Basic German Lessons
How to pronouce the German umlauts: ä, ö, ü
The German alphabet consists of 26 basic letters. There are also umlauted forms. We have three of them in German (ä, ö and ü). Can you see the little dots over the vowels?
Ä Ö Ü
The “ä” is pronounced like the:
“a” in “apple” or the
“ai” in “air”.
The “ö” sounds similar to the:
“e” in “her”,
“i” in “bird”,
“ea” in "earn”,
“u” in “burn”
or the French “eu”.
The German “ü” doesn’t have a real equal in English. However, maybe you know how to pronounce the letter “u” in French, it sounds just like the German “ü”.
Here are some words with the umlaut "ä":
(Most of the time the "ä" sounds similar to the German "e")
|das Mädchen||the girl|
|die Bären||the bears|
|die Käfer||the beetles|
Here are some words with the umlaut "ö":
|die Löwen||the lions|
|die Vögel||the birds|
Here are some words with the umlaut "ü":
|die Prüfung||the exam|
Let's build some example sentences. Remember the rule: "Never learn just individual words!" If you don't know the most important learning rules, sign up to my free email course and learn all about them.
Das Mädchen ist dünn und schön.
The girl is thin and beautiful.
Löwen, Bären, Vögel und Käfer sind Tiere.
Lions, bears, birds and beetles are animals.
Wir üben für die Prüfung.
We are practicing for the exam.
Prüfungen sind blöd.
Exams are stupid.
Try to answer the following questions.
If you cannot answer them right away, don't worry – Listen to all sound files on this page 5, 10 or 20 times every day until you can. Repetition is the key. Practicing with the question and answer technique will enable your brain to think in German step by step and this is very important if you want to speak German fluently some day!
Question: Wer (who) ist dünn und schön?
Answer 1: Das Mädchen
Answer 2: Das Mädchen ist dünn und schön.
Question: Was (what) sind Löwen, Bären, Vögel und Käfer?
Answer 1: Tiere
Answer 2: Löwen, Bären, Vögel und Käfer sind Tiere.
Question: Für was üben wir?
Answer 1: Für die Prüfung.
Answer 2: Wir üben für die Prüfung.
Question: Sind Prüfungen blöd?
Answer: Ja, Prüfungen sind blöd.
Prüfungen sind blöd, doof und total bescheuert.
Note: If you cannot write the German umlauts with your keyboard, just write the vowel without the dots and then add an “e”:
ä => ae
ö => oe
ü => ue
So for example küssen becomes kuessen (to kiss)
Now go to Tell Time in German
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How can I learn German in a few months instead of years?
If you want to learn to speak German fluently, you should read and listen to German at least 20-30 minutes every day. Use an iPod or a mobile phone and listen on your way to work/school and 10 minutes before you go to sleep!
Here is a general advice:
Focus < 10% on grammar. If you like grammar you can practice with my basic online lessons (check the sidebar for more lessons). However, don't focus too much on grammar, it would only slow you down and by the way, if you read and listen a lot to the German language you will learn grammar automatically up to a certain point.
> 40% Reading and listening
Listen to easy and clearly spoken German and read the unabridged German text at the same time. The text should be translated or should have a vocabulary aid. This saves a lot of time because you don't have to look up all new words in a dictionary. This way you will not only learn new words but also the pronunciation, the spelling, the structure and even grammar up to a certain point.
> 40% Practicing with the question and answer technique
It is very powerful and the best technique if you want to learn to speak a foreign language. It will enable you step by step to think in German (even dream in German). Being able to think in German is the key to fluency. If you cannot think in German, you cannot speak it!
Save about 10% of your time for other things like listening to German songs or watching movies in German etc.
Tip: Sign up to my free email course and load my mini story "Schneckenwitz" onto your iPod or mobile phone and listen to it many times. With every repetition you will get more familiar to the German language.
If you would like to practice with more of my funny audio stories, I recommend my "Package XL" (download version). You can read and listen a lot. If you don't understand a word you can check the English translation. Every lesson and story has also a big question and answer part.
Please have a look in my store: >> Package XL
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