Let’s not sugar coat this, learning a language isn’t easy. In fact, it is one of the hardest things you can undertake but it can also be one of the most rewarding things too.
Here are a few resources which I found useful when learning German for the first time:
Image by William Iven
One of the most important factors when attempting to learn a language is the spoken word. Getting an ear for the German language is critical and nothing prepares you better for this than audio books! (barring actually moving to Germany of course).
There are hundreds of audio books purporting to help you learn German but which ones shine brighter than the rest? Here are a few language Audio books which I highly recommend and found incredibly useful:
Language Audio Books
The Michel Thomas Method
This was the main audio book I used when learning German, It doesn’t just spout phrases at you and expect you to repeat and memorise it instantly. It teaches as if you’re part of class and talks you through the grammar and the structure of sentences.
Takes a completely different approach to learning German by incorporating music and beats to the German words and phrases. Very unusual way of learning but the music helps with retention.
Although Pimsleur is expensive when compared to the previous two audio book courses, the complete course sets you back $350, you do get a lot of bang for your buck. Comes with a complete audio book course which consists of 120 thirty minute lessons on CD and software containing flash cards and interactive courses.
German (Collins Easy Learning Audio Course)
Everyone who has some experience with languages either as a hobby or through school has come across the Collin’s language courses. Pretty much what it says on the tin, concise language course which covers all the basics.
Another popular staple of the language learning world, Linguaphone has been around for ages and offers many courses ranging from beginner to advanced/expert. Also includes a 64 page full colour course book with language exercises and tests.
German Books on Tape
Learning languages isn’t just about sitting down and listening to intensive audio books bombarding you with verbs, nouns and grammar. Listening to German books on CD can also be a good way of acclimatising yourself with the German language:
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When learning a language small changes can make a big difference, for example if you listen to the radio while you work or at home, changing to a German radio station could help with your understanding and vocabulary.
Aggregate German radio sites
This site contains links to hundreds of different German radio stations, ranging from rock, news, oldies and hip hop. Includes links to the radio station home page and links to the stream files which you can open in you chosen media player.
Categorised by cities, Tunein offers hundreds of radio stations localised to each region. The best feature of this site is that you can play the radio stations within the site, you don’t have to navigate away.
National radio stations
BR (Bayerischer Rundfunk)
Public-service radio and television broadcaster, based in Munich.
hr (Hessischer Rundfunk)
public broadcaster for the German state (Bundesland) of Hesse
MDR (Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk)
public broadcaster for the federal states of Thuringia, Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt
NDR (Norddeutscher Rundfunk)
public radio and television broadcaster, based in Hamburg
RB (Radio Bremen)
Germany’s smallest public radio and television broadcaster
RBB (Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg)
National broadcaster for the German states of Berlin and Brandenburg
SR (Saarländischer Rundfunk)
Public radio and television broadcaster serving the German Land (federated state) of Saarland
Regional public broadcasting corporation serving the southwest of Germany, specifically the federal states of Baden-Württemberg and Rhineland-Palatinate
WDR (Westdeutscher Rundfunk)
German public-broadcasting institution based in the Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia with its main office in Cologne
It’s not just German radio which can help with learning, listening to German music can also aid in the learning process, here are some good resources on finding German Pop music.
Contains a couple of pages of the most popular German artists, includes streaming and music videos.
Reddit – German Music
Sub-Reddit of the popular news aggregator website Reddit, Users share their favourite German Songs
Popular paid music streaming service, includes lots of German music including user generated playlists.
Image by Breather
Although audio books are a great way to get a firm grasp of the language they can’t offer everything, one thing they can’t offer is a concrete way of learning grammar.
Conjunctions, possessive pronouns, modal verbs, the list is endless and for me the best way of learning all this was to just sit down with a good text book and learn it. These are some books that helped me through the toil of grammar drills.
The Big Yellow Book of German Verbs
Though not technically a book about German grammar per se, It does provide a concise list of some of the most commonly used verbs in the German language.
