How to learn German when I am already 30 years old?
The German language, Deutsch, is a West Germanic language mainly spoken in Central Europe. It is the most widely spoken and official or co-official language in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, and the Italian province of South Tyrol. It is also a co-official language of Luxembourg, Belgium and parts of southwestern Poland, as well as a national language in Namibia. German is most similar to other languages within the West Germanic language branch, including Afrikaans, Dutch, English, the Frisian languages, Low German (Low Saxon), Luxembourgish, Scots, and Yiddish. It also contains close similarities in vocabulary to Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish, although these belong to the North Germanic group. German is the second most widely spoken Germanic language after English.
One of the major languages of the world, German is a native language to almost 100 million people worldwide and is spoken by a total of over 130 million people. It is the most spoken native language within the European Union. German is also widely taught as a foreign language, especially in Europe, where it is the third-most taught foreign language after English and French, and the United States. The language has been influential in the fields of science and technology, where it is the second most commonly used scientific language and among the most widely used languages on websites. The German-speaking countries are ranked fifth in terms of annual publication of new books, with one-tenth of all books (including e-books) in the world being published in German.
The German language boasts a large number of native speakers in the European Union (far more than English, Spanish, or French). German is among the ten most commonly spoken languages in the world and the lingua franca of Central and Eastern Europe. 22 Nobel Prizes in Physics, 30 in Chemistry, and 25 in Medicine have gone to scientists from the three major German-speaking countries, while many laureates from other countries received their training in German universities. Eleven Nobel Prizes in Literature have been awarded to German-language writers, and seven Germans and Austrians have received the Peace Prize. Besides being a language of Goethe, Marx, Kafka, Mozart, Bach, Beethoven, Weber, Einstein, Heisenberg, Kant, Hegel and many more, German is the second most commonly used scientific language in the world.
18% of the world’s books are published in German, and only a few of these have English translations.
There are many reasons why you should learn the German language such as:
Germany is the world’s second-largest exporter.
The German economy ranks number one in Europe and number four worldwide.
Its economy is comparable to that of all the world’s Spanish-speaking countries combined.
Germany is home to numerous international corporations.
Direct investment by Germany in the United States is over ten billion dollars.
With this, I hope I am able to express and help you realize the extent and value of German and know how/why it can prove beneficial for a learner!
They say that children learn languages the best. But that doesn’t mean that adults should give up?
Let's now look at how, if at all we can learn German After 30!
The older you get the more difficult it is to learn to speak German. But no one knows exactly what the cutoff point is—at what age it becomes harder, for instance, to pick up noun-verb agreements in a new language. In one of the largest linguistics studies ever conducted—a viral internet survey that drew two-thirds of a million respondents—researchers from three Boston-based universities showed children are proficient at learning a second language up until the age of 18, roughly 10 years later than earlier estimates. But the study also showed that it is best to start by age 10 if you want to achieve the grammatical fluency of a native speaker.
As quoted in Scientific American.
So the first take away from the aforesaid research published in Scientific American for a German language learner would be that it is not going to be an easy task to learn German, after the age of 18. For the most basic reason, there is no simple universal way to do that!
To top it, there are several other factors that play a major role in deciding your learning curve and the duration of your journey ‘to learn German’. A few of many considerations, specific to each individual, are as under:
What’s your level of engagement! This becomes way critical when you are over 30, because you are in a responsible job, married, or have kids, parents, grandparents to look after! Amidst all these, how many hours you can spare each day, is a point of great concern. Because if your learning is limited to weekends it wouldn’t work! Remember the research published in Scientific American and prepare yourself for war! It is going to take much more effort, time and probably money than if you were five years old.
Whether you are living in a foreign country that neither has as many resources to support your learning, nor considers it a priority! Or are you in a German country that supports you wholeheartedly – whether you opt for travel immersion or community learning!
Whether you have prior knowledge of any Indo-European family of languages!
Whether you are into an intensive course with multiple instructors or learning from a downloaded app! It’s largely unfair to expect an app to teach anything beyond the basics of a language!
Whether you are steadily moving ahead with realistic goals or are burning out due to over-ambitious goals!
Whether you settle for nothing less than a well-structured course that teaches you intensely or are you content at learning anything unstructured and random.
Whether you are motivated enough and can invest enough energy to pull along or are getting embarrassed and overwhelmed about making mistakes and feeling deterred from learning the language!
Whether you have identified ‘your unique way of learning and are focussing right through it, if not, are you willing to experiment with the best learning style that would work great, for your age under all the aforesaid considerations?
Try learning German in an adventurous way – the much proven, travel immersion! Living in German countries imparts learner loads and loads of advantages besides an experience of a lifetime to cherish if you have the time and the resources! Living in the environment of the language does have a lot to offer but what to do, in case that’s not feasible? Try seeking conversation partners in your neighbourhood, or a German community in and around. Assuming for some reason even these aren’t an option? Then we peacefully rest ourselves on the online community of native speakers at Italki, Hello Talk, Tandem and many more to communicate and seek feedback.
Listen to as many reliable audio resources as you can find online. It not only improves your listening but also helps you improvise on your speaking skills. Mimicking is the first basic technique that a child learns when days old to speak to his parents. Utilize this technique to the best of your ability. Ape the audio material, record yourself and repeat!
Use mnemonics to your advantage!
Why leave YouTube behind?! Look for video lessons, audio pronunciations and so much more!
Look for useful and effective resources. There is a wealth of resources online but it takes a sharp eye to separate great from mediocre!
There is no fixed period of time that guarantees you will succeed in learning the German language, but what’s most important is consistency.
Look for good books such as Living German” by Ed Swick, Die Verwandlung or The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka, Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse, or Tintenherz or Inkheart by Cornelia Funke has been referred to as Germany’s version of J.K. Rowling!
Nachrichtenleicht, or “News Easily” is a website that offers uncomplicated news, with articles about world politics, sport and human-interest stories, in simple language published weekly.
Der Spiegel is a German weekly news magazine, known across German-speaking countries for its investigative journalism and for being one of Central Europe’s most influential magazines.
Hurraki is a German online dictionary with an emphasis on plain language.
Surf through scribd.com. Lessons based on simple sentences are easy to learn, with the basics of grammar explained with the sentence using that changes over time.
Learning can be a challenge as an adult, but that certainly doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Just remember mankind is known to push in the face of adversity and challenges “Achieving the Unachievable” for ages!
Learn German alphabets the sing along the way, just as it is taught to children in elementary school. Learn a new language starting with the ABC’s, singing along the tune. German toddlers learn the Das Deutsche Alphabet- Lied(German Alphabet Song), something they will remember even as they grow up!
An enlightening tip!
Did you know, Alzheimer patients forget the names of their spouses and children but almost never forget the lyrics to songs! There is a connection between language and music.
Learn German through music! When we sing along with songs we match the accent, speed, pitch, tonality and grammar.
Finally, there is no progress without practice. Practise, review, repeat!
Some people struggle more than others and need more time to reach that level but that’s mostly because they’re not putting in the effort and practising daily. Learning any language takes time and commitment. It’s the same with the German language. Having enough motivation and working hard towards your goal, is all it takes. if you want to learn the German language, you have to think like a German!
Each journey starts with the first step. The idea of learning a new language can definitely be overwhelming. So many words! Unusual grammar! Maybe even a completely new alphabet to learn from scratch! Nevertheless, learning a language isn’t something that needs to take years and years of study. There are many people who become adept at multiple languages as adults.
There’s an amazing new way to learn German! Want to see what everyone’s talking about!