How to Speak German with Correct Pronunciation

By OptiLingo • 8 minute read

Learn how to speak German with perfect pronunciation

You Can Master German Pronunciation

A lot of language learners worry about their pronunciation. Having an accent is nothing to be ashamed of. But, if it bothers you, you can always do some trusted exercises to improve. Lucky for you, if you’re learning German, you’ll have an easy time mastering the pronunciation. Here are 10 steps to learn how to pronounce German words, and achieve flawless fluency.

10 Steps to Learn How to Pronounce German Words

There are a lot of jokes out there about how rough and aggressive the sounds of German is. It’s not true, of course. German is just as melodic as any other language. But, you have to get a feel for it if you want to recreate these sounds. These 10 steps are everything you need to do to perfect your accent, and learn how to pronounce every German word.

1. Master the German Alphabet

Before you even begin learning German, you need get familiar with the letters of its alphabet. Luckily, that’s an easy task. There are 30 letters in the full German alphabet. 26 of these you already know, these are the exact same letters as the English alphabet. And then there are 4 special letters:

German letter
English sound
Example
Ä
cat
Mädchen (girl)
Ö
turn
schön (nice)
Ü
cuisine
über (above)
β
chess
Ich heiβe (I am called)

These exist to signal a different pronunciation, so they’re important to master in this case. Despite the similarities between the English and German alphabets, some letters are pronounced differently. Here are all the letters in German which have a different pronunciation:

  • C: ts, it’s the same sound as “z”.
  • G: always a hard “g”
  • I: more like the English “e”
  • J: soft “j”, like “yak”
  • S: sometimes it’s like the English “s”, but very often it’s more like the English “z”
  • V: “v” in German is always pronounce
  • W: this is more like the English “v” in pronunciation. It’s a hard “v”, not a double “u”
  • Z: always ts, the same as “c”

2. Learn the Basic Pronunciation Rules of German

There are basic rules you have to learn early on. Diphthongs and consonant combinations are very important to look out for when you’re speaking German. Luckily, once you know these rules, you’re set. There are no irregularities in German pronunciation rules. Every time you see these combinations, this is how you pronounce them.

Here are all the pronunciation rules the German language has:

      German Letter Combinations

      How You Pronounce Them

      Examples

      ei
      ay
      Eis (ice)
      ie
      ee
      lieben (to love)
      eu = äu
      oy
      heute (today)
      sch
      sh
      schnecke (snake)
      st
      sht
      Stadt (city)
      sp
      shp
      später (later)
      ch
      h

      throaty h

      k

      ich (I, me)

      Buch (book)

      Charakter (character)

      pf
      f
      Pferd (horse)
      ck
      k
      lecker (yummy)
      qu
      kv
      Quelle (well, spring)
      tsch
      ch
      Tshüss! (Bye!)
      th
      t
      Theater (theatre)

      If you see these letter combinations in German, they’re always pronounced like this. But, if you’re like to hear these combinations out loud, listen to this video:

      3. Listen to the Sounds of German

      If German pronunciation seems intimidating, don’t worry. You can always take your time to just listen to the sounds of the language. Watch for the rhythm, melody, and intonation of German. Learn everything about how it sounds. This will make pronunciation much easier in the long run.

      There are plenty of ways you can have the opportunity to listen to the sounds of German. Watch a German film, binge a German TV show, or tune in to a German podcast. All of these activities let you listen to the language. There’s nothing wrong with preparing for how you should speak. But, don’t take too long.

      4. Start Speaking German ASAP

      So many language learners put off speaking German. Fearing embarrassment of making mistakes, they leave their German pronunciation practice to the last minute. Please, don’t be one of these people. Without actually trying to speak, you’ll never reach German fluency. Start speaking from your first lesson, so you can learn how to pronounce German words through practice.

