We are always on the lookout for new websites, apps or anything that helps you speed up the process of learning the German language. In fact, the more time you devote to learning German, the faster you will be able to speak it fluently.
Times Have Changed
Back in the day, people used to learn with flashcards and physical dictionaries, but times have changed, and we can now turn to the internet for help.
We believe there are many online tools out there that are a good fit for your offline German class, with real and experienced German teachers.
Most of our students here at The Germanz learn German because they want to speak it one day. Sometimes, they want to travel to the countries where it’s spoken; a lot of times, they want to move to Germany, Switzerland or Austria; and sometimes our students just want to speak another language because it keeps them busy. Nonetheless, speaking German doesn’t always seem that easy, even after spending a lot of time trying to learn it.
Speaking German Fluently – How?
What is it that makes you speak German fluently? Knowing your words, using the right grammar and stringing it all together in a sentence. It’s better if you do it the way the Germans do.
Instead of awkwardly trying to translate your mother-tongue into German, try to say it how a native of Germany would. Real German here we come!
Hang on a minute—how do you learn to speak like a native German? Where do you find all those secret structures and phrases only the natives seem to know?
Reading German Books
Reading German books will help you find these structures and get acquainted with them. In a book, you see how words are used in context. You can see it all laid out right in front of you. You have all the time in the world to assess every sentence and every word. You have time to look up the unknown words and write them down. You have time to repeat a sentence to yourself out loud.
Watching and Understanding German Videos
Other powerful techniques to find all those well-kept secret structures are:
- watching German movies,
- watching a German TV series or
- watching your favourite movies or shows dubbed in German
And as a less time-consuming effort,
- watching short videos in German on Youtube.
You can fully immerse yourself in the German language without ever having lived in Germany. You’ll get the feel for the real German pronunciation. You will hear different ways to say things and be able to watch German-speaking people interact with each other. You can dive into the German-speaking world right from your TV or PC.
So, just jumping on Youtube will make me fluent?
Well, watching the videos AND understanding what is being said will definitely be a plus.
The Problem with Real-Life German
Finding a German movie, show or video on Youtube is manageable (check out our resources referenced above). For most learners, the problem lies in understanding what people talk about in those movies, shows and videos.
If only those Germans slowed down their speech a bit, or mumbled less and used less slang. It’s slang, right? Not normal words?
Real German made for learners
Understanding what people say is where Fluentu comes in. We recommended Fluentu in an earlier post, but today we want to have a closer look at it.
Fluentu takes Youtube videos made by Germans for Germans and adds powerful tools for those who want to learn the language. At the moment, Fluentu provides help in learning 7 different languages, including Spanish, French, Italian, Japanese and Chinese.
In our German classes here in Melbourne, we try to get away from those clumsily constructed dialogues. Jumping straight into a world of unfamiliar words and sounds, can be challenging but also rewarding. Especially if there is help right by your side like your German teacher, and online tools when you are not in class.
How Fluentu Can Help You
Fluentu provides you with several tools to help you understand German. Tools like subtitles (even for slang) in German, as well as in English; and the ability to click on a word for the translation and to save it for later. Fluentu just published its iOS app, with the Android version following soon. Yes, they do ask for a bit of money, but they also offer a free plan.
How can Fluentu assist you in learning to speak German? Look at the following examples:
Problem #1: I am just a German beginner.
I can’t find movies or videos for my skill level. So I might be out of the game, since I am just a beginner and don’t know much yet?
Fluentu categorises each video into one of 6 language levels: newbie, elementary, intermediate, upper-intermediate, advanced, and native. In the newbie level, you will find videos with easy German sentences (like those relating to buying produce at a local market), or even videos on grammar and pronunciation. Obviously, as you advance, the vocabulary and sentences in the videos (that Fluentu recommends) will become more complex. Just decide on a level, and adjust it up when it feels too easy.
Problem #2: I can’t understand a word.
I can’t understand those Germans. It seems that all they are doing is mumbling. They don’t say the words as my teacher does.
