Travelling to a country where your target language is spoken is a great way to practice and to immerse yourself in the language. However when it’s not possible to travel to Germany, there are plenty of ways to bring the German language to your home.
Immersing yourself in the language is a fantastic way to improve your listening and reading skills of course, but it will also help enhance your speaking too.
1. Watch German TV & Films
If you enjoy watching TV during your downtime, why not give a few German TV shows a try? There are countless hours of TV shows that you can watch online for free. Either using the ARD and ZDF Mediathek (both major German broadcasters) or searching through YouTube.
If you have a Netflix subscription you will also find a bit of German language TV on there as well.
If you’re finding adult TV shows a bit too difficult to understand, consider watching some children’s shows. I watched 10 hours of Peppa Pig in German on YouTube (yes seriously!). That sounds mad, but it helped my listening comprehension a lot!
2. Read Books in German
Reading in German is now one of my favourite pastimes. There are a great selection of books written especially for adult German learners. In fact, I started reading in German with André’s ‘Dino Lernt Deutsch’ series of books. I’ve now moved on to his ‘Baumgartner & Momson’ detective series.
Such books are ideal because you’ll find manageable chapters, written in simple German, but the stories are aimed at adults, so they’re really engaging. At the end of each chapter you’ll find a list of vocabulary, so you can check up on any words you didn’t understand.
3. Listen to Audiobooks
While we’re thinking about books, if you want to improve your listening comprehension why not give audiobooks a try? Most books aimed at German learners also have an audiobook to accompany them.
If you do a lot of driving for work like me, they’re even more valuable. What better way to get extra German immersion, than to use up all that ‘wasted’ time while you’re driving. To get the best benefit I would recommend you listen to audiobooks that you can understand fairly well. Listening is harder than reading, and if you’re driving as well you need to make it easy for yourself.
4. Listen to Podcasts & German Radio
Staying with listening skills for a moment, why not replace your English language radio station with a German one! Not only will you be able to listen to the presenters’ general chat, you’ll discover some really cool German music as well! My personal favourite is Schwarzwald Radio but there are hundreds to choose from.
Podcasts are another excellent way to improve your listening comprehension and learn something new at the same time. I recommend podcasts aimed at German learners such as Easy German, Get Germanized (GerMany Podcasts) and Auf Deutsch Gesagt. You’ll hear everyday language as well as learning a lot about German culture.
5. Label Nouns with Post-it Notes
This is one of my favourite ways to immerse yourself in German at home: Post-it note as many household items as possible with the German noun and its article. Use 3 different coloured post-its to distinguish the noun’s gender (I use blue for masculine, pink for feminine and yellow for neuter). That way you’ll make a physical association with the German word, the physical object, and the colour of the post-it note.
I just know that Fernseher is masculine because I can still see the blue post-it note stuck to my TV, even 6 months after the post-it was removed.
6. Write Your Shopping List in German
On a similar theme, get into the habit of writing your shopping list out in German, and make sure you include the article. Of course you’ll need to translate a lot of items at first, but your regular purchases will become easier and easier to remember. As a bonus you’ll learn the correct article at the same time.
7. Do a Language Exchange with Native Speakers
The most important skill (in my opinion) and one of the hardest to get any practice with is speaking. However you don’t need to be in a German speaking country to get speaking practice.
Being an English speaker, you have the advantage that loads of German speakers would love to practice speaking English with you. In exchange, they’ll be more than happy to help you with your German.
This is known as a language exchange, and I can’t recommend it highly enough. I recommend the free app Tandem to find a language partner. You’ll meet some fantastic, interesting people there and your speaking will improve loads.
8. Write a Diary in German
To improve your writing skills (which will also help your speaking) start writing a diary or journal in German. When you first start out you can just write about what happened during your day. You can make it as simple or as in depth as you like.
Writing in this way is great because it will give you time to consolidate your thoughts and come up with a correct sentence in German. This can be difficult when speaking, because everything just happens that much faster, so you have less time to check whether something is correct.
9. Join German Facebook Groups
Last but not least, if you’re on Facebook, get involved in German Facebook groups. If you already have a hobby or interest, find out the German translation for it and do a search. Chances are you’ll find a German Facebook group.
You’ll learn a lot of new words related to your hobby, there is no pressure to contribute, but if you are feeling brave you can go ahead and get involved. When you’re reading or writing about something that interests you, you’ll be more engaged and learn even faster.
So there you have it, 9 fun ways to immerse yourself in German at home. Do you have any favourite immersion techniques? Leave a comment below.–You‘ve been reading a guest post by Emma Jackman