Motivation is a key element when learning any language, whether it is a computer language for work, sign language to help out a family member, or a foreign language to connect to your ancestors. The ‘fun factor’ does play a role in language learning that many underestimate. What about for the German langauge? Is German a fun language to learn?
German is most definitely a fun language to learn for English speakers. It’s pronunciation is unique sounding, it isn’t terribly difficult to master, the grammar and word structure are unique, and Germany’s rich culture is fun to explore. German is interesting from beginning to end.
Let’s dive into this ancestral predecessor to English and find out just what makes German so fun to learn. I taught myself to speak German and was able to reach a conversationally fluent level with the help of some good friends I met along the way. You can do it too. You just have to decide to dive into this interesting journey. So… “Los!”
- 1 Is German Hard To Pronounce And Is Speaking It Fun?
- 2 How Quickly Can You Learn German? – Faster Is More Fun
- 3 Why German Grammar Is Fun
- 4 The World Of Fun And Funny German Compound Words
- 5 There Are Tons Of Fun German Names
- 6 Fun German Culture Activities
- 7 The Final Talking Point On Is German Fun To Learn…
Is German Hard To Pronounce And Is Speaking It Fun?
One of the things that helped be decide to study German was the unique sound it had compared to other languages. The deep back of the throat rumbling and even the hard ‘ch’ sound that resembles someone clearing their throat is fun (This is in northern Germany though. Most sound like cats hissing when they use it.)
My problem was not with sounds that were different coming up in my speech patterns, it was the fact that I thought it would happen more. These sounds are fun to make.
It is totally understandable if you use an American English accent when speaking German. I can even do it with a southern American English accent and most Germans can understand me. It sounds ridiculous, but is understandable.
German is not particularly hard to pronounce for English speakers. The additional sounds can be picked up rather quickly and become some of the most fun and interesting parts of the language. There may be a struggle with long compound words in the beginning, but that is easy to get used to.
It is simple to learn a version of the sounds in German that is most easy for you to pronounce and then work on getting better at them later. In fact, some expats from the US move to Germany and never feel the need to get rid of their accent since most Germans speak good English and will understand German in an English accent.
It should be noted that pronunciation and accent aren’t the same thing, but there are large overlaps. Your accent will show through when trying to learn German specific sounds. The point is, it is not that big of a deal (unless German’s snickering at your accent is a big deal for you… cause that could happen.)
With this all being said, there are couple of sounds that are easy to learn and fun to pronounce in German. Let’s take a look at a couple of the most common ones.
|German Pronunciation||Hint||German Examples|
|ei||ei is pronounced like the English kite, bike etc.||The last letter sounds like the long vowel sound in English||frei -free|
Ei – egg
|ie||ie is pronounced like the English feet, and street etc.||The last letter sounds like the long vowel sound in English||Lieder – songs|
Sieben – seven
|pf||Germans pronounce all letters nearly all the time. Regularly p and f are placed together and both are pronounced.||Start slowly, pronounce each letter, and later you will get faster at it.||Pferd – horse|
Kopf – head
|ch||The majority of Germans and most of the north of Germany make a unique sound.||To make the unique ch sound, it is easiest to mimic a cat hissing.||Ich – I|
Buch – book
|Ö||This is an example of an umlaut. The sound is a bit unique but not hard to master.||This one I got easily by combining the English short vowel sound for ‘u’ and a truncated ‘r’ sound.||Königin – queen|
böse – evil
Fun note: Germans can’t say SQUIRREL!
If you are looking to find out if other languages are fun to learn, then check out some of my wife’s articles on these languages…
Between the two of us, we have both spent much time in studying these languages and more. I hope our insight can help you decide to jump in and become a language lover yourself.
How Quickly Can You Learn German? – Faster Is More Fun
I like to say that I was a five time language loser when I came to German. I had studied French in high school for three years, Japanese in college for several semesters with multiple personal tutors, Spanish and Korean on my own, and I had even attempted Armenian.
The one thing I learned from all of this is that I was good at learning about languages, but never really attempted to learn to use or master the language itself. I knew grammar, vocabulary, history, culture, and even language learning methods. What I couldn’t do was converse in these languages on the fly or spontaneously.
What does this have to do with having fun learning German? Simple, if your goal is to actually converse in a language and not learn about it or around it, then this can be a determining factor in your fun quotient. I learned how to speak in German with real people in the way they spoke and it changed everything. That was fun.
German is not that difficult if communication and not perfection is what you are after. Embrace the mistakes and do it every day. That is what makes it faster to learn and more fun along the journey.
According to the Foreign Services Institute, that has been teaching German to its foreign operatives for over 70 years, German is an easy language to learn for most English speakers. It takes around 900 hours of directed study. How quickly this happens is up to each learner.
These 900 hours can take you 18 years if you only put in one hour per week. Yet, with proper breaks between them and with today’s technology, you can easily fit a couple hours in your day, every day. That is about a year and a half to conversational fluency.
It is also faster and a lot more fun to do this for an hour or two per day, than to pack 6 or 7 hours on one day.
Getting to a level to be able to converse openly with others in a language is the most fun thing about the entire endeavor. Accomplishment is many times more fun than even pure entertainment. Put in the time to get there sooner, and you will have more fun with German than you thought you could.
Example: My daughter and I used to use German as our secret language.
We could talk about someone’s strange choice in hairdo, complain about the tantrum a nearby child was throwing, or talk about anything out loud even if we didn’t want others to hear. We did it in German. There were even times I would pretend not to speak English and she would be my translator. Now that was fun.
We could do this at probably the one year mark in her learning. Just keep in mind, she studied it every day.
Why German Grammar Is Fun
I have studied the grammar of many different languages. There are some that are unique and some that are very similar to English.
