One of the toughest parts of learning German, is speaking. An annoyingly, it’s the hardest area to actually practice.
You can study your German grammar textbook all day long, read German books, watch TV to practice your listening and even write a book or journal. But getting German speaking practice when you don’t actually live in a German speaking country can be challenging.
Which is why after reading today’s post, you’ll be ready to get all the German speaking practice you’ll ever need, with 8 ways to skyrocket your German speaking practice, even if you don’t live in Germany.
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German Speaking Practice By Yourself
The first step to practicing speaking German is to gain some confidence by speaking on your own. At first, you might find it hard to even try to make the correct sounds that you need to produce in order to speak German. It can feel strange to hear these unusual sounds coming from your mouth.
So before you think about having a conversation with another person, it’s a good idea to get used to saying German words and producing some of the sounds the German language uses. There are a few ways to do this:
Speak to your pets, plants, or yourself
You might feel a bit strange doing this, but start small and gradually increase the amount you say. It could be as simple as saying guten Morgen (good morning) to your plants, or asking your cat willst du etwas fressen? (do you want something to eat?)
You could describe things or situations out loud, such as ich muss heute morgen einkaufen gehen (I have to go shopping this morning). Anything is possible, just get talking, it doesn’t really matter what you say.
Sing German songs
Another way to get German speaking practice is find some German singers or bands that you like, and learning the songs. After a while you’ll learn the lyrics to some songs, and although you might not understand much, you’ll get a good feel for how the language sounds.
Best of all, you can sing along to your favourite songs in the car. This is actually a great way to get your mouth trained to produce correct sounds, as you can really emphasise German sounds and sing as loudly as you like.
Write & practice Germans scripts
Once you’ve warmed up your German vocal chords and practiced some pronunciation, you’re almost ready to speak to another person. But what do you say?
Preparation is key to speaking, so it’s a good idea learn some common phrases or even write some scripts about your favourite topics of conversation. A common opening question is ‘why are you learning German?’ so it’s good to prepare an answer: ich lerne Deutsch weil ….. (I’m learning German because …..)
It’s worth taking a look at my German Script Builder, a comprehensive script builder and grammar guide to help you prepare your own customised scripts for those first conversations. It will guide you through creating scripts on 7 everyday topics: introductions, hobbies & free time, travel, shopping and eating out.
Solo practice with a German course
There are a few German courses you can enroll with that are designed so you can get some German speaking practice on your own.
Rocket German is a podcast style course which encourages you to listen and repeat what you hear, with gaps left in the audio. You are also asked questions at the end of each lesson, with a gap so you can reply in German, followed by the correct answer.
Another feature of Rocket German is ‘Rocket Record’ where you take the place of one of the two conversation partners. The recorded voice says their part, and you reply with the given script. Rocket Record then listens and assesses your pronunciation.
I also found the audiobooks Learn German with Paul Noble and Next Steps in German with Paul Noble really helpful for solo speaking practice. In these audio courses, you gradually build up sentences with the author. Repetition is used and the author gets you to speak at every stage of the sentence building. These are great courses to practice speaking, it really does feel like you have a German tutor with you.
German Speaking Practice Online
So you’ve now had some speaking practice on your own, and now it’s time to speak to another human. There are plenty of opportunities to talk to German speakers online, and they vary depending on your learning goals.
Whether you want to just have a casual conversation with a German speaker, follow a structured course, or something in between, here are some options to choose from:
Lingoda is an online language school, offering 1 hour group and individual lessons on Zoom. The course is structured and you can go from complete beginner A1 up to C1 advanced. Lessons run 24 hours a day, and you can simply choose which lesson you want to take, and at what time (each lesson starts on the hour). Each lesson works through a PDF and students take their turns to explain, discuss or answer the questions in German.
Since there are a maximum of 5 students in a class, you will get a tonne of speaking practice. It can be quite scary at first, but the teachers are always so welcoming, that you’ll be made to feel at ease.
