Interesting German Learning Resources
Whether you’re right at the beginning of your journey to mastering German or you’re an advanced learner who’s preparing to take an exam, these resources contain opportunities for you to practise and improve at all levels.
To help you get started, we’ve organized the learning resources according to categories. Whether you want to work on your pronunciation, listening, vocabulary or reading, there is a resource just waiting for you.
Catching up on the news
The German weekly publication Der Spiegel is possibly the best known German language magazine in the world. Its articles cover a wide range of topics, so you should find something that interests you. However, be warned the style can be quite difficult, so it’s perhaps better suited to higher level learners.
If you’re a lower level learner, try to work your way through one of the news articles on Deutsche Welle, as they tend to be short and succinct.
Alternatively, you can watch the news from the Tagesschau, which also contains some short articles.
This podcast helps you practise your listening in German. Each episode lasts around 30 mins – literally enough time to sit down and have a coffee while listening!
The best part about this is that it helps you not just with your listening but also with your grammar and vocabulary! Each episode is centred around a conversation and then it is broken down part by part, working its way through the vocabulary, grammar and pronunciation.
There is a free version which is just audio based. If you want access to exercises, grammatical explanations and vocabulary sheets, then you’ll need to sign up for the paid version.
The Tagesschau website contains the news in several formats, including a 100 seconds programme, the morning news, and the evening news. There are also individual video reports. However, in the case of the news programmes, they’re all available with subtitles, so you can check your understanding by reading and listening at the same time!
This does exactly what it says on the tin! You can listen to the news being spoken slowly and clearly in German, so it’s particularly helpful for lower level learners. There are also explanations of cultural and grammatical aspects to the language as well as accompanying worksheets. However, to take advantage of the worksheets, you do need to subscribe, though listening to the news spoken slowly is free and there is a new episode every week!
For those who are real beginners and right at the start of their language learning journey, the Goethe institute has an excellent free audio course called Radio D, which introduces you to the language. Follow the link and subscribe via iTunes or your podcast provider.
To get started, you’ll need to get your head around the basics. So head over to The German Project, where you can get an idea of the basic sounds with good, clear examples.
For examples and explanations of some of the more trickier sounds, head on over to this blog post where you can work your way through some of the more advanced sounds that make German so unique.
If you’re after a simple and succinct overview of German grammar, check out the BBC Bitesize page which covers all the basics and gets straight to the point. It particularly works well as a grammar reference, filled with explanations and examples. There are even some practice activities.
This site offers a simple, clear and informative overview of German grammar. Organized according to grammatical topic, choose an area and then choose a sub area to find a detailed explanation, concrete examples as well as tables of reference. What’s more, at the bottom of each page there is an exercise for you to practise putting that aspect of grammar into use!
For those who like to dig their teeth into more chunky grammatical explanations, following the format of traditional grammar books, filled with examples, then check out this grammar reference by Dartmouth College.
For lower level learners, it can be hard to find texts to practise your reading skills. Luckily, German.net has a series of short texts written especially for lower level learners. Each text has a series of multiple choice questions following it, which lets you not just check your understanding but also improve on your reading skills at the same time.
For those who aren’t so interested in reading stories and novels, Deutsche Welle has an excellent topical series called Top Thema. It’s aimed at intermediate level learners and originally it is centred around listening practice, but all of the lessons contain a transcript of the text, which you can read. Each topic contains a glossary with explanations and examples as well as a comprehension exercise to check how much you have understood!
For more advanced learners looking for a challenge, head to the German newspaper Die Zeit. The articles there are notorious for being written in complicated high German. If you’re looking for a particularly challenging read, check out their Freitext section, written by talented authors covering a wide range of topics.
Possibly one of the most underrated dictionaries online, WordReference should be bookmarked by all German learners. Not only is this dictionary free and contains heaps of examples to help you understand how a word is used in context, but it also has its very own image searcher! You just click on the word “Bilder” and you’ll be taken to a Google image search for that word, which should help you better understand it.
While Linguee is available in many languages, it is particularly good for German learners. The dictionary is built on example translations, so when you type in a word, not only do you get a good set of translations laid out in order of popularity, but you also get full sentence examples of how the word or phrase has been translated elsewhere online!
One of the most popular language learning apps, Duolingo is famous for the quirky sentences it makes you read, say and complete. The idea is that the stranger the sentence is, the more chance you’ll have of committing the word or phrase to memory. New vocabulary is taught with flashcards, grammar is explained with little speech bubbles, you practise and repeat throughout the unit and then at the end of the level there’s a test. If you pass the test, then you can move on to the next level. There’s some gamification, as you’re encouraged to score points, maintain your daily language learning streak and compete against your friends.
Less of a language learning app and more of a memory aid, Memorize can be used to learn just about anything! However, it’s most popular with language learners, some of which have made some of the courses available for free in this app! There are also courses prepared by Memrise. Whatever course you go for, what they all have in common is the memorize method: you see a few words or phrases, you repeat them and reproduce them, and then you’re quizzed on them. There are several built in tools to help you know how many times you’ve come across a word and how often you need to see it to commit it to memory.
This app breaks learning a language down into bite sized chunks. In each unit you learn a small amount of vocabulary, apply it to a conversation, practise listening, reading and pronouncing the word, then you finish off by completing a small conversation, which is recorded and sent off for community feedback. The material has been professionally prepared by McGraw Hill Education, so you know you’re getting good quality stuff. The levels covered are from A1 to B2, so perfect for anyone who’s an absolutely beginner to an upper-intermediate learner and all in between.
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