Learning German paves your path to many new opportunities and possibilities. As a result, a growing number of people worldwide are taking it up as a second language.
In fact, an unprecedented number of students are either learning it online or soliciting additional support via digital services.
Given this reality, there is significant interest in German language classes, especially at the high school level.
Data demonstrates how learning German in high school provides students with a typical salary boost of around 4% in Europe and the United States.
Unfortunately, many students and parents are still unsure about what they can expect from learning German. This article will help clarify any questions you may have about learning a foreign language.
Will High School German Help With Future Employment?
For one, learning the German language will take you places. It increases your employment opportunities not only in the public sector but also in:
- Healthcare and medicine
- Travel and tourism
- Publishing and journalism
Before we move on to what learning a foreign language like German entails, let us first address the elephant in the room. Is German hard to understand?
Is German Hard To Learn?
Just like any other language, German also has many stereotypes associated with it.
For instance, Mark Twain once wrote an essay titled, ‘The Awful German Language,’ where he ridiculed German sentence structure, conjugation, and grammar. And that is just one example.
German has been typecast as a rigid or harsh language, even though you will not get that impression when speaking it in your daily life.
So how hard is it to learn a new language like German? Luckily, it is not as difficult as you might think. Moreover, there are quite a few benefits.
The Foreign Service Institute has categorized it as equally challenging to learn as Italian, Dutch, or Spanish.
However, it remains more accessible than most other world languages. To understand why better, let’s explore German’s characteristics.
According to German and linguistics assistant professor at the Oxford College of Emory University, Daniel Walter, German speakers will put anything at the start of a sentence.
For an easy comparison, you might translate the sentence ‘Yesterday talked I with my father’ into ‘With my father talked I yesterday’ when speaking German.
Understanding why you have to change how you start a sentence and ensuring you never assume the first thing you read or hear as the subject are critical to learning German.
Some verbs, particularly modal verbs, are known to shift the sentence’s primary verb to the end. For example, if you say, ‘I want to visit my grandmother,’ it translates to, ‘I want to my grandmother visit.’
In German, most verbs have prefixes that get separated from their suffix when used in a sentence. The German word for ‘to depart’ is ‘abreisen.’
However, if you wanted to use ‘He departed’ in a sentence, you would say, ‘Er reiste ab.’
Nevertheless, not all verb prefixes are separable, and some have duality depending on the definition of the word you are using.
German Cases, Articles, And Conjugation
These three aspects combined might pose quite a challenge for people learning the German language.
The language has a complex grammatical gender system that is made much more complicated by a case-marking system.
Even though there are specific rules to help identify the gender a word belongs to, you will have to memorize many of them.
It has sixteen different combinations for a single word, ‘the,’ and most of them bear a resemblance but have different meanings altogether. Lastly, German verb conjugates differ on the subject, mood, and tense of any sentence. Keeping track of these variations can be challenging for a student.
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The rich German language contains around sixteen regional dialects, each with its specific way of speaking and pronouncing words.
The truth is that even many Germans might have difficulty understanding each other unless they come from the same region.
However, if it makes you feel any better, keep in mind that the US alone carries twice that many regional English dialects.
And many Germans cannot even speak High German, the standardized version of this language usually taught in language courses.
Alas, these are not the only aspects of this language that pose a challenge, although they might be the trickiest only because you can’t be expected to learn each dialect as well.
Yet, despite these legitimate differences, learning German may not be as challenging as you might have been led to believe.
As a matter of fact, there are multiple German words already present in your vocabulary, including land, kindergarten, finger, auto, gesundheit, arm, and moment.
In addition, various other words trace their etymological roots to German. These might be familiar to you as an English speaker, such as Telefon (telephone), Karakter (character), Couch, Computer, and Hotel.
Fortunately, the German language is also a phonetic one, even much more so than English. This means that words will almost always sound as they are spelled.
The language is also quite systematic, meaning once you have mastered all the rules, learning this language will be relatively more straightforward for you.
