Is German Hard to Learn? Exploring the Challenges and Benefits

Bodhi Ramos9 min
Created: Apr 1, 2024Last updated: Apr 3, 2024
Is German Hard to Learn?

When it comes to mastering a new language, many people think that it is a complicated task. However, some tongues, like Spanish, are considered much easier to learn than others, like Korean or Chinese. Today, we are going to talk about German, as there are many various thoughts around it. Some believe that it is quite straightforward, especially for English speakers, while others think it is challenging and tricky. So, is German hard to learn? Keep reading, and we’ll help you find out!

Why Learning German Can Be Easy for English Speakers

Although mastering a new tongue comes with several challenges, if you already speak English, some parts of German might look straightforward to you. There are many reasons for that, as both tongues have plenty of common features. So, why is it easy to learn German for English speakers?

Cognates and Familiar Words

Both English and German are Germanic languages, meaning that they have at least one shared ancestor. This mutual heritage means they have many similarities in vocabulary, grammar, and sentence structure. As a result, both tongues contain numerous cognates and familiar words, making it easier to understand the context and basic information even at the beginning of learning. Here are some examples of cognates in English and German.

English: apple, book, elbow, finger, glass, hair, jewel, knee, milk, to dance.

German: Apfel, Buch, Ellbogen, Finger, Glas, Haar, Juwel, Knie, Milch, tanzen.

Straightforward Pronunciation

In English, there are many silent letters that can appear in any part of the word – beginning, middle, or end. However, it’s not the case in German. Instead, there isn’t a letter that goes unnoticed in this language – the pronunciation and spelling of most words is usually practically the same.

Therefore, if you’re wondering how hard German is to learn, you may rest assured that at least the pronunciation will not be as challenging as some other parts of the language. In essence, all you need to do is memorize the alphabet and some specific sounds, and when it’s done, you will be able to pronounce most of the words in German!

Familiar Alphabet

One of the fundamental aspects that make learning German relatively easy for English speakers is the shared alphabet. Both languages use the Latin alphabet, which means that you won’t have to learn an entirely new set of characters as you might if you were learning Chinese or Arabic, for example. 

This familiarity makes the process of learning to read and write in German much smoother. Additionally, the pronunciation of most letters in German closely resembles their English counterparts, with only a few exceptions. Once you’ve mastered the pronunciation rules, you’ll find that reading German texts becomes increasingly natural.

Simplified Verb Tenses

How hard is German to learn for English speakers? In some cases, it can be much easier than the initial tongue! Let’s talk about different word tenses. In English, there are twelve of them! And what about German? Well, actually, there are only six – so you can imagine that there are half as many rules to learn.

But which tenses are missing? The answer is simple – all Continuous ones. Basically, in German, there isn’t any difference between “I eat” and “I am eating” – both sentences cover the same meaning and sound like “Ich esse.” 

Endless Resources

Another factor that can make learning German easier is the variety of resources available. Many language learning apps, like Promova, as well as textbooks, online courses, and immersion programs cater specifically to mastering the tongue. Additionally, there are great opportunities to practice German outside the classroom or self-study environment, whether through language exchange meetups, online forums, or cultural events. Exposure to authentic German media, such as movies, music, and literature, can also strengthen your language skills and provide valuable insights.

How Hard Is It to Learn German: Common Challenges

If there are so many factors that can make learning German easy, why do many believe it is a challenging tongue to master? Well, although there are a lot of similarities, there are also a bunch of challenges as well. So, let’s find out together what difficulties you might face when learning German.

Grammar Cases

German grammar introduces learners to four distinct cases: nominative, accusative, dative, and genitive. Each one serves a specific purpose, determining the role of nouns, pronouns, and adjectives within a sentence. 

For instance, the nominative case typically identifies the subject, while the accusative denotes the direct object. Although understanding when and how to use each case correctly is crucial for constructing grammatically accurate sentences in German, it might be quite challenging for language learners, as, for example, in English, we don’t have grammatical cases at all.

Grammatical Genders

German nouns are categorized into three grammatical genders: masculine, feminine, and neuter. Unlike English, where nouns do not have inherent genders, German assigns one to each noun. This classification impacts the forms of accompanying articles, adjectives, and pronouns used in conjunction with the noun.


Is German hard to learn? Another thing that makes us answer “yes” is the variety of articles within the language. Unlike English, where we only have the definite article “the” and indefinite “a/an,” German has a lot more to offer. Articles in this tongue change according to the gender, number, and grammatical case of the object. Here are some examples:

Definite Articles.

  • Masculine: der (the).
  • Feminine: die (the).
  • Neuter: das (the).
  • Plural: die (the).

Indefinite Articles.

  • Masculine: ein (a/an).
  • Feminine: eine (a/an).
  • Neuter: ein (a/an).

Understanding the relationship between gender, articles, and cases is essential for constructing grammatically correct sentences in German. While mastering genders and articles may present challenges for learners, consistent practice and exposure to the language can boost proficiency over time.


Long Words

Are there any other things that can help us understand how difficult is German to learn? Of course! Most people are afraid of this tongue solely because of its long and hard-to-pronounce compound words. But are they really that complex? Let’s find out together!