Fluentu adds subtitles to each video in German and in English. You’ll hear the words spoken by native Germans and see them spelled out as well. Subtitles are very effective, but they can also be distracting, as they tend to draw your attention away from listening to the German spoken in the video.
I find English subtitles in videos on Fluentu to be less noticeable, because they are farther away from the picture than the German subtitles, which are right under the videos. Also, they are in a smaller font than the German ones. Consequently, the English subtitles don’t distract as much as German subtitles, but they are there in case clarification is needed.
Problem #3: Germans speak so fast.
Germans always speak so fast. I can’t keep up with their pace.
With subtitles, you can easily follow what is being said. On Fluentu, you don’t even need a pause button to stop the video; just hover over the subtitle section and the video will stop playing. This allows you time to review the conversation. Then go back and listen to it again. The gibberish will begin to make sense all of a sudden.
Problem #4: I have problems learning new words.
There are so many words I don’t know. Jotting them down doesn’t help me memorise them, as I never go back to my long and never-ending lists.
When watching a video on Fluentu, you can click on any word and a translation will pop up together with a picture and other notes. You can also decide whether you want to save the word in order to study it later. When going back to your word collection later, you will find them nicely presented and ready for you to learn, one by one, with little quizzes, example sentences, pictures and pronunciation examples. You will never again have to look at lines of words that appear to look the same.
Problem #5: I can’t remember any words.
With my very long lists of words, even when I go back to them, they don’t seem to stick. It’s as if I’ve never seen them before. I just can’t memorise these words very well.
Each of us has a passive and an active vocabulary. The ability to memorise something is important, because it enables us to recall what it is we memorised. So, if you just read a word and try to memorise it, the word is usually saved as part of your passive vocabulary. Passive vocabulary consists of words that we recognise (and their meaning) when we come across them. To integrate a word into your active vocabulary, it helps to recall it from memory. You recall it by searching through your memory, digging it up and reproducing it yourself. http://www.memrise.com/science/
Learning words with Fuentu involves taking quizzes. For example, you have to come up with the missing word of a sentence, which will be your word. In order to do this,you have to recall the word, and get it right on track in order to save it to your active vocabulary. It is best if you also speak the word outloud.
You will also see the words listed in your word collection in a different light, and with greater understanding, once you come across them again as part of a subtitle in a video you are watching.
Problem #6: I don’t know how to use new words.
Even if I memorise a word, I never know how to use it in a sentence.
You want to memorise words in context. Words are like pack animals. They want to be connected with others. As a result, you’ll speed up your speaking (and writing) by getting the jist of how words are used in a sentence, where Germans place them and how they pronounce them.
You always want to get the entire picture; not only the lone word just by itself. You want to see how it interacts with other words in context.
Fluentu gives you many examples of sentences for each word, so you get the feel for the word in context by going beyond the plain meaning of it.
Problem #7: I get bored.
I want to increase my vocabulary, but I just get bored learning other the vocabulary lists of other people.
With Fluentu, you can collect the words you don’t know yet, but are interested in. If you come across one, just click on it, and you can decide if you want to save it for further study. Of course, you can learn words from videos, together with their pronunciation. You can also learn from example sentences that have been written down.
In addition, with Fluentu you’ll see a picture of your new word. It’s up to you which words you want to learn.
What Does Fluentu Do That Youtube Can’t?
Since Fluentu takes videos from Youtube, why not use Youtube straight away? Certainly you can jump on Youtube, too. Youtube shows you videos, but Fluentu makes them ready for you to learn real-life German.
Here are the reasons why I think Fluentu takes Youtube to a whole new level:
- I found subtitles on Fluentu more often correct than on Youtube, and the English subtitles less distracting.
- With Fluentu you can collect new words you find interesting and learn them later in a more efficient manner, and in a way that is both fun and interactive.
The last dot is an advantage over any other language learning online tool that focuses on increasing your vocabulary. I am not saying you can’t learn German without it but they do a surprisingly amazing job at what they offer.
We would love to hear what you think about Fluentu. Have you tried it out yet, or are you thinking of doing so in the future? Let us know in the comments section.