I'm learning German on Duolingo also watching Learn German on YouTube, and I've completed the 1st phase (the basics). There are probably 6-7 phases of total in the app. But I don't wanted to depend on Duolingo or Learn German, so I decided to read and watch some of the actual German "sites" and "videos".

Now the problem is I don't understand anything apart from UND DANKE NEIN when I listen to those native German conversation. I know that I have just finished the basics and there are a lot more things to cover, but I just wanted to be sure I'm going in the right direction.

I'd like to get tips about how to understand the German conversations really fast (like in real time).


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    There’s no shortcut to acquiring vocabulary; you actually have to acquire the vocabulary. (The flipside is, listening and reading will, in the long term, help you acquire the vocabulary.) – Jan Feb 8 at 5:41

I think a good time starting exposing yourself to native speakers (or writers) is after about three or four years of learning a language in school. That is when schools begin exchange programs, and that is when schools begin to introduce reading matter that wasn't specifically written for language learners.

There are immigrants who don't speak the language of their new home country and learn it from the people they work with, so you can of course expose yourself to a language without any basic knowledge, but learning a language that way is much easier when you yourself are a part of the context and the speakers speak to you, adapting their behavior and their speech to your ability.

For example, when a native speaker interacts with a person he knows doesn't speak the language well, they will speak more slowly and form shorter sentences or even use single words. They will also accompany their communication with gestures, such as pointing to the object they talk about or miming the activity their refer to. And they will wait for a sign of understanding and repeat or rephrase what they said, if they weren't understood.

A book or movie doesn't do any of that for you. At your level of learning, if you are impatient and have more time to learn, it might be a better idea to:

  • learn faster, i.e. learn more words per day, do more lessons
  • repeat more often (to cement your knowledge even better)
  • use different courses in parallel (they all have different approaches and different materials, so you will get both more repetition and more stable "mental storage" from the variation in exercises)
  • use audio, video, and reading materials that are specifically created for learners at your level (publishers of language courses for schools often publish a wide variety of accompanying exercises, stories, and other material)

When you know a bit more, a good way to learn spoken German is watching German language movies with subtitles, either in your language or, if you are more advanced, in German.

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