14 Easy German Songs That Your Students Will Love
Using German music to teach the language is a great idea—even with beginners!
Easy German songs will give your students something they can really sing along to because they’re not too fast or complex.
These songs use a lot of the basics, including short sentences and easy vocabulary. They’re also repetitive, so it’s easier for beginner German students to catch on and keep up.
And (minus one Sesame Street tune for helpful vocabulary), these were all legitimate hits in Germany!
So look no further—here are 14 simple German songs we think your beginner students will love and learn from.
- 1. “Da Da Da” by Trio
- 2. “Der, die, das” from Sesamstraße
- 3. “Du hast” by Rammstein
- 4. “Komm, gib mir deine Hand” by The Beatles
- 5. “Guten Morgen, Sonnenschein” by Nana Mouskouri
- 6. “Millionär” by Die Prinzen
- 7. “MfG” by Die Fantastischen Vier
- 8. “’54, ’74, ’90, 2006” by Sportfreunde Stiller
- 9. “Atemlos durch die Nacht” by Helene Fischer
- 10. “Tage wie Diese” by Die Toten Hosen
- 11. “Wer kennt den Weg?” by Johnny Cash
- 12. “Helden” by David Bowie
- 13. “Warten und Träumen” by Dusty Springfield
- 14. “99 Luftballons” by Nena
- How to Use Simple German Songs in the Classroom
1. “Da Da Da” by Trio
This ’80s tune also became well-known in the USA. But if you only remember the two-tone beat and the monotone refrain, you may not have even noticed that the rest of the lyrics are actually German!
The song is about the end of a relationship when two people realize they no longer love each other. The song’s most frequently reoccurring line (after “da da da”) is, “Ich lieb’ dich nicht. Du liebst mich nicht,” which means, “I don’t love you. You don’t love me.” The other lyrics are also quite simple and sometimes even transition into English.
This song is also a definite Ohrwurm (earworm). It may make your younger students glad to have missed the ’80s, but they’ll be lying if they say it’s not stuck in their heads after you play it!
2. “Der, die, das” from Sesamstraße
As promised, this is the one children’s song we’ll be discussing. It comes to us through the German version of Sesame Street, called Sesamstraße.
The song encourages listeners to ask questions whenever they’re curious or confused. It rhymes the three main articles, “der, die, das,” with three important question words, “wer, wie, was” (who, how, what), and also introduces “wieso, weshalb, warum,” three different ways to say “why.”
After asking these question words, the song reminds us that “wer nicht fragt, bleibt dumm!” (He who doesn’t ask questions remains dumb!)
Perhaps best for younger beginners, this song will help your students remember the basics of German articles and question words while gaining a glimpse of an important German cultural institution.
3. “Du hast” by Rammstein
Now we’re changing gears entirely.
Rammstein is one of the most popular German hard rock bands. This particular song doesn’t use curse words and has only a passing reference to double-entendre adult content, which can be completely avoided by only playing the song’s first (extremely repetitive) minute or two.
The overall sound probably still makes it inappropriate for young learners, however. Nevertheless, the lyrics are simple, and they can help beginning students understand their first German Wortwitz (language joke). Is Rammstein singing “du hast mich” (you have me), or “du hasst mich” (you hate me)?
It’s impossible to say. But it’s a great opportunity to teach students the importance of distinguishing the single s, double s, and eszett (ß). You can also introduce the simple present conjugations of haben (to have) and hassen (to hate) to compare two similar irregular and regular verbs.
4. “Komm, gib mir deine Hand” by The Beatles
Here’s a song your students might already know. Before reaching international stardom, the Beatles famously got their start in Hamburg’s Reeperbahn district.
Although neither John, Paul, George nor Ringo spoke German fluently, they did roughly translate a few of their songs for local audiences. “I Want to Hold Your Hand” made the cut.
The song uses very simple language such as “du bist so schön” (you are so beautiful) and “in deinen Armen bin ich glücklich” (in your arms I am happy). Students will enjoy hearing a familiar song in a new way, and they’ll be proud that they can follow along with it perfectly.
And, if you introduce this tune around Valentine’s Day, you’ll help show them that yes, the German language can be romantic!
5. “Guten Morgen, Sonnenschein” by Nana Mouskouri
This is the most lyrically complex song on the list, but it still uses enough simple vocabulary and grammar to be appropriate for beginners who’d like a challenge. Beyond that, it’s also incredibly catchy.
The song is about the singer’s desire not to see a fun evening end. She welcomes the rising sun only reluctantly, though the song itself is extremely cheerful.
With lines like “Guten Morgen, guten Morgen, weck mich auf und komm herein,” (Good morning, good morning, wake me up and come in) and “Der Tag öffnet gerade die Augen” (the day is opening its eyes), this song can easily be tied into a discussion of the weather or daily routines.
With its slightly more difficult grammar, the song can also help students who are beginning to learn about relative and dependent clauses. However, the familiar vocabulary and high level of repetition in this song prevent it from going over beginners’ heads.
6. “Millionär” by Die Prinzen
If you had a million dollars, what would you do with it? This question and its answer use the conditional form in German, and examples can be found throughout Die Prinzen’s song “Millionär” (Millionaire).
The lyrics are all about what the singer would do if he were a millionaire. It’s a simple enough message that beginners can definitely understand.
Sure, the song itself is perhaps a bit cheesy with an even cheesier video, but students will surely remember how to use the conditional thanks to this song.
7. “MfG” by Die Fantastischen Vier
One thing most of us never think about is the sheer amount of abbreviations in our daily lives.
