Hey guys! Or, should I say Hallo leute! 😉 Recently, I have dove into the German language and have really been studying it hard. You may have read or seen on Instagram why I want to learn German, but incase you haven’t, let me explain! There were a few things that lined up in my life to persuade my decision regarding learning German, specifically.
First, I have always wished I could speak two languages, I think bilingualism is such a cool personal attribute. I study communicative disorders in school and have taken classes on linguistics, communicative development, etc. where we’ve discussed everything from different language’s phonology and grammar to the physiology and anatomy of speech to developmentally appropriate levels of speech and communication. So, language and speech have been a huge part of my life for the past few years.
Also, I am very aware that the majority of my family comes from Germany (to the best of my knowledge). I grew up knowing this and being proud of it. I am fascinated by all of it and wish I had the time to explore all of my family’s history!
Then, I happened to begin nannying for a family who spoke German in their household. The mother of the kids I nanny comes from Germany and speaks fluent German. The kids speak it well, also. They have books and magazines and games that are in all German. So, when I am there, I would ask them to teach me a few basics, like colors or the words in their children’s books. They definitely look at me like I am crazy when I repeat it back to them haha! But hey, I’m learning… the accent is definitely not easy!
Finally, I downloaded the Duolingo app (seriously recommend this app if you want to learn a new language) and it made learning SO much fun and so easy. It inspired me to start taking it more seriously. Now, I have been watching Youtube videos and have even purchased a book that teachers German! It’s seriously so much fun and I feel so accomplished when I learn something new and can apply it to what I already know.
I wanted to start this series on Poised Avenue because I am very much a kinesthetic and visual learner. Meaning, I learn best when I am hands on, writing the information down, or have visuals to look at… and my website is the perfect platform for all of that. I truly think writing everything I learn down in a blog post and explaining it to you all will definitely help the information stick! Because I still don’t know very much German, this first post will include what I believe you should know to better understand a new language, what I have used to study German and what has worked for me so far, and a few simple German words/ phrases for beginners. So… Lass un Gehen! (Let’s go!) 🙂
A Few Things to Note Before Diving Into a New Language
So, like I mentioned above, studying language and speech in school has helped me a lot in trying to learn a new language. I think something not a lot of people initially realize when wanting to learn a new language is that many of the sounds of other languages are not made in English. And so far, the sounds German speakers make have been one of the hardest things for me to learn and definitely the hardest thing to catch on to because it takes a lot of practice to gain the muscle memory needed to make the speech sounds. (If you’re wondering, the sounds that are most different from English are the German R, ß, Ä, Ö, and Ü). However, knowing the anatomy of the mouth used for speech, otherwise known as the articulators, makes understanding the explanations for making the new sounds much easier to understand and practice. So, I wanted to give you a quick overview of the mouth so if you are interested in learning a new language, maybe it can help you understand where to place the tongue and other articulators to make the foreigns sounds!
The Alveolar Ridge: The alveolar ridge is the ridge of the hard palate that you feel right behind your top teeth. Many sounds are made using the alveolar ridge in English, like “t”, “d” or “s”.
The Hard Palate: The hard palate is simply the hard part of the top/ roof of your mouth.
The Soft Palate: The soft part of the top/ roof of your mouth. This palate is farther back in your mouth. You can feel the where your hard palate stops and your soft palate begins by running your tongue along the roof of your mouth.
The Uvula: The uvula is the little piece of tissue that hangs in the back of your throat.
The Glottis, otherwise known as the vocal cords: Well, technically, the glottis is the medial slit of the vocal chords that hit together (adduct) when we speak. A glottalization or stop is a sound that uses the glottis. It is characterized by a audible release of the airstream following the complete closure of the vocal folds. Although not many sounds are ever produced here, I figured I’d share this term with you anyway just incase it comes up in your studies!
A few other terms to notice: Bi-labial means two lips, sounds that are bi-labial are made with both lips. In english, “b”, “p”. and “m”. Labio-dental means the sound is made with teeth and a lip pressed together as in “f”. Dental means teeth. Dental sounds will be made with both upper and lower teeth, as in “th”. A retroflex consonant is one that is made with the tongue curled upwards toward the hard palate. A velar consonant is one made with the back of the tongue pressed up against the soft palate, in english it’s the “k” or “g”.
Knowing these simple structures of the mouth will definitely be helpful if you’re stuck on how to pronounce something, definitely do a quick Google search if you’re ever unsure of the placement of the articulators or how to pronounce a certain sound! You can also use this chart to hear all of the sounds of every language and to see where they are made in the mouth. Each language uses sounds from the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA [not the beer 😉 ]), so if you’re ever stuck on how to pronounce a certain word, just search for the word spelled in IPA and then use the chart to help you find where/ how the sounds of the word are being made in the mouth… it’s pretty cool (and handy). This website is also a great tool, especially for visual learners. It shows the placement of the articulators in moving diagrams. They even have the German language on there, if you’re also trying to learn German. Plus, they just came out with an app 🙂 . I also use Youtube, this channel is great for learning. It’s like a free step-by-step course.
What I can now say, write, and read in German
Let me tell you, reading and writing German is much easier than speaking it. But, I am being patient and know it will come with practice. I know a few simple sentences, so I will share those with you here. In each of these posts I will update what I know as a way for me to help me keep track of my progress.
- Ich bin Amanda: My name is Amanda
- Ich Komme aus den USA: I come from the USA
- Ich bin Studentin und blogger: I am a college student and blogger
- Ich trinke gern Kaffee: I like coffee/ I like to drink coffee
- Ich spiele nicht gern sport: I do not like to play sports
- nicht gern: don’t like
- gern: like
- Ich mochte die deutsche spreche: I would like to speak German.
- nein: no
- ja: yes
- hallo: hello
- gute nacht: good night
- guten tag: good day
- guten morgen: good morning
- bis später: see you later
- auf Wiedersehen: goodbye (formal)
- tschuss: goodbye (informal)
I have also learned how to pronounce the “ch” sound in the word “ich (I)”. Think of it as the sound of the “h” in the word “hue”.
Are you learning a new language? What resources have you used that have really helped you out? I would love to hear! If you have any questions about anything I have mentioned above or about my language learning process, leave them below or reach out to me and I will be more than happy to give an answer! (p.s. If you speak German, please correct any mistakes I have made in this post… I want to know of any I make).