Best Ways To Learn German In High School
Without further ado, let us go through the best available resources you have when learning high school German.
In The Classroom
Most people learn a foreign language in some classroom setting. But, of course, having a regular and dedicated way of practicing German is ideal for many people.
And if you are in a small class setting or are being tutored one-on-one, you can get individualized feedback and attention from your instructor. They will correct your mistakes and practice language dialogues with you.
Nevertheless, constantly running grammar drills and being corrected by a tutor is not fun. In fact, for that matter, it’s not even the most effective way to learn a language.
Meanwhile, one-way communication – the hallmark of classrooms – is a problem; it compels students to keep their queries to themselves. Consequently, every student has fewer opportunities to practice the language by speaking themselves.
Furthermore, in a classroom context, you can pass every test and do all the worksheets without ever having a real conversation in German.
Moreover, you might also be too busy to commit yourself to a daily class. And unfortunately, unless you are studying in school, accessing most language classes will cost money.
Therefore, getting the personalized care of a private tutor will be the best option available to you.
Learning Via Immersion
To key to studying any language is immersing yourself in a situation where you have no choice but to speak it.
You will master the German language far better when you physically put yourself in situations like that.
You might be confused and uncomfortable at first. Then, however, you will be compelled to grow and rise above the challenges.
The basic idea behind immersion is that without recourse to your native language, you will have no choice but to try your best at speaking German.
In other words, you will have to temporarily relocate to a location where most inhabitants are German speakers. Living around those who only speak Deutsch will force you to do the same.
The best part is that shops, restaurant menus, and street signs will take you out of your comfort zone and help you transition into properly adopting the language.
Therefore, whether living with a host family in Hamburg or working at a hostel in Vienna, shifting to a German-speaking community will fast-track your fluency.
However, among most language-learning methods, immersion is the most expensive. After all, you will be moving to a new country.
Regardless, realizing its distinct advantages, thousands of students move to Germany to improve their grasp of the language.
Learning German With Applications And Software
Desktop software and mobile applications are ideal for those who want their language learning experience to be flexible, non-committal, and on the go.
These applications and software help you learn at your pace and be on schedule. Therefore, they are great for busy people who cannot commit to a regular classroom routine.
However, one pitfall accompanying language-learning platforms is that they do not allow you to practice actual conversations.
They can admittedly teach you vocabulary and grammar rules, but apps often provide no way to practice these skills.
That is why learning a language exclusively via technology will feel like a very impersonal process if you do not have ways to use those skills in real-life situations.
Lastly, most top-tier products and applications do not come without a subscription price. You may be paying a monthly subscription for excellent services or an up-front flat fare.
Of course, there are many free software and applications out there. But, unfortunately, their “free” status comes at the expense of quality, which will lower your learning experience.
Using German Media
Listening to German music and podcasts, watching German movies and television, and reading German books are excellent ways to interact with similar media consumed by native speakers.
Most of them are free to access, especially if you have a Netflix subscription or a library card.
These cultural products can perfectly supplement your language classes. But, unfortunately, when all alone, they are not the best way to learn high school German.
These movies and books cater to native speakers who are already proficient in the language.
To understand the vocabulary and grammar rules forming the building blocks of German, you will want supplementary materials such as a textbook, desktop software, or mobile application.
You would also want access to a native speaker or tutor to help you with the basics and provide live feedback.
High School German Courses
High school German classes will provide you with all the essential tools required to commence your language classes.
Nonetheless, if you are looking for more advanced learning, it might not be the right place for you – you will have to find expert help outside the classroom.
A one-on-one setting offers you the chance to receive an individualized education, exponentially enhancing your command of the language.
In addition, these private lessons will enable you to start immersing yourself in the culture. So why not head to Superprof and start your journey towards learning fluent German today!
Superprof has hundreds of tutors available near you to help you with all the necessary aspects of learning the German language.
So do not wait and get in touch with a certified, experienced, and qualified tutor near you!
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