What I discovered is that for each learner, grammar patterns that are too dissimilar with their native language are cumbersome to learn and less fun. The opposite is true as well.
German grammar speech patterns are quite fun and unique when compared to other western language groups. It is not all that different from English and some portions of it though more difficult in the beginning, make the language more fun to speak later.
When there are only slight variations in the way a language is spoken, it is not as interesting to use. This is also coupled with the fact that learning only slight variations instead of larger ones can become confusing.
Interesting Grammar Differences Between German And English
One that was definitely ‘un-fun’ in the beginning was separable verbs. Today, it is my favorite part of speaking German. You really feel like you are using a foreign language when you get a handle on splitting a verb in half and pronounce the first part at the end of the sentence… on the fly.
Another fun aspect of German is the plurals of nouns. In English we are used to creating the hard ‘s’ sound. Believe it or not the process in German creates a smother sounding transition than all of these stark ‘s’ sounds.
In German there are five main ways to form the plural form of the word and none of them involve changing the core of the word. Most of them have softer sounding endings or no endings at all.
- Add -e as an ending
- Add -er as an ending
- Add -n or -en as an ending
- Add -s (English influence)
- Do nothing
Fun note: Germans are not fond of the hard ‘r’ and ‘s’ sounds in English. I have on many occasions had Germans comment on this. The ‘r’ sound is hard on their ears and the constant ‘s’ sound we make reminds them of someone who is drunk.
The World Of Fun And Funny German Compound Words
One of the hardest parts of learning a language is memorizing and transferring to long term memory all of those seemingly endless lists of vocabulary words. There are more fun ways to do this then others for sure.
But, in the German language, those savvy Germans have included a way for you to learn many more vocabulary words that in other languages in a shorter amount of time. How have they don this?
German compound words are fun because they are interesting to use and easy to understand. Instead of coming up with unrelated words for things, German tends to piece together shorter ones with sometimes funny results. This leads to some of the longest compounds words in the world.
Instead of having to learn as many new completely unrelated spellings and sounds, German simply tacks words onto one another. Here is a short list of what you can expect in German. Some make sense, and some just make me laugh.
|German Compound Word||German Words Used||English Literal||English Actual|
|das Esszimmer||essen-Zimmer||eating+room||dinning room|
These are the simple ones so that you can see how fun this can be. Of course there are the ones that go way too far. Try out this one if you dare…
No kidding, that is an 80 letter German word. Not many people use it as it designates some middle management position at a steamboat electrical company. But you can see that they are serious about not coming up with a ton of new words. They have many compound words, that actually make it fun and easier for learners to pick up.
There Are Tons Of Fun German Names
Names for many of us immediately call to mind a people, culture, and nation. This is true of many around the world. Germany is no different, though many of their names have made it into our common English usage through ancestry and the influence of immigration into native English speaking lands.
Fun German names come in the uniquely cultural to the funny sounding ones in the ears of speakers of other languages. Many are only found in Germany, but many have also spread to other countries around the world just like the culture and language of Germany has.
There are also many that at times in the past were common to English speakers, but have fallen out of use and are considered ‘old fashioned’. This comes from the long history and tradition of German influence on Western English speaking cultures.
Let’s look at some of the names that are very uniquely German. Some are fun just to say, much less to imagine having it as our own name.
Distinctly German Boy Names
Distinctly German Girl Names
- Gretchen (little Gretta)
There are also names that we will all recognize, but may not have known are actually German. These may be in vogue today or may have been in the recent past.
Common German Names For Boys
Common German Names For Girls
Following history and the etymology of names can be fun. We tend to do that to help us remember words, so doing it with names is enjoyable as well.
Fun German Culture Activities
Germans have a very distinct culture and heritage. It is cultural and goes way beyond the national borders that define the region now. The language itself has evolved like all others have and so has its traditions.
To the Romans they were the Barbarians from the north that eventually filled the ranks of the Roman legions and orchestrated the civil war and sack of Rome that ended the centuries old empire. To the Catholic Church they represent a confrontational spirit that led to the protestant revolution and the establishing of the protestant religion.
These things may all be true, but the average German today sees themselves as a products of their past, but not bound to it. They celebrate their heritage with grand festivals like Karneval and Oktoberfest. They have traditional clothing, music, art, and architecture.
Fun German cultural activities range from the traditional to the festive. There is Oktoberfest in München, the Christmas Markets in Stuttgart, and Karneval in Köln. Wearing Lederhosen and Dirndl in Bayern is always fun and some there wear them even to work. And then there is the beer. Prost!
One way to make learning German a very fun experience is to dive into the culture of Germany and experience it on their terms. You may even find that you begin to know as much as Germans do about their history. Even though this is not necessary, it will help to connect you to the people you are speaking with.
I have had a blast learning German. I have met good friends, learned history, traveled to German speaking countries many times, and have connected with my family heritage. Now that is fun.
The Final Talking Point On Is German Fun To Learn…
Seriously, learning German has changed my life. Yes, there are other things that will change it more than learning a language. But, there are not a lot of things that we are willing to say this about.
Even if your roots are not German, it is a blast to learn. It feels, I might even say ‘funky’ to speak. If you are doing an accent right, it almost feels as if you are a character in a show or that you are putting it on.
The words are interesting and once grasped, so is the grammar. And don’t get me started on the culture and history. Then there are the friends I have made online to learn the language that I ended up meeting in Germany on several occasions.
Then there is the fact that my daughter learned German enough to earn a year abroad scholarship for her senior year in high school. She then parlayed that into the ultimate prize. She used it to help get a full ride scholarship to LSU. She then went on to be the LSU German club president.
So, is German fun to learn? No, it is amazing to learn.