Living German: A Grammar-based Course
All you need to know about German grammar, a must for those who want to really want to get stuck into the Grammar.
Langenscheidt German Grammar in a Nutshell
Like Collins and Pimsleur, Langenscheidt is a language publisher that everyone has come across at one time or another, this book on grammar is particularly useful.
Teach Yourself Complete German
The teach yourself course of books not only teaches you the fundamentals but also provides exercises and drills.
German For Dummies
Pretty self explanatory, a good beginners guide to the ins and outs of the language.
The essential item for anyone learning a language. For the first couple of months, dictionaries should always be in arms reach for those quick reference checks for words you just don’t know, here are some I recommend.
It’s important you have a big extended dictionary for more complex words but it’s just as important to have a pocket dictionary for when you’re out and about and need to look something up:
Another good idea when learning a language is to read some German literature. Starting off with children’s books and working your way up as your language skills improve.
5 German Novels For Beginners and Intermediate German Learners – Learn Out Live!
A good blog post recommending 5 German novels for beginner and intermediate learners of the language.
Harry Potter novels
Everyone knows the Harry Potter series and chances are you’ve read the English set of books already. So why not try to read them in German, great for beginners – intermediate readers as they were primarily written for children.
Easy Readers Books for language learners
These set of books are short stories specifically written for people learning German as a second language.
Felix & Theo
A collection of books for beginners, not to difficult or word intensive and are relatively cheap.
If you feel novels are too word intensive and a bit daunting, you could start off with German comics. The words come at you in small doses and if you find yourself struggling to understand the language, the accompanying pictures should be a real help.
Asterix and Obelix
Very popular comic series in German about a young Gaul called Asterix and his slow witted but incredibly strong cohort Obelix.
A great site which allows you to read a myriad of German language comic online though the site.
German National Subscription Newspapers
German newspaper can be a good way to not only keep up with the comings and goings of world events but to also brush up on your German
The Süddeutsche Zeitung, published in Munich, is the largest German national subscription daily newspaper.
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
National centre-right wing German newspaper, founded in 1949
Die Welt is a German national daily newspaper published by the Axel Springer AG company
The Frankfurter Rundschau is a German daily newspaper, based in Frankfurt am Main
Der Tagesspiegel is a classical liberal German daily newspaper
The Handelsblatt is a leading German language business newspaper
Die Tageszeitung is a cooperative-owned German daily newspaper which is administrated by a workers’ self-management
Neues Deutschland is a national German daily newspaper. It was the official party newspaper of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany
The Junge Freiheit is a German right-wing weekly newspaper for politics and culture, that describes itself as liberal-conservative
junge Welt is a German daily newspaper published in Berlin. The jW describes itself as a left and Marxist newspaper
Berliner Tageszeitung (known colloquially as BTZ) is a German daily online newspaper
Germany’s national news magazines
Stern is a weekly news magazine published in Germany by Gruner + Jahr, a subsidiary of Bertelsmann
Focus is a German weekly news magazine is the third-largest weekly news magazine in Germany. It is considered conservative and leans towards economic liberalism.
Wirtschaftswoche is a German weekly business news magazine.
Cicero is a monthly German magazine focusing on politics and culture. The magazine which has a liberal-conservative political stance is based in Berlin
Although listening to German music and radio can be helpful, it’s very passive. Watching a film however isn’t here are a few of my favourites.
World Cinema on Netflix
There are a plethora of German cinema on netflix UK (if you have Netflix of course)
Image by Nick Turner
Luckily for us in the 21st century, with the advent of the world wide web, language learning has become so much easier. Here are some killer online resources for those to tech savvy for books.
One of the most popular English – German dictionaries on the web, one of my favourites at least
Another go to German – English dictionary
Online courses (mostly free) are a great way to get acquainted with the language. Although you’re not able to become fluent on these courses, they are a great way to get started.
