What is the hardest sound for you to pronounce in German?

I think as a native English speaker, I have the hardest time with “ch” words. And the best word to totally screw up this pronunciation is… Eichhörnchen! lol

Curious what is the hardest sounds/words for you to pronounce and how you practice this pronunciation??


Okay, I’m actually not a German learner. But anyway I love the so-called “glottal stop”, a sound you have to pronounce, although it’s not written or shown in any way.
Try to find the difference in pronunciation between those two words:

  • verreisen (to travel away)
  • vereisen (to freeze)
    Yes, the second word has a glottal stop! It’s pronounced ver’eisen! Do you know more of those challenging words?

Ö/ü. I literally can’t hear the difference, so there’s now way for me to try and say the difference.


To me, I have difficulty to say the sound ch combined with z, as in “sechzehn” or “sechzig”. My tongue doesn’t like it. :crazy_face:


Megan, you made mi smile, while I was reading your post about the pronounciation of Eichhörnchen in German! When I went to the USA to study English, my homestay family was really amused about my way to pronunce squirrel! It was a real tongue twister for me! They made me say it a lot to tease me… lol

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Hey Bettina, when I lived in Ireland a few years ago, several friends of mine wanted me to say squirrel all the time :smiley: because I sounded so funny saying it.


Hey there,

I think “Quietscheentchen” (eng. rubber ducky) can definitely be added to the list… I’ve heard so many native englisch speakers struggle with this and usually cite it as one of the most difficult words.
To make it easier one could break it down into: Quiet+ sche + ent-chen and pronounce the qu like = “kv”

other examples would be:

Schlittschuhlaufen: ice skating
Streichholzschächtelchen: little match box
or complex repeating numbers like: Fünfhundertfünfundfünfzig: five hundred fifty-five


I’m currently trying to teach my boyfriend in German. He’s struggling a lot with the “ch” sounds and also “ö”, “ä” and “ü”… I guess, like most of the foreign speakers.

But it sounds so cute, when I hear these sounds by foreign speakers. :smiling_face_with_three_hearts: … So, don’t think too much about it. Just speak! I always love to hear other people speaking German. :innocent:


Same here!

Also ö ä ü o a u are a bit challenging - “ch” soft and hard pronunciation

“s” and “z” (zusammen), the “r” (rot), “qu” (Quatsch)


“ch” makes me wanna cry…Also the “K” in words like Knoblauch and Knie, I always end up avoiding those words :confused: .


Totally agree! :joy: :joy: the K at the beginning of words is sooooo annoying! My boyfriend always makes fun of me when I say such words! :unamused: :unamused:


I am always the laughing stock here in Germany…But this is always my answer…


Wow, thanks @SKrausser! No one has ever brought my attention to this before… Can you share any other examples? It’s really good to see that comparison of two seemingly very similar words!

@Bettina2 It seems like this is a tricky word in several languages… try “écureuil” in French! :crazy_face: Although Spanish isn’t too bad… ardilla. :chipmunk:

@ClaudiP Just like your boyfriend, I also struggle with these sounds in German! There is always confusion when I say “Schule” or “Schüler”. I’m glad to hear you find it endearing, thanks for the encouragement! :blush:


@Maddy11 Yes, it’s quite common in compound words like

  • be’achten
  • be’antworten
  • Spiegel’ei
  • Schlüssel’anhänger
  • Blitz’einschlag

Try not to avoid them! :slight_smile: … Although it’s hard at the beginning, you will get it. I notice that every time again with my students. But repeating, repeating and repeating will help. … But yes, the “ch” is really hard. Not only for foreigners. :wink:

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Yeah, I got your point. But just try to keep on speaking. Maybe ask someone you trust that he/ she can correct you from time to time. That’s what I always do with my boyfriend. Repeating his words very slowly and asking him to repeat. :innocent:

@Megan @VivianaG @Anvu @ClaudiP @stefdival

I always explain the soft “ch”-sound with the word “cute”. Say “cute” very slowly, and you will discover that the soft german “ch” is hiding right between the c and u.

It sounds like c’ch’ute.

Now drop the “k”-sound in front of the ch, and there you go: Eich-hörn-chen :chipmunk:

This very German “palatal fricative” sound is quite hard to pronounce for English speakers, but I think you can learn the basic sound in about 10 minutes if you know where to put your tongue: the difference between your soft palate (e.g. Bach), hard palate (e.g. ich), (post-alveolar ridge (Schule), and your alveolar ridge (e.g. sehen) is important here. :kissing_closed_eyes:

Next: Krachmacher :tada: :drum::bowling::sweat_smile:


Great tip @Toby! Much appreciated

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Thanks @Toby for these tips.

Oh man, Krachmacher. :rofl: - definitely not easy! :see_no_evil:


In Southern Germany, we joke about the pronunciation of “Flugzeugträger” (aircraft carrier" in Cologne. They pronounce it like “Fluchzeuschträjer” :wink:
Is someone from Cologne here? :rofl: :blush: