How I learned German.From Zero to Hero

Oki,now after I had a nice lunch and my mood is really good, i’ll say how I learned German from not knowing the alphabet till at today’s moment B2-C1 level.
I started learning German in mid August 2011. During my whole life I was thinking to go for my studies in UK,France, Netherlands, Finland, Switzerland , Russia or in the very last option was to stay in Estonia,my home country. I’m not saying it’s bad, hey, i grew up there and there are incredible people living there! And by the way, Skype is from Estonia 😛  But as for my character I just simply knew that I will 100% no matter what go abroad just for the sake of it) And from aaaaall of the options, Germany was nowhere in the list. I don’t know why, I just never studied German and somehow I just did not know what I will do there…

In 2012 due to different circumstances I had to learn German as soon as possible. So I went to my private teacher, she was a great, great person, highly professional and I asked her to study with me and bring me up to at least A2 level within 2,5 months. Why so fast, because the application date for my Uni was in the beginning of November.In that year the application had to be sent earlier than it is now.And why A2? Because it is the lowest German skills requirement to get a job.My initial idea was to get the basics of the language and come earlier to the city to get settled and learn language already there.Our first telephone discussion with my teacher looked like this :
-So you need A2 till what time?
-October…end of October…
-Ok,so I suppose you have studied it before….in school or extra curses?And just need some refreshment…
-Actually, I don’t even know the alphabet…

This discussion I showed u now is  to give u an example that everything is possible!Don’t give up on your ideas!
After this telephone talk my teacher was quite suspicious of my true desire and capability to work hard. I used as a trick, I named  her good previous students that were my friends to explain what type of student I  am and just said her that this is my only chance and there is no other way, I will be doing all my best.
She was skeptical I quess the whole first week but then things moved on.  I went to her 3 times a week for 1,5 hour + homework. She said :”  if u want to learn, u have to learn German 3 hours per day. It must not be all 3 hours in a row, better to separate your time and concentration like for 1,5 hour and 1,5 hour and do multiple tasks, such as one day listening, other day loud reading, the other day words and grammar” The other thing she said is ” u have to learn the basics. The first grammar has to be learned and understood. Otherwise if u learn it wrong initially, so called “from the streets” it will be almost impossible to change it after you will get older. German language is not that hard. English is harder and has more exceptions. German is based on rules and it is like first building the safe and secure rails then the train will go by itself ” that were here exact words. On top of all that what methods did we use : 

  • an exercise book. I had Schritte 1, Schritte 2, Schritte 3 international and Schritte 4 international  and my last one was Schitte 5 which is already B1 level.There are 2 versions of these books.The one that is saying international is better.
  • vocabulary is very important. I had a special notebook with the topics and related to it new words + my teacher really insisted that I would make myself little cards (like 10×15 sm) so that it is comfortable for u to carry them around. You write on the one side German words, if these are verb that the 3 declinations of it (infinitiv-präteritum-perfekt with haben oder sein) and on the back side the translation of them. This method I heared in other schools olready here, in Berlin and I can say it’s worth it! I still have these cards 🙂 but more for like verbs with exceptions and the required prepositions. At most I use my notebook.It is small and I carry it basically always in my bag.By the way, the German “der,die,das” has rules, but sometimes u just have to learn them.If u write the Nouns, write them initially with the articles.
  • music.Listen to the music and sing along 😀 That will give u the idea of the prononsiation
  • read. I started again together with the song lyrics, but then it was just some advanced text. I didn’t always get the meaning ( 70% i didn’t get :D) but I got the feeling of the language.Oh actually all the fashion magazines and that kind of type journals are very pleasant to read 🙂 There u notice how simple language they are using and u get a warm feeling that you are doing progress!
  • read loud! exercise  the pronunciation
  • click on this link it’s a Deutche Welle website. They have a bilingual news Chanel and have a very supportive program for language learners. My favorite was listening the latest news with the text. Awesome!
  • my give-away online dictionaries  and translators 🙂 dict.leo German corrector an upgrade german-german dictionary.Very professional
  • listen to the german radio (google it online) while doing something
  • watch tv in german. That was and is kinda one of my favorite ways, coz you are getting used to the speed,intonations, phrases and by not using a lot of effort u spend those required 3 hours per day of the learning language process.
  • a tip if u are already in Germany : visit this site or type in google sprach-tandem or somekind of version of it. It sooooooo amazing, like one of the best ways I have ever discovered! (besides going to professional extra courses :D).The point of it is that people write their language skills that they already know very well and type the one they are currently studying. U will find people and agree to meet somewhere in a Cafe and for free upgrade your real life talking (or writing) skills. I think it’s great to make an hour of your desirable language and then an other of the other persons. So funny, they even have there people looking for Estonian 😀 and I had 2 requests for it. I never thought somebody would be searching for it ,but hey 🙂 I really enjoyed this method and there are different websites as well.
  • I remember one person told me : ” just go there and ask yourself. I mean, I know you are scared and its more comfortable for u to switch things to English, but better go there with your bad German and explain things the way u can. Practice, practice, practice…
  • the general rule of 3 hours per day
  • download apps in to your phone! My favorite is from dicct.leo ist fast,in variety of languages and always with u! ( but u need internet for it) I used to go in to a Cafe and take the free magazines there and read the texts and translate with my phone.
    Download also different games for your phone auf Deutsch 🙂
  • never ever ever ever give up!

So here were the ways I used to learn the language. Combination of them will bring u success, I know it! The biggest motivation for me was actually the embarrassment I felt working in German-speaking jobs…that’s where everything reveals u know…my hardest months I think were October-November 2012 … where your previous over excitement of having achieved B1 ( consisting form B1.1.B1.2B1.3 every level is 1 month) u get in to the reality where u sometimes did not get a word…
i did not have the money in those months to continues my language studyings in a  language school in Berlin, so for 2 months I was doing all myself and here are by the way the links for the schools that I was in : Volkshochschulen where u choose a school in your district. Quite cheap and rather popular.
Hartnackschule my last one, very intensive, you always have 5 days per week course   3 hours. More expensive (200 euros per month) but more quick and intensive. If u google language schools in Berlin there i think u will find more. These were the most popular and more often used (as I herd from friends too) Do not refer to you uni language courses. I mean ones per week…..with not too motivated people…not really gonna work but still better than nothing.

Alright people,tomorrow is my 2nd lecture in this 3rd Semester, hope that was useful, see ya next time!;) stay tuned and have a  good day!

xoxo Eliza


5 Responses to “How I learned German.From Zero to Hero”
  1. Heather says:

    thank you for stopping by and liking my blog! sounds like are having a wonderful experience!

  2. Eliza 🙂 I’ve found your blog amazing, I started German around week and a half ago, I’m Federico by the way, I’m a Colombian that pretty much went through your same situation/feeling of loving your country, it’s people etc, but you craved something bigger. I’m studying at the U.S. but I’ve fallen in love with Berlin over the summer. Is there a way to reach you? I have so many questions and would love to have a better picture, especially coming from someone foreign in Berlin 🙂

  3. Lucia says:

    Thank youuuu! I can’t believe I found this blog!! I’m from Argentina and been living in New York for almost 5 months. I’m planning on going to study to Berlin on September, hope is enough time to get a bit of german! The good part is that I loveeee german! And a few years ago I studied a bit just as a hobby! (just a bit and don’t remember anything) but I think that’s gonna help.
    I’m so happy I found this, I’m gonna read it all!
    Best of lucks with your life there! Maybe I’ll meet you someday! haha

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