Learning with Duolingo is fun and addictive. Earn points for correct answers, race against the clock, and level up. Our bite-sized lessons are effective
BBC – Learn German
Includes videos, classes and various articles to help you with German
Includes various interactive courses ranging from beginner to intermediate.
Reddit | German Subreddit
User generated content full of useful resources and a place where you can ask questions, no matter how silly
DW – World
Interactive and downloadable German lectures
Contains some good articles ranging from culture to grammar
Everyone knows About.com, this is their German course and resource collection
Learn vocabulary, languages, history, science, trivia and just about anything else
Pen Pal Websites
One of the best ways of learning German rapidly is to actually converse with a German person but finding someone to converse with can be tricky, that’s where these websites come in handy!
German Pen Pals – My Language Exchange
This is a good site to find native German speakers to converse with either through skype or email.
Similar site to my language exchange
The Mixer | Language Exchanges
The Mixxer is a free educational site for language learners hosted by Dickinson College. The Mixxer is designed to connect language learners around the world so that everyone is both student and teacher.
No matter how smart or adept you are at learning languages, you will eventually have a question for which you can’t find an answer, that’s where forums come in.
One of the main language forums on the web, includes dozens of languages including German
German College Courses
Although there are clearly a lot of resource available to the budding German language learner, sometimes you just can’t beat a good old fashioned college course/language course, here are a few resources to help locate some in your area.
Cactus Language Courses
Offering evening classes throughout the UK in most major cities, handy if you want to fit round your working life
Offering courses primarily in London, they offer various courses ranging from extensive to individual courses
I hope you found these resources helpful, if you would like to suggest any resources that I may have overlooked or If you find a broken link , please contact me.
Language holidays are a useful and fun way of immersing yourself in the language for a short period of time. For those who can’t afford or don’t have the time to move to another country, language holidays are a great compromise.
Goethe.de | Learning German – German courses
Usually lasting 6 – 8 weeks, these courses offer intensive language courses. The perfect combination of language training, culture and leisure time
DID Deutsch-Institut – German Language Courses in Germany
Offers German courses in Frankfurt, Berlin and Hamburg. Including German for adults, German for juniors.
Learning holidays & holiday courses in Germany | GoLearnTo.com
Germany is there for the savouring and the perfect location in which to learn German to accelerate your language learning experience. Be inspired – see what you can learn on your next holiday in Germany…
Their German courses are offered in many locations throughout Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Their wide range of high-quality courses offer total immersion in the German language, ensuring that you make as much progress as possible during the time you have available
Sprach Zentrum – German language courses in Göttingen
Sprach Zentrum offer a variety of language courses in “German as a Foreign Language” for young people and adults. Includes group, intensive and junior courses.
Humboldt – Institut – Learn German in Germany
The Humboldt-Institut is a non-profit association for German as a foreign language. Since its foundation over 40.000 students from more than 160 countries have come to Germany to study in one of our 18 course centres
Learn German at ActiLingua language school
Actlingua modern language school is situated in beautiful Vienna and with more than 20 years of experience one of the leading schools for German as a foreign language.
Sprachinstitut – Intensive German courses in Germany
TREFFPUNKT is a renowned language institute that caters for both business and private individuals. It is located in the center of Bamberg, a German university town designated a cultural landmark by UNESCO.
Language Learning Blogs
Sometimes getting tips and advice for those who have already learned German can be invaluable, here are some great language learning blogs.
Transparent Language: German Language Blog
Learn more about the Language and Culture of the German-Speaking World in this Transparent Language Blog.
Learn German Coach | Reviews & Culture Info for German Learners & Enthusiasts
Language learning resources and information, course reviews as well as cultural insights brought to you by a native German tutor.
FluentU German | German Language and Culture Blog
A great blog with numerous articles with helpful advice and tips with leaning German. Includes German movie and German TV shows recommendations.
An interesting language blog including techniques and advice on learning languages efficiently.
Angelika’s German Tuition & Translation
Angelika’s blog posts on topics of interest to those learning German, sometimes humorous but often practical for anybody who needs the German language.