If you have always wanted to learn German, you’re nowhere near alone; millions of people study the language every day around the world. And it’s no wonder! German is a language that captures a rich culture and history. The German language can take you around the world, with speakers all around Europe and even in parts of Africa, North America and South America!
But you might have a lot of questions about how to learn German or what it takes to get started — or why it’s even worthwhile at all. The good news is you can rest assured that learning the German language is an effort worth undertaking. With the right technology to guide you in your journey, you’ll see your efforts pay off in so many ways.
Why Learn German?
Learning any new tongue is a challenge that can open up your mind to new perspectives and help you connect with all types of people across boundaries of land and language. When it comes to learning German, these reasons are especially true. Here are just a few of the reasons why it’s a great idea to learn German:
- build new connections with tens of millions of people across the world
- get a leg up in learning about other related languages, including English
- experience culture and history of the German-speaking world through a linguistic lens
- spruce up your German business skills to help you compete in the global economy
- travel to and even live in German-speaking countries with confidence
- stimulate your brain and keep your mental muscles sharp
Reasons To Learn German
Picking up a new skill can help you express your creativity, stimulate your mind, and discover new sides of yourself along the way. Learning a new language like German is no exception! Here are just a few of the many ways you can make a positive impact on your life if you learn German.
Build Your Business German Skills
The sweeping tides of globalization mean that companies and organizations today are operating across international boundaries more so than ever before. If you’re a professional looking for ways to stay competitive and current in the global market, learning German is a no-brainer for success. The Eurozone is a market full of opportunity for businesses. Chances are you’ve come across a German company in your daily life; have you ever heard of BMW, Volkswagen, Adidas or Aldi (or perhaps Babbel)? Learning the German language is a fantastic way to connect with colleagues in other countries, score new clients, build strong relationships with German-speaking partners and investors, and show off the multicultural, international, and inclusive nature of your brand.
Learn German For Travel
Live The German Language Abroad
Whether you’re looking to enroll at a foreign university and have a more alternative college experience, find a job at a hostel that lets you hit the ski slopes by day and work at night, or retire in a place with a slower pace of life, living abroad is hands down the best hands-on approach to getting the most immersive language experience possible. By placing yourself in an environment where you’re obligated to speak German, you’ll fast-track your journey to fluency. Your life can take on new twists and turns when you move to an unfamiliar place, and there’s so much of the German-speaking world to explore. When you learn German, you open up a gateway to a robust, colorful, and novel life adventure!
Use Language To Train Your Brain
Learning any new skill is a surefire way to expand your intellectual horizons. Picking up a new language is an especially sound way to keep your brain flexible and nimble, especially as you grow older. Don’t give in to the argument that you’re somehow worse at learning languages after your youth! Picking up a new language is more than just memorizing lists of vocab (though you’ll certainly sharpen your lexical recall along the way). It involves making connections between those words and what they represent, spontaneously speaking and thinking on your feet, sticking with a challenge when it’s frustrating and confusing, and a whole lot of active listening. If you’ve been lacking intellectual stimulation, there are few better ways to exercise your mental muscles than by learning German.
Immerse Yourself In German Culture, Unfiltered
Learning German opens you up not only to a better understanding of the language itself but also of the arts and culture of the world that speaks it. To read the literature of decorated German-speaking authors and academics like Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Friedrich Nietzsche is to engage with the language in some of its most beautiful, profound and poetic expressions. Through the lens of German you get a more active immersion in more contemporary German-language media like podcasts, radio shows, books, and TV shows. The folk fairytales of the Grimm Brothers in their original tongue, the dialogue of famous German films, and the most sweeping currents in German-language journalism all become accessible to you when you learn the German language. And if you’re from a family with German-speaking elders and ancestors but don’t know the language yourself, learning German is an excellent way to connect with your heritage.
Learning German For Business
A lot of business involves knowing how to crunch numbers, analyze data and make predictions using quantitative trends. But there’s a whole side to business that revolves around effective communication — often considered among professional “soft skills,” but no less important. How well do you interact with business partners? Do you feel confident negotiating and striking deals? These aren’t necessarily things we all do well in our own language, let alone in a second language.
Learning a few words of a language in any country you visit for business can carry a very significant professional value, and German is by no means an exception. Whether you’re giving a presentation to coworkers in an international office or selling your product in European markets, you’ll find there are plenty of great opportunities to apply business German to accelerate your career.
