How to practice your speaking skills in German – even if you are just starting out!

3 Tips to improve your speaking skills

For most German learners, being able to speak is a major goal. However, especially when learning German, this goal often seems so far away because German is a rather difficult language to learn – if you’d like to use it correctly. In this article I will give you 3 tips what you can do to practice speaking.

1. Listen

This might sound strange to you, but listening is a skill often overlooked when it comes to learning German (or any other foreign language). I can recommend that you listen actively to texts that are appropriate for your level and/or just a little bit more advanced, but you should be able to understand about 60-70%. What you don’t understand, you’ll learn. Listen repeatedly to e.g. a short conversation. If you are watching a video, use subtitles, write down the words you don’t understand, look them up, then listen again.

For beginning learners, I can recommend listening to the audio material that comes with your book that you are using to learn German. I am sure it contains short conversations. At first you can read along and after a while listen to them without reading the text. For more advanced learners, I can recommend clips from German soap operas or German films. Follow the same steps as described above.

P.S. If you have questions about which German films to watch, contact me.

2. Imitate native speakers

Your next step is to repeat what you’ve listened to. You can use several techniques:

- Listen to a sentence, pause the audio and repeat the sentence.

- Listen to a whole paragraph or several sentences, pause the audio and repeat.

- Speak along while you are listening. A great technique, but you have to really focus! So, make sure the text is not too long.

When using these techniques, the important thing is to really imitate the speakers. Imitate the pronunciation, the tone of voice, the pauses, the body language and gestures (if you are listening to a video), etc. This will help you learn to speak like a native speaker from the beginning.

3. Talk to yourself

Yes, people might think you are crazy, but just ignore them. Talking to yourself in German is definitely a great way to get used to speaking and hearing yourself. We often find it very strange when we hear ourselves speaking another language.

What should you talk to yourself about? My recommendation is to talk about everyday situations:

• Think about a certain scenario where you might need to speak German, e.g. asking someone for a favor. Now think about what is one important phrase you will need. It’s probably „Could you please...?“ – in German: „Könntest du (mir) bitte...?“ You can use this phrse in many different situations when you need someone else to do you a favor.

So, you are eating breakfast at home and imagine you want to ask your friend for a favor. You say: „Könntest du mir bitte den Zucker geben?“ or „Könntest du mir bitte die Butter reichen?“ or „Könntest du bitte den Herd abschalten?“ You get the idea, I’m sure. Now it’s just a matter of vocabulary. Write down the new words you would need in this situation and practice the questions over and over.

• This type of learning can be adjusted to any level. If you are a more advanced learner, your scenarios could be Providing information or Negotiating or Finding a compromise, etc. Just start by imagining what the situations are where you need to use German, whether currently or in the future. It could be at the doctor’s, at a car dealership, at the hairdresser, etc.

Those are my tips if you are trying to improve your fluency level on your own. I hope this was helpful! Have fun :-)

P.S. If you would like to practice German with me, you can contact me and we can set up an online lesson.