The lessons are conducted 95% of the time in German, which can sound a bit intimidating but the teachers will take the time to re-phrase a question if you don’t understand, or to explain a particularly tricky part of the lesson in English.
Lingoda regularly run the Lingoda Sprint, where you can take an intensive course of 15 or 30 lessons per month, for 2 months. I took part in the Lingoda Sprint myself, and it really helped me to gain confidence speaking German. It’s not for the faint hearted, but it will give your German a massive boost.
You can also try Lingoda for free for 7 days and get 3 free, 1 hour group lessons, so it’s worth giving it a try to see if you like it.
If you’re not looking for a structured course, but would rather just get some German speaking practice with real native speakers, I can’t recommend Tandem enough.
Tandem is a language exchange app where you can meet German native speakers who want to practice their English. It’s a really simple idea, you create a profile where you state your language learning goals and level and add some of your interests. You can browse through the app to find native speakers who seem like a good match for you.
The way these kinds of apps work, mean that you’ll have quite a lot of introductions, work, hobbies and so on type conversations. You won’t continue to talk to a lot of people, so you will have these same conversations again and again. This is actually great because that repetition will cause you to become an expert in these conversations, you’ll become for fluent and your confidence will improve with each new language partner.
Every now and again you’ll connect with a language partner who you get on so well with, that you’ll have regular chats. I still regularly with some language partners, one from Germany and one from Switzerland, whom I’ve spoken to for over a year, and now consider them friends.
You have the option to message with text, audio or make phone or video calls. If you’re just starting out you’ll probably use the following order:
1. Text Message
When you’re not confident enough to speak yet, but a great way to practice your German and get to know a new potential language partner. Typing in German will give you vital thinking time and help you to get your grammar correct. Plus your language partner can correct any mistakes you have, as long as you ask them to: bitte korrigiere mich (please correct me).
2. Audio Message
These are great for speaking practice without too much pressure, because you can plan what you’re going to say with a pre-planned script and then just record your message. It will also give you time to practice your listening skills, as you can listen to the reply as many times as you need to.
3. Phone / Video Call
When you’re ready to have a ‘live’ conversation you can go ahead and arrange a phone or video call with your language partner. It’s up to you and your partner how you plan out your calls, but I usually arrange to do a 1 hour call, with 30 minutes in German and 30 minutes in English. When I first started out I was really nervous, so it was more like 50 minutes English, 10 minutes German. As you get more confident you can build your German time up.
In my experience most of the German speakers spoke far better English than I spoke German, so they were grateful for the extra English practice, plus it gives your brain a chance to rest. German speakers as mostly very considerate, patient and happy to correct your mistakes.
If you’re looking for a combination of structured lessons and conversation partners, italki is the platform for you. With italki you can connect with German teachers and have 1-to-1 online lessons.
These lessons are generally very affordable, and you can choose whether to go for the traditional structured lesson, or conversation practice. Where italki differs from a language exchange app like Tandem, is that the tutors you find on italki are there to teach you German so will give better corrections and grammar explanations than you’ll get chatting to people on Tandem.
Since you’re dealing with tutors on italki, you get the benefit of flexible lessons, being able to speak 100% of the time in German, and talking about whatever you want with your tutor. You’re in charge, so if you want to get serious with your conversation practice, take a look at italki and it’s huge selection of German tutors.
Sprachtreff is hosted by Sprachinstitut Berlin and is a free online meet-up for German learners. There are 3 meet-ups per week, and each one has a different topic of conversation and questions set by the hosts for the group to discuss among themselves.
The group is divided up by abilities and is a fantastic way to get German speaking practice with other German learners. You’ll meet people from all over the world and will learn from more experienced learners.
All meet-up times shown on the website are CET.
Top Tip: Download your German Script Builder – A comprehensive script builder & grammar guide for everyday conversations to help you prepare your own customised scripts even if you feel like you can’t think fast enough to actually have a conversation in German.