Pursuing a second language is proof of your willingness to engage with the world. It’s proof of an open mind and an ability to learn new things and see things from different perspectives. So when it comes to finding a job, knowing a second (or third) language will give you a leg up and set you apart from the rest of the field.
Not only will adding German to your résumé — and being able to back it up with actual language skills — go a long way to convincing potential employers of your open-mindedness and passion for learning, but it will also give you the confidence to take on new challenges in the future and might even present you with some business opportunities you never would have imagined.
Learning German: Background And Basics
German-Speaking Countries: A Global Community
To start, if you know the German language, you open yourself up to a whole world of German speakers that spans continental borders. There are slightly more than 130 million people on Earth who speak German to some degree, making it the eleventh most spoken language worldwide.
You can find German speakers not only in Germany but also in many other countries around the world, including tens of millions split between Austria and Switzerland, where German is an official or co-official language. There are smaller populations of speakers spread throughout the rest of Europe, too, in Luxembourg, Belgium, Denmark, Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, France and Italy, among others. (Behind Russian, German is the second-most spoken language on the European continent.)
In South America, Brazil has about 1.5 million German speakers, and Argentina has roughly one-third that number, a result of waves of German emigration during the 19th century and post-World War II. You can even find scattered communities of speakers in Uruguay, Paraguay, Ecuador and Chile, too!
In North America, there are roughly a million speakers of German in the United States, also the historical legacy of migration during the 18th and 19th centuries. A dialect of the language, called Pennsylvania Dutch (though, confusingly, it’s not Dutch at all) is the first language of many of the Amish and Mennonite communities of the upper Appalachian region. There are also about 400,000 speakers in Canada, descendants of immigrants generations ago.
One place you might be surprised to find German is in Africa — in Namibia, where Germans had a brief imperial legacy in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, there are a few more than 10,000 German speakers. You can even find speakers in South Africa, too!
How Long Does Learning German Take?
Learning any new skill takes an investment of time and effort, whether it’s playing a musical instrument, cooking a new recipe or practicing a sport. Learning a language like German is no exception. It requires a regular commitment and a willingness to challenge yourself — and to stick with it even when it gets tough.
When it comes to learning the basics of a new language, many experts say that with about 15 minutes of language study a day, you can learn the basics of vocabulary, grammar and pronunciation in about 3 weeks — enough to have a simple conversation in your new language. The United States Foreign Service Institute ranks German as a Category II language, meaning it takes around 36 weeks to reach “professional working proficiency.”
To build any skill, you need the right tools and teachers. The more access you have to resources that fit your learning style (and fit into your schedule), the better you’ll be at making quick progress towards your goal. Determining how long it takes to learn German or any other language depends on how often you practice, how well equipped you are to learn and even your attitude.
Is German Difficult To Learn?
The answer to the question “Is German difficult?” depends on the person you’re asking. Speakers of languages that are closely related to German, like Dutch, might find it fairly easy to learn German. But those who speak less related languages like Spanish and French, which come from a different language family, might have more difficulty.
English and German share a common language ancestor, so they’re members of the same language family — the West Germanic languages. That means an English speaker will have some advantages when it comes to learning German, especially many of the words that sound the same in both languages. But you might have heard that learning German is difficult even for English speakers because of the tricky word order, the pronunciation and the pesky case system (which includes the nominative case, the accusative case, the dative case and the genitive case). These unfamiliar elements can trip up speakers of many languages, including English.
But have no fear! Millions of people before you have learned German, and so can you. Even though German can have a reputation for being hard to learn, with the right tools and mindset, you can build the skills it takes to speak German fluently without the struggle or the stress.
German And English: How Are They Related?
As mentioned above, English and German are closely related languages; in fact, they’re part of the same linguistic family, called the West Germanic languages, a smaller branch of the Germanic languages which includes Swedish, Norwegian and Danish, among others.
English borrows a lot of words from Latin, or from languages in the Romance language family like French that derived from Latin. But the roots of English are Germanic, meaning that it shares much of its grammar and syntax, or sentence structure, with German. It also means you’ll find a whole lot of cognates — or words that sound the same and have the same meaning — between German and English. For example, take a guess at the meaning of the verbs schwimmen, bringen and lernen or the nouns Finger, Hand, Haus or Garten. Not too hard to translate back to English, right?
Whether it helps you master other languages faster and more easily or it gives you a new understanding of the English you already speak, there’s no doubt that if you learn German, you’ll have a learning advantage right from the start!
