Do you find yourself drawn towards the German accent, or are you just curious what an "Eierschalensollbruchstellenverursacher" might be? Whatever your motivation for wanting to learn German is, this article will break down the ease and difficulty of learning this culturally and historically rich language.Many students often ask how hard learning German is. If you happen to be one of these students, read on! This guide highlights the easiest aspects of learning the language and some of its problematic aspects.
The Easy Aspects
German can be said to be a language of wunder (the word wonder in German), but far from popular misconceptions, it does not fall anywhere close to the most difficult languages. As an English speaker, you will have an easy time learning this new language, and here is why:
1. Shared Linguistic History
The most obvious similarity is the shared alphabets despite the umlauts sprinkled here and there. Besides sharing the same letters, the two languages also share most of the sounds. As a matter of fact, [ü] and [ch] are the only sounds in German that do not exist in English. What is an umlaut between friends, anyway? For a Scot, the pronunciation [ch] is typically a walk in the park because it's identical to the "ch” sound in ach and loch.
An English speaker will have a head start when it comes to learning German since the former is a Germanic language. The two languages have obviously been influenced by other languages with the passage of time but by comparing some words such as trinken (drink), mann (man), and bier (beer), you will begin to notice a lot of similarities culturally and linguistically.
2. The Global Standard
German has its standardized form known as Hochdeutsch, which happens to be the standard taught in all German-speaking states with some minor variations. When you come to think of it, this is German's greatest advantage compared to English, which has an American and a British version with regional variations, entirely different pronunciation and spelling of some words.
However, this does not mean there haven't been regional differences in accent, and vocabulary but Standarddeutsch or Hochdeutsch is globally understood. After learning German, you will not be restricted to communicating only in Germany, Switzerland, and Australia, but also in other far lands such as Belgium, Slovakia, South Tyrol, Liechtenstein, and some parts of Chile, Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay!
3. Not Much Bad Grammar
In any language you are going to learn, you will have to memorize things, but the good thing with German is that its verbs are more regular and flexible, unlike those in English. The irregular verbs, however, will still follow distinct patterns, which means that once you've gotten the hang of them, you can effortlessly conjugate other verbs coming your way.
Spoken German has far much fewer tenses when alluding to the future and the past, which makes it easier in writing as well. Again, once you have gotten the hang of it, you can seamlessly drop verbs in the Präteritum in conversations should you want to show your prowess. You can, however, get by quite well without the struggle.
Another cool thing about learning German is that you can combine words to form new ones known as compound nouns. It is, therefore, easy to work around the meaning of long words you come across from its distinct parts. A word like Weinkeller typically means "wine cellar." Some common German compound words in English are Schadenfreude and Wanderlust. This makes the German language fun and playful, right?
4. Helpful Native Speakers
Most non-native speakers are worried about engaging in conversations with native speakers. Well, if this is one of your fears, you do not have to sweat over it anymore. German speakers, unlike most nationalists, are encouraging, especially when they encounter someone willing to learn their language.
From their honest and direct approach to communication, you should expect to receive constructive feedback, which is a big bonus. Natives will, at first, respond to you in English to make it easier for you, but if you persist with their language, they will realize you are serious about learning German, and they will support you to become a fluent speaker.
The Tricky Aspects of the German Language
Well, a few people may have expressed frustration with the German language in the past. Some frown at the language's gendered nouns and many cases. Below are some of the stumbling block you should expect when learning the German language:
1. Gender and Cases
German, as a matter of fact, has a total of four grammatical cases. Getting your head around the adjective endings and fluctuating nouns analogous to mastering the Tight-Rope, only slightly dangerous. "Das Leben ist kein Ponyhof" is a German saying translating to "Life is not a pony stable."
You have probably heard the stereotype that Germans are strict rule followers, and interestingly, their language is not any different! Once you have learned and understood the rules, you will master the pesky cases and whatever unsettling effects they drag along.
German's three direct articles das, der, and die, all mean "the." To go around this complexity, you will need to learn the article that accompanies every new word you learn.
2. Word Order
For most English natives, word order can be confusing when learning German. When starting, you might find yourself translating sentences directly from English to German and vice versa. "I Want a Milkshake," for instance, is "Ich Will Einen Milkshake Trinken" which is literally "I Want A Milkshake Drink." Understand what I mean? Your native language will often get in the way of learning the other language. This phenomenon is known as L1 interference, and it's common among all language learners.
To get good at it, you will need to be patient and do lots of listening. There are specific rhymes and acronyms that will help you memorize German word order patterns with ease. With time, you will realize that the more you listen to the cadences and rhythm of German speech and actively participate, English word order patterns become less dominant. Your German will get fluent before you know it, and you might even find out that you no longer know how to say things in English.
Now that you have a deeper understanding of the topic, let's get to today's buzzword! What's an Eierschalensollbruchstellenverursacher? According to Wiktionary the word refers to a device used to make breaking points in eggshells to allow easy removal of the top using a knife without splintering the shell. Let's breakdown the compound noun:
Typically, it's a thing that causes an eggshell to break at predetermined points. Do we say you cannot learn the language without breaking a tray of proverbial eggs?
Do you still think learning German is hard? I am hoping that this article has changed your perception about learning German. It's not hard after all. When learning a new language, exposure is sometimes all you need to drop whatever prejudice you might have. As a matter of fact, learning a new language takes time and regular motivation. With this in mind, nothing will stop you! Welcome to this great world of German!