Learning German requires hard work, motivation, and daily practice. As you may already know, the best way to get daily practice is language immersion and being forced to speak German in everyday situations.
But is that really the only way to learn German?
The answer is simple: definitely not!
Luckily, technological advances now make it possible to learn German with great software tools. These tools provide learners with availability, flexibility and an endless amount of information.
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Language learning software is a great innovation, but as with any other product, it's important to know what to look for before jumping into German learning software. By considering everything that is needed to learn a language quickly and effectively, it's possible to develop a list of the top characteristics needed for the ideal language learning software program. This list can help to be your "checklist" when it comes to finding the perfect language learning software.
Let's take a look at them:
No great achievement ever happens overnight, and learning German is no different. In order to learn German fast, you first need to make smart, realistic goals to help yourself organize your time and plan your studies.
Your German language learning software should help you do this by allowing you to set measureable daily goals and track your progress. It should provide an easy-to-use structure that helps you to achieve your realistic goals.
The more motivated you are to learn German, the easier, more fun and faster it will be to learn it.
Your language learning software should help you to stay motivated. The program should be interactive, fun, engaging, and even a little competitive to help keep you motivated. Ideally, it should include a way to connect with other learners (like a forum) to share in your language learning adventure.
Connecting and communicating with others is a great way to keep you motivated and accountable for your progress. It's also very important that your software tracks your progress so you can see your progress and feel good about yourself. This will help to keep you motivated, dedicated and on the right track.
Learning German is a never-ending task, so it’s essential to set goals from the very beginning so you don’t get frustrated and you can better measure your achievements. The ideal software should break down the process of studying German into different levels so you always know where you're at.
One of the greatest contributions of computer-based learning is that you no longer need be in a classroom to interact with and listen to other German speakers.
The ideal German learning software should provide you with a variety of engaging, interactive activities that help you improve your listening and speaking skills. A language-oriented forum or chat is also a great idea to help encourage learners to interact and put what they’ve learned into practice.
Every student is different. Learning German is not the same for a native French speaker with language experience as it is for a native English speaker who's new to the language learning scene. Also, a student whose goal is to travel to Munich with her family won’t need to study in the same way as a student who needs to focus on business-oriented German.
Good language learning software should adapt to any situation and give learners the possibility to manage their own learning process according their needs and learning style. It should provide a wide variety of activities and promote flexibility to suit student's goals, mood, and energy level as they study.
The best German learning software should help you to learn vocabulary, grammar, and culture while listening, speaking, reading and writing. None of these elements should be neglected, and there should be a balanced amount of each in your study program.
Ideally, there should be voice recognition technology to help you practice speaking. In addition, your program should include interactive listening, reading, and writing lessons. You should learn vocabulary in context and you should be able to study it with tools that allow for repetition, such as flash cards or your own personalized online notebook.
Unfortunately, it's amazing how many language learning programs avoid explaining grammar topics and neglect teaching culture. We can't emphasize the importance of these two topics enough. The majority of language learners don't just want to memorize words and sentences, but want (and need) to know the grammatical rules to be able to form their own sentences.
Similarly, culture and language go hand-in-hand, and understanding the German culture can help you to better understand and appreciate the language. Make sure that your language learning software explains grammar and teaches culture.
Quality is not an option when it comes to learning German. Studying a language is a time-consuming and demanding process, and you should be able to take advantage of the best possible tools. That's why language learning software isn’t something you want to buy at the dollar store during your lunch break.
Make sure the program you choose is filled with audiovisual and written content and gives you all the necessary tools to succeed. When it comes to learning languages, it's worth investing a little extra in high-quality materials that you can use for every aspect of the learning process.
Who wants to learn how to say “my tailor is rich” in German? If you hardly ever say that in your native language, why should they be your first words in German?
Unfortunately, a lot of language learning software doesn't take into account the practicality of the vocabulary you're learning.
The best language learning software should teach the most practical words and structures first. Believe it or not, we only need about 5% of the words in a language to be able to interact in 95% of all situations. The ideal language learning software should take advantage of this by helping you to reach fluency the practical way by learning the most practical and frequently used words, phrases and grammar first.
You won't be a German beginner forever, and the ideal language learning software should include all levels according to a measurable scale, from beginner to advanced.
It should also keep in mind that we all learn differently. Thus, it should cater to as many different learning styles as possible in order to accommodate every learning style. That means that lessons in all topics should include a variety of visual, audio, verbal, logical and even physical activities to help everyone learn.
Since the biggest advantage of German learning software is the flexibility it offers students regarding time and place, why not making the most of this fantastic benefit? The perfect German learning program is one that you can access online from any computer, without the inconvenience of having to carry books or CDs.
Also, the possibility of accessing some features from anywhere through a cell phone app is a really interesting and useful characteristic to look for in a software. That way, you can study anywhere and anytime you have a free moment.
It's also important that the cost structure adapts to your needs. In general, there are two common software pricing structures:
Now that you have a checklist for what look for in German learning software, it's time to find what best fits you and your needs.
But before spending time browsing through Google, don’t forget to take a look at the Rocket Languages Courses!
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Paul Weber: Rocket German