Worried about taking a break from studying German? Here are lots of ways to keep your skills sharp! Viel Spaß!
Keeping up with your German should be fun! Find something you like to do, and do it in German! This might be reading comics, listening to soccer podcasts, cooking or baking, doing yoga, discovering new bands, watching dramatic shows…whatever you like! The list below includes a mix of authentic resources (created for German speakers) and materials created for German language learners.
- Netflix and Amazon Prime have a growing collection of German-language films and series. (Check out “Babylon Berlin” or “Dark” on Netflix and “You are Wanted” on Amazon). Even if you watch films with English subtitles, as long as you’re listening to the German while reading, you are helping your language skills and being exposed to new and familiar vocabulary and grammatical structures. These films are always changing, but you’re sure to find something you like! (Another tip: for many popular American shows on Netflix you can click on the bottom right to change the language to German!)
- Web series like DRUCK on YouTube – “Liebe, Freundschaft und die eigene Identität – das ist DRUCK. Deine Serie – in Echtzeit, immer dann, wenn etwas passiert.”
- Stream German TV: Want to put on German TV while you’re having breakfast? For a live stream of channels like ARD, ZDF, VOX, RBB, arte, and more, check out Schoener-Fernsehen.
- Quiz shows like “Wer weiß denn sowas?” (ARD) – entertaining and easy to follow!
- Keep up on the news: The standard is the nightly Tagesschau at 20 Uhr. This 20 minute recap will get you caught up on world events (with German captions). If you feel like Deutschlandfunk (radio) or Tagesschau (nightly news) are just a bit too fast for you, check out the podcast Langsam gesprochene Nachrichten from Deutsche Welle, available (free!) on iTunes or nachrichtenleicht (easy news for adults). If you’re feeling more ambitious, you can try some of the thematic Deutsche Welle podcasts (just search for Deutsche Welle on iTunes). They are also free, and a great way to combine whatever you’re interested in (politics, science, music, literature, etc.) with German!
- One student’s inspiring story of learning German in a year: The Lernen to Talk Show. Mickey Mangan made a video every week of his year in Germany, added subtitles, and you can watch how he progresses! There are some really amusing episodes that really show what it’s like to be learning a language abroad!
- EasyGerman videos on YouTube: Interviews with people in the streets. If you’re looking for a funny episode, check out the ones at Karneval in Köln.
- DW Film Nicos Weg – created for German learners.
- Learn German with the “Bandtagebuch” from EINSHOCH6 (Deutsche Welle)
- DW’s Telenovela “Jojo sucht das Glück” is relatively simple German, a short “soap opera” of sorts about a Brazilian woman who moves to Germany. “Sie hat sich verliebt: in jemanden, den sie noch nie gesehen hat. Wird sie ihn treffen?”
- Extr@, also a telenovela of sorts about Sam, an American who moves to Germany, and his interactions with several roommates in a Berlin WG. Has easy German and German subtitles! Start with Episode 1 on YouTube.
- The German Department at U of Michigan also has a huge list of ways to watch German online, check out this list here.
- Watch a telenovela like Rote Rosen – set in Lüneburg! Episodes are available to stream for free.
- Queerblick – a Media project for LGBT* youth. This YouTube channel includes short films made by young people in Germany
- German public television: Did you know you can watch German TV online for free?
- If you have a Spotify account, check out the channel “Germany top 50” or other playlists from Goethe Institut (search: Goethe Institut)
- Listen to Radio Stations in Germany
- YouTube playlists of German Music created by previous TAs: “Let’s Go Zoo”, 2020 Playlist
- Each March we have a “März Musik” competition with German music. Check out the playlists for previous years and enjoy getting to know some new German songs: Playliste 2020, Playliste 2021, Playliste 2022
- Find your new favorite German artist: how about German American rapper Casper (try Hinterland), Revolverhead (Immer in Bewegung), Jennifer Rostock (Die guten alten Zeiten), Montreal (Das falsche Pferd), and some classics: Herbert Grönemeyer (Mensch), Nena (99 Luftballons, Willst du mit mir gehen), or real classics like Marlene Dietrich (Sag mir wo die Blumen sind) and Marlene Dietrich and Hildegard Knef, singing Ich hab noch einen Koffer in Berlin. Click here for a list of the Top 10 Singers from Germany from Deutsche Welle.
