In my life as a German teacher, I meet often people who, despite they are living in Germany for many years, aren’t able to speak German.
And there are people who only learn Ich spreche kein Deutsch (I don’t speak German).
In the following you find tips to survive in Germany without speaking good German or not speaking at all, but you want to improve your German:
- Learn the sentence Ich spreche nur ein bisschen Deutsch (I speak only a bit of German). Keep a low profile even if your German is not that bad, you get the understanding and the sympathy of your interlocutor maybe he will slow down his speech and use simpler words. In addition, you will distinguish yourself from all the mass that doesn’t speak German.
- Learn the biggest amount of words in German, don’t care about grammar for the moment, don’t be worried about perfect conjugation of verbs. Take care you know enough words to get your message through, and if your grammar is not perfect rely on your interlocutor’s cleverness.
- Talk, talk, talk. Doesn’t matter how many errors you make, it’s important to communicate and get your message through, get used to speaking the language you want to learn (German, Italian, whatever), listen to the others and try to learn every time something more.
- Speak well a language means to get a mental representation of the language, a kind of mental recorded sound of the language, and try to imitate at best what you’ve heard. Many people have a problem with doing this because they are afraid to sound stupid, as result, they are inhibited to talk the language. If can help you, this concern is common to everybody, so don’t be worried and talk the most you can, or better imitate!
- Don’t think you learn German only in the lesson. If you think 3 hours a week are enough to learn German then you can save your money for the course. Learn German (and maybe any other language) requires a full immersion, requires to being able to think in that language without the need to translate from your mother tongue. Try in any moment of your daily routine to describe what you see and you’re doing in German, write down the words you don’t know and search them in the dictionary as soon as you can.
My students tell me often of awkward and frustrating situations when they speak German. A bit like our meme friend you see in the comic strip below.