The German language has a reputation for being a difficult one. From its elaborate rules governing word order to its complicated case system, German certainly has its fair share of obstacles for learners. But still, there are several reasons why German is actually easier than many other languages, especially for English speakers. Below is an overview of why you shouldn’t be afraid of learning German.
1. It shares 60% of its vocabulary with English
English and German are both Germanic languages, meaning that they’re closely related. As such, they have a great deal of words in common. In fact, more than half -- six in ten -- German words bear significant resemblance to their English counterparts. In comparison, English shares only 27% of its vocabulary with French. Therefore, less than half of the vocabulary you encounter will be unfamiliar to you!
2. It uses a familiar writing system
While other commonly learned languages like Mandarin Chinese and Russian require learners to familiarize themselves with an entirely new alphabet, German uses the Latin alphabet, just like English. Therefore, you won’t need to spend much time getting used to its writing system. Aside from its rounded vowels (ä, ö, and ü), the only extra letter is ß, which is pronounced as a sharp “S” sound.
3. There’s lots of free practice available at your fingertips
After .com, .de -- Germany’s internet country code --is the largest top-level domain on the entire internet. It even beats out other contenders like Japan (.jp) and the United Kingdom (.co.uk). This means that there is an enormous amount of German-language material on the internet, so you shouldn’t have any trouble finding interesting German websites for reading practice. If you’re not sure where to start, check out our suggestions for German-language smartphone and tablet apps.
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4. Compound nouns actually make your life easier
German is famous for having extremely long compound words, such as Gesamtkunstwerk, which refers to a work of art that combines many different media. But while these long words are scary at first, they are actually quite logical: when into smaller components, it’s easy to guess their meaning. Gesamtkunstwerk, for instance, is a combination of gesamt, which means “total”; Kunst, which means “art”; and Werk, which means “work”. Therefore, when you see a long word in German, look for smaller words embedded within it. You might already know what it means!
Hopefully, this list has quelled some of your fears about the German language. Indeed, it’s no harder than any other language, and being fluent in German is well worth it in the end. If you’re still feeling anxious, you should consider taking tailor-made German classes from a qualified teacher. Check out our flexible course and package options to find out how you can best learn German.