Three Little-Known Facts about Speaking German

One of the most common ambitions that language learners share at all stages is that of speaking the language fluently. Fluency means a lot to you, and it pulls together aspects of confidence, expertise, speed and pronunciation.

Maybe you're dreaming of speaking German with ease and a perfect accent. No one will recognise you as Jonny Foreigner as you flirt your way through the trendy bars of Berlin.

If you're a German learner, I'll soon be ready to help you out with one of the five: sounding more like a native speaker. Behind the scenes of Fluent, I'm currently building my first German course, and this one will focus on making you sound very good indeed.

Curious about how I'll do it? Let's start with a few home truths:

1) The e is never silent in German

Even at the end of a word, you have to sound this out. Confusingly that sound is called a 'schwa', but don't worry, you don't have to 'schwa'-y as you produce the sound. In my course, I'll show you how to do it.

2) V and f and w are all fricatives

What the heck is a fricative? 

 The Fricative Mouth Shape: Teeth touching lip slightly, air pushed through the space produces the sound.

The Fricative Mouth Shape: Teeth touching lip slightly, air pushed through the space produces the sound.

Well, it looks a bit like this:

Fricatives are all the sound that you make when pushing air through a constricted space. I know that sounds kinky, but it's more or less an "f" sound - sometimes they're harder and sometimes softer. In German, the most unusual fricative fact is the fact that we pronounce our w as one of these little things. Ever heard a German speak English in a heavy accent? You might notice them saying "ve are valking to the vall". This is what you want to reverse-engineer when you learn German. Crazy, right? I'll be teaching you more about it in my videos - good job you'll get to hear my demo along with the explanations!

3) Germans don't all roll the r

Some of us can't even do it at all. We make a sound that's much closer to the French's called an uvular fricative but you don't have to learn the whole phonetic language too. Just listen, try out how you can produce the sound and see if you can hear the difference in the practice words. Here's a video explaining how to do this in detail:

Of course Southern German dialects such as Franconian and Bavarian are known for their beautifully rolled r, so it isn't true to say that rolled r doesn't appear in German. But it helps to know that this is proof of our very strong regional dialects (you have to read about the Mosel one).

What do you struggle with in German?

Now you know that you're not alone if you find it difficult to say some German words, I would love to hear which ones cause you the biggest problems.

Leave me a comment here and tell me all about the trickiest German words!

I'm very excited about bringing you the course by the end of next month, and would love to keep you up to date. If you want to learn more about speaking German with confidence, check out the German Pronunciation Masterclass. It's a video course focused on one thing: helping you sound AWESOME in German.

The course includes 

  • close-up photos and videos of every letter in the German alphabet to help you practice saying them at home
  • easy explanations that don't confuse you with a lot of phonetic words or complex diagrams
  • interesting examples and a special lecture on dialects to help you understand German speakers from anywhere