Is learning German a sprint or a marathon?

You may want to learn German and wonder how long it will take to become fluent. This question I have heard many times, and there is not one single answer.

Assuming you would like to learn German and not live in a German-speaking country, regular German lessons with a native speaking German tutor are essential. Allow for plenty of revision between your lessons. 

No doubt, time is finite, and you can only cram so many lessons in a week. Remember, you can always increase or decrease the number of German lessons. 

There comes a time when you lack motivation; work and family get in the way, or you may find it hard to concentrate on your German studies. Try not to lose momentum. See if you can travel to Germany for a weekend to practise your newly acquired German language skills to measure your progress.

Another way to measure progress is to sit language exams. The Common European Reference Framework for Languages offers a great way to gauge where your German is at. I am sure you’ve heard of A1, A2, B1, B2, C1 and C2. This can also provide excellent testimony on your CV or LinkedIn profile. After all, German remains the most sought after foreign language amongst UK employers. 

In my experience, the key is learning vocabulary and less so German grammar. You will find it hard to master the grammar if you lack the vocabulary. But you will master the grammar if you know sufficient vocabulary.

After a few lessons, I would say that you should have a basic understanding of the German language. I have been teaching some students for ten years to help them improve or maintain their German language, and I have taught others who had an excellent grasp of German after 12 months of studying.

Learning, in whatever shape or form, never ends. I am a native German speaker and have lived in the UK for many years, and not a day goes by when I haven’t learned something new in the language of my adoptive home.

Learning German is not a sprint nor a marathon. Perseverance is essential, and the adage that Rome wasn’t built in a day comes to mind.

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