German (Deutsch [ˈdɔʏtʃ] ( listen)) is a West Germanic language and is closely related to and classified alongside English, Dutch, and the Frisian languages. To a lesser extent, it is also related to the East (extinct) and North Germanic languages. Most German vocabulary is derived from the Germanic branch of the Indo-European language family. Significant minorities of words are derived from Latin and Greek, with a smalleramount from French and most recently English (known as Denglisch). German is written using the Latin alphabet. In addition to the 26 standard letters, German has three vowels with Umlauts, namely ä, ö, and ü, as well as the Eszett or scharfes S (sharp s) which is written "ß".
German dialects are distinguished from varieties of standard German. German dialects are traditional local varieties and are traced back to the different German tribes. Many of them are not mutually intelligible, since they often differ in lexicon, phonology, and syntax. Standard German originated as a written language, developed over a process of several hundred years, in which writers tried to write in a way that was understood in the largest area.
Around the world, German has approximately 100 million native speakers and also about 80 million non-native speakers. German is the main language of about 90 million people (18%) in the EU. 67% of German citizens claim to be able to communicate in at least one foreign language, 27% in at least two languages other than their own. German is a Category III language according to The Foreign Service Institute language difficulty rankings meaning it takes a minimum of 36 weeks or 900 hours of study to become proficient.
ResourcesEditIt is important to note that no single resource will grant you fluency in German. It is a good idea to experiment and figure out what combination of apps, programs, books, audio, and other media work best for you.
Multi-platform Language Software Edit
- Available on Desktop, iOS, Android, and Windows Phone for free.
- Gamified lesson format includes a variety of speaking, listening, translation, and multiple choice challenges covering many fields.
- iOS version has guided "chats" with bots.
- Duolingo Effectiveness Study and more research here.
- Available on Desktop, iOS, and Android for free.
- Flashcard system that uses statistically relevant words and phrases to aid memorization.
- Very good progress tracking, stats and audio quality.
- Available on Desktop, iOS, and Android for free.
- Similar to Lingvist in that it promotes memorization through the use of context and word association hence "cloze" (see: Cloze test).
- Developers say "it aims to answer the question, "What should I do after Duolingo?" and provide a more sentence based and contextual learning experience."
- Available on Desktop, and iOS for free.
- Gamified flashcards - nothing particularly special about it.
- A pre-made German flashcard deck based on the Duolingo course is available. You can also make your own decks.
- Available on Desktop, iOS, and Android for free.
- Pre-made and user-generated material (over 20 million users) means more progression and challenges.
- You can even find courses to correspond with other programs such as Assimil or Duolingo.
- Available on Desktop and Android for free. $24.99 USD on iOS.
- Popular flashcard software with user-made "decks"
- Available on iOS, Android, and Windows Phone for free.
- Similar to Duolingo and Memrise, but made by Jehova's Witnesses.
- Has a really cool interactive grammar section which teaches the user my manipulating a sentence in various ways.
- Available on Desktop, iOS, and Android for free.
- Click on words for their meaning; tracks vocabulary growth
- Allows you to import content using a browser extension to read or listen to in your target language. So you can read and/or listen to current news in your target language.
- There is also a forum for talking with others.
Commercial Language ProgramsEdit
- "With Ease" series is recommended for beginners, which will teach the basic rules of grammar and vocabulary of 2000-3000 words.
- Involves listening to tapes and reading their book. Later on there are exercises to do.
- This method is focused on learning whole sentences, for an organic understanding of the grammar.
- Very good system and easy to use. Can be used to gain a strong foothold in the language.
- 5 levels available covering pronunciation, reading, listening, vocabulary, writing
- Can be used as a beginning tool but is generally considered overpriced and ineffective.
- Very poor for grammar.
- Easy to use though it can take more than an hour to set up and begin using.
- 5 levels totaling 150 30-minute lessons with a focus on speech and conversational ability.
- Easy to use, just open the audio file and repeat.
- Very expensive. Try a free lesson!
- An aural-oral language program for beginners developed by Michael Thomas -- a well known Polish polygot.
- German audio available on youtube
- Michel Thomas teaches you grammar: how to use verbs. You'll have the skeleton of the language in your hands but won't have any vocabulary.