How To Speak German Fluently
Learning to speak German fluently is an exercise in patience and practice. It takes time and effort, and you won’t get there without making a few mistakes along the way.
To learn to speak German fluently, you will likely need to rely on more than just software and media; you will need actual native German speakers! Having real conversations with German speakers is the best way to get feedback on your pronunciation, grammar and vocabulary in ways you can’t do alone.
Many language learners agree that the best way to speak German fluently is to practice German language immersion — that is, putting yourself in places and situations where you’re forced to use German regularly instead of your native language. Whether that’s moving to a German-speaking country, enrolling in a German language school or taking classes at German universities, you’ll find that immersion is a surefire way to get on the fast track to fluency in the German language.
Basic German Lessons For Beginners
Ä, Ö, Ü: The Basics Of The German Alphabet
If you already know the 26 letters of the English alphabet, you’re in luck — the German alphabet is the exact same! However, some of the letters sound different from their English counterparts; for example, w in German makes a “v” sound, v makes a “f” sound, and j makes a “y” sound.
There are four special extra letters that appear in German words that you’ll quickly get used to: Ä, Ö, Ü (and their respective lowercase counterparts ä, ö and ü) and ß. The pairs of dots that appear above the vowels A, O and U are called umlauts (umlaute in German), and you can find them in plenty of words in the German spelling system in words like Bücher (“books”) and Käse (“cheese”). These umlauts indicate that you pronounce the vowel sound more towards the front of your mouth with rounded lips.
The letter ß, called eszett, is pronounced like the letter “s” and can be found in words like heißen (“to be called”) and dreißig (‘thirty”). It may look unfamiliar and funky, but it’s very straightforward!
You might have heard that mastering German pronunciation is one of the trickiest parts of learning German. While it’s true that there are some sounds in the German language that don’t exist in English, like the back-of-the-throat “r” sound in rot (“red”) and the hissing “ch” sound in words like Mädchen (“girl”), once you learn and practice how to pronounce these sounds, you’ll find they’re not too troublesome.
And if you speak English, you know that it’s almost impossible to look at many words and pronounce them just based on how they’re spelled (think about how a non-English speaker might struggle with words like “cough,” “colonel” and “knight”). The good thing about German spelling is that most of the time, one letter of the alphabet or one group of letters has one corresponding sound, meaning that you can read a word and pretty much know how it’s pronounced on your first try. In that sense, it’s much easier to master German pronunciation than it is to grasp that of English!
German Sentence Structure
One of the more confusing elements for English speakers learning German is getting used to German sentence structure. Learning where to put certain words in relation to each other is a major part of mastering the German language. There are very strict rules about where verbs can be placed in German sentences. In simple sentences with a subject, verb and direct object, like “He reads the book,” German word order looks a lot like English — Er liest das Buch.
But when you introduce more complex syntax, such as when you include so-called modal verbs like “can,” “will,” “must” and “should,” German sentence structure follows a slightly different set of rules. In these cases and in others, the main verb in German moves to the very end of the sentence, like in the example Er muss das Buch lesen, or “He must read the book.” Understanding the rules that govern German sentence structure is an important part of learning German.
Basics Of German Grammar Rules
Learning German grammar can take a bit of patience, but it’s not impossible to grasp. There are a couple main elements of German grammar that don’t show up in English.
First, German distinguishes between two ways to address someone as “you” — both informally and formally. The informal word du is used for friends, peers, and people you’re familiar with, whereas Sie, the formal version of the word “you,” is reserved for people you don’t know or whom you want to show a certain level of authority and respect. Both pronouns require their own separate endings on the verbs that follow them.
There are three grammatical genders in German: masculine, feminine, and neuter. This means that every noun belongs to one of these three categories, and the adjectives and articles — that is, the words “the,” “a” and “some” — that accompany these nouns must reflect the gender, too. For example, the gender of the word Buch (“book”) is neuter, so it takes the article das to become das Buch (“the book”).
The gender of the word Gabel (“fork”) is feminine, so its article is die, giving us die Gabel (“the fork”). And the gender of the word Tisch (“table”) is masculine, so you’d say der Tisch (“the table”). German gender can be confusing, and there’s not a whole lot of logic to it; in many cases, you’ve just got to learn the gender of each word and commit them to memory!
