Going beyond the textbook~ learning to speak a foreign language (Pt. 2)

You can find Part 1 here—> “I want to improve my speaking in a foreign language” (Pt. 1)

“Language exerts hidden power, like a moon on the tides.” – Rita Mae Brown


beach dawn dusk hd wallpaper
Photo by Snapwire on Pexels.com


1) A great way to learn authentic modern language is to find a language partner. I personally like learning through real conversations because I unconsciously/effortlessly add new words to my vocabulary without thinking about grammar or pronunciation.

I don’t think idioms, slang, sayings, proverbs, quotes, usw. can be learned from long lists. Some books may use stories or pictures to illustrate them, but we don’t learn idioms or slang from books in our native language; we pick them up from speaking with others. And I find this approach effective with acquiring specialized vocabulary in foreign languages.

Furthermore, a language partner will help you utilize what you already know. You can talk with your pets if you are too shy to find a language partner online/in-person–or with yourself in the shower–for this practice. Ask them basic questions, tell them how your day is going, and train what you recently learned. 


2. Another important tip I have is to find a private teacher. Receiving corrections is important, so ask your teacher to correct your speech and turn in writing assignments to them as well.

A good teacher should also boost your motivation and be able to guide you as you progress in the language. Together, you can find your weaker areas and reach your learning goals. 

Use this time with your private teacher to converse in the language and get yourself accustomed to different speaking situations. Your accent, vocabulary and grammar will rapidly improve. 


3. Third and final point is concise: to use I) context to your advantage and II) immerse yourself in the language.

I) Using context: instead of lists of words with no examples/related words, find something that is interesting and relevant to you… read an article in your target language about your favorite band and study new vocabulary by memorizing whole sentences. Translate a short text that’s on your level and re-read the original and the translation several times.

II) What I consider immersion (taken from my article on learning Russian):

  • a) Having a good teacher and regular lessons based on an effective system
  • b) Passive learning & natural usage (minimum five days a week) such as watching films, listening to music, reading literary texts, and communicating in your target language
  • c) Teaching yourself the language & doing exercises: use YouTube videos and free websites to learn vocabulary and grammar
  • d) Practice & usage: think to yourself, record yourself speaking, write stories and essays, and do A LOT of listening.





Best of luck! I’d love to hear from you in the comments below~

Stephanie F.

“I want to improve my speaking in a foreign language” (Pt. 1)




1. Reading is a great way to improve your vocabulary, accent, rhythm and overall relationship with a new language. There are many methods to learn from reading: by reading aloud and training your accent, by finding unknown words in a text, and, simply, by immersing your thoughts in a new language you are helping your brain to connect different channels of information, so that you can use grammar and vocabulary naturally when speaking.


2. Writing a diary or stories to take some authorship. Do you just want to be able to introduce yourself and order food, or do you want to be able to converse about daily life, describe a special memory, talk about your hobby, or discuss your beliefs? Write about the things that are important to you.


3. Speaking and thinking in your target language before actually speaking. Many performers–let’s say dancers–will review their routine by quickly running through it before they go on stage. Take a few minutes and go through a scenario in your head about a possible conversation topic. This way you will be better prepared the next time you have a chance to practice and you can discover where some gaps in your knowledge are, so that you can later fill them with more studying.



More speaking tips coming your way~


❤ Stephanie

Inspiring Quotes for Language Learners

Here are three inspiring quotes for hacking your language learning approach.
German is known as the language of poets (Dichter) and thinkers (Denker). Test your German reading with these insightful quotes in German language!

Dear language learners,

Here are three inspiring quotes for hacking your language learning approach.

German is known as the language of poets (Dichter) and thinkers (Denker). Test your German reading with these insightful quotes in German language!


Sprache Deutsch


Das Problem zu erkennen (recognize) ist wichtiger als die Lösung (solution) zu erkennen, denn die genaue Darstellung (exact depiction) des Problems führt zur (leads to) Lösung ~Albert Einstein, Physiker

  • Instead of saying “my German is bad,” find your weaker areas.. “I make mistakes conjugating verbs” or “I need to improve my listening.”


Es ist nicht genug (enough) zu wissen, man muss es auch anwenden (use it). Es ist nicht genug zu wollen (to want), man muss es auch tun (do it).  ~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, deutscher Dichter

  • Put what you know into practice. If you really want something, you also have to do it.


Das Geheimnis (secret) des Erfolges (of success) ist die Beständigkeit des Ziels (endurance of the goal.)  ~Benjamin Disraeli, britischer Politiker.

  • Stick with the goals you set!



