7 Common Problems Students Face When Learning German

by Christine Chadwick

The German language has a reputation for being notoriously challenging for English speakers to learn. Despite its steep learning curve, many students discover LEARNING GERMAN becomes easier once the language's grammatical and pronunciation rules are understood. Here are the common problems students face when learning German.

Definite articles

Between gender, case, and plural, there are sixteen ways to spell the definite article, "the." Many English speakers struggle with the differentiations. Once the student develops a foundation of the language, the differences are easy to understand.


The German language maintains the use of the singular, formal form for the word, "you." English speaking students face the problem of understanding the etiquette of when to use which formality. The general rule is to use the formal you, "Sie," in the conversation with adults, individuals of authority, such as teachers, and anyone you haven't been previously introduced to.


The German language recognises three genders. In addition to masculine and feminine words, German includes the neutral gender. Gender is grammatical, not biological. Students learning German should learn its article when practicing vocabulary. The article will dictate its gender.


Unlike English, which only capitalizes the first letter of a sentence and proper nouns, German has its own rules. In German, every noun is capitalized.


English speaking students often struggle with verb conjugation and placement. Verb placement is always second, except when its last. English speakers are familiar with some verb tenses changing spelling. However, in German, many verbs change the spelling of the verb not only for tense, but depending on first, second, and third person. For example, English speakers would use the word "go" for instance, "I go," and "they go." However in German, the verb "to go" is conjugated differently for "I" and "he."


Adjectives agree with the gender of the noun it's describing and the sentence structure. Adjectives usually end in an -m, -r, or -n. When writing German, it's crucial to be accurate. However, spoken German can be challenging for students to hear the subtle differences in adjectival agreement.

False Friends

As in the case with many languages, German has many words that linguists and foreign language teachers will refer to as "false friends." This are words that are pronounced like a word in English, but actually have a completely different definition.

The most common problem students face when learning German is infrequent opportunities to practice the language outside of the classroom. To improve pronunciation, vocabulary, and general understanding of the language, frequent conversations in German will help give the student a strong foundation. Schedule time with a German Tutor to enhance your understanding of the language, develop an authentic accent, and increase your vocabulary.

Tags: German Language
Categories: German