One of the hardest parts of learning German grammar for English speakers is the case system. There are four cases in German — the nominative case, the accusative case, the dative case and the genitive case — and these, like gender marking, show up on the articles before nouns as well and in pronouns (words like “you,” “they,” “him” and “us,” for example). Which case you use depends on where the noun falls in the sentence or the role that it plays; for example, nouns and pronouns in the subject position (you can think of it as the noun that’s doing the action) take the nominative case, as in Der Mann isst, or “The man eats,” from the verb essen (“to eat”). But when der Mann is the object of the action isst (so, the thing that gets eaten), it appears in the accusative case and becomes den Mann, as in Der Löwe isst den Mann, or “The lion eats the man.”
Each article and adjective in German must account for the noun’s gender and whether it appears in the nominative case, the accusative case, the genitive case or the dative case — so there can be a lot to remember!
Learning German vocabulary is largely the same as learning the vocabulary of any new language. When you learn new German vocabulary, you might find it helpful to make flashcards to practice terms and their definitions. Try focusing on the vocabulary that’s most relevant and interesting to you; if you like sports, get to know sports vocabulary before you study business German expressions, for example.
One unique thing about German vocabulary is that German is known for its extremely long compound words. This means that you can combine two or more words to make an even longer one. Once you have a handle on some simple vocabulary, it’s easy to infer the meaning of longer words. For example, when you know that fahren means “to drive” and das Rad is a “wheel,” it’s not a huge stretch to guess that das Fahrrad (“drive-wheel”) is a bicycle. The sign above the bicycle shop says Fahrradgeschäft. Since you now know the word for bicycle, you can now infer that Geschäft is the German word for “store.”
German Verbs And The Use Of German Modal Verbs
German verbs are fairly straightforward to learn. By themselves, German verbs exist in the “infinitive” form — a verb stem plus the ending -en. For example, singen means “to sing,” and schwimmen means “to swim.” When you give the verbs a subject (someone or something that is doing the action of the verb) you must drop the verb ending -en and “conjugate” the verb by adding a new ending depending on the subject and the verb tense. So, ich singe means "I sing,” and er singt means “he sings.” For all regular verbs, you only need to learn one pattern for each verb tense! There are some important irregular verbs whose endings don’t follow the regular pattern and must be learned separately. These include verbs like sein (“to be”) and haben (“to have”). Once you learn and practice their conjugations, you’ll find that they become second nature to you.
German modal verbs are ones like müssen (“must”), können (“can,” “to be able to”) and sollen (“should,” “to ought to”) that come before other verbs like singen and schwimmen. As mentioned above, when these irregular verbs appear in German sentences, they are conjugated and change verb endings whereas the other verbs stay in the infinitive form and move to the end of the sentence. So, to say, “I can sing the song,” you’d say Ich kann das Lied singen, where kann is the form of können used with the pronoun ich (“I”) and singen remains unchanged.
As mentioned above, when you learn German nouns, you’ve also got to learn each noun’s gender: masculine, feminine, or neuter. There’s very little rhyme or reason as to why certain nouns have the genders they do. Why is die Gabel (“fork”) feminine in gender while das Messer (“knife”) is neuter and der Löffel (“spoon”) is masculine? There doesn’t seem to be a sensible pattern that tells you when a certain noun is assigned a certain gender; you’ve just got to learn as you go!
Forming the plural of German nouns isn’t as easy as just adding an -s like the plural in English. Some words add an -n, an -s or an -e to the end of a singular noun to become plural, some add an -er and add an umlaut to the vowel sound that comes before and some nouns have no changes at all when they become plural. The one consistency is that in the nominative case, the word die is used for all plural nouns in German, regardless of their genders; so das Buch becomes die Bücher (“the books”), die Gabel becomes die Gabeln (“the forks”) and der Tisch becomes die Tische (“the tables”).
Counting In German
Counting in German from 1 to 20 is very straightforward. Each of the numbers 1 through 12 has a single word for its name — like drei, vier and fünf for “three,” “four” and “five,” for example. And the names for 13 through 19 follow the English pattern of adding the ones value before the word zehn (“ten,” like the English “teen.”), giving dreizehn, vierzehn and fünfzehn for “thirteen,” “fourteen,” and “fifteen.”
The part that’s less intuitive for English speakers happens from 21 and upwards. From this point, counting in German requires an inversion; you say the ones value first, followed by und (“and”), then the tens value — zwanzig for “twenty,” dreißig for “thirty,” vierzig for “forty” and so on. So instead of saying “twenty-one,” for example, German speakers say “one-and-twenty,” or einundzwanzig. “Fifty-seven” would be “seven-and-fifty,” or siebenundfünfzig. Counting in German isn’t too difficult once you get the hang of it!
