So, you’re finally getting a chance to visit Germany.
A trip to Berlin to check out the Brandenburg Gate and Checkpoint Charlie.
You might even snap a picture by the old Berlin Wall.
Then it happens: A friend of yours has a few drinks at a beer hall, and he decides to strike up a conversation with some friendly-looking locals across the way.
It’s exciting to you, yet a little nerve-wracking.
Will all those hours of learning German at home serve you well?
Is there any chance you can whip out your phrasebook for a quick cram session?
Nope! It’s now or never.
The conversation goes well for a bit, but then your moment of fate arrives.
Friendly German local: Wie alt bist du? (How old are you?)
You: Ich bin sswanssig Jahre alt. (I am 20 years old.)
That cursed American accent rings off the beer steins, as everyone has a good laugh at your hard S used to pronounce the word zwanzig.
“What a silly mistake,” you think, immediately bopping your head in the realization that the German Z is pronounced like “ts.”
Okay, so it’s not that big of a deal if a little mispronunciation rolls off your tongue.
In fact, it can serve as a funny way to continue a conversation.
However, as a German learner, you may find these situations frustrating after all that hard work.
Therefore, we recommend having a German audio dictionary as part of your language learning arsenal.
What’s the Point of Having a German Audio Dictionary?
Besides impressing some locals, coming home with a study buddy or even showing off to a crush while on your travels, an audio dictionary has quite a few other benefits:
- You get to hear what the words sound like without guessing. It took me a while to understand that the I sound is generally pronounced with a word where I is after E, like Wein (wine). Whereas the hard E is pronounced when placed after the I, like with Bier (beer). Having an audio dictionary can help you spot these patterns from the beginning.
- Phonetics are often boring and hard to understand. If you’re aware of what phonetics look like in English, you’re in for an even more complicated surprise in German. Check out this sentence with the phonetics included: Haben Sie Zimmer im Erdgeschoss? (Do you have any bedrooms on the ground floor?) [ˈha:bən zi: ˈtsɪmɐ ɪm ˈe:ɐ̯tgəʃɔs] It’s almost like a different language in itself. For this reason, you may understandably prefer to rely on audio examples.
- Since listening is a huge part of communicating in German, your learning advances quicker with audio. People typically learn languages faster when they start listening and speaking earlier, as opposed to only taking tests, reading and learning grammar. With FluentU, you can make audio a regular part of your language learning at any level. FluentU takes real-world videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
- You can even use it to communicate with people while on your travels, having them listen to the audio. This is a last ditch effort, but sometimes you’ll find yourself in a travel situation where the other person simply can’t understand the word you’re trying to pronounce. In this case, you can take out the audio dictionary, look up the word and play it for the other person.
7 German Audio Dictionaries That Are Yours for the Taking
The Dict.cc website is a valuable tool that you can bring up on your smartphone, tablet or computer. It supports a wide range of languages, but we linked directly to the German dictionary for a quicker process. Type in a German or English word in the top search bar to see the results. It will provide translations, if you’re trying to also look up the meaning of a word, and find translations in German.
Audio pronunciations are given in both English and German, along with synonyms, common phrases and compound words. What’s especially interesting is that users can submit their own pronunciations, so if you see a word that you think should be said differently, go ahead and record it.
The Lexilogos audio dictionary pulls from dozens of other sources across the Internet. It’s a great place to start if you’re interested in seeing how various dictionaries differ from each other. All you have to do is type in a word you’re having trouble with and select the dictionary that you find most useful.
Most of the links have audio pronunciations, and you’ll find that some of the dictionaries we link to here are actually included in the list.
The Im Translator site serves as an audio dictionary and text-to-speech translator. This means that you can punch in longer phrases to see how they sound in a German voice. Therefore, typing in an English sentence is fine, because it will convert it to German. After that, you’ll hear the German version of the sentence spoken to you.
Just be aware that some of your longer sentences will give you results similar to those you find on a tool like Google Translate. However, the voices sound authentic and can prove helpful in some situations.
Forvo is definitely one of the more popular audio dictionaries on the market. If nothing else, it’s certainly the cleanest-looking site to go to for audio. They even have iPhone and Android apps for you to bring along with you during your travels. We enjoy the interface because it offers new words that you may want to pronounce, along with the most popular terms that people are searching for right now.
Translations are provided if you type in a word in English, and a map is shown to give you audio clips of how people say the particular word in varying dialects. For example, someone in Bavaria may sound a little different than someone living up in Berlin.
Here’s another option if you’re one of those folks who likes having a solid app on your phone for these situations. The German Dictionary app has translations and pronunciations, all of which can be searched for on the mobile interface. An iPad app is offered as well, for studying your pronunciations on the couch.
The app works like a regular dictionary, listing parts of speech, synonyms and phrases with the word. Each of the German translations and phrases include links to audio clips, directly improving your understanding of the German language from your phone.
Since we live in a mobile world, it makes sense to recommend a few German audio dictionary apps. That way, you can select the one that seems best for your needs. The German Dictionary English Free with Sound app has a simple search bar for discovering both English and German words. Dozens of results come up for each inquiry, along with an audio reading.
We like that you can change around the settings, making the voices speak faster, slower, louder or in a different pitch.
Bravolol has both an iPhone and Android app, and it contains over 300k German words and phrases. Example sentences are provided, and the audio pronunciations are clear and accurate. The flexible search is completed in either English or German. Spelling suggestions are interesting for those who are trying to write in German as well.
Although they say German pronunciations are often similar to English, constantly thinking that can get you in a bit of trouble.
So give these German audio dictionaries a try, and next time you get the chance, you can make people think you’re a German native!
And One More Thing…
Remember how we mentioned FluentU earlier?
Well, let’s take a closer look.
Just a brief glimpse can give you an idea of the variety of content found on FluentU:
Other sites use scripted content. FluentU uses a natural approach that helps you ease into the German language and culture over time. You’ll learn German as it’s actually spoken by real people.
FluentU brings native videos within reach using interactive transcripts.
Just tap on any subtitled word to see an in-context definition, usage examples and a helpful illustration.
Learn all the vocabulary in any video with FluentU’s Learn Mode. Simply swipe left or right to see more examples of the word you’re on.
The best part is that FluentU keeps track of the vocabulary that you’re learning, and it recommends examples and videos to you based on the words you’ve already learned. Every learner has a truly personalized experience, even if they’re learning the same video.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn German with real-world videos.