It's never too late to learn a new language. But there is one prerequisite, which apparently you have, because you're reading this book: You need interest in the subject! Only you know exactly why you're interested in German. Perhaps a relative came from Germany years ago and you want to visit the site of your family's origins. Or maybe you just want to travel for fun or business and be able to communicate with the natives. It doesn't really matter what your reason is. What matters is that you have the interest, and that's the initial key to success.
Being able to communicate in German will open doors for you that most non-German-speaking travelers never even know exist. You can experience the native culture because culture and language are interrelated. Knowing what the street signs and advertisements mean, being able to read the headlines of a newspaper, understanding what the butcher is recommending to the customer next to you — these are things that only a German-speaking traveler can do. And The Everything® German Phrase Book can provide you with the phrases and vocabulary that will give you the basic skills to do just that.
Naturally, just carrying this book around with you won't do the trick. You have to study the phrases and practice them. And remember that language — whether German, English, Russian, or Japanese — is first and foremost a spoken entity. You have to speak. You have to practice your phrases out loud. Just thinking them or reading them to yourself won't do. Languages are spoken.
German is used in other countries besides Germany. It is the official language of Austria, and it is a primary language of Switzerland and Liechtenstein. It certainly is no surprise that there are large German-speaking communities in the United States and Canada. Immigration from the German-speaking world in the last two centuries occurred on a large scale, so many North Americans speak or understand German. Since German is used in different regions, there are regional differences of pronunciation and vocabulary usage. For example, in English, someone in the south of the United States might say “skillet” while someone in the north might use the phrase “frying pan.” In some English-speaking regions, you say “I'll wait for you.” In other regions, you say, “I'll wait on you.” Variations like this also occur in the German language. However, there is a standard German language that is generally accepted in all German-speaking regions, and that is the language used in The Everything® German Phrase Book.
Recently, the experts on the German language revised the rules for German spelling. Don't worry. That won't cause you a problem, because German spelling is for the most part phonetic. What the experts did was standardize a few letter combinations that differed depending upon the region in which they were used and depending upon the generation of the person who used them. For example, the German letter ß is sometimes replaced by ss, because they have the same pronunciation. But some people preferred ß and others preferred ss. So now there's a rule: If the vowel sound that precedes these letters is long, use ß. If it's short, use ss. Therefore, the word weiß (vice [white]) is spelled with ß, because the vowel is long. The word dass (duss [that]) is spelled with ss, because the vowel is short.
The three main sections of The Everything® German Phrase Book are the lessons, the phrases, and the appendices. Naturally, you should start with the lessons, which provide you with the basics of grammar and pronunciation as well as practical phrases. Chapter 1 introduces you to the German language and how it is both similar to and different from English. Chapter 2 provides you with the fundamentals of German grammar and structure. With a careful reading of these two chapters, you will have a basic understanding of German that will help to guide you through the other chapters.
Chapters 3 through 14 provide you with practical German phrases for a variety of situations. Each phrase is accompanied by its English equivalent translation (not all phrases can be translated word for word) and by the approximate English pronunciation of the German phrase. When there is no equivalent English pronunciation of a German sound, the English sound closest to it is provided. An explanation of this is found in Chapter 1.
There are two appendices at the end of the book: a German/English dictionary and an English/German dictionary. These will come in handy when you need the translation of a specific word.
The Everything® German Phrase Book is a handy vehicle for learning German. It not only provides you with the most important grammatical functions of the language and a simple guide to German pronunciation, it also offers practical phrases for travel, shopping, dining, and business. With that said, it's time to begin.
Good luck! Viel Glück!