Basic German Phrases, Daily Expressions And Greetings
To have a conversation in German, you need to start with the basic German phrases. It helps to start from the beginning: “hello”! The most basic way to say hello is Hallo, or Hi, but you can also use Guten Tag (“good day”) for slightly more formal situations. Guten Morgen is a great greeting for the morning, and Guten Abend for the evening.
To ask “How are you?” you can say Wie geht’s dir? or just simply Wie geht’s? A generic response that works well is Gut, danke, or “Good, thank you,” but Es geht so (“so-so” or “I’m doing okay”) or Nicht so gut (“not too well”) are common if you’re not in high spirits.
Knowing how to introduce yourself and ask about other people you meet is also very important. To do so, you can say Ich heiße X, or “I call myself X.” Another option is Mein Name ist X, or “My name is X.” To ask other people their names, you can say, Wie heißt du? You can say where you come from with the phrase Ich komme aus X, and to find out where other people are from, you’ll want to say Woher kommst du? With these basic German expressions, you’ll be well on your way to making new friends in no time.
German is a very expressive language with lots of ways to get your point across. Just like in English, German is full of idioms whose literal meaning is pretty nonsensical but which are used and understood by German speakers to add a little flavor to their language.
Many of the most inventive German idioms relate to food, which isn’t surprising, as German people are known to love dining in all its forms. Jetzt mal Butter bei die Fische literally means “Now butter for the fish,” and it means “Get to the point!” When a German says, Alles hat ein Ende, nur die Wurst hat zwei, he or she is literally saying, “Everything has an end; only the sausage has two,” which is a reminder that nothing lasts forever. You can’t learn German without getting to know some of its most creative expressions!
Common German Mistakes
When learning German as an English speaker, it’s only natural that you’ll make a few common German mistakes here and there. Many of these common mistakes revolve around false cognates — words that look like they mean one thing in English but actually have an entirely different translation. One such example is the word das Gift; an English speaker might want to give ein Gift to a friend, but he or she would be shocked to find out that it actually means “poison”!
Trying to translate German phrases word-for-word can also prove troublesome. One common mistake is when English speakers try to say, “I am hot,” by saying, Ich bin heiß — which actually means, “I am horny.” What they actually mean to say is Mir ist warm, or literally, “Me is warm.”
There are other less embarrassing German mistakes that language learners make all the time, too, like assigning the wrong gender to a German noun or confusing two words that sound the same. Making mistakes is all part of the language learning process, so take your errors in stride and keep trying!
What's The Fastest And Easiest Way To Learn German?
There is no right answer when it comes to how to learn a new language, though the many options can be overwhelming! You’ll find that the fastest and easiest way to learn German is the way that offers you the least amount of friction — so if you can’t stand shuffling through textbook pages or you get bored flipping flashcards, you might want to stick to a method that’s more exciting or engaging. Knowing yourself is key to success.
Of the tens of millions people who speak and study German as a non-native language, you’ll find folks who have used all sorts of resources to learn the language, some free, some fairly cheap, and some more of a financial investment. There’s no right combination, and it’s up to you to decide which methods work best for you.
Ways To Learn German
Learning German In The Classroom
German is among some of the most studied languages in school systems and universities around the world. Classroom learning is the most popular option for learners in grade school or university settings. It allows more intensive, regular study with feedback from teachers who know the language and can correct mistakes as they happen and teach content in an interactive way. Having other students to talk to and practice with is a valuable resource for a learner of any language.
Though students make up a large proportion of classroom learners, plenty of adults enroll in language classes, too. Many cities and communities offer free or fairly cheap language classes, and you’ll be very likely to find them in popular languages like German. Though a full-time job might limit your schedule, a commitment to a once- or twice-weekly class after work or on the weekends can really improve your language skills in a measurable way.
Learning German With A Private Tutor
Private tutoring offers a more tailored learning experience than traditional classroom learning with many of the advantages. Having a skilled tutor at hand who can help you perfect your pronunciation and the aspects of German that cause you trouble is a great way to improve your skills fast — without a teacher needing to split time and attention among multiple students. And tutoring doesn’t have to be inconvenient at all; many sessions can and do take place over video call instead of in person.