      If you start speaking as soon as possible, you’ll build your confidence. Your mouth gets used to forming German words, and when it’s time to speak to locals, you won’t be shy. You’ll know exactly how to pronounce German words, and you’ll do it proudly and fluently. That’s the true key to language learning.

      don't be afraid to speak german

      5. Don’t Worry About Your Accent

      Chances are, you’ll have an accent at first. If you’re not a native German speaker, you’ll bring a little bit of your own mother tongue with you. Don’t be afraid of this. Embrace it instead. With time, your accent will get better, I promise you. But, don’t let your fear of an accent limit your pronunciation practices. Here are a few reasons why you should never worry about your German accent:

      • There are a bunch of German dialects: They speak German in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Lichtenstein, and a lot of surrounding countries. Even within Germany, there are several distinct regional dialects. So, no real German speaker ever worries about an accent.
      • Your accent brings personality: If anything, your accent is exciting to German locals. They’ll love to hear how you speak, I guarantee it.
      • You’re the winner: Let’s just take a moment to look at your situation. You’re learning a whole foreign language. You are literally creating a different way to look at reality in your head. And you put effort and enthusiasm into these studies. Absolutely nobody, not even you, has the right to make you feel bad about it. Go out and shout German words with whatever accent confidently!

      6. Sing German Songs

      Music is a great aid for language learners. You can hear the rhythm of German through German songs. So, if you want an easy and enjoyable pronunciation practice, learn some songs and sing them out loud. If you’re worried about keeping up with pop or rock songs in German, you can always try children’s songs. These are a great start because they have simple vocabulary, catchy tunes, and visual aids.

      You shouldn’t worry about being on key. This is a German pronunciation exercise, not the Eurovision song contest finals. Here’s a very popular German children’s song that you can learn to sing easily.

      7. Record Your German Pronunciation

      If you’re learning German by yourself, it’s hard to have someone check if your pronunciation is good. Luckily, you can do it for yourself. Record yourself speaking German, and listen to it. Watch out for how you sound. See if you’re pronouncing German words correctly. And if you feel like there are words you can improve, practice them a bit more. This is a great trick to perfect your German pronunciation.

      8. Do German Pronunciation Exercises

      There are plenty of German pronunciation exercises you can try. Here are a few ideas that are easy, cheap, and fun to practice your German pronunciation:

      • Read out loud: Get a German book, article, blog, or shampoo bottle, and read the words out loud. Every word you learn how to pronounce can get you closer to fluency and a flawless accent.
      • Repeat what actors say: German TV and film have authentic dialogues. Try to repeat what these actors are saying. Their pronunciation is probably the best you’ll find.
      • Try German tongue twisters: While they’re not easy, trying German tongue twisters is definitely fun.
      • Talk to yourself in German: It may feel silly at first, but it’s actually a good exercise. Try speaking German to yourself, your pets, or your houseplant. They’ll appreciate the attention, and you’ll appreciate your newfound fluency.

      learning how to pronounce German words isn't difficult

      9. Practice Your French Pronunciation Often

      As with everything in language learning, the more you practice your pronunciation, the faster you’ll reach fluency. With lots of speaking exercises, you can perfect your German pronunciation. Just do it a lot. Speak German every day. Get used to creating sounds in German at every opportunity you can. That’s the ultimate way to learn how to speak German. In time, you’ll speak just like the locals.

      10. Use an App That Makes You Speak French

      Finally, if you want to make your German pronunciation practice easy, use an app that makes you speak. A lot of language learning apps focus on typing the language. But, this never helps. True fluency comes from speaking German. So, if you want a reliable app that enhances this skill, you need OptiLingo.

      OptiLingo doesn’t just get you to speak. It also gives you the most useful German vocabulary. You can learn exactly how the locals speak. So, you can speak with them easily when the time comes. Build your speaking confidence and reach fluency fast when you download OptiLingo!

      OptiLingo

      Dreaming of learning a new language? With OptiLingo, you can learn 20 languages in just 20 minutes per day. www.optilingo.com