- Listen to German tunes: There are many YouTube channels called “Deutsche Musik” or “die schönste deutsche Popmusik“.
- Use Audible to find new books to listen to or books that you have already read. You can adjust the speed of the reader if that helps comprehension.
- Follow a German podcast or two: check out the Podcast Charts for ideas. Other tips:
- Rice und Shine – “Wir wollen die vielen Geschichten und Perspektiven vietnamesischer Menschen in Deutschland sichtbar machen, mit persönlichen Anekdoten, viel Liebe und Humor.”
- Halbe Katoffl – “Der Halbe Katoffl Podcast ist eine Gesprächsreihe mit Deutschen, die nicht-deutsche Wurzeln haben. Die Halben Katoffln sprechen über ihre Erfahrungen, ihre Storys, ihr Leben.”
- Feuer und Brot – “gesellschaftlich relevante, popkulturelle und persönliche Themen wie z.B. Rap, Feminismus, Kulturelle Aneignung, Männlichkeit”
- Matatu Podcast – “Der deutschsprachige Afro-Podcast”
- Sign up for the Goethe Institut OnLeihe App and you can check out audiobooks, magazines, newspapers, and e-Books for free! (You have to make an account, but it’s free!)
- Looking for book recommendations? Here are some tips for language learners:
- Graphic novels: Olivia Vieweg’s Schwere See, mein Herz (a coming-of-age story set in northern Germany), or Mawil’s Kinderland (story of a young boy who plays ping pong in East Germany)
- Fantasy novels by Cornelia Funke (Tintenherz) or Michael Ende (Momo); or the fantasy book series Liebe geht durch alle Zeiten by Kerstin Gier; RAVNA – Tod in der Arktis by Elisabeth Hermann
- Classic books of children’s literature: Janosch, Oh wie schön ist Panama, or Otfried Preußler’s Krabat.
- 21st century youth literature classics: Wolfgang Herrendorf, Tschick , Klaus Kordon, Krokodil im Nacken (German-German history), Ursula Poznanski, Erebos (thriller) or Saeculum, books by Kirsten Boie
- Discover a new author by checking out these German authors who have won awards for their lifelong work in children’s/youth literature: Cornelia Funke, Gudrun Pausewang, Klaus Kordon, Andreas Steinhöfel, Mirjam Pressler
- Discover an award-winning book by looking at the winners of the Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis (some books appear in translation)
- Check out the books recommended with the “Kimi Siegel” – for diversity in German youth literature – such as Rafik Schami, Sami und der Wunsch nach Freiheit, Anne Freytag, Den Mund voll ungesagter Dinge
Affordable books from Germany can often be purchased through book import services such as Book Depository or Blackwell’s.
- Try reading part (or all) of a German translation of something you’ve already read in English. Doing so helps with vocabulary acquisition since you already know the story. You can order German copies of various books from Amazon.de or BookDepository and can find most anything, from Twilight (auf Deutsch: Bis(s) zum Morgengrauen) to Harry Potter (auf Deutsch: Harry Potter und der Stein der Weisen) to more canonized literature. Just do an author search and see what you can find!
- Find a (free) German e-Book! Just search for “German” on Amazon kindle. Many classics are free, or you can get books like Harry Potter as well. Check out the free children’s book Grimms Deutsche Sagen.
- Want simpler texts? Some students enjoy this series about Dino, an Italian learning German in Berlin: Café in Berlin. Check out book 1 of 8 here. (Available as Kindle Book!)
- Read children’s literature: Check out this list of “Zehn deutsche Kinderbuch-Klassiker” and order one online. Some favorites are the author Janosch, and his Oh wie schön ist Panama.