But the often steep costs of such individualized instruction can be a barrier to many learners. Well trained master tutors often charge high hourly rates for their lessons, so finding a top-quality, budget-friendly option can be challenging.
Software And Online German Courses
There are many top-notch, expert-designed online courses and programs that run from reasonably priced to very expensive. They allow you to learn on your own time and are often more interactive and engaging than many free courses and resources. Plus, many of the best products out there are constantly updated with new, fresh material, so you can get the most relevant learning experience available.
Can You Learn German For Free?
All of the above options have one thing in common: they cost money. For those learners who want to be more conscious of their budgets or are okay to spend more time finding and working with more cost-effective content, there are still plenty of options!
Learning German With Tandem Partners
Tandem learning is a technique where two people who speak different native languages meet up to help each other learn, swapping roles as teacher and student. For example, if you spend one hour teaching a German-speaking friend something about English, he or she would then spend the next hour teaching German to you. This is an effective method when both people are able to commit significant time and thought to the partnership, but keep in mind that not everyone is a good teacher. Explaining why your native language works the way it does is often easier said than done; you might understand English grammar subconsciously and use it flawlessly all the time but not be able to explain to a non-native speaker the rules that govern how you’re supposed to use that grammar.
Immersion German Learning
This technique is definitely the most extreme and intensive, and it’s not for everyone. (It’s also not technically free if you count airfare to a new place and all the costs of living associated with wherever you go.) But without a doubt, immersing yourself in a new culture and a place that doesn’t speak your language will force you to make rapid progress in your target language as you struggle to communicate and understand those around you.
Of course, you’ll want to start with at least a little foundation in a new language before picking up your life and plunging yourself into a completely foreign locale. Using resources like Babbel, language textbooks and classes, and practice with native speakers can all help you prepare before you make a big transition.
How Can I Learn German At Home?
There are plenty of ways to learn German at home. The great thing about many forms of German media, apps and online German courses is that they allow you to practice German on your own terms, wherever and whenever. It’s easy to complete a German lesson on a language learning app while you wait for your dinner to cook. And you can watch German movies on your TV or laptop from the comfort of your couch, too. Some German tutoring services even let you video call in for German lessons from your home, and you can even find ways to get creative by labeling items in your living space with sticky notes that have the German name written on them, for example.
Useful Resources To Learn German
There are many types of German media resources, both audio and visual, that can help you practice learning German. Most of them can be accessed for free online or from a library or found for very cheap — or even through a subscription for a streaming service like Netflix or Spotify you’re likely already paying for!
German phrasebooks are a great way to learn the German phrases that real German speakers use in their everyday lives. They will help you practice some of the most important expressions for meeting new people, ordering at restaurants and bars and finding your way around unfamiliar places. You can carry around a pocket German phrasebook with you while you travel to make your experience more seamless or just to have as some light reading while you commute to work, for example.
Books To Learn German
If you like to read, you’ll find a whole range of literature written in German that can help you master the language. There are thousands of German books that make great learning resources, ranging in skill from beginner-level books like Das Wunder von Bern and children’s comics like Max und Moritz to more advanced contemporary novels like Tschick.
Using books to learn a language is a great way to sharpen your reading skills and to understand how the language is used in a whole wide range of contexts, from historical fiction to fairy tales to personal essays to collections of short stories to nonfiction and everything in between. Reading books in German helps you move at your own pace, and you can stop to consult a dictionary if you need extra help along the way. Keeping a language journal of unfamiliar words and expressions helps you build your vocabulary. Plus, you can get some extra speaking and pronunciation practice by reading the book aloud.
Learning German With Podcasts, Songs And Audio Resources
Using German podcasts to practice German is a great way to hear the language spoken with the natural patterns, accents and inflections a native German speaker would use. From beginner-level German podcasts like Slow German mit Annik Rubens that focus on building the basics of German grammar and vocabulary to more intermediate and advanced narrative-based podcasts like Warum nicht?, you can find plenty of German podcasts to pick from — and many of them are free. To build up your listening skills, you can slow down a podcast or try to focus directly on what you’re hearing instead of just playing it in the background.
Listening to German songs works in much the same way as tuning in to podcasts; both can be perfect to listen to passively while trudge through your daily commute, cook dinner, or take a walk in your neighborhood. With songs, a chorus or group of lyrics is often repeated more than once, giving you plenty of opportunities to hear lyrics over and over. You can find many playlists of German songs on Spotify that are organized by proficiency level, too, from beginner playlists to more advanced ones.
