Master Your German Translations

So let’s focus on the goal here. What’s the goal? In my world when I am trying to master this language and I don’t understand something I want to do what Germans do. I want to be able to use German resources to understand German text.

For example – If I want to know what Klavier is I want to go to a German dictionary look that up and understand what it means in German. That gives me a real grasp on the language. That allows me to become totally immersed in the language and start thinking like a native German speaker.

So, how do we get there?
Using pictures. HUH? Yes. Follow me here.

So let’s take a sentence that we may not understand.
Wir könnten uns gegenseitig bei den Hausaufgaben helfen.

So, let’s say that we are in Phase two of our learning. Our phase one was completing 30 days of the Pimsleur course and Phase two is now us listening to music, videos, etc.

This means that we understand some of these words but not all. We understand:
Wir – We
helfen – to help
könnten – could/can
We understand Haus but we may not understand Hausaufgaben. And we surely do not understand gegenseitig. We don’t even know how to pronounce that one.

Quick Tip: To hear how a word is promounced go to and put it in. You can hear native speakers pronounce it. You’re welcome. 🙂

Ok, so back to our sentence:
Wir könnten uns gegenseitig bei den Hausaufgaben helfen.

So how do we find out what gegenseitig means without just doing a google translate and not learning anything?


So let’s do that. Let’s put that word in the search engine and click on images. One of the first images we come across is a cartoon of two little girls. There is a phrase and we can understand most of it.
It says: Wir helfen uns gegenseitig. This is interesting because you can notice a pattern. The word uns is being used before gegenseitig in both cases. You don’t need to understand why you just need to know there is a pattern and you would be safe to follow it. You can kind of deduce that they are helping each other in the picture. So you can go through this process until you are exhausted and then finally look up the word in a German-German dictionary like word reference or do google translate. You will have been hit with so many images and examples that it will stick.

So gegenseitig means each other. That is hard to put into images so you may end up looking that one up eventually. But going through the paces really gets it into your mind.

So you would do that with all the words in that sentence that you don’t know until you understand the context of the sentence. It can be labor intensive in the beginning but as you move throughout your learning you will be able to move on to a German- German dictionary and you won’t need to use the images as much. This loop keeps you in German mode and really builds your vocabulary.

Stick with it. And if you don’t understand the sentence from above try to go through this process and see what you find!

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