How I'm Learning German

In case anyone who visits my website is thinking about learning a language, I thought I'd share my strategy for learning German. The materials I'm using obviously won't apply to other languages, but the strategy may. And I'm always revising it to make it better, so if you have any tips for me, I'd appreciate it if you'd send them to me!

Here are the resources I used and the days-in I started using them.

Day 0: Duolingo and Easy German

My Duolingo progress between 15 March and 31 October 2020.

The first resource I used was Duolingo. I am fully aware that you can't learn a language with Duolingo alone, but I found it to be a good start that guided me through the basics. Even months in, I still use Duolingo every day along with other resources, because the infamous green owl manages to keep me motivated.

Very early on, I also started watching Easy German. Obviously I didn't understand it right away, and I still don't (don't worry, there are English subtitles). But something about hearing about their culture, as well as just hearing the language spoken and occasionally picking up a few words, is a great motivator.

Day 65: Short stories (Dino Lernt Deutsch) and Anki

I think this resource has been the best motivator so far, and has also helped me the most. The Dino Lernt Deutsch series of short stories are fun, and let me see all the words I had learned in Duolingo used correctly in realistic sentences. Furthermore, the author, André Klein, is very nice and personally responded to my e-mail when I couldn't figure out how to download the flashcards. Great service!

On the topic of flashcards, each story in each book comes with a deck of flashcards. They come in a number of formats, but I'm using Anki. Before using Anki, I hadn't really bought into the value of flashcards, but now I understand that they're an absolute necessity.

Day 160: Coffee Break German

Around day 160 I started listening to season two of Coffee Break German. Season one is all extremely basic material, so it made sense to start with season two. It's an English podcast that talks about German grammar, phrases, and culture, and I find it valuable for my listening skills.

I tried listening to the Easy German Podcast, but as of now I'm not a good enough listener to get it all, and there are lots of words that I don't know. I could subscribe to their Patreon and get a transcript, but I'm too broke for that, so I'll just wait until my listening is a bit better and my vocabulary is a bit bigger.

Other resources

Other than what I've mentioned above, I've also been using German for Dummies as a reference. However, I cannot recommend this book, as it is published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc., a publisher I am currently boycotting because of their lawsuit against Internet Archive.

All of the books I have in/about German are listed on my page dedicated to my library.

German music is great, too! Currently, my favourite German band is Kraftwerk, shown to me by a good friend of mine from Germany.

Keyboard layout

Click here for a Windows version of the English (intl. with AltGr dead keys) keyboard. This is the layout I use, and in my opinion it's the best one out there, because you can still use the tilde key.

Update: 2022-02-20

My Duolingo 2021 Year in Review.

Since I wrote this page in mid-2020, I've continued learning German. I don't study as much, but I still get at least one Duolingo lesson in each day. I'm taking a German course at my university, that I got into by taking a placement test, and I didn't have to take the prerequesite introductory course. I'd say I'm right at the threshold between A2 and B1, and I'm mainly lacking in practice.