- There are hundreds (maybe even thousands) of free e-books available on amazon.com, amazon.de, and amazon.co.uk. “The German Professor” has a helpful list of how to download free e-books.
- Deutsche Welle also has a list of free and paid German e-books with instructions
- Deutsche Welle – DW is a radio station, but like NPR, they post a lot of stories online. They have excellent resources for learners of German. If you like their facebook page, called Learn German with DW.de, you can get all sorts of interesting things on your newsfeed, like question prompts, news stories, etc. DW’s German XXL page also offers news articles with words you might not know highlighted and glossed in German, as well as lots of videos.
- Logo! die Kindernachrichten – A news site for children with simplified language and images that help comprehension.
- Other newspapers: Süddeutsche Zeitung, Frankfurter Allgemeine, Die ZEIT
- Check out other periodicals for college-age students in Germany, both on their websites and on Facebook:
- Rent German Children’s Books: – Do you have a child in your life? Or just want some easy, fun reading? Check out “KinderBooks” – a company based in NYC that rents German children’s books for a monthly fee.
- Check out language learning communities in or near your town. Many cities have a German Stammtisch or conversation group. Meetup.com is a great place to start!
- Talk to yourself or to your pets! (No one is listening but you!)
- Online language learning communities like The Mixxer or lang-8 hook you up with a language buddy. You teach them English, they teach you German (or whatever language you want to learn) via Skype, e-mail, or another mode of communication.
- Start a Vlog and speak in German. Get inspired by the Lernen to Talk Show – a student who kept track of his own language process during his year abroad.
- Keep a journal for 15 minutes each day and write as best you can about what’s on your mind – what you did today, what you might do if you won a million dollars, a description of your best friend, a description of your room, a creative story or poem – the more you write, the more comfortable writing will feel!
- Find a pen pal from your class and promise to exchange texts, handwritten letters or e-mails every couple of weeks or every month.
- For grammar inquiries & practice: Grimm Grammar
- Get a penpal! Find someone in your class and promise to exchange letters every so often, or check out some websites such as Penpal World or Interpals. Writing with someone in Germany can be so much fun, and really improve your writing and reading.
- Chat with a chatbot – in German! Check out Cleverbot
- The Kalamazoo Library subscribes to Mango Languages
- Duolingo is great for introductory students to learn new vocab and review past vocabulary.
- Babbel is similar to Duolingo, but has more complex phrases and speech recognition to help with pronunciation
- Heiße Kartoffel from Goethe Institut – to review vocabulary
- Deutsch.land.flug – Vocab game app
- Deutschland.Kennen.Lernen. – App from Goethe Institut for learning about culture
- Deutschtrainer from Deutsche Welle – videos with vocab lists and grammar activities
- YouTube is an amazing resource for grammar review. Check out accounts like Learn German with Anja, Learn German with Herr Antrim, or Grammatik mit Herrn Schwab
- Lingolia: Website with grammar overview, explanations, and sample exercises (some are available for free, others are behind a paywall)
- For review, Quizlet has lists of the Most Common German Verbs, Most Common Adjectives, etc.
- GermanZone.org: An Online Workbook for Learning German, is a collection of free online activities for learners of German, especially English-speaking learners of German.
- Deutsch perfekt (from Die Zeit) – professional journalism and language training, with grammar, audio, vocabulary resources – they also have an app. Check out the exercises like this one on possessives
- Twitter accounts to follow:
- Instagram accounts to follow to learn German:
- Facebook pages to like for German learning
- Facebook pages to like for traveling to Germany
- Facebook pages to like for news (German and international)
- DW (Deutsch) – Deutsche Welle, German radio service; news and cultural commentary
- Süddeutsche Zeitung Magazin (German and international news)
- ZEIT ONLINE and ZeitMagazin (German and international news, cultural commentary)
- tagesschau (German and international news)
- Der Postillion (satirical news, very much like the Onion)
- Buzzfeed Deutschland
- Deutschlandfunk (like NPR)