Before you dive into our free online German course, let’s take a moment to talk about German fluency. Lots of people begin their language studies with an aim to become fluent in German. While that’s a great goal, it can be somewhat misguided- not because German is hard, but because fluency is a myth.
Let me explain. Many people would argue that how to become fluent in German is a function of immersion, with an aim of speaking like a native, but let’s unpack that for a moment.
Let’s think of a 3-year old girl, and for the sake of argument, let’s call her Maria. She was born in Zurich, and is growing up speaking German. No one would argue that she is not a native speaker.
But is Maria fluent in German? Hardly. She doesn’t really know the alphabet all that well, her vocabulary is comprised of only a few hundred words, she makes grammar mistakes all the time, and she cannot read or write. So in this scenario, Maria is learning German through immersion, and she’s a native speaker, but she’s not fluent.
Let’s use another example: Carl is a 30-year old who grew up in Los Angeles. His mother and father are from Germany, but Carl has never been outside the United States. Also, from the age of 3 onwards, Carlos attended a fancy private school, where the major language was English. His command of the German language is strong, but he doesn’t feel like a native speaker. He knows all the words and phrases his parents know, he never makes any grammatical mistakes, but he has a slight accent, and he stammers when he speaks German. In his heart, Carlos is always wondering how to become fluent in German.
The truth is that there is no set definition fluency in German or any other language. How to become fluent in German is a rhetorical question like, “How do I become a better person?” There is always room for improvement, and your final goal will depend greatly on your reasons for learning German.
For example, do you want to become fluent in German so you can speak freely with others? Are you a translator who needs to become fluent in German so you can work with written documents?
Your personal goals and circumstances will dictate your personal definition of German fluency.
This is important to keep in mind so that you can maintain your motivation. For example, if you struggle to spell German words properly, but your real goal is to speak to everyday people, then what’s the fuss? At the same time, if you cannot perfect your German accent, but your aim is to work with written documents, then so what?
So, before you begin OptiLingos’s free online German course, ask yourself what you are looking to accomplish and how you would define German fluency – if that’s even a goal at all- and chose the right set of German lessons accordingly.
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