How to Start Learning German in 2022

Hallo, Deutschlerner. It’s a new year and with that comes new goals. If your goal in the new year is to learn German, but you don’t know where to start, which resources you should use and what you should prioritize, this post will help you get off on the right foot. It doesn’t matter if you are just starting to learn German or trying to reignite the fire in your German learning, there is definitely something for everyone in this post. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZPoAZtPmBrE

Step 1: Set Goals

The first thing you need to do before you start looking for resources or even start your first lesson is to write down exactly why you are learning German, what you want to be able to do with the language and where you want to end up in a year from now. Basically, you should be setting SMART goals. I made a post about that in December. The main idea is that you need to set goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time bound. If you want a great way to make sure your goals are on point and you keep yourself accountable throughout the year, you should buy one of my 2022 planners, which are available on Amazon. 

Goal setting is the most important step in this process. In the words of Yogi Berra, “If you don’t know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else.” In the case of learning German, if you don’t know where you are going, you might end up not moving at all. 

Step 2: Set Priorities

The second thing you need to do is find priorities within your goals. Do you want to be able to communicate with native speakers while on vacation? You should prioritize your pronunciation and ability to string sentences together. The majority of your lessons should be listening comprehension and dialogue practice. Honestly, I would recommend this regardless of what your goals are, but it is especially important in this instance. 

You should also make sure that your lessons are prioritizing things that you will encounter while on vacation. Going to a restaurant. Buying something at a store. Those kinds of situations that a tourist would actually encounter. 

Do you want to be perfect in every sentence you say? You will need some grammar lessons (like mine). Fair warning, if one of your goals is to have perfect grammar, I have some bad news. Native speakers don’t have perfect grammar. I don’t have perfect grammar in German. Perfect grammar isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. 

The bottom line is that you should find out what your priorities are going to be while learning German, so you can make sure that your lessons reflect those priorities. Think of goal setting as putting up a target and setting priorities as aiming. Now all we have to do is pull back on the string. 

Step 3: Find Resources

When I say “pull back on the string”, what I mean is give yourself the potential energy required to propel the arrow forward from the bow in the direction of the target. Outside of the metaphor I simply mean that you need to find resources that will help you make strides towards your goals. You need somewhere to get listening comprehension. YouTube is a great place to get started. 

Listening Comprehension

I just made a video about the best YouTube channels for learning German and there was a huge list of channels that are excellent for listening comprehension. I’d start with that list and then let the YouTube recommended video algorithm take over and go down the listening comprehension rabbit hole. When you get to the weird part of YouTube, go back to the homepage and start over.

Reading Comprehension

You will need a place to go for reading comprehension. I have a decent article that lists my favorite online reading comprehension websites, but many people like to have a physical copy of things. For those people, I have a list of book recommendations. There is a list on my website or you can just go to my Amazon Affiliate Store. From there you can find books for reading comprehension, building vocabulary, grammar, culture, and even test preparation, if you are wanting to pass a certain exam. If there is an Audible version of the book, I recommend you get that along with the paper version, so you can use it as a listening and reading comprehension resource. No matter if you use my recommendations or not, you will definitely need some reading comprehension in your German learning. 

LingQ

LingQ provides a variety of lessons about the German language, but the coolest thing is their “mini stories”. These stories are designed for entry level German learners. They are built in such a way that you build vocabulary without being terribly bored.

Speaking and Writing Resources

The last two categories of resources are a bit trickier. You need to be able to speak and write in German, too. The trick is getting feedback on your speaking and writing. Both of these can be accomplished by becoming a member of my online community on Vibely. I just launched it last week and I am really excited for the potential for German learners. We meet on a weekly basis and many of those meetups are speaking practice oriented. There are also daily, weekly and monthly challenges that will help you with the writing portion. There are other benefits of joining the community, but I’ll let you watch the video about the community if you want to learn more about that. 

If you don’t want to join the community, there are other options. My biggest recommendations would be my longtime sponsor, Lingoda and iTalki. These two sites are amazing for German learners, but what they offer is completely different from one another. Lingoda is great if you want to go from one level to the next and you want a system that is proven, well organized and simply fantastic from start to finish. 

iTalki is great if you are just looking for a lesson here and there. iTalki is also great, because the lessons are one-on-one, so you get the individual attention you need. Lingoda’s lessons are usually group lessons, but the group sizes are small enough that you still get a lot of personal attention. Neither of those two sites are sponsoring this post, but the links to them are affiliate links, if you want to try them out and help support this channel at the same time. 

