5 ways to learn a new language faster

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Moving to a country before knowing the language can be really frustrating. When I first came to Germany, I barely spoke a German word. It took me almost 3 years until I was able to have some basic conversation in German!

Moving to Germany or new in Germany? Check out our Resources Page for all the help you need!

After years of a painful process, here are my tips on how to learn a new language faster:

(1) Make local friends

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When you are new to a country, you will find it comfortable to meet some other people who are also new. There is nothing wrong with making international friends. However, if you want to learn the language fast, you will need some balance in your friend circle. The best would be to hang out with many local friends and speak with them in their language.

One good way to make local friends is to live in a shared flat, which is very common in Germany. This is not only good for the language, but also for your social life as you will probably become friends with them. If you have a local partner, it is even better, as long as you are talking with each other in the local language!

Read also: 25 Best Dating Apps & Sites in Germany That Really Work – Free and Paid

(2) Watch movies in the local language

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Two to three years ago, I started to watch Hollywood movies with German dubbing, because I really wanted to improve my German listening. I enjoy watching movies, and I am learning German at the same time. I have to say that my German listening skills have improved SIGNIFICANTLY since I started watching lots of movies in German.

I used Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, where you can choose different languages for dubbing and subtitle. As I make it entertaining for me while learning, I didn’t suffer as when I was studying with a book or something. However, you can only start doing this once you have sufficient German level to follow the film. You can start by listening to German, but put the English subtitle on. At some point in time, you will get used to how German sounds like and the sentence structure. When you are ready, you can then switch the subtitle to German too. And in the end, no more subtitle!

You can also find other good streaming platforms to use in Germany here: Streaming in Germany – 11 Ways To Do It Legally

(3) Tandem

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The idea of a tandem is that you partner up with someone who is native. This partner can teach his language, and you can teach him your language in return. For example, I used to meet with my tandem partner once a week for two to three hours in a café. He taught me German for the first one to two hours, and I taught Chinese in return for the rest of the time. I asked him any language questions I had, or sometimes we just chatted in German and he corrected my sentences.

You can search for a tandem partner online, or sometimes your university/company may offer this. The advantage is that it is free of charge and you can probably make some local friends with that. The downside is that it would take up some time for you to teach a language in return. Besides, the tandem partner is most likely not a professional teacher, meaning that he may not be able to explain the rules behind the language.

(4) Intensive class

An intensive class means that you are taking classes at least three hours a day, four to five times a week. A course usually takes a couple of weeks. I took an intensive class after 2 years in Germany. After the class, I was finally able to speak in sentences!

This is best for students during a semester break, or ideally if you have 6 to 12 months before your study begins. This is a great way to get good language skills before starting your studies. All my friends who did it like this spoke fluent German really fast. It is much more effective compared to people like me, who came directly to work or study in English and need to learn German in the free time.

I can recommend taking intensive class with Lingoda. You can take online classes with qualified native German teachers at any time from anywhere in the world. You can book classes 24/7. The only thing you need is your computer and a stable internet connection. I write about it here: Lingoda Review – My Honest German Learning Experience

You can try Lingoda out for free with a 7-day trial with no risks. Don’t forget to use my code “lifeingermany” to get a 30% off if you decide to join the classes!

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Note that the class is only useful if you are also putting effort outside the class, e.g. doing homework. If you just go to the class without studying afterward and hope to be able to speak German just by that, I am afraid you might be disappointed!

(5) Speak and use the language

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Speak the language as much as you can. Don’t care about how stupid it sounds or what other people think about how you talk. Nobody really cares anyway!! I know people who tried to talk in German all the time even though their German was horrible. They might even mix some English words in between. They ended up learning much faster. People will not laugh at you. They will actually even appreciate that you are making a lot of effort in learning their language and will try to help you!

The best to learn a language is to be exposed and forced to use the language, no matter you like it or not. For example, this can be done when you study in German, or work in an office with Germans. Yes, it will be very painful. But no pain no gain. That is also why I mentioned before it is good to first take some intensive class before starting the real study or work. If you are forced to use the language every day, you will be good very soon.

So, these are the five best ways that worked best for me to learn German. Besides these, I have tried many other methods to learn German. If you are interested, have a look at my other post as well: My secret fun ways to learn German. I am sure you will find some ways that work best for you!

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About the author

Originally from Hong Kong, Sindy spent 13 years in Germany before moving to the US. Her blog is your ultimate resource for navigating Germany, offering pro tips on bureaucracy, job hunting, education, culture, family life, and more.

With a "been there, done that" attitude, Sindy, a certified public accountant, draws on her extensive finance and accounting background to provide professional insights with a friendly touch.

Having navigated German life with her German husband and raising two kids there, Sindy brings a personal touch to her advice. Let this blog help fellow expats like you navigate the ins and outs of life in Germany!

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Moving to Germany or new in Germany? Check out our Resources Page for all the help you need!

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