But it’s important to remember that to really master a language, you’ve got to do more than just listening to it; you’ll probably want to supplement audio with other methods of learning German, too. Try looking up podcast transcripts or song lyrics for extra reading practice, and keep a notebook to write down new words and phrases you hear to review later.
Learning With German TV Shows And Movies
Watching German movies and TV shows is an excellent way to connect with the German language in a fun, engaging format. You can find a lot of good content of all different genres and for all learning proficiency levels on streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime. Shows like Babylon Berlin and Deutschland 83 are great for learning about German history while you practice the language, and if you’re just starting out learning German, movies like Bibi Blocksberg and Lola rennt are good for training your ear in the basics of German.
When you’re watching, you can choose to display subtitles in German for some extra reading practice. Try to avoid watching media dubbed in your native language, as you won’t end up hearing any German! If the dialogue is too fast, you can pause what you’re watching to give yourself a chance to process what you’re hearing and look up and write down unfamiliar words. And when you use movies and TV series to learn German, don’t be afraid to break them up into chunks to give your brain some rest.
Free Online Courses And Apps For Learning German
There’s no shortage of free German content you can find on the web and on your phone. From German grammar wikis to online forums and classes, you’re sure to find hundreds of options that might do the trick. Some of it is better than others in the ways it’s organized and how thoroughly it explains new concepts, so take it with a grain of salt.
Be aware that the tradeoff of a free product is that it usually sacrifices quality. Much of the content in free apps comes from user-generated translations that are rarely verified and are often inconsistent or riddled with errors. These lessons often focus on writing and reading without improving listening and speaking skills. And be wary that free interactive lessons like these can often be basic, poorly designed, messy, rigid, and just downright boring — not to mention littered with ads.
These resources can be helpful, but it’s important to know how and where to fill in the gaps in your language learning journey when certain content isn’t enough.
Learning German With Babbel
The goal of learning any language is to have real-life conversations with native speakers. So a language learning app should be designed to get you to that goal in the best way possible. It’s important to dedicate the time and effort to practicing with discipline, but you’ve also got to have technology that knows how to help you most effectively along the way.
Luckily, German is designed by a team of language experts, educators, and designers who know all about what it takes to get the most out of learning a new language — so you are guaranteed a top-quality German learning journey that’s capable, engaging, and yes, even fun.
Here are the key ways Babbel German lessons are crafted to get you having real-life conversations in German with confidence, and all for less cost per month than your morning coffee.
The Full Spectrum Of Language Learning
Learning a new language is an endeavor of many dimensions. It takes a lot of skills and patience to learn how to start speaking on the spot, to write a text to a friend, or to translate dialogue you hear from a TV show in your target language.
We know how to make these elements work together to your advantage. Babbel’s lessons are interactive and cover all the aspects of learning German — reading, writing, listening, and speaking — with multimedia content to train your ears and eyes. Our speech recognition feature even helps you hone your pronunciation, too.
German Learning On Your Terms
One of the best parts of learning with Babbel is being able to fit lessons in seamlessly when you want them and where you want them. Our bite-size lessons take roughly between 10 and 20 minutes to complete and can be squeezed into your already busy schedule, whether you’re on your commute or waiting for a pot of water to boil as you cook dinner.
With Babbel, you can pick and choose the topics and themes that are most relevant to you. Taking a trip soon? Brush up on the German you’ll need for travel and navigating new places. Need to sharpen your German for an upcoming business meeting? Our courses have you covered.
The iOS and Android apps are fully integrated with the web application. And your progress is saved in the cloud and synced across all devices — so you can learn German anytime, anywhere.
Learn German — And Make Sure It Sticks
What good is committing to learning a new language if you’ll forget it before you even have a chance to use it? That’s why your personalized Babbel Review feature is optimized to help you retain the information you’re learning.
It takes advantage of the concept of microlearning, or bringing back information in short bursts to help you hold on to it better. You can practice writing, listening to, and speaking the terms and expressions you’ve learned in your earlier lessons to lock them into your brain.
For German Learning, Try Babbel
We’re committed to making sure you get the most out of learning German. We offer a free first lesson in every language so you can get a feel for if Babbel works for you. And if you don’t like it, we have a 20-day money-back guarantee — no questions asked.
Try a free German lesson with Babbel and see for yourself how quickly you’ll be on your way to speaking German with confidence — like you’ve always wanted to!