Everything You Need To Learn German
German is a West Germanic language that is mainly spoken in Central Europe. It is one of the world’s major languages and the most widely spoken language in the European Union.
Globally, German is spoken by approximately 120 million people, most of whom reside in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein. There are also significant populations of speakers in the United States, Brazil, Mexico, Belgium, and Poland.
German shares varying degrees of linguistic similarity with other Germanic languages such as Luxembourgish, Dutch, and Yiddish, as well as Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, and even English. In fact, Luxembourgish is so closely related to German that some consider it simply a dialect of German.
Native English speakers will notice the similarities between German and English, something like 30% lexical similarity, but will also, no doubt, notice the glaring differences, of which there are many.
As such, German is still considered to be one of the harder Western European languages for English speakers to learn. This is due mostly to the complex German grammar system.
(Read this post to learn the basics of the German language.)
The awesome thing about German’s importance in the business, science and technology industries is that there’s been a concerted effort to promote the teaching of it. Some schools in the UK even teach it as a second language.
All this to say, learners will have almost an unlimited supply of German resources to take advantage of and choose from. We’ve compiled a list of some of the most useful we could find.
German Language Learning Books
We’ve spoken of German’s complicated grammar rules before, so it should come as no surprise that a lot of German learners rely on language learning books to get them through the complexities of the language.
The fact is, there’s very little you can do in the language without getting comfortable with the German gender and case systems. A good German course or study book will get you past this hurdle and get you speaking grammatically correct German in no time.
You should also pick yourself up a concise German-English dictionary, as you’ll need one handy to look up the plethora of new words you’ll come across during your studies. A good German dictionary will show you words in several contexts, as they’re used by natives.
German Children’s Books
Most of us think of children’s books as being designed for kids, but this is not always the case. For learners of German, reading German-language stories written for children is one of the best things you can do to improve your language skills.
German kids’ books use simple language and short sentences. This makes them ideal texts for readers who are just starting to learn a new language – particularly a challenging one like German.
Often, these books include fun, memorable illustrations, which makes them especially useful to learners feeling their way through the stories.
Some of the German kids’ books on this list are bilingual English-German stories with parallel text, which makes it easy for readers to follow along without constantly consulting a dictionary when they encounter words they don’t understand.
Once you’re ready for more complex material, you’ll probably want to pick yourself up some German books written for adult readers. These books tend to be rich in description and dialogue, which makes them ripe with material for learners of German.
German fiction is also an excellent source of colloquial language, slang, idioms and regional expressions that can give your vocabulary skills a real boost.
German Movies & TV Shows
German language learning DVDs do exist, and though they’re aimed at children, learners of all ages can get a lot out of them. They usually feature colorful animations, catchy melodies, and generally make learning German fun.
German movies and TV shows are another great way to take in German language, particularly if you’re able to watch them with German subtitles. Not only will you be improving your German listening comprehension, you’ll also experience the language spoken by native speakers – regional dialects, colloquialisms etc.
German Digital Courses
If reading books isn’t really your thing, but you’re open to other ways of learning German, then a German e-course could be just what you need to get started in the language.
German e-courses are great for those who want to start speaking the language quickly, usually from day one, as they’re usually focused on communication as opposed to language theory. You’ll pick up things like German grammar and how to structure sentences in a more organic way.
Udemy offers an extremely affordable, comprehensive German course that comes complete with a whopping 17 hours of video instruction, plus lots of downloadable learning worksheets. Lifetime access, access from almost any device, and membership to the active community of learners on the same course are just some of the perks of this course.
There are also plenty of German audio-only courses to choose from, and all of the major language program providers (Rosetta Stone, Pimsleur, Paul Noble and Rocket among them) offer at least one reputable German course.
GERMAN UDEMY COURSES
GERMAN AUDIO COURSES
German Flash Cards
Flash cards are always a good way to solidify your German knowledge. They’re highly effective for memorizing vocabulary, and you can use them on-the-go, which makes them particularly useful if you don’t have time to sit down and study your textbooks or learning materials.
There are other products that can facilitate your German learning experience, and provide variety, making the process much more fun. A pack of German language learning stickers or colorful German vocabulary posters, for instance, are likely to inspire you to stick to your studies.
Free German Worksheets
German worksheets help you practice the various skills you pick up during your German learning journey. They can also help you identify any weaknesses in your language knowledge, so that you know where to focus your efforts.
A German word search puzzle will improve your vocabulary skills, while German writing prompts help you improve your writing and general communication skills. Our German PDF worksheets are completely free and available for anyone to download.
German Quizzes and Games
You can really improve your German vocabulary whilst having fun by playing games in German or taking a German-language quiz.