What’s a lifelong gift you can give a kid that doesn’t cost a penny?
Did you know that German knowledge opens doors in science, technology and academia? Or that it’s the most-spoken language in Europe after English, creating many opportunities for personal and professional enrichment?
While it’s true that you can shell out big bucks on German classes for kids—and those can be very valuable if you can swing it—there are plenty of free online German learning resources your family will love, too.
In this article, we’ll focus on German kids’ videos that teach the language through entertaining animated stories.
You’ll give the little ones in your life a running start on bilingualism—and you may even boost your own German while you’re at it!
German for Kids: 5 Fun Animated Videos to Teach Little Ones Language
Want to be sure that any video you click on is family friendly and great for German learning? FluentU is the go-to resource. FluentU provides authentic German videos, like cartoons, movie trailers, commercials and more, that’ve been transformed into personalized language lessons.
Each video comes with interactive captions—kids can click on any word for an instant definition, pronunciation and picture. Then FluentU takes the vocabulary from the video and creates multimedia flashcards and exercises so that they won’t forget everything they’ve just learned!
The videos are organized by genre and learning level so it’s easy to find ones that work for your family. Kids will love this clip from “Sesamstraße,” the German version of “Sesame Street,” or this super silly music video promoting the 2014 World Cup. You can explore the full video library for free with a FluentU trial.
“Felix und Franzi” (“Felix and Franzi”)
This video is ideal for English-speaking kids who are starting German as complete beginners. It’s organized into neat chapters and was put together by GoetheUK, part of the Goethe Institut for German language and culture education.
The dialogue is a mixture of German and English, with important German phrases emphasized in speech bubbles. The main characters of the series are Felix, a frog, and Franzi, a duck. These two fun-loving animated figures drive German learning for children in an inspiring manner throughout the series.
There are more than 20 videos in this series, which you can explore in the righthand menu from the link above. The focus is on day-to-day communication such as basic greetings, shopping, getting to know neighbors and much more.
The series is also organized into different “bands” indicating levels—Band 1 is the beginner level, Band 2 is upper-beginner, etc.
“Der erste Brunnen” (“The First Well”)
This is a wonderful story on faith, will and determination. It’s great for kids who are at an upper-beginner German proficiency level.
Four generals are sent in search of water sources, as their village is suffering from severe drought. One of the generals returns with a “water seed,” which is a chip off an icicle (a long piece of ice formed by water dripping and freezing).
Planting this “water seed” with full faith and patience, the villagers eventually find a pool of water in its place.
This story is apt to instill values of perseverance and determination in children. They’ll also get lots of practice with important German language concepts.
For example, this story is told in the past tense so kids will hear how several common German words are used in the past tense. Some of the past tense verbs in this story include eilte (hurried), regnete (rained), sagten (said) and fragten (asked).
There are also some very helpful directional words in this story, such as:
in der mitte (in the middle)
in allen Richtungen (in all directions)
nach Osten, nach Westen, nach Süden, nach Norden (to the east, to the west, to the south, to the north)
dem Sonnenaufgang entgegen (towards the sunrise)
If you enjoy this story, there are many other German kids’ videos at the BookBox YouTube channel.
“Rotkäppchen” (“Little Red Riding Hood”)
This classic fairy tale is about a little girl who wears a red hood, who goes to deliver some food to her ailing grandmother. She encounters a big bad wolf along the way who wants to make her his next meal.
How Little Red Riding Hood deals with the wolf forms the rest of the story. This story is apt for drama and emotions. Kids will be all ears when they follow along with the video.
The above link is just a teaser, but you can get the full video and interactive exercises available by emailing them—just click “Show More” in the video description for instructions.
For a short, funny and modern version of the full tale, there’s another video on YouTube in English but with German subtitles. Make sure to click the “CC” icon before playing the video to see the subtitles.
My personal favorite version is the illustrated German audiobook, which kids are bound to love, too. You can see the German text and listen to the audio in German along with colorful drawings.
One key grammar takeaway from this video is the use of past tense irregular verbs. Remembering the irregular German verbs in the past tense can be quite a herculean task, but it gets a tad easier with this story. A few that we encounter are sprach (spoke), gab (gave), dachte (thought), ging (went), kam (came) and sprang (jumped).
Dino Lingo is a fun and interactive video series that helps kids begin with German. This is a project specifically dedicated to kids and helping them learn different foreign languages, German being one of them.
The videos focus on specific topics, like German numbers or the 200 most common German words and phrases.
Kids are taught concepts in a fun and interactive manner through songs, games and many other methods. They also have a useful website with lots of kid-friendly German learning material including songs, videos, resource sheets, cultural information and books.
The only glitch is that it’s a paid model but you can try a free lesson first to see how you and your kids like it.
“Heidi” on DEUTOON
Are you kids ready for some real-world German videos?
DEUTOON offers two German cartoons with subtitles. My personal favorite is “Heidi: Girl of the Alps,” as I grew up watching it! It’s actually originally a Japanese show, but it takes place in Switzerland and was translated into many languages including German.
Don’t forget to click on the CC button for the subtitles to be visible before playing the video.
Kids will probably require a basic level of German to understand what’s going on, but it’s nevertheless fun and entertaining! Since it’s a channel specifically dedicated to cartoons in German for children, it’s a prize catch and a treat to continuously watch.
As you can see, watching German kids’ videos can be a wonderful way for everyone in your family to boost their German skills. Are you ready to turn family fun time into fluency time, too?
Gayatri Tribhuvan is a passionate linguist from Bangalore, India and teaches German, French and other languages. She enthusiastically contributes her knowledge in the linguistics field. Get to know more about her language school that she runs in Bangalore, India here.
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