Step 4: Pick Primary and Secondary Resources

So, you have set your goals, set your priorities, and found resources. Now you need to pick which resources are going to be your primary resources and which are going to be secondary. I never recommend only using one source of German learning. I don’t care if you are taking a formal class or you are learning on your own, if you only have one source of information, you are going to find your German learning has gaps in it. Multiple resources are the only way to fix this. You also don’t want to have so many resources that you become disorganized and lose your way, however. It is important to find that balance. 

You need one or two, maximum three primary resources that you use for daily lessons. These will likely be listening or reading comprehension lessons that kick off a larger learning session. You can then use your secondary resources to help fill in the gaps from the primary resource. You can have as many secondary resources as you like. In fact, I would keep expanding your list of secondary resources so you get variety in your lessons and you keep yourself motivated. 

Step 5: Start

Now for the big step. Start. Don’t delay. Don’t wait until it is a good time. Do it today. Do it as soon as you finish the first four steps. I mean as soon as you put down your pen after listing your primary and secondary resources, pick a lesson from one of your primary resources and start learning. 

How to Structure Your Lessons

If it were me, this is how I would structure my daily learning sessions. Start with a listening comprehension lesson from one of the YouTube channels I mentioned in that other video. Watch the lesson multiple times. Watch the first time and only watch. Don’t take notes. Don’t do anything else. Just sit there and watch or listen to the lesson. While watching the second time, take notes. Pause the video when you find a sentence, phrase or word you don’t understand. Don’t look it up. Just write it down. You can write what you think it means, if you like, but you don’t need to look it up yet. If you have other questions that come up while watching the video the second time through, write those down, too. 

Between 2nd & 3rd Viewings

Between your second and third viewings, find answers to all of your questions from your notes. Look up words, phrases and sentences you didn’t understand. Use an online dictionary, not Google Translate. Google gets things wrong too often to trust it. I have a list of online dictionaries here, if you need recommendations. If there was a grammar thing you didn’t understand, try to find a lesson about that online. You don’t necessarily need to read/watch the grammar lesson right then, but you should bookmark it in some way, so you can come back to it after you are done with the primary lesson at hand. 

If the YouTube channel you were watching offers extra materials to go with that lesson, get them. Use the extra materials they provide with their lessons to expand the lesson even further. Support the channel on Patreon, buy the materials from their website, whatever it is that you have to do, get those materials. If you are using this as a primary resource for your German learning, this will definitely pay dividends. 

On my channel for example, I provide copies of my scripts, mp3 versions of my lessons and worksheets with answer keys for every lesson. You can get these by supporting me on Patreon or as a YouTube channel member or you can buy them on an individual basis from the online shop on my website. Members of my online community on Vibely also get access to these materials on a weekly basis, as they usually are set as weekly challenges. 

3rd Viewing

Now that you have used the extra materials for the lesson of the day, go back and watch the original lesson for a third time. This time, see how much of it you can understand and see if there are any more gaps in your knowledge. If there are, find a way that you can review the information you need. 

The Next Day

If you found a grammar topic along the way that you didn’t understand, you can either tack that on to your current learning session or you can save it for tomorrow. Don’t forget: Learning German should be a daily activity, so you will be continuing what you start today tomorrow. 

On day 2 you should start by rewriting your notes from the previous day. If you are anything like me, your first draft of your notes are hectic at best. Going back to your notes, organizing them and rewriting them will help you review the material from the previous day and get you in the right frame of mind to start the next lesson. 

Once you are done with the notes from yesterday, you can start a new lesson. This might be a grammar topic that was connected to the previous day’s lesson or it could be a new listening comprehension exercise. It might even be a day where you test your ability to speak or write something in German. I call these production days and you should work them into your language learning regimen. Some people like to work speaking and writing into each lesson, but I like to isolate them and concentrate on one or the other for one whole learning session. 

Now that you know how to get started learning German, it’s time to start the steps I outlined in this video. You can find the playlist I mentioned that has all of the videos you need to get started properly here. There are also links throughout this post to all of the things I mentioned including my online German learning community on Vibely. Das ist alles für heute. Danke fürs Zuschauen. Bis zum nächsten Mal. Tschüss.

Herr Antrim
Herr Antrim is a German teacher with over 10 years of teaching experience. In 2011 he started his successful YouTube Channel "Learn German with Herr Antrim". In 2015 he created this website to enhance the German language lessons he was providing on YouTube. He is now the author of his own e-book, "Beginner German with Herr Antrim". He has also been featured on numerous blogs and other sites. *This site uses a variety of affiliate links. If there is a link that leads to an outside site from which you could potentially make a purchase, it is very likely an affiliate link for which Herr Antrim will receive a small portion of your purchase. This does not cost you any extra, but it does help keep this website going. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. If you would like more information about the affiliate programs this site uses, click here.
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