In order to learn to read and speak any new language, there are two aspects to be mastered, vocabulary and grammar. Both contribute greatly and equally to one’s fluency in a language; and thus, none of the two should be neglected in favor of the other.
Acquiring vocabulary is pretty simple; as it’s just a matter of memorization. For the language we learn as children, this process is so transparent that we never recognize the importance of having a large vocabulary. Within a few years, a child may very well have already learned the meaning of thousands of words. Even words we have trouble defining; we readily understand their use in conversation by interpreting the meaning of the whole phrase.
This process can easily be re-accomplished by simply moving to another place where another language is spoken and having to get around and live without use of one’s native tongue.
However, the opportunity of residing in a German-speaking area is not always present to everyone. Thus, the student of German must make substantial effort in learning new words, including their meaning, their pronunciation, their gender (gender of nouns is EXTREMELY important when learning German), and how they are used within sentences.
It may be helpful to always have a German-English dictionary lying around. Using websites with interactive German language lessons might be one of the best ways to learn the language. Other sources of German, such as reading newspapers and magazines, or even watching translated movies and cartoons can also be very useful in building vocabulary and developing a sense of how German words are put together.
German grammar is similar to, but also a bit more complex than, English. It is possible to read German with minimal vocabulary in the sense that the student could generally recognize the parts of a sentence. Using a good dictionary, an English speaker can easily translate a German sentence close to correctly.
However, speaking and understanding accurate German is only achieved by learning the function, or role, of each word in a sentence. This is not quite as simple as in English, in which the word order in a sentence has more meaning. In German, the function of a noun is determined by the noun’s article and the suffix at the end of the noun itself. Thus, one must give special care to grammar when studying German; as any small change within a noun, could change the meaning of the whole sentence.
About the Author
Amr Boghdady is a web developer residing in Egypt. He has created many websites, mainly focusing on Education and language learning. The last of which was a website teaching German Grammar and German Vocabulary called Deutsched.com.