Why are you learning German or any other foreign language? How do you stay inspired? What approaches or methods have been most useful for you?

~ Stephanie F.

Effective Tips ~ Language Learning

The closer the target language is to your native language, the easier it will be to learn. Don’t get discouraged. It takes years to get really good at a language. You’re not bad at languages. You just need to step out of your comfort zone and go all in 🙂

Dear readers,

Thanks for visiting my blog today! How goes it? 😉

Before we get started, I want to say one thing: you learn a language by doing. It requires motivation, some sort of system, and regular exposure/practice. The closer the target language is to your native language, the easier it will be to learn. Don’t get discouraged. It takes years to get really good at a language. You’re not bad at languages. You just need to step out of your comfort zone and go all in.


~studying German October 2017~



  • Keep a grammar cheat-sheet at your desk or on the bathroom mirror.


  • Write hard-to-remember words on the back of your hand. One per day. 🙂


  • Create mental images of the words you are trying to learn in your target language. Search Google images. Don’t just rely on the translation in your native language.


  • Play video games in your target language.


  • Every once in a while, go back to old materials. A refresher is never bad and you can look back on the progress you’ve made.


  • Learn with interesting materials according to your personal interests instead of only working with a text book that may not interest you very much. Try out YouTube videos, online materials, fun stories, and music.


  • Have a notebook just for that language. Stay organized.


  • Stay relaxed when speaking the foreign language. In the beginning, find a language partner who is aware of your level and goals in the language.


  • Look for cognates and FALSE FRIENDS! The cognates will be easier to memorize but will still enlarge your vocabulary. Learning the false friends will not only save you from mistakes, but will also teach you more about the history and linguistics of both languages.


  • Spend timing learning how to conjugate verbs and build correct sentences according to the tense system of that language.


  • Be intentional with your vocabulary learning. What words do you need? What words are you expected to know? Develop an interest for digging deeper into the word bank of the language.  😀


  • When writing a school paper or just practicing the language, write it in your native language first and then translate into target language afterwards. Writing is a great way to make progress with your language level; I suggest also writing in your target language to help get the language integrated into your thoughts until you produce sentences without thinking about it.


  • Look for audio materials with transcriptions or subtitles. Listen to the materials several times and take notes.


  • Spend enough time with materials for learners and with the authentic language. What basic grammar do I need to know to make use of the language? How do native speakers speak the language? Both are important to “take in” and be able to use the language.


  • Build “language islands” and practice speaking. Language islands are stories, experiences, answers to common questions, etc. that may come up during a conversation. Learn correct phrases, structures and practice vocabulary, so that you speak more fluently the next time you have a conversation.


  • When listening to a conversation or a talk in your native language, try translating in your head into your target language. You can also translate your target language into your native–this should help to build vocabulary.


  • Don’t expect that you are going to command the language as easily as your native language and realize it is a process not an instant achievement 😉


That’s it for the general tips! Did you learn something new from this post? I’d love to hear from you.

~ Stephanie F.

How I learned German (A Bilingual Text)

This is a text I originally wrote in German and translated into English. It’s about how I learned German (before I began my year-long study abroad here).

Im Januar 2015 habe ich angefangen, Deutsch zu lernen. Bevor ich “German 1001” an der Georgia State University hatte, wusste ich nicht, wie man eine Fremdsprache effektiv lernt. In der Schule habe ich Französisch gelernt. Meine Französischlehrerinnen waren toll, aber damals dachte ich nicht, dass ich eines Tages eine Fremdsprache wirklich sprechen werde. Als ich mein Studium begann, entdeckte ich Linguistik. Nach meinem ersten Linguistikkurs bemerkte ich, dass ich mich für die Grammatik und Struktur von Sprachen interessierte. Ich musste eine Fremdsprache für mein Studium sowieso lernen, und ich habe mich für Deutsch entschieden, weil meine Großmutter (väterlicherseits) aus Deutschland kommt. Von zweisprachigen Menschen war ich immer beeindruckt, und ich wollte endlich eine zweite Sprache sprechen.

In January 2015, I started learning German. Before I had “German 1001” at Georgia State University, I wasn’t sure how one learns a foreign language effectively. During (secondary) school, I learned French. My French teachers were awesome, but I didn’t think back then that I would one day actually speak a foreign language. When I started my university studies, I discovered linguistics. After my first linguistics course, I noticed that I was interested in the grammar and structure of languages. I needed to learn a foreign language for my major anyway and I decided to learn German because my (paternal) Grandmother is from Germany. Bilingual people had always impressed me and I wanted to finally speak a second language.

