I have been learning German for almost a year now and I am currently on B1 which is intermediate level. It has been an interesting journey since day one.
Why I learn German
a) I am passionate about foreign language, especially European language;
b) I had lots of free time since I moved back to Macau. I need something to occupy with;
c) I have a few good friends from Germany and my former flatmate is from Germany. The interest was started to grow;
d) If, one day, I want to achieve a master degree, I would do it in Germany as the tuition fee is free in most states.
How I started
I started learning German by attending a weekly intensive course in Hong Kong since May 2016. I had never learned the language before. What I know is the basics, Guten Tag(good day), Danke(thank you), ja(yes), nein(no), ich liebe dich(I love you) and Glühwein(mulled wine). Same as most of the European languages defined in the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages, German is also divided into 6 levels: A1, A2, B1, B2, C1 and C2. In my intensive course, one level is split into 4 sessions which each is composed by 4-week lessons, a 6-hour class per week. The duration of the whole course are varied depending on which language school you attend and whether you take a standard or intensive course.
Every Sunday I go to the German class for 6 hours. There were about 20 students in my A1 class and my teacher is a native German who follows along the way I move to higher levels. This is really important to have the same teacher in your learning path. I get used to my teacher’s accent and understand very well the grammar with his teaching method and he knows the best how I progress and where I need to improve. The class is divided into 4 to 5 small groups and each group is formed by 3 or 4 students. We practice speaking and discuss ideas with the fellow students in a group. There is no test and exam in the course but there is assignment every lesson. Normally once you complete one level, you can continue with the next level. Except you start a level in the middle, then you will need to take a placement test to see which level you are at.
In 5 months, I passed the Goethe A1 test with result of 91/100 and study in B1 intermediate level now.
Is German language easy to learn?
So far, I would rate it 2.5/5 for the difficulty of learning German language. Before learning German, I have learned Spanish for two years while I lived in Spain but I found Spanish is very difficult for me. People speak Spanish way too fast that I don’t catch a word. That really frustrated me. But in German, when I do listening practice and watch TV, I understand 70% which gives me confidence and encourages me to continue. German is easy to get it right from listening as no letters are silent and it is phonetic clear from word to word. Unlike Spanish or French or other Latin language, German doesn’t have much “merging” in pronunciation. Moreover, German is not too difficult for me because I already speak English. I’m not native but I speak English fluently. English is from the Germanic language so there are similarities between these two languages. If you already speak English, you might also find German is easy to learn.
For the grammar part, it’s another story. German grammar is complicated and very different from English. Nouns have 3 genders(masculine, feminine and neuter) and 4 Cases(nominative, accusative, dative and genitive). That’s confusing enough. With the sentence structure being more variable and flexible than English and other language, getting the grammar right is definitely a problem for most learners. However, there are always rules to follow and remember. There is no easy way to learn German grammar but to study hard and live by the rules.
My learning journal
Only attending the class is not enough, I spend time studying at home as well. I revise the material from class and do grammar exercise I found online. There are many German learning websites to help you better understanding the grammar with rules and tables which is very useful. I also found one useful way is to create a german “surrounding” for myself by listening to German music on Spotify, watching German YouTubers and movies, following German fashion bloggers on Instagram. As I don’t live in German-speaking countries and I don’t have any native speakers to practice with here where I live, this method really helps to train my ears to the accent and learn as many vocabularies as possible. I learn many daily life expressions from this method rather than the textbook.
Even though I am being lazy and scared to speak German sometimes, my conclusion is to devote time to study and surround yourself in the language as much as possible like I do. There is no short cut when you just start learning and don’t miss any chance to speak the language if you have the chance. Don’t be afraid to make mistake. Learning german is a very fun experience and the culture also fascinates me a lot. If you are considering learning this language or already in this journey, enjoy and have fun!
我從2016年5月開始每週日到香港上德語密集課程。我從來沒有學過這門語言，我只聽懂幾句：Guten Tag（Good day），Danke（謝謝），ja（是），nein（ 不是），ich liebe dich (我愛你)和Glühwein（熱紅酒）。 與歐洲語言共同參考標準中的大多數歐洲語言一樣，德語也分為6個級別：A1，A2，B1，B2，C1和C2。 在我的密集課程中，一個級別有4個小段，每段由4週的課堂組成，每課堂是6小時。 每個語言學校的每個級別課程長度都是不同的，這也取決於您是否參加標准或強化課程。強化課程會比標準的快。
每週日我都會去6個小時的德語課。 在我的A1班有約20名學生，我的老師是德國人，由初初A1到現在B1都是同一位老師。 這對於我是十分重要，因為我習慣了老師的口音，我非常了解他的教學方法，而且他很清楚知道我的水平以及我需要改進的地方，這幫助我學習的進度。 一班分4至5個小組，每組由3或4名學生組成，我們一群學生會一起練習會話和討論。 我的課程沒有考試，但每堂都有作業。 一般當你完成一個級別，會自動繼續到下一級。 如果您從中間一個級別開始課程，那麼就您需要通過入學考試來測試您所達到的語言水平級別。
到目前為止, 我覺得德語還算容易. 我以前在西班牙讀書有學過西班牙語, 學了兩年我還是覺得很難. 因為西班牙人說話太快了, 像機關槍一樣, 我真的聽不懂. 這一直都打擊我繼續學習西班牙的信心和熱誠。 但當我做德語聽力練習和看電視，我起碼聽懂70％，這給我增加信心和鼓勵我繼續努力。 德語比較容易聽懂是因為在德語中，沒有一個字母是silent，從一個字到一個字，語音都是清晰的。 與西班牙語或法語或其他拉丁語不同的是，德語在發音上沒有太多的“拖音”。 另外，英語來自日耳曼語，因此英語和德語之間有相似之處。我會說流利的英語，所以德語對我來說並不是太難。 如果你也會說英語，你也許會發現學習德語比較容易。
對於語法部分，這是另一回事。 德語語法很複雜，與英語完全不同。 名詞有3個性別（男性，女性和中性）和4個case（nominative，accusative，dative和genitive）。 這已經夠混亂了，但句子結構比英語和其他語言更要多變和靈活，這常是德語同學的一個大問題，不過還是有規則來分析和遵守。 沒有快捷和簡單的方法來學習德語語法，只有靠努力和記好所有規則。
只靠上課是不足夠的，我平常在家中亦要花時間學習。 我會把課堂上的內容重溫和做在網上的語法練習。 網上有許多學習網站可以幫助您更好地理解語法的規則。 我還發現一個很有效的學習方法，就是在Spotify上聽德語音樂，觀看德語YouTubers和電影，在Instagram上跟隨德國bloggers，目的就是為自己創造一個德語氛圍。 由於我不住在德語國家，我沒有任何母語的人跟我練習，這個方法有助於訓練我的聽力，習慣德國人的口音，學習新的詞彙，我還從這個方法學到很多德國人在日常生活裏用到的表達語句，這都是教科書上學習不到。
要學好德語就要投入時間去學習，盡可能為自己建立一個德語氛圍。 當你剛開始學習一種語言，是沒有捷徑，所以不要錯過任何機會開口練習，不要害怕犯錯誤。 學習德語是一個非常有趣的經驗，德國的文化也深深吸引住我。 如果你正在考慮學習德語或已經在學習，那就享受這門語言和學習過程中的樂趣吧！ 歡迎大家一齊分享您的學習方法和經驗！