Books and .PDF filesEdit
German English Frequency Dictionary
This German frequency dictionary covers about 95% of all spoken German, and 85% of all written German you will encounter on a daily basis. In the book you will find:
- 2500 most used German words listed by frequency and alphabet
- frequency rankings as part of speech (most used nouns, verbs, adjectives, etc..)
- 2500 German to English example sentences showing word usage
- phonetic spelling of German words with the International Phonetic Alphabet
- Recommended in conjunction with an aural-oral program (Michel Thomas or Pimsleur)
German for Reading
Excellent book for beginners and autodidact's as it assumes no previous knowledge of German. More widely available since the 2nd edition was released in 2015. Still expensive to buy the text, but you can expect to spend 80-120 hours studying its contents which mainly consist of contextual language learning, exercises, and culturally relevant reading examples. It's an excellent complement to audio or oral based programs and courses.
- German for Reading preview
"When you finish German for Reading you should be able to recognize the meanings signaled by all the basic grammatical patterns of German, plus the meanings of about 1200 content words. You will also have developed numerous techniques of reading in a foreign language which will enable you to learn new vocabulary and derive meanings form context without depending totally on a dictionary. You should be able to read a German newspaper or journal with fair to good comprehension or begin the serious study of German literary texts."
- Basic German. A grammar and Workbook By Heiner Schenke and Karen Seago.
- German essential grammar by Bruce Donaldson
- Hammer's German Grammar and Usage by Matin Durrell
- A practice Grammar of German - Hike Dryer, Richard Schmitt (Hueber 2001)
- A compilation of .PDFs and books of grammar, vocabulary, etc.
- The Everything Learning German Book, 2nd Edition - Edward Swick (Adams Media, 2009, 2003)
- Schaum's Outline of German Grammar, 4ed
- German Grammar Sparkcharts
- If you know what you're looking for Book Depository sells a variety of foreign language books, including books and manga in German. And it's free shipping!
- A guide to buying manga in German
- German Graded Readers This is a compilation of books that sometimes you have to read as part of the curriculum in official schools. A lot of them come with the audio files, and you're getting them all for free.
- Dual Language (english/german) edition of Fairy Tales by the Grimm Brothers useful for self-translation available for free.
Useful Websites Edit
- dict.cc should be your go-to DE<->EN dictionary (also supports pronounciation examples for most vocabularies and some other languages like DE<->PL, DE<->FR but in a less complete way)
- leo.org as an alternative to dict.cc
- Beolingus Excellent German <-> English dictionary including pronunciations and example sentences (most of the time.)
- Canoo.net Is a good site for German dictionaries, word formation (conjugation), and sentence grammar.
- Toms Deutschseite A website which mainly teaches grammar and conjugation
- German for English Speakers A nearly-finished complete guide to the German language
- Marathon Sprechen Blog A blog on German grammar concepts. They're not posted in any certain order like Tae Kim is, but the examples and explanations are very helpful.
- Busuu.com really good website to learn german. Has vocab, scentences structuring, convesations to listen to and teaches levels of German from A1-B2
- Collection of grammar worksheets
- german.about.com Wonderful website that covers all things German (such as traditions, etiquette, culture, etc) but in particular: grammar, pronounciation and how to use certain words.
- A Review of German Grammar by Bruce Duncan
- Jabbalab - good grammar resource with very simple explanations
- Uz-translations (a very useful website that you should definitely check out)
YouTube Channels Edit
- Learn German with Antrim - Videos covering a variety of topics related to learning German, including teaching to a child
- Deutsch für Euch - Videos covering a variety of topics related to learning German, especially the quirks of German grammar.
- Slow German mit Annik Rubens - Podcasts in slow German with each episode's transcript available in German.
- Easy Languages / Easy German - Videos in "easy" German (and other langauges) with subtitles in both English and German
- LanguageSheep - Videos with detailed explanations for German pronunciations.
- Learn German with Ania - qt3.14 teaches you German
- Rewboss - British guy living in Germany.
- Get Germanized - Videos about German culture and language for English speakers.
- Bookboxinc - Children's stories with audio and subtitles to read along.
