Learning a new language is a great way to exercise the grey cells. If you are a frequent visitor to Germany and/or Austria, you will understand just how handy it can be to trot out the odd phrase or two in cafes, bars, restaurants, hotels, tourist attractions and more.
But are online language courses the right option?
#1 Commit to It
There are many reasons why you would want to learn a new language, but underpinning them all should be a commitment to the language itself, to using as much as you can and so on. Languages are an inherent part of culture and by learning a new language, you are promoting and safeguarding that culture.
#2 Find a Working Partner
Learning a new language is about reading, writing, listening and speaking – in other words, using the language as often as possible.
One of the problems many students face, whether they are sat in a classroom or at home, is a sudden and paralysing attack of self-consciousness.
Pronouncing strange words, having to think clearly and quickly to produce coherent sentences in a different language need one thing – a willing partner to listen. Why not learn the language together?
#3 OR, Talk to Yourself
It may sound a little odd, but many students of online language courses all say that talking to themselves, practicing phrases, making lists in their new language and so on, all help to cement the new ideas they are learning. Try it!
#4 Don’t Get Lost in a Textbook or Course Materials
Make conversation your goal and that means not hiding in the textbook or course materials. You may have a sound theoretical knowledge of how German sentences are constructed, but when it comes to ordering a “burger ohne zwiebeln”, you will be tongue-tied.
#5 Have Fun with It
Think of fun ways you can practice your new German language skills. Draw a comic strip, write a poem, write a Facebook post in German, tweet in German asking for German language email pen pals or talk in German whenever and wherever you can.
#6 Age is NOT Stopping You Learning
As children, we learn by sitting at our desk in school, we have an expectation that we won’t get things perfekt every time.
We also assume that as we get older, our brains have less aptitude to take on new things and new learning. But there is no scientific evidence to prove this. As an adult, you are just as capable as learning a new skill as you were when you were a child.
#7 Push Out of Your Comfort Zone
We mentioned the feeling of being self-conscious in an earlier point but frankly, for anyone studying online language courses, being embarrassed by mispronunciation or the use of the wrong German word stops them from really enjoying learning a new language.
There is a psychological process that says for anyone scared of something, the way to overcome the fear is to face the stimulus over and over again. Familiarity means less fear of getting it wrong.
And that means using your new language skills as often as possible. Take a look online; are there online German speaking communities that could be useful?
The digital age means we live in an increasingly smaller world where we can easily access newspaper and TV programmes from around the world.
Listening is also part of learning a new language. For example, some languages pronounce letters and combinations of letters differently.
Invest in spending time listening to German music stations, accessing German TV programmes via the web and other German language outlets.
#9 Watch People Talk
To get the sounds right, you will need to move and use your tongue differently to form different shapes. And this means watching the expressions and shapes of people’s faces as they speak German. Enjoy a German language film – how do facial expressions change with different sounds.
It sounds odd, but maybe the way in which you are holding your mouth and tongue is stopping you from grasping the sounds correctly.
#10 Deutsch Sprechen Jeden Tag
The translation? Speak German every day – or whichever language you are using.
This can be having a conversation with yourself, listening to German-language music and pop songs, reading a German article aloud from the Internet – there are so many tasks and activities you can complete in German or the language you are choosing to learn.
Above all, make it fun and enjoy it!
ohne zwiebeln – without onions
perfekt – perfect