How do I learn to Speak German?
Written by Michael Schmitz
Learning how to speak German properly can be an easier process than you might think. All you gotta do is to approach it the right way. It’s one thing to create a sentence on a piece of paper but it’s a whole different challenge to speak German freely
and properly as one never really has the time to lookup tables or recall previously memorized sample sentences. In this article, I will share a tool with you that will help you to speak proper German without thinking and also empower you to take your speaking practice into your own hands. I call that tool the Preaching Technique.
Preaching is quite a straightforward tool in terms of practice, It aims to help you improve your German speaking skills without the help of a German tutor or a language exchange partner. It improves your German by helping you memorize grammatical structures intuitively. It is basically a grammar pattern drill to solidify what you are learning in our German online course but it is designed so that you won’t get bored by it at all.
Let me explain the technique to you step-by-step.
1-A | Learn the gender of nouns
Firstly, you begin by familiarizing yourself with the gender of the nouns that you are about to use. Any noun used for Preaching is called a trigger. It is important that you learn the gender of the given nouns properly, but not necessarily the meaning of the words. The sG online course will guide you step by step through this process in a way that you can fully focus on your learning experience. Learning the gender matters because when you actually do the Preaching in step 1-C you will be asked to keep the gender out of sight. We don’t want this to become a reading exercise and in real life words never really come with their gender.
Keep in mind that the Preaching is also not a vocabulary exercise. Learning vocab is a side effect that will occur when you do the Preaching regularly but it is not at all the purpose of the Preaching exercise. There are more effective ways to learn vocabulary that are also being taught in my courses.
1-B | Know your articles
You will be asked to identify the gender of the words needed for your next Preaching exercise. After all, I wouldn’t want you to spend too much time thinking about which gender to use with a trigger.
1-C | Do it yourself
Next, you have to understand the German grammar pattern that you’d like to practice with the Preaching technique. I’ll always provide you with such a pattern that smoothly integrates into the grammar you have learned right before the Preaching step.
As a beginner you will begin with simple structures like stating what you see:
A | Ich sehe eine Banane. - Basic sentence structure
B | Ich sehe eine grüne Banane. - Adjective declension
which very soon turns into a small dialogue:
A | Siehst du eine grüne Banane? - Yes/No questions, irregular verbs in present tense
B | Ich sehe keine grüne Banane. - Negation
As you become more advanced you will be introduced to a more complex pattern like the following:
A | Siehst du eine grüne Banane?
B | Ich sehe keine grüne Banane.
A | Warum siehst du keine grüne Banane? - Open questions
B | Weil ich keine grüne Banane sehe. - Sentence structure in a dependent clause
Don’t worry if this seems all a bit much for now. I’ll take you by the hand and walk you step by step through each and every technique of my course again and again until you are ready to let go and walk on your own.
Of course, you could also create your own Preaching with triggers that you could pick out from your daily life. E.g. Imagine yourself in the kitchen having breakfast and you notice the following items:
1 | a cup - Tasse (f) 2 | a fridge - Kühlschrank (m) 3 | a shelf - Regal (n) 4 | a ceiling - Decke (f)
First, memorize the gender of these nouns thoroughly and then follow the pattern
A | Ich sehe ein- TRIGGER
A | Ich sehe ein- grün- TRIGGER
Creating your own Preaching is not necessary at all if you are working with my Online German courses. I just mentioned the above for those of you who are still caught up in some language course outside of smarterGerman and who’d like to improve their German quickly without having to pay for a tutor.
Every Preaching starts by looking at the first trigger e.g. "Tasse" and then saying out loud two sentences:
A | Ich sehe eine Tasse.
A | Ich sehe eine grüne Tasse.
Then you’d continue with trigger no. 2: Kühlschrank. But just saying things out loud is not 100% useful unless you get some feedback about whether you said it well (enough). Luckily you can get such feedback for free and independent of any human being by having your Preaching transcribed.
For this, there’s a wonderful free tool called speechnotes.co, which you can either access online or by downloading their android app. The tool is self-explanatory: Choose “German” as the working language, click the microphone symbol and start dictating.
1-D | How did you perform?
Once you are done with the Preaching, take a look at the sentences the app has transcribed for you and check whether you notice already any mistakes. At the end of each Preaching lesson in my course, you will get a transcription sample and an audio sample to check whether what you have said out loud was correct.
Of course, repetition is the mother of all learning therefore you have to repeat these steps a few times in order to master each pattern before moving on to a new one.
Never aim at perfection
Mastery means you are content with your Preaching's quality and speed. Try to preach at least twice for 10 minutes per day. Observe how much time the Preaching takes you and try to find the optimum preaching frequency for you. We all learn at different speeds, so just enjoy it while you are at it.
It’s one thing to read about such a powerful learning technique, it’s another to experience it first hand. Why don’t you do that now and check out the first lesson of my Everyday German online course A1-B1 which is available for free and which will introduce you step by step to the Preaching technique and a few other techniques which you will be able to use with whatever language course you later choose to take.
There are many such gems freely available in that first lesson. Don’t miss out on such a gift. It’ll help you with your German learning whether you learn it with smarterGerman or any other way.
Here you can watch a free preview of the introduction to Preaching in our Everyday German course.
And what is even cooler…. you can do the Preaching with Alexa, Amazon's virtual assistant. Alexa will give you the trigger words and correct you if you make any mistakes. That makes preaching even more fun and a lot less intimidating than talking German to an actual human being. But make sure to have the lesson script right in front of you when working with Alexa as it is quite difficult to do the Preaching with her only based on audio input.
Now, I wish you happy Preaching. May the German language be with you.