Die Fantastischen Vier is a hip hop group from Stuttgart that cleverly put together many common German abbreviations into a song. In fact, the title “MfG” is a common abbreviation in letters and emails for “Mit freundlichen Grüßen” (Kind regards).
There’s no real grammatical lesson here, but it may be helpful for teaching how to pronounce letters. You may even want to research (or have your students research) what each German abbreviation stands for as a more in-depth cultural lesson.
8. “’54, ’74, ’90, 2006” by Sportfreunde Stiller
In 2006, Germany hosted the World Cup, spurring a flood of soccer-related songs. The German national team was the favorite, but ultimately placed third in the tournament. This Sportfreunde Stiller song was everywhere as an unofficial anthem the German people sang that whole summer.
It’s a good way to learn numbers, even if they’re very specific to the years that Germany won the World Cup prior to playing host in 2006. Students can also learn about German soccer vocabulary and history, which can be a good conversation starter for older students.
After Germany lost in 2006, Sportfreunde Stiller created another version for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa (called “’54, ’74, ’90, 2010”). However, Germany placed third place again, so for the 2014 tournament in Brazil, the band didn’t put out another version. Go figure—Germany won the World Cup that year.
9. “Atemlos durch die Nacht” by Helene Fischer
There are some songs that, for some reason, you can’t escape even if you try.
Helene Fischer’s “Atemlos durch die Nacht” (Breathless Through the Night) was definitely one of those songs, even if you didn’t listen to Schlagermusik (pop music).
Perhaps it’s because the song managed to appeal a little bit to a lot of different groups of people. No matter what made it inescapable, the lyrics are very easy to understand and helpful for students learning to use the German present tense.
10. “Tage wie Diese” by Die Toten Hosen
The punk band Die Toten Hosen is so popular in Germany that they sell out stadiums when they go on tour.
Their song “Tage wie Diese” (Days Like These) is one that almost everyone knows and sings along with, whether at a house party or a bar. The lyrics are very descriptive, discussing “days like these” that are so good you don’t want them to end.
With lines like, “Ich warte seit Wochen / auf diesen Tag / und tanz’ vor Freude über den Asphalt” (I’ve been waiting for weeks / for this day / and dance with joy over the asphalt), students can pick up how to use German prepositions like a pro.
11. “Wer kennt den Weg?” by Johnny Cash
Better known in English as “I Walk the Line,” the German version of this Johnny Cash hit is “Wer kennt den Weg?” (literally “Who Knows the Way?”)
The story in both the English and German versions is similar enough, and the German one is an easy way to pick up the accusative case, especially because it includes both definite and indefinite articles.
12. “Helden” by David Bowie
Those who know this song will probably know it better in English as “Heroes.”
This song is a fairly moderately-paced one, but it’s easy enough to pick up German word order, which can sometimes be difficult for students to learn.
Plus, David Bowie sings so clearly that they’ll also be able to easily figure out where one word ends and another begins—great for beginner listening practice!
13. “Warten und Träumen” by Dusty Springfield
Instead of “Wishin’ and Hopin’,” Dusty Springfield is “waiting and dreaming” in German.
Unlike English, German doesn’t have a true present progressive form, so in this translated song students can see how the present tense and infinitive forms are used instead.
You can even review new verbs and/or various forms with some fun classroom activities to add even more engagement to your lesson!
14. “99 Luftballons” by Nena
You probably know this ’80s hit as “99 Red Balloons,” which was translated from this original German song.
In the German version, prepositions are scattered throughout, and the song’s theme is completely different. In English, it’s a fairly harmless song about going to a toy shop and buying 99 red balloons. In German, it’s clearly an anti-war song, where the “Luftballons” (balloons) are a metaphor for bombs.
This song would be a great lead-in for a history lesson, either about Germany or the language itself, or you could tie it into a more culturally-themed lesson.
How to Use Simple German Songs in the Classroom
Whatever task(s) you choose to use with these songs, be sure that students understand all directions before playing the tune. And remember that you may want to play the song a second (or even third) time for them to really hear the lyrics!
When incorporating German songs into your lesson, be sure to:
- Check for understanding. Play the song and ask students to write down words and phrases they hear. This can even be a game—whichever group correctly identifies the most words wins!
- Use supplemental activities. Any words students don’t understand can become a vocabulary lesson. Fill-in-the-blank exercises, asking students to perform the song in groups or other fun classroom games can work as well.
- Consider translation tasks. Ask students to translate the lyrics into English (make sure they don’t simply copy original English lyrics!). This can easily be a “think-pair-share” activity, and you can decide what type of German dictionary students should use.
When I was growing up, the state German conference and competition offered German karaoke as an end-of-year activity for students. If your students become familiar with multiple German songs, you can search YouTube for videos with the Songtext (lyrics) shown and let your students belt it out!
You can also find songs with built-in translations and comprehension tools on German video learning platforms, such as FluentU.
FluentU’s German videos can introduce your students to more easy songs, as well as plenty of other authentic German content.
Each video comes with interactive bilingual subtitles and personalized learning tools like quizzes and virtual flashcard decks, which you can assign to students or leave them to discover on their own.
Make sure to return to your chosen songs down the road, too—your students may be pleasantly surprised by how well they remember the lyrics even after a couple of months!
With these easy German songs and suggested activities, you now have a variety of options for including music in your beginner classes.
No matter what you choose, music is a great way to build students’ confidence, expose them to authentic language materials and have a little fun between verb drills and worksheets. Enjoy!