Is German hard to learn?How difficult is German, really?

"Is German hard to learn?" - That's a question we are very familiar with! Let's look at the facts first and then give you some solace.

01.12.2022

People often assume that it's really hard to learn German. We often get asked whether German is "really that difficult"

The perception seems to be, that German is a difficult language to learn

Let's see what we can say about that:

Is German hard to learn?

The quick answer is this:

First, it really depends on what language(s) you already speak and to what level. If your native tongue is Japanese, you will probably have a harder time than an English native speaker. However, an English speaker will in turn have more difficulty learning German than somebody who knows Dutch or Afrikaans.

And, second, it also depends on what exactly you mean by "learning German" - are we talking about understanding German really well? Having very basic conversations with native speakers? Having Germans think that you are a native German speaker? Mastering German grammar?

Those two considerations will heavily influence how fast you will be able to learn German and how many difficulties you will run into.

How hard is German for English speakers?

Now, since you are reading this in English, it is safe to assume that you at least know English and might be interested in how difficult German is for speakers of English, native or not. Let's do that.

What makes German difficult?

Now, there are some very obvious factors that make learning German hard.First, German has a complex grammar with many rules and (a lot more) exceptions, which can be difficult for English speakers to grasp.

Then there's also German vocabulary: The German language has a very large vocabulary with many loanwords from Latin and Greek, which can be challenging for non-native speakers to get down. This, again, depends on what language(s) you're coming from. What other languages do you already speak and to what level?

And then there is the standard problem of slang, dialects & idioms: Like any language, German has its own set of idioms and slang words that can be difficult for non-native speakers use correctly. I wouldn't say that this is a problem particular to the German language, - but it should be mentioned.

Now, after having tackled these very big and general points, let's have a more detailed look at a couple of aspects that make German hard to learn for English speakers:

1. German Cases

German noun cases are probably one of the most difficult things to master when it comes to learning German.

2. Gender (der, die, das)

3. Long Words

4. Separable Verbs

5. Pronunciation

German has a number of sounds that are difficult for English speakers to produce, such as the umlauts (Γ€, ΓΆ, ΓΌ) and the "ch" sound (as in "Bach")

6. Dialects & Spoken German

Sentence structure:

German has a different sentence structure than English, with a subject-verb-object order and frequent use of case endings, which can be confusing for English speakers

What makes German easier to learn?

Similarities to English:

German and English are both Germanic languages, so they have many similarities in vocabulary and grammar, which can make learning German easier for English speakers

Resources available:

There are many resources available for learning German, such as textbooks, online courses, language exchange programs, and language immersion programs, which can make the learning process more accessible and effective

Motivation and dedication:

Motivation and dedication to learning the language can make a big difference in how quickly and effectively a person learns German

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