Hey, reading is great.
But you can only learn so much German from just reading.
At some point, you’ve gotta diversify.
So let’s work on your listening skills.
Don’t worry, it’s not as tough a transition as you think!
You don’t even have to worry about losing your page.
You can pick up from where you left off by switching on the audiobook version of your latest favorite text.
You can even use the text version to follow along.
Never used German audiobooks before? No problem!
In this post, we’re going to look at how you can use audiobooks to boost your German learning, where you can find them and five special audiobooks that are perfect for learners.
But first, what exactly is the deal with audiobook learning?
Why Learn German with Audiobooks?
Okay, first things first—why even bother using audiobooks in your language learning? Well, for starters, you can be very flexible with them. You can listen to them while you’re busy with jobs around your home, such as cooking or cleaning. But at the same time, you don’t have to do this. You might want to listen to them in bed or in another more relaxed environment so that you can focus fully on them.
Secondly, listening to audiobooks is a great way to let the German language just wash over you. Even if you aren’t concentrating fully, you’ll still find that you pick up vocabulary and grammar structures. It’s worth bearing in mind that, at least occasionally, you should deliberately try to focus while listening to remember even more vocab and grammar points (more on this below).
The final reason why it’s such a good idea to try and learn German with audiobooks is that there’s a huge selection. No matter what types of books you prefer, you’ll always be able to find an audiobook that interests you.
How to Learn German with Audiobooks
First, to find the best audiobooks for you, you need to know how to hunt down books that are suitable for your level of German.
Most online book stores will give a little snippet of their audiobooks so that you can get a flavor of the text and story. If you listen to this and realize that you don’t understand a word, it’s necessary to move on to a different book. Ideally, you need to find an audiobook that’s challenging but still possible to listen along to.
Most schools and colleges will have audiobooks that they rent out to students. If yours does, it’s worth asking teachers for their recommendations, as they’ll have a good idea as to which books you’ll be able to handle at your current level.
So, as I’ve previously mentioned, you could simply sit back and hope that you absorb all of the German that you hear, but you really need a better strategy for focused learning to make the most of audiobooks.
Here are a couple of simple techniques for learning German with audiobooks:
- One neat idea is to keep a list of all the German words in an audiobook that you hear but don’t understand. Be sure to return to review this list of words and listen again until they start to stick.
- It’s also worth finding a printed copy of the book so that you can read along while you’re listening. (Just be aware that if you’re reading a book that’s been translated into German, the audiobook will differ if it’s not made using the same translation.) This is especially useful for beginner and intermediate learners, as it can ensure that you’re able to follow the story. Plus, it’ll also give your reading skills a nice little boost!
If you find that listening to audiobooks doesn’t really seem to do any good at first, keep at it—listening practice takes time, and you’ll find that your listening comprehension improves slowly but surely.
Where to Find German Audiobooks
Okay, so now that you know just how great German audiobooks are, it’s time to source some! Here are the best places to go.
- YouTube. You already know that YouTube is a great source of German videos. But did you know that you can also find German audiobooks? It’s a great place to find old audiobooks that are no longer in circulation.
- Amazon.com. In addition to finding German-language audiobooks on Amazon.de, you’ll often be able to find them from third-party sellers on Amazon.com, which may be more convenient for you depending on where you live.
- Amazon.de. Amazon.de is the German version of Amazon. It’ll feature all the usual things that you would expect to find on Amazon. There’s just one catch—everything will be in German!
- Audible.de. Audible.de is the German version of Audible.com, Amazon’s audiobook producer. So you can expect to find all your favorite audiobooks in German here!
- MosaLingua. MosaLingua is a program you can use to learn German that focuses on putting words and phrases into context. With the web version, you get access to plenty of content selected specially for learners in their library, which includes German books and their audio versions.
- Thalia.de. Thalia is a popular bookstore chain found in German towns and cities. Their online shop also features a wide range of audiobooks.
- Spotify. Spotify is known as being one of the best music streaming services, but you can find a good selection of audiobooks on the platform, too. Search for the German title to make sure you find the German-language version.
Up Your Language Skills with 5 Powerful German Audiobooks
Here are some German audiobooks that are really worth plugging into!
“Der Wald” (The Forest)
“Der Wald” is part of a series of books aimed at young native speakers of German learning to read their own language. Now it’s also available in an audiobook format. This is a great option for any beginner German learners.
The Harry Potter Series
J.K. Rowling’s fantasy series was popular in Germany, too. That means you’ll have no problems when it comes to sourcing some Harry Potter audiobooks.
Amazon.de is a great place to start as they often have deals on offer. Thalia and Audible will also offer every book in the series. As all the books in the series are YA, these are very useful for beginner and intermediate level learners. They’ll be challenging but not too difficult to listen to! It’s also worth watching the films to complement your audiobook listening.
“Die Verwandlung” (The Metamorphosis)
Franz Kafka’s short novel is one of the most famous in German literature. The book is often used in German and literature classes, so you’ll be able to find lots of resources to help you with it.
As the book is now over a hundred years old, the language used gives you a great glimpse into how language was used in the past, which should give you an idea of how the language has developed over the decades. By looking at this and understanding German’s development over time, you should get a better grasp of how modern German works.
This audiobook is more suitable for intermediate and advanced learners, as some of the vocabulary and grammar structures may be more difficult to understand at first. You’ll be able to find the audiobook version at the likes of Amazon.de and Audible.de, but you can also get it for free on YouTube.
“Sturmhöhe” (Wuthering Heights)
Another really well-known novel, “Wuthering Heights” is by British author Emily Brontë, and there’s a good chance that you’ll have seen one of the recent movie or TV adaptations.
It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the plot of this book before you launch yourself into the translated audiobook version. It’s quite complex, and as the book is over 150 years old, you’ll find that the German used is more dated than that in “Die Verwandlung.”
Challenging yourself with old German is a great way to improve your language skills as it gives you a broader view of the German language and its history. Plus, you’ll find that there are still a few old German terms and sentence structures used in legal German. Making yourself familiar with them will really help your fluency if you ever need to deal with German in a legal situation.
This is a great audiobook choice for those with advanced level German, and you can find it on Thalia.
“Der Sandmann” (The Sandman)
“The Sandman” is a short story written by E.T.A. Hoffmann, who’s considered to be one of the greats of German literature. This one is suitable for intermediate and advanced German learners. This is another German book that’s widely taught in schools and colleges (in its German and English versions), so you’ll be able to easily find resources to help you understand the story.
You’ll also find that older texts, such as “Der Sandmann,” and the other older books in this list, use the special subjunctive mood a lot more frequently than in modern German. You’ll find plenty of examples of this sentence mood throughout the book to help your understanding of it. You can download the German audiobook for free on Amazon by signing up for an Audible trial.
So, as you can see, the range of German audiobooks on offer from all the usual sites and platforms is very wide and varied. And the more you try out, the more you’ll realize just how great audiobooks are for improving your German language skills.
What are you waiting for, then? Time to hit the play button right now!
Laura Harker is a freelance writer based in North Yorkshire, U.K.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn German with real-world videos.