Compound words are formed by combining multiple smaller words or word elements to create a new, often lengthy term. While such words exist in many languages, they are particularly prevalent and complex in German. For example, the word “Handschuh,” which means “glove,” consists of two other terms – “Hand” (hand) and “schuh” (shoe). So, while it looks challenging at first glance, once you figure out the patterns and learn how to break down compound words, it will become much easier for you!

Similar Words with Different Meanings

False cognates, also known as false friends, are words that appear similar in different languages but have different meanings. In the context of learning German, false cognates can pose challenges for English speakers who may mistakenly assume that a word means the same thing in both languages. 

For example, the word “gift” spells and looks exactly the same, but has entirely different meanings. In English, it is used to describe a present, while in German, it means “poison.” Another common example is the word “rat,” meaning a rodent in English, and “advice” in German.

The 10 Best Tips to Make Learning Hard in German Easier

As you can see, there are many challenges in mastering German, despite some shared similarities with English. But don’t be scared! There are so many pieces of advice that can simplify your learning process. So, now that you know whether learning German is difficult or not, take a look at these tips that can help you master this tongue.

  1. Surround yourself with German as much as possible. Listen to German music, watch German movies and TV shows, and try to engage in conversations with native speakers.
  2. Focus on learning the fundamentals of German grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation before advancing to more complex topics. Building a strong foundation will make it easier to progress.
  3. Consistency is key to language learning. Set aside dedicated time each day to practice German, whether it’s through speaking, listening, reading, or writing.
  4. Practice speaking German with a language partner or tutor who can provide feedback and guidance. This interaction will help improve your conversational skills and confidence in speaking the language.
  5. Pay attention to German pronunciation and practice speaking aloud to improve your accent and intonation. Mimic native speakers and use resources like language learning apps or online pronunciation guides.
  6. Instead of memorizing isolated words, learn vocabulary in context by reading German texts, watching videos, or listening to podcasts. This will help you understand how words are used in real-life situations.
  7. German grammar can be complex, so break down grammar concepts into smaller, more manageable parts. Focus on one grammar rule at a time and practice using it in different contexts.
  8. Create flashcards to review vocabulary, grammar rules, and verb conjugations. Flashcards are a useful tool for memorization and can help reinforce your learning.
  9. Learning a new language takes time and effort, so be patient with yourself and celebrate small victories along the way. Stay motivated and persistent, even when faced with challenges.
  10. Pay attention to the rhythm, intonation, and cadence of native German speakers. Try to imitate their speech patterns to improve your own fluency and naturalness.

And always, regardless of your current fluency level, set achievable goals for your language learning journey, whether it’s mastering a specific grammar concept, expanding your vocabulary, or having a conversation in German. Breaking down your goals into smaller milestones will make them more attainable.

How Easy Is It to Learn German? Find the Answer with Promova!

Despite so many challenges, with the help of proper resources, you can easily reach the desired fluency in German. And with the Promova app, you’ll be able to access everything you need to master the language. This application is your one-stop solution for becoming proficient in German, French, Korean, English, and many other tongues.

The Promova app is available for both iOS and Android devices. You can easily install it from Google Play or App Store and access all the essential features anywhere and anytime you want. The application provides tons of valuable materials created by language professionals for learners at different levels.

By spending only a few minutes a day with the Promova app, you can master the language and learn all the essentials. We always practice bite-sized learning, allowing you to focus on memorizing important things without being overwhelmed. These and other valuable features are already waiting for you within the app, so don’t hesitate and give it a try!


So, how hard is German? Summing up, we can say that like any other foreign tongue, this language contains plenty of challenges. However, once you understand the basics, you can see that it is not as difficult as it seemed at first glance. Always be patient with yourself, and remember that practice makes perfect. Therefore, the more time and effort you’ll be able to spend on mastering German, the easier it will be for you.


How can I determine how hard German is for me?

There are many ways to find it out! For example, if your native language is English or another Germanic tongue like Dutch or Swedish, you may find German easier due to similarities in vocabulary, grammar, and sentence structure. Moreover, consider your past language learning success; it can also indicate your ability to understand German. Finally, pay attention to your motivation – if you have a strong desire to learn the language, you may find it easier to overcome challenges and stay committed to your studies.

How long does it usually take to learn German?

According to FSI, it takes approximately 36 weeks or 900 class hours to reach a certain fluency level in German. However, it is essential to remember that it all depends on various factors, from your current proficiency and motivation to the amount of time you’re ready to spend on learning.

Why should I learn the German language?

Although you should always follow your own goals, there are several general reasons that can make learning German a beneficial and valuable experience. For example, German is one of the most widely spoken languages in Europe and is the official language of several economically powerful countries, such as Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. 

Learning it can open up career opportunities in fields such as business, engineering, science, and technology. Also, it can enhance your travel experience by allowing you to communicate with locals, navigate public transportation, and appreciate the local culture on a deeper level.

What language is easier to learn, English or German?

It depends on individual factors such as your native language, learning style, and motivation. Both languages have their challenges and rewards, and the perceived difficulty may vary from person to person.