Am Anfang hatte ich einen schrecklichen Akzent, und ich war manchmal verwirrt mit der Grammatik. Es gibt 16 Arten von the im Deutschen! Ich habe natürlich Fehler gemacht, aber ich wollte immer mehr lernen und meine Kenntnisse verbessern. Im Kurs habe ich viele Fragen gestellt, und meine Notizen wiederholt. Anscheinend hat es mir auch geholfen, auf Deutsch zu denken. Als ich zu Fuß gegangen bin, formulierte ich Sätze und versuchte meine Umgebung auf Deutsch zu beschreiben.

In the beginning, I had a horrible accent and I was sometimes confused with the grammar. There are 16 words for the in German! I naturally made mistakes, but I wanted to always learn more and improve my skills. During class, I asked many questions and I repeated my notes. Apparently, it helped me to think in German. When I walked around, I created sentences and tried to describe my surroundings in German.


Dann bin ich zum ersten Mal ins Ausland gereist. Ich hatte einen vierwöchigen Deutschkurs beim Goethe- Institut in Schwäbisch Hall. Obwohl ich viel Englisch gesprochen habe, war viel Deutsch in meinem Umfeld. Ich wurde inspiriert, Deutsch zu lernen, weil viele Europäer mehrsprachig waren und gute Tipps hatten. Als ich zurück in die USA gekommen bin, wechselte ich mein Hauptfach zu Deutsch. Ich lernte Deutsch gleichzeitig an GSU und beim Goethe-Zentrum Atlanta. Einzelunterricht dort war ein Schlüsselerlebnis. Ich verwendete Grammatikbücher, und suchte nach allen möglichen Quellen zum Deutschlernen

Then I went abroad for the first time. I had a four-week German language course at Goethe-Institute in Schwaebisch Hall. Although I spoke a lot of English, there was a lot of German in my environment. I became inspired to learn German because many Europeans were multilingual and had good tips. When I got back to USA, I changed my major to German. I learned German simultaneously at GSU and at Goethe-Zentrum Atlanta. Individual lessons there were a key experience. I used grammar books and searched for all possible resources to learn German.  

Im April 2016 habe ich die B1 Prüfung abgelegt und bestanden*. Ich war bereit, wieder nach Deutschland zu reisen. Im Mai hatte ich einen B2 Kurs in Mannheim, und es war erwartet, dass man nur Deutsch im Kurs sprach. Es war eine Herausforderung, Deutsch im Alltag zu benutzen. Manchmal war ich sehr schüchtern und leise, aber ich habe genug gesagt, um klar zu kommen. Danach schrieb ich oft auf Deutsch und drehte Vlogs, um mein Sprechen zu üben.

In April 2016, I took and passed the B1 Exam*. And I was ready to travel to Germany again. In May, I had a B2 level German course in Mannheim and it was expected that we only spoke German in class. It was a challenge to use German in every day life. Sometimes I was very shy and quiet, but I said enough to get by. After that, I wrote in German often and made videos to practice my speaking.

Jetzt höre ich die Nachrichten auf Deutsch. Und ich lese sehr gerne auf Deutsch. Außerdem beschäftige ich mich mit dem Vokabelnlernen. Wenn ich ein neues Wort höre, schreibe ich es mit einer Definition und einem Beispiel auf. Und ich benutze Vokabelnlisten von Deutsch Perfekt und Deutsche Welle, um meinen Wortzschatz zu erweitern. Ich versuche Lücken in meinen Kenntnissen herauszufinden, und die deutsche Grammatik Schritt für Schritt, auswendig zu lernen. Das war’s!

Now, I listen to the news in German. And I enjoy reading in German. Apart from that, I keep myself busy learning vocabulary. When I hear a new word, I always write it down with a definition and an example. And I use vocabulary lists from Deutsch Perfekt and Deutsche Welle to widen my vocabulary. I try to find gaps in my skills and learn German grammar (by heart) step by step. That’s it.

Thanks for reading! As you see from my story, learning a language is a long process that requires motivation, regularity and some kind of system. Some days you love it and other days you’re just frustrated. Start small, get practicing, find some good resources and actually use the language somehow (like with a language partner). It’s good to have a teacher, but you also have to teach yourself the language. It’s also important to know why you are learning the language in order to keep yourself focused and to concentrate on what’s most important/useful for you personally. No one studies an entire language in three months. A language is learned step by step–word by word–level by level.

All the best and good luck with your language-learning! If you are interested in more tips on how to effectively learn foreign languages go here 🙂 –> Language Learners‘ Toolbox

Stephanie F.

*My current German level is C1/C2. I hope to take the C1 exam before I leave Germany and pass the C2 exam within the next year or two.