I can't UNDERSTAND German

Hey fellas,

I’ve been learning German for 4 years. I spent a lot of time with it. However, yesterday, I realized that I still don’t understand when an avarage German talk to me. I asked him a question but could not understand clearly what he said. He said that I should send an e-mail but the rest of the conversation was disaster for me.

I am really disappointed because here on Lingq I spent circa 3 months with Spanish and I understand some easy Spanish videos without subtitles and in English I can understand ALMOST everything.

In German I can understand the words but can’t understand what people talk about(can’t follow the conversation). I don’t want to give up. How can I improve my listening comprehension IN GERMAN?

Do you feel the same in German or in another language? What do you do to overcome these failures?

Well lingq stats should be taken with a grain of salt but I think that in your case you’ve gone way further into English and Spanish than you have with German. Maybe I’m wrong.

Just keep going and it’ll all end up working out!

From only one person you couldn’t understand you cannot draw a conclusion. Some people speak more clearly than others and use a standart language while others don’t. Specially in countries where local dialects are spoken.
I am unable to understand German, but understand a lot of the news from the radio, maybe due to the fact that I previously know more or less what they will be talking about. Also I started understanding English by listening to the news.
I think also the television adds are very clear. You can read many words on the screen, not only hear them.

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I see that your Spanish and English vocabularies are much more than your German one. It’s the simpliest explanation.
However, the main thing - you have to listen to German speakers more. And you can also use a lot of German podcasts in the German library here - not for reading, but first of all for listening.
Start repeating from the easiest podcasts where you can undersrtand by listening 80% and then choose (gradually!) more and more difficult ones.
During 2-3 months you can improve your understanding considerably!
Viel Erfolg!


Yeh, i know almost no german! However, i know the experience in French and Italian. Sometimes its a reflection of how the person talks, how tired you are, or just not paying attention enough in that moment and getting confused. Its normal. I think the solution is a lot more listening; as others have said. Also, there’s often a difference in what / how things are said in real life versus written, or more formal, news content. Have you seen ‘Easy German’ on Youtube? This is lots of discussions on the streets with real people, with subtitles. It might be of use. Good luck, and never give up!

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“In German I can understand the words but can’t understand what people talk about(can’t follow the conversation).”

Sounds to me like you need to listen. And listen without subtitles so that you will be forced to learn to understand. German has four cases so I suppose it could be the cases that are difficult for you to handle, or maybe the syntax (word order)? In either case you need to listen more.

Try searching for someone who likes to talk a lot on youtube. For example I found this Serbian electrician guy who fixes things by searching the Serbian word for “computer”. He basically talks througout the entire video in every video. I also found this Ukrainian guy who makes videos about outdoors activities such as camping and exploration, by searching something like “exploration of abandoned buildings” in Russian. Finally I found this Russian guy who likes to talk about languages. I don’t even remember what I searched for when I found him.

Keep listening to videos like these. You might even want to download their sound and put it on your mp3 player (just watch the video first to check for sudden loud noises! Some youtubers are complete idiots when it comes to sound quality.) and listen to the recordings when you’re out and about. In short: Keep listening WITHOUT subtitles and try to vary the contents while simultaneously making sure to learn new words every day by means of reading. At first you won’t understand anything but slowly you understand more and more.

Edit: I find it difficult to multitask. This is why I don’t want subtitles, because they distract me from the real objective which is to listen. Also, it just so happens that non-subtitled videos are much easier to find, so if you get used to listening without subtitles you will be doing yourself a huge favour!