You want to learn German properly and make rapid progress in the language? Then you need to read this ultimate guide to learning German written by an Oxford-educated native German tutor with over 20 years of teaching experience.
What are the absolutely essential topics you need to learn to properly in order to master the German language?
No. 1 Verbs, verbs, verbs!
First, learn to conjugate regular and irregular verbs in the present tense in German and do exercises to consolidate what you have learnt. Before you turn to other tenses, learn about separable verbs and study the the most common reflexive verbs in the language. Gradually, then learn how to form other tenses like the Perfekt tense , the Präteritum in German, the Plusquamperfekt, and the future tense in German . Identify logical patterns that apply to them as you will find it much easier to commit something to memory if there is a logic to what you're trying to drill in.
No. 2 Understand German syntax!
Focus on German word order, i.e. where to place words in a German sentence to avoid some of the most common mistakes foreigners make in the German language. Some tricky subordinate clause conjunctions that you need to get to grips with are als and wenn, um...zu and damit, nachdem and bevor. There are also two special kinds of subordinate clauses- relative clauses and infinitive clauses, which you need to learn as you progress to elementary level and beyond.
No. 3 Learn how to use German articles
Spend enough time learning and practicing the four cases in German and their function in a sentence, and try to memorise the most important gender rules in German. The cases are very important in the language as they allow you to distinguish between the subject and the object(s) in the language. Without them, your German will plateau and remain very simple.
No. 4 Pronouns, Prepositions, Adjectives!
With a solid understanding of the cases, you should then turn to pronouns, prepositions and adjective endings to learn how they influence the usage of the cases. On our German language blog "Auf Deutsch, bitte!", you will posts that help you get a better understanding of the difference between mir and mich, sein and ihr, prepositions with the accusative case, as well as dative only and genitive only prepositions.
No. 5 Build your vocabulary
Memorise German words with flash cards and write sentences for essential vocabulary that are both intuitive and self-explanatory. You will see that you learn new words more effectively. Without context and repetition, you will forget words quite easily. Start with the ten most useful German verbs, learn how to express preferences in German, and try to use the most common words and phrases in German. From there on, focus on certain contexts like the general topic of food and learn how to order a meal in German etc. The more context there is to your learning, the better.
So there you go. From here on, it‘s a matter of practice and of learning how to apply all those rules every time you need to. As you can imagine, this is the bit that takes a lot of time and requires patience. Of course, there are other topics that I haven’t mentioned here- the subjunctive mood (Konjunktiv 2 in German), the passive voice in German etc. However, when learning a language it‘s essential to focus on the main topics first and then go into the fine-tuning. That‘s what you‘ll achieve by focussing on the 5 main topics. If you have any questions on the above or more generally about the German language, leave me a post. Best of luck on your journey to fluency in German!
On our blog, you will find posts on many topics in German grammar that will help you to progress more quickly in German- from adjective endings in German, the four German cases, pronouns, prepositions to German syntax. We also teach you helpful German words and phrases for your next trip to Germany, list the ten most useful German verbs to get your German off the ground, give you tips on how to avoid the 5 most common grammatical mistakes in German, tell you how to translate English word busy into German, review of the language apps Duolingo, Memrise, Babbel, and Busuu, explain the difference between language levels A1, A2, B1, B2 etc., list the best online resources to learn German, give you an estimate of how long it takes to learn German, and we compare the most popular online dictionaries Linguee, dict.cc, dict.leo and Collins. So check out our blog and let us know what you think.