I want to learn to speak German, but I'm having some trouble getting the words right (not sure exactly what I'm hearing).

Since I intend to learn to speak a few new languages, I figured maybe I should start off with something easier.

I know many languages share the same origin as modern-day German, and I was hoping someone could recommend a few easier languages (assuming such languages exist) which are easier to learn.

  • Dutch, less strict on the grammar, still close enough
    – Emanuel
    Commented Apr 4, 2014 at 12:23
  • Forgot to mention that my problem is actually with the sounds >< should've mentioned that. edited. thanks though :) Commented Apr 4, 2014 at 12:30
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    What is your native language and what languages do you already know at what level?
    – Wrzlprmft
    Commented Apr 4, 2014 at 12:33
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    @Emanuel You're suggesting to him he should hear Dutch to help him on his way to learn German? That's courageous... :-) Seriously, user1999728: If your goal is to learn German, start hearing German. You'll get used to it. I think that learning languages that are close to German first will help you mix languages up later, but nothing more. Commented Apr 4, 2014 at 12:33
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    Your native language being Hebrew, isn't the obvious answer to your question "Yiddish"? (Btw, is @MartyGreen still around?) Also, from what little Hebrew I learned in a university class, the phonetics of modern Hebrew seem to me very close to those of German already, in terms of vowel quality and tough fricatives.
    – elena
    Commented Apr 4, 2014 at 14:50

2 Answers 2


Learning other languages as a way to learn German is actually just a good way to learn those other languages. If you want to learn German, then go for it. You should have a sense for your specific learning style and start with your comfort zone. Then push yourself into other areas. If the hearing intimidates you, start with reading and then move to speaking. Eventually push yourself into hearing (DW has langsam gesprochene nachrichten, so you can listen to slowly spoken news as a way to break in).

Although Dutch is often considered to be roughly halfway between English and German, it surely sounds different from both languages. I wouldn't confuse the issue at this point.

If it helps, English and standard German are both Germanic languages.

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A lot of the words in German are intelligible to my girlfriend, who speaks only English and some Spanish. So consider English your transitional language! Congratulate yourself on that and move on to your second Germanic language.


As others said, the best way to come to terms with the idiocrasies of a language is to learn that language. my personal experience suggests that exposure to lots (lots) of vocabulary is preferable to exposure to lots of grammar. however, experience also tells me (and this is supported by results in linguistic research) that success in learning a foreign language is a very individual affair, much more than learning math for example. so ymmv, and don't be discouraged by slow progress.

Familiarity with languages from the same language family can help you in guessing a meaning or even some words. a strict correspondence between written language and phonetic realisations (like in French or Serbo-Croatian) usually helps, too, but you speak good English and thus you already have experienced the worst.

Another rule of the thumb: Languages with a rich morphology who express grammatical categories by clitics, pre- and suffixes are usually said to be harder; the classical examples, however, Hungarian and Finnish, suffer from crosstalk due to their isolation in the overall linguistic families such that there are few common word roots with 'Western' or Slavic languages.

Sorry for shirking a more specific recommendation.

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