German Department BATES COLLEGE Lewiston, Maine



Step by Step

The Purpose of this page is to provide you with useful information about how to learn German. Whether you are a beginner or an advanced learner this site might be very helpful for you. It gives you a bunch of information on how to improve your German or to learn more efficiently.

To become a "Perfect German Speaker" try the following steps:

Study Plan
Print your Study Plan and give it to your professor or teaching assistant, they will help you to analyse your progress or help you with difficulties

Step 1
Class Preparation

Step 2
Motivate Yourself

Step 3
Work Your 4 Senses








Class Preparation

To finish your assignments for class effectively you need at least two to three hours of preparation:
To understand a text and to answer the respective questions use the following methods.

1. Read the whole text without trying to understand every single word or sentence (just get a general idea).

2. Read the first passage of the text – underline unknown words/ sentences

3. Read sentence by sentence (of the first passage) looking up unknown words --? Make a vocabulary list (German – English)

To understand a text you do not have to look up every single word you do not understand. You should be able to get the main idea of a passage.
Mark words, word groups or sentences that you do not understand; ask another student or your teacher about their meaning.

4. Draw a “Personendiagramm” (jot down a few notes on each person)

5. Write one or two sentences about the main idea of the first passage.

6. Continue with the next passages by repeating step 2-4

7. After finishing the text, complete the work that you must prepare for class.

8. Glance over the rest of the tasks in your book or on your copy to get an idea what the content of the class might be. Try to answer a few of those questions on your own. Take notes.

Go to class well prepared! Try this method at least once to see how it works!






Motivate Yourself

The following tips are quoted from Motivation for Language Learning

read those tips and try to find the points that you consider to be most helpful for yourself:

Motivation is one of the keys to successful language learning. Maintaining a high level of motivation during a period of language learning is one of the best ways to make the whole process more successful. As each individual is motivated in different ways, we have to find the right balance of incentives to succeed (or "carrots"), and disincentives not to fail (or "sticks"), encouragement, and the right environment in which to learn.
Here are some tips to help you:

  • find a teacher or tutor who is enthusiastic and who can help to motivate you
  • tell your friends and family that your language learning is important to you - if you're lucky they'll give you valuable encouragement
  • set yourself short, medium and long-term goals to focus your activities e.g. register for an exam, test yourself regularly
  • remind yourself frequently that you are going to succeed
  • ...


More Study Tips - Lerntipps!


How to Study




In order to increase/ enhance your proficiency in German you have to study regularly. Learning a foreign language requires a consistant input of the foreign language that stimulates all senses:
Writing, Reading, Speaking, Listening.
To practice all these senses you should divide your learning input/ material into different areas. The following plan will give you ideas of how you can improve your German by creating your own WEEKLY STUDY PLAN.
The WEEKLY STUDY PLAN does not only include the study time you need to complete your class assignments, rather provides extracurricular activities that will assure a steady increase in your knowledge of German.






Before you continue your study of GERMAN you should read the following instructions on how to write, read, speak, and listen most effectively. Take your time to understand the instructions. Take notes that you think could help you. Add those sites that seem to be interesting to your internet favorites, or write them down on your study plan.



One of the most important things about writing in German is knowing German Grammar. Having a good Grammar Book and an excellent Dictionary are a MUST, e.g.:


Author: Wells, Larry D., 1940-
Title: Handbuch zur deutschen Grammatik : wiederholen und anwenden / Larry D. Wells
Edition: 2nd ed
Imprint: Boston : Houghton Mifflin Co., c1997


Author: Prowe, Gunhild
Title: The Oxford German dictionary and grammar / dictionary, Gunhild Prowe, Jill Schneider ; grammar, William Rowlinson
Edition: 2nd ed. / edited by Roswitha Morris, Robin Sawers
Imprint: Oxford : Oxford University Press, 2001


Author: Bridgham, Frederick George Thomas, 1943-
Title: The friendly German-English dictionary: a guide to German language, culture and society through faux amis, literary illustration and other diversions / Fred Bridgham
Imprint: London : Libris ; Concord, MA : Distributed in the US exclusively by Paul & Co., 1996


For further recommendations on Grammar Books and Dictionaries ask your Teacher!

A good source for Learning Grammar is the Internet. Go to our site Deutsche Sprache and check out the Grammar Links. You will find good descriptions of German Grammar Problems as well as Grammar Exercises, that most of the time are selfcorrecting.



1. To improve your READING ability, go to the Class Preparation Section and follow the instructions!

2. Use the Reading Links on our site Deutsche Sprache.

3. Try this link:
Reading: German Books, Newspapers, etc.
Guide picks

Read 'real' German online and offline. German-language books newspapers, magazines and other reading resources in Austria, Germany, Switzerland.



You might find that Speaking German is one of your biggest problems. Of course, the best opportunity to learn and speak a foreign language is to go to countries where the language is spoken. If you do not have this opportunity right now speak German in class, with your teacher or talk to the teaching assistant; meet with other students and communicate in German, do your homework preparation together; go to the German table; attend other meetings with German Speakers or Language Learners.

If you have problems pronouncing German words and phrases correctly use the following link or search for other sources on the internet:

German Pronunciation mit Hörbeispielen



Die Listening Tipps und Hinweise kommen von
(About > Homework Help > German Language)

Beim ersten Mal solltest Du Dir die folgenden Tipps zum Hörverstehen durchlesen (Punkt 1-3), danach geh zu den einzelnen Internetadressen (Punkt 4). Später kannst Du dann Punkt 1-3 überspringen und gleich bei Punkt 4 beginnen.

re You Listening?
Hören Sie zu?
Why you should be!

• How To Listen Online
Anyone who is learning German and doesn't use the Web for listening to Deutsch is missing an important opportunity and a valuable resource. And that includes beginners – especially beginners!
Why is listening so important?

German Language Lab

ow to Pronounce German

echniques for Using Authentic
Language Sources on the Web



Online Television and Video

Online Radio Stations

Go to our site Deutsche Sprache and use the link Hörverstehen