Five ways to speak more

Although I´ve been living in Germany for a year, I am not speaking enough German.  The novelty has worn off and I seem to be stuck on a plateau and need to think of ways to integrate better.  Here are FIVE WAYS to speak more, maybe you have some suggestions for me too …



My language at home is English, not German.

  • I don´t attend German classes because they are expensive and I don´t want to be in a class with a lot of other foreigners, having worked this summer as an “immigrant worker” in a plant nursery.
  • Although I know several German people, they tend to like to practise their English and I have not yet made close friends.   At work the people I got to know best were from Thailand, Morocco and Poland, which was fascinating but not Teutonic.
  • I am by nature fairly quiet and probably speak fewer words per day than the average person, often preferring e-mail to the phone.
  • I don´t focus exclusively on German, like to flit between languages.


  1. Speak with my husband in German for a few  minutes each day, starting with ten minutes and increasing the time gradually.  Write a mini diary entry in German first, looking up the relevant words.
  2. Join a German class: the next group starts in February.  The trouble with that is that I am looking for jobs in Holland as well as Germany.  The job agencies in Holland seem more dynamic.
  3. Start to get to know people who share my interests.  I have joined a French conversation class (advantages: firstly I am confident in French and secondly I can meet real German there).  After the class we sometimes meet for a coffee and talk in German.
  4. Ask for the phone number of the people from the class and occasionally phone them to build up confidence with speaking in German.
  5. Stick to German, really focus on it.  Don´t like that idea.
  • November  – Write a few notes in German, daily, about what has been happening and speak about it with whoever will listen.
  • December  – Pay extra attention to contacts within the French class and try to develop connections with those people because they are Francophiles and interested in travel, like I am.
  • January  – practise phoning people in German, then review action plan and re-consider joining a German-leaning group.


About Fun with languages

Blogging about learning languages, making it fun Hobbies: paragliding, cycling, reading, BBC radio 4.
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3 Responses to Five ways to speak more

  1. Linda says:

    Being the slacker who only knows one language (and has trouble with that sometimes!) I read your posts and your ‘Born Lucky’ page in awe of your exciting life and the experiences you share!
    I wonder if it would help you to learn German and use it more often if you tried to teach your readers a short lesson every week…what do you think? Maybe share a phrase with us and share where and how that would be used in context. Just a thought. Thanks so much for sharing your experiences!

  2. Hi Linda and thanks for your comments! I think that it would be a really good idea to have a German phrase of the week to share on the blog … will do, starting next Tuesday. It will add a bit of spice to my short daily German-learning sessions if I have at the back of my mind the intention of choosing something to write about here. Jenny

  3. On 1st November Françoise from Luxembourg suggested that one suggestion would be “ask them to talk German with you”, some will. I replied “Your idea is simple but effective… thanks!
    Since then it is becoming apparent to me how little I have done this (if ever). It was easier with French. Often people replied in English although I had asked a question in French. Then I would just smile as if to show that I could understand that they might want to practise their English, but that I would continue in French.

    You need guts to carry on making your halting attempts. How can I build up the necessary courage, when nearly everyone seems to speak English so well?
    At present I can see two options: one is to carry on with the studying on the basis that more knowledge = more confidence. The other is to carry on trying, in the hope that it will get less daunting with practice.
    It is strange how the language that you are speaking can affect your personality. In French I become more of an extrovert that usual and in German more shy!

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