While German isn't the hardest language to learn, it isn't the easiest, either. If you plan on teaching yourself German, you need to be disciplined and willing to set a strict schedule for yourself. Fortunately, a variety of textbooks, phrase books, language-learning software, dictionaries and other learning tools are available online and in bookstores to help you learn German from the comfort of your own home.
Buy a German language textbook with an audio CD. Choose one that has ready-made quizzes and tests in each lesson. Discipline yourself to complete at least one lesson a day. Use a notebook to organize the different aspects of each unit. For example, use one section for vocabulary, one for grammar points, one for verb conjugations and so on. Organize your notes in a way that fits your learning style. When memorizing vocabulary, make flashcards and quiz yourself periodically.
Check out German language-learning software like Pimsleur or Rosetta Stone. The teaching styles in both of these software programs are very different. Pimsleur uses a fast-track approach, while Rosetta Stone is a slower paced, virtual classroom program. Do research on both programs to determine which best suits your needs. If you decide on Pimsleur and happen to own an iPhone, you can download an App to augment your lessons. Whichever software you decide to buy, follow the lessons using the pace recommended by the program for best results.
Buy German music CDs, DVDs with German audio options and a German-to-English dictionary. Take notes when you listen to the music and see how much of it you can understand. If your CD has a lyrics sheet, compare your notes with the actual lyrics and see how much you understood. Use the dictionary to translate the lyrics. Try singing along with the music once you memorize the lyrics to help with your pronunciation. Watch DVDs with German audio dubbed over the original audio and see how much of the movie you understand. You may also be able to use German subtitles while you watch the movie; write down words you don't know and use the dictionary to look them up. Make lists of all the unfamiliar words you hear and use them to make flashcards to add to your German vocabulary.
Make German friends online. You can use text-based chat programs, Internet chatrooms or Skype to search for German-speaking people around the world. Practice your German with them on a regular basis. Keep your German-to-English dictionary handy to look up any unfamiliar words. Make sure to add them to your vocabulary list and write out new flashcards to help memorize them.
Read novels in German. Rely on your own knowledge of the language as much as you can and try to translate the entire book. Think of your dictionary as an absolute last resort. This step can be completed at any point during the learning process. Just choose books that meet your skill level. Start with children's books and work your way up to high literature and classics. As always, write down any unfamiliar words and make flashcards to help memorize them.
Jarrett Melendez is a journalist, playwright and novelist who has been writing for more than seven years. His first published work was a play titled, "Oh, Grow Up!" which he wrote and performed with a group of his classmates in 2002.