What are your biggest fears?
Flying? The dentist? Maybe spiders or heights?
I bet German grammar features quite highly on your list of nightmares too!
One of the best ways of dealing with your fears, though, is to tackle them head on—there’s actually quite a bit of science that backs this theory up!
So why not go head to head with your fear of German grammar and utilize movies to help you combat this fiendish language?
Feeling ready for a challenge? Then think about settling down in front of a couple of German horror movies for the ultimate spooky evening. Even if you end up watching from behind the sofa, you’ll still find that they’re incredibly useful in your German learning.
If you’re prepared to be brave, then read on to find why and how you should learn your German with horror movies.
Why Learn German with Horror Movies?
Watching German horror movies is a fun way to learn—well, watching any German movie is a fun way to learn—and you’ll quickly become so absorbed in the story that you may even forget that you’re watching for educational purposes.
There are many more practical reasons for watching movies too, such as being exposed to German as it’s spoken by native speakers.
As the movies are intended for a German-speaking public, all the actors are speaking at a regular speed. Even though some of the movies in the following list are silent ones, they’ll still help with your German as you can read and study the intertitles. In actuality, if you’re a beginner learner, it’s probably a good idea to start off with the silent movies. Then you can build your way up to the fast-paced dialogue in all the other films.
Don’t forget that there’s also a great non-linguistic bonus to watching movies—you’ll experience German culture and increase your understanding of the country and its people. Not only are the movies themselves fascinating examples of German culture, but between the high-adrenaline scenes they can portray life in German-speaking countries very accurately.
How to Learn German with Horror Movies
One of the best ways to learn using horror movies is to watch them as much as possible so that you absorb a lot of the vocabulary. You’ll be able to recite all the lines along with the actors, eventually!
While you’re watching, note down any words that you don’t fully understand so that you can look them up afterward.
When it comes to watching a silent film with intertitles, pause the movie as soon as the text flashes up on the screen. Then see if you can write down what you saw, word for word, from memory. This is a great way to pick up new vocab and grammar constructions.
There’s nothing better than watching a few spooky movies together with friends, so why not get a few of your buddies together for a scary German session. Draw the curtains, turn off the lights and pick one of your favorite horror movies to scare yourself silly with.
Here’s one fun game that will help improve your German, putting both your wits and vocabulary to the test: Try not to scream or jump throughout the entire movie. If anyone does, then they have to do a quick linguistic challenge. Beginners should list five new words that they’ve learned so far from the film. Intermediate and advanced learners should try and explain in German what frightened them so much.
The learning doesn’t have to end as soon as the movie does. One way to take things further is to have a go at writing your own sequel to the movie. Writing a script in German is a great way to test your writing skills. You can do this one your own or team up with some of your friends if you watched the movie together. Even beginners can write a nice script. As scripts are mostly just dialogue, the sentences shouldn’t be too difficult to construct. If you feel like a challenge, you could always write your sequel as a short story, making sure you use lots of complex sentences and grammar.
5 Spooky German Horror Movies for Only the Bravest Language Learners
Readers be warned: These movies may be too scary, weird or graphic for many viewers. That’s the nature of horror movies—they’re designed to horrify! Be sure to read about the movies thoroughly (here and elsewhere) and know what you’re getting yourself into before watching.
If you’re a young learner, be sure to ask your parents before you watch anything recommended below.
1. “Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grains“ (Nosferatu, A Symphony of Horror)
Commonly referred to as “Nosferatu,” the full title is actually “Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grains“ (Nosferatu, A Symphony of Horror) so there’s no hiding just how freaky this film is. Somehow, the costumes, make-up and scenery still do an incredible job of affecting us modern viewers and giving us the shivers, even though we’re accustomed to watching high-definition movies on the big screen.
The movie is loosely based on Bram Stoker’s “Dracula.” Excellent inspiration, but Stoker’s family wasn’t happy about it and sued the filmmakers for breaching copyright laws. Stoker’s wife even sued the studio. Regardless of this, the film is still considered a classic of the horror genre and is largely credited with introducing many vampire tropes into our culture.
2. “Das Kabinett des Doktor Caligari” (The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari)
Often regarded as one of the very first horror movies, “Das Cabinet des Doktor Caligari” was written by Carl Mayer and Hans Janowitz, who had both returned from World War I extremely embittered. They saw this film as a way to produce a piece of expressionism, and created a dark tale about a mad performer who uses a sleepwalker to commit various murders.
The movie is widely regarded as one of the best examples of German expressionism, and the story is thought to be an attack on the omnipotence of the state. Watch it and decide for yourself.
3. “Funny Games”
Rolling Stone called “Funny Games” one of the scariest horror movies you’ve never seen, so you know you’re going to be in for some serious chills when you watch it.
German film director and screenwriter Michael Haneke made this movie, and also went on to remake it in 2007 with an American cast and crew. One aspect that the film has been praised on is its continual breaking of the fourth wall, which ups the creepy factor of the film as the audience becomes complicit in the antagonists’ actions. This movie can be quite graphic in places and is rated R, so viewer discretion is advised.
4. “Der Bunker” (The Bunker)
“Der Bunker” is the most recent film in this list, having premiered at the Berlin Film Festival in 2015. If some of the films I’ve previously mentioned have given you the shivers, this one shouldn’t be too bad as it’s classed as a horror-comedy.
The movie focuses on an unnamed student who rents out a room at a rural home for a peaceful vacation. However, his trip soon becomes far from peaceful when he realizes that the room is actually a bunker, and his host family expects him to carry out a series of bizarre tasks.
5. “Angst” (Fear)
“Angst” is an Austrian movie from 1983, written and directed by Gerald Kargl. Loosely based on real-life mass murderer Werner Kniesek, this film follows a psychopath who has recently been released from jail.
The movie isn’t that well known outside of Austria, but it’s highly regarded by critics for its unusual camera style and excellent performances. The film was released on DVD and Blu-ray in the US in 2015 so you shouldn’t have too much difficulty finding a copy. Since this is another R-rated movie focused on terrifying subject matter, please be aware that there are some graphic and chilling scenes in “Angst.”
If you can stomach them, German horror movies sure are a great way to learn the language.
Just make sure you have something to hide behind—or someone to hold onto—if things get a bit too scary!
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