get used to the ß. It may look like a big B, but it is really a double s.
It’s also good to learn about German culture in your first month. When you learn a new language, it’s important to remember that German culture is different from your own culture. Germans are known to be more direct. Small talk isn’t a priority for Germans either. So don’t take it personally when you see that it takes time to build a friendship with Germans. You may also consider joining a language challenge group, where your peers can help motivate you. Rype has an avid community of language lovers that motivate each other.
Remember, this all starts with your inner purpose. Once you have that established, build up the habit to use the German resources we mentioned above. When you can take action on this, you're already ahead of most German beginners.
Ready to get started with your first month of German lessons?