Firstly, most languages have around 800 – 1000 common words. The understanding and pronounciation of these words would well and truly get you by in any language. But understand that numerous studies have shown that there is a direct association between the level of someone’s intelligence and the number of words they can freely speak and understand. Understanding, or comprehension is under-rated. In English for instance, the ability to construct and deconstruct a word from synomyms and pronouns greatly increases the number of words that a person can comprehend.
Next, understand there is a great divide between conversational language, and writing and reading a language. Think about why you want to know this language, and what you will do with the skill.
For those of us who are English speakers, one of the things we have difficulty with is the association of a gender with an inanimate object as is the case in German. We scratch our heads and wonder how a chair or a car could be male or female.
Having spent a great deal of time with people new to English, I have receieved some great tips. One of the problems relates to a person hearing words in English, then transposing those words into their native tongue, creating an answer in their native tongue, and then transposing the answer back to English. A tip for beginners is to pretend you do not have a native tongue, and these words are the first you have heard in your life and you choose to mimick like a child.
Further to this, children are the fastest learners because between the ages of 2 and 5 years they spend a great deal of their time using Delta brainwaves. You too can enjoy this fast tracked learning by setting the alarm to around 2am when your Delta brainwaves are at their peak. Study for 20 minutes and go back to bed. Your retention will be thousands percentage points greater than that when you try using your normal waking state in which Beta brainwaves are at their peak.
Next remember phonology. This is the part of the palette in your mouth you use to create sounds. It is a matter of curling your mouth and tongue around the vocabulary and getting the sound right. By doing so, you are getting into the culture and body of another country.
I hope these tips work for you.