- Germanpod101.com - Listening practice, you can also visit their website for more.
- DW - Deutsch lernen
- Deutschretter - New Language learning channel (uses POV and On-Screen-Teaching)
- Nachrichtenleight News written in easy german. Most articles come with audio which is very useful.
- Nachrichtenwerk News written in easy german.
- Sublearning - learn languages from movie subtitles. Flash cards of movie lines in 62 languages
- (add more if you know them lol)
- A Coffee in Berlin
- Apollo 18
- Daheim sterben d'Leut
- Das Boot
- Das Experiment
- Das Leben der Anderen
- Der Baader Meinhof komplex
- Der Himmel über Berlin
- Der Untergang
- Der Schuh des Manitou
- Die weiße Rose
- Die Welle
- Die Wilden Hühner
- Die Wilden Kerle
- Die Wolke
- Er ist wieder da
- Fack ju Göhte
- Freche Mädchen
- Free Rainer
- Gegen die Wand
- Good Bye Lenin
- Honig im Kopf
- Lola rennt
- Paradies Liebe
- Sophie Scholl: Die letzten Tage
- Soul Kitchen
- Suck My Dick ( https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suck_My_Dick )
- Triumph des Willens
- Vincent will Meer
- Was nicht passt wird passend gemacht
- ORF 2 (Austria)
- ORF III (Austria)
- ServusTV (Austria)
- n-tv (Germany)
- SWR (Germany)
- WRD5 (Germany)
- 3sat (Germany, Austria, Switzerland)
- ARTE (Germany)
- SRF 1 (Switzerland)
- SRF zwei (Switzerland)
Interesting German directors: Michael “Bully” Herbig, Leni Riefenstahl, Jörg Buttgereit, Olaf Ittenbach, Andreas Schnaas, Uwe Boll, Ulli Lommel, Werner Herzog, Wim Wenders, Fatih Akin, Rainer Werner Fassbinder.
- 257ers (Hip-Hop/Rap)
- Alligatoah (Hip-Hop/Pop)
- Angelika Express (Indie Rock)
- Beatsteaks (Punkrock/Indie Rock)
- Bilderbuch (Indie/pop rock)
- Blumio (Hip-Hop)
- Blutengel (Future-Pop)
- Bushido (Hip-Hop/Rap)
- Callejon (Metalcore)
- Casper (Hip-Hop/Rap)
- CRo (Hip-Hop/Pop)
- Darkwood (Neofolk)
- Die Ärzte (Punkrock)
- Die Orsons (Hip-Hop)
- Die Skatoons (Ska)
- Die Toten Hosen (Punkrock)
- Die Weisse Rose (Neofolk)
- EAV (Rock/Pop-Rock)
- Eisbrecher (Elektro / Industrial / Neue Deutsche Härte)
- Equilibrium (Folk metal)
- Falco (Hip-Hop/Rap)
- Faun (Pagan Folk)
- Forseti (Neofolk)
- Hammerhai (Ska-Punk)
- In Scherben (Neofolk)
- K.I.Z. (Hip-Hop)
- Knorkator (Neue Deutsche Härte / Industrial)
- Kollegah (Hip-Hop/Rap)
- Kraftklub (Rap-Rock)
- Kraftwerk (Elektro)
- Lacrimosa (Neue Deutsche Härte / Gothic rock)
- Madsen (Rock)
- Marathonmann (Post-Hardcore)
- Marteria (Hip-Hop/Rap)
- Megaherz (Industrial / Neue Deutsche Härte)
- Nebelung (Neofolk)
- Nena (Neue Deutsche Welle / Synthpop)
- Nina Hagen (WTF-worthy)
- Oomph! (Industrial / Neue Deutsche Härte)
- Peter Fox (Hip-Hop / Raggae)
- Rammstein (Industrial / Neue Deutsche Härte)
- Revolverheld (Rock)
- Saltatio Mortis (Folk Rock/Metal)
- Seeed (Raggae / Dancehall)
- Sido (Rap/Hip-Hop)
- Sonne Hagal (Neofolk / Experimental)
- Sportfreunde Stiller (Indie-Rock)
- Unheilig (Neue Deutsche Härte / Synthrock)
- Vergissmeinnicht (Neofolk)
- We Butter The Bread With Butter (Deathcore / Electro)
- Weekend (Rap/Hip-Hop)
- I have learned a good bit of German by playing video games. Keep a bilingual dictionary at hand (see the 'Other' section way down below) and try to make some German speaking friends on said (online) games. They will help you learn German.
