I started learning German almost a year ago. Mostly out of curiosity, because outside of taking Spanish in high school, I never attempted to learn another language. Why German? My wife took German in high school, we’ve both been to Germany and love the country in general. The language is also just fun to speak.
This is going to be a sort of living document of all the resources that I’m currently using to learn the language. I do want to note: I’m not looking to be fluent any time soon, if ever. I’m just trying to learn the language casually and have fun with it. There are definitely better paths to take if becoming fluent quickly is the goal.
That all being said, if you have any suggestions, I’d love to hear them! Especially books, TV shows, or podcasts. I will happily check them out.
Courses and apps
These are what I’m spending the most of my time on when learning German. There are a lot of online courses, in person courses, and apps out there, but right now, these are what I’m using.
Duolingo is currently what I’m using the most. There are likely a lot of apps out there that may be better for learning a language properly, but I think it does a lot of things well. It’s very polished, and I can tell they are putting a lot of thought into making language learning fun for the general population.
I’m planning on writing an in depth review of Duolingo after a year of using it. Right now, though, the best thing I think it does is that it helps build a habit. It’s fun. The streak feature has ingrained a need to at least do something every day. I also really enjoy the stories. They’re really well done, and I feel I learn more in context from them than I do from the normal exercises.
I do find it does lack in a specific area: Grammar. I haven’t had much experience with other language courses in the path, but for German, I feel like I need to infer a lot from the exercises. Previously, when they had the tree format, they had explanations for each lesson that sometimes included grammar information. Now, with the path, they have them for each unit, but it feels like they’ve cut a lot of content in that regard. If there was one thing I would want to see improved in the app, it would be special grammar lessons in each unit, either for review or explaining a new concept.
Deutsche Welle (DW) – Nico’s Weg
Deutsche Welle (DW) is an international broadcaster in Germany. They also provide courses and materials for learning German. The one course of theirs that I have been using is Nico’s Weg.
Nico’s Weg is a full movie they made and built a course around it using video and audio clips. I haven’t put a lot of time into it, but I’ve found it to be high quality and an excellent resource.
I’ve picked up a couple of books to help fill in some gaps and provide more ways to study and interact with the language.
Dino Lernt Deutsch
Dino Lernt Deutsch is the first book I bought up for learning German. It is an anthology of short stories using a basic vocabulary and short sentences. The stories follow a young man from Italy, who is now living in Germany, through a variety of everyday situations. The edition I have contains the first four episodes of the anthology, but there are many more that can be bought individually or in other collector’s editions.
I’m planning on utilizing these books more, as they are a lot of fun and remind me a lot of Duolingo stories.
English Grammar for Students of German
English Grammar for Students of German is more of a reference book for me. It provides explanations of German grammar from the perspective of English. I haven’t delved too deep into this one, but the chapters I’ve read through have been helpful.
Easy German is a YouTube channel that, in the simplest terms, stops and talks about different topics with Germans on the street (in German). All the content is very approachable, and I believe learners of all levels can gain something from their videos. For me, I just enjoy hearing Germans speak German. After spending a lot of time listening to words and phrases in isolation in a course, it’s nice to hear conversational German. I definitely don’t understand all of it, but it’s reassuring when I hear something that I do understand that what I’m doing to learn is actually working.
Easy German again here. I think I listened to their podcast before I watched any of their videos. The podcast follows a different format than their videos, in that, the hosts just talk about different topics. What’s nice is that it’s audio only, and they speak very clearly and at a slightly slower cadence. I mostly listen to these episodes as background noise, but it’s a great feeling when I pick up words and phrases that I know and understand.
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