Is German Hard to Learn?

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Written By Jessica Knight

Founder of Linguatics. Passionate multilinguist.

Are you thinking about taking German lessons?

Don’t worry, German is not as hard as you might think. In fact, for English speakers, it’s one of the relatively easy languages to learn.

Of course, the difficulty of a certain language depends on many different factors. But according to learners and language experts, some languages are simply more challenging to learn.

Keep reading to find out what makes German a little easier than some other languages.

Is German Hard to Learn?

As we’ve already mentioned, it’s not easy to determine whether a certain language is difficult to learn or not. That depends on the learner’s mother tongue as well as experience in learning other languages.

So, is German difficult to learn for English speakers?

Well, it’s actually a lot less demanding than many people think. The thing is, German sounds quite intimidating at first. And it has a reputation for being harsh and having super long words.

But that’s not entirely true.

Okay, there are some words like Freundschaftsbeziehungen, but you won’t be learning them in your beginner German course. In fact, you probably won’t come across them at all.

The more important thing is that German has many similarities with English. They both come from the same language family, so they actually have many common roots.

Therefore, even if you’re not a native English speaker but you know the language, you’ll find some German words quite familiar.

Is German hard to learn

According to the Foreign Service Institute (FSI) and their language difficulty ranking, German is in Category II (languages similar to English). So, it’s not among the easiest languages nor among the hardest languages to learn.

German spelling is actually easier than English spelling. So, no matter what your mother tongue is, you’ll find German spelling very consistent.

The fact that German pronunciation is horrible to master is also a myth.

On the other hand, German grammar is a bit complex, but it’s not impossible to learn.

At the end of the day, it all depends on your persistence and motivation. If you think that German is hard to learn, you will probably come across an obstacle very soon.

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The truth is, there are some elements of the German language that make it very straightforward. In fact, compared to Japanese or Mandarin Chinese, learning German can be a piece of cake. You just need to have the right approach.

German Vocabulary and Spelling

Some German words can sound a bit scary. But once you learn spelling rules, everything will make more sense.

Learning German spelling is the first step to learning the pronunciation of German words. But the rules are very straightforward. So, when you hear a spoken word, you’ll be able to write it down, and vice versa.

Plus, each German letter or letter combination always sounds the same, no matter where it stands. And that’s not the case with English, for example.

There are some exceptions to spelling and pronunciation rules though, but you’ll understand them very quickly.

 Learning German words

And even if you come across a long German word, there are ways to simplify things. For example, you can break down long words – just look at the words they’re made up of.

All things considered, learning German vocabulary and spelling rules shouldn’t be a problem. However, you need to have the right methods, but more on that later.

German Grammar

We are not going to lie. German grammar is not a piece of cake.

But it’s also not extremely difficult. It just takes some time to really understand it.

Learners often struggle with grammatical cases. And although they can be a bit confusing, they are necessary to learn, as they ultimately make every sentence and communication clearer and more precise.

However, German verbs are actually not that hard to learn. The thing is, German has fewer irregular verbs than English, so once you learn what they mean, it should be easy to conjugate them.

Also, German verbs follow patterns. Although you’ll have to memorize them as you learn them, you’ll start to notice the pattern.

And you’ll be able to group sets of irregular verbs together.

On the other hand, conjugating verbs in English is not so easy. There are many irregular verbs, and when you conjugate some irregular verbs, they tend to change completely. So, in terms of verbs and some parts of grammar, German is easier than English.

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Standardized Form of German

Another thing that makes learning German a little easier is the fact that there are no multiple versions of the German language.

Although there are different German dialects, every German word has one official spelling. And you’ll be understood everywhere you go.

It’s not like English and American or, much worse, the Arabic language which has numerous dialects, each with its own characteristics. If you’re taking German classes, you don’t have to worry about that.

German lessons

There are many other benefits of learning German. For example, acquiring German language skills can open many job opportunities. After all, it’s a gateway to important economic powers.

German is also one of the most spoken languages in Europe. That being said, it’s definitely a very useful language to learn. And with the right learning source, it can be a fun one too!

Tips for Learning German

As we’ve just mentioned, a reliable, well-structured course is an important factor in language difficulty.

You should find a German course that fits your learning style and goals. Luckily, there are many great German lessons online. They are a very convenient and affordable way of learning a new language.

You can choose from online German courses and apps for learning German. Whatever you choose, you will learn German in a very engaging and effective way.

And adding interesting elements to your German learning process is very important. That way, even German grammar won’t seem so daunting.

Nevertheless, if you find a suitable learning source, you should be able to master the basics rather quickly.

But in order to really improve your German skills, you also need to use the language. Try to speak as much as you can. Say German words out loud and imitate the accent of native speakers.

Of course, if you have a chance to talk to local people, try to start a conversation and don’t be afraid to make a mistake. It’s all part of the process.

You should also surround yourself with the language. Listen to German songs, read your favorite book in German translation, and watch German movies and TV shows. You can also write recipes in German, write labels for furniture, and so on. You’re free to play around!

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Speaking of playing, there are also many language games you can explore. Many learning apps have them as a part of their lessons.

Flashcards are also very effective. You can download a flashcard app and use digital flashcards or you can create your own.

If you decide to learn German by yourself, you can try to get in touch with fellow learners or find (or start?) a conversation club. Talking to someone who might be struggling with the same thing can only be helpful.

Is German hard to learn for English speakers

Finally, try not to rush. Some online courses promise to teach you how to speak German in less than a month. And although that might be true to some extent, because you’ll learn basic vocabulary, pronunciation, and so on, that doesn’t mean you’ll build strong German skills.

Like any other language, German takes time. You shouldn’t skip lessons and have unrealistic expectations. You should do it step-by-step, especially if you want to reach proficiency levels.

On the other hand, you don’t have to stick to traditional methods of learning a new language. To be honest, they can be very repetitive and daunting. And that’s why we hope you’ll remember these tips – to make your learning as interesting as possible!

Final Thoughts

So, how hard is it to learn German?

As you can see, it’s not as nearly as difficult as you might think.

German and English come from the same language family and they’re still closely related today. That means that English speakers shouldn’t have too many difficulties, especially when it comes to vocabulary that has many similar words.

The German language also has a reputation for having complex grammar and spelling. Well, it does take time to understand how German grammar works, but both grammar and spelling rules are actually quite straightforward.

After all, learning any language takes time. And grammar is almost always a bit challenging.

If you want to become a fluent speaker, you’ll have to be patient. But if you’re motivated and persistent, and you have good learning tools at your disposal, you’ll definitely get there!