- You can play many console games (such as gameboy advance) on your computer in several different languages. Just be sure that the game supports the language. Many gameboy advance games for example come in a few different languages if the game was published in Europe.
- World of Warcraft can be played for free (with some chat and level restrictions) in German. If you already have a battle.net account with World of Warcraft on it, you aren't able to play on European servers with an American account and vice versa.
- Diablo 2 can be played in German. If you have a Diablo 2 CD key lying around that hasn't been binded to a battle.net account, you can bind it to a European account and download and play it in German (and a few other languages, such as English.)
- Minecraft can be played in German and you can play on many different German speaking servers.
- Many valve titles such as Team Fortress 2 (which is free to play) can be played in German with the ability to play on German servers.
Anime/cartoons (German dubs)Edit
- South Park
- My Little Pony
- Death Note
- Soul Eater
- Alfred J. Kwak
- Darkwing Duck
- Almost all of the Ghibli movies
- Pipi Langstrumpf
- Nils Holgerson
- Biene Maja
- A lot of current anime and manga are licensed and translated to German. Look up Carlsen-Manga, Kaze and the news section of animexx they usually have an up to date article about recent manga releases.
If you have experience learning this language please share it, it's greatly appreciated.
- When learning vocabulary it's important to learn the article as an important part of the word and not just the word by itself. So it's not Hund, but der Hund. Not just Halskette but die Halskette.
- Learn about the High German consonant shift not only will it help you understand a little bit about how German spelling works, but will help your acquisition of cognates. For example, an English D is a T in German, e.g. World -> Welt, Good -> Gut, Word -> Wort, Dance -> Tanz.
- When reading the Graded Readers be sure to read those that are one level above yours. If you're studying A2, try reading those labeled B1. That way you'll be practicing your A2 and learning new things from B1.
- You can easily install German side-by-side with your native language on your phone so when you type you get German results. This is very useful for things like Duolingo and Lingvist though it's sort of like cheating.
Tips for studying word genders:
- When writing out vocabulary or adding nouns to Anki, colour code your words! Blue for masculine nouns, pink for feminine, green for neuter.
- One technique I learnt in class is visualising a male, a female and something considered neuter (let's say ET) along with the noun I'm learning. So David Hasselhoff sits on der Tisch, Angela Merkel opens die Tür and ET drinks das Bier.
- Use this in conjunction with Anki! I use a bunch of kawaii as fuck images I pull from the internet with my cards to remember my genders. Want to remember the gender for die Sandburg? Find a picture of a little girl playing with a sandcastle and stick that in your Anki cards.
- There are also a few hints you can use to recall genders of certain words.
- If you have time, write three stories and use only nouns from one gender for each one. My story for the masculine gender starts like this:
I wake up and my Kopf is on the Tisch. I've fallen asleep on front of the Bildschirm of the Computer. I've fallen asleep over my Kugelschreiber, Radiergummi and Bleistift. I sit up on the Stuhl and I take a look at the Kalender. What Tag is it today? Oh shit, I'm gonna be late. I take my Rucksack from the Boden and throw my Ausweis inside. It's cold today, so I better take my Pullover, my Schal and Handschuh. I get out of the Raum. I can hear a Schrei from my Nachbar. "Mein Gott", I think. They're always fighting. Perhaps I should write them a Brief and put it in their Briefkasten. I drink my Kaffee, clean my Mund and take the Aufzug to go out.
This way, next time you need to remember for example the gender of "Nachbar" all you have to do is remember in which story was the word used. Make the protagonist of the story the same gender as the other objects. For example, if you're a man, you can be the protagonist of the story with masculine nouns. Your mother can be the protagonist of the story with feminine nouns, and something that you know to be neutral (e.g. Mädchen) can be the protagonist of the story with neutral nouns.