You’ve just started on your homework. You come to a question and you stop.
Yup, you’re stumped.
You can’t remember what your teacher said about this. Your textbook is a blur. You put your pencil down, defeated.
And then you switch on your computer. Or unlock your phone screen. Whichever is closer.
Now, instead of hoping to get lucky with a Google search, wouldn’t it be faster to have a set of trustworthy German language notes you could reference any time?
A list that you knew explained a variety of topics with examples and practice exercises?
Well, my friend, you do have that.
In this post, we’ll show you five reliable resources for valuable German notes on any topic.
Wait! Make sure you bookmark this post.
Okay, now let’s get down to it. Bring on the German notes!
How to Use This German Notes Reference
You’ll get the most out of this post if you think about it as a reference resource, kind of like a dictionary.
Not sure what adjective ending you need? Don’t know if that preposition is accusative or dative? Doubting yourself on whether you need that comma or not? Check out the links below!
Keep this post handy especially if you’re preparing for a test or writing a paper in German. You’ll find a great number of topics covered here with a variety of explanations, examples and practice exercises. It’s great for answering questions that pop up as you’re studying or writing, or double-checking your own grammar and word use.
And don’t be afraid to peruse these notes casually, even if you don’t have a specific German hurdle to jump. You’ll reinforce concepts you’ve already learned and get introduced to new topics you didn’t know you needed to study.
Each resource is written in English, with of course some German sprinkled in throughout. Learning a new language is all about practice, so add the resources here to your daily exercise routine. You’ll be that much closer to fluency!
How to Take Your Own German Notes Effectively
As you get more and more comfortable with the resources below, you should start taking your own, personalized German notes as well. Most of us learn best by taking notes or writing down the information we’re learning. It’s a great way to structure the information in your mind and work with it in a tactile way.
To start, check out this article on The Conversation: “What’s the best, most effective way to take notes?” This article lists a lot of great ideas to approach note-taking in a new, effective way.
Mind maps are also a great way to interact with your notes and try out new methods. Not everyone can look at a sheet of notebook paper covered in words and absorb what’s written there. If you’re a visual learner, the ability to link ideas on the paper might increase your note-taking effectiveness and increase your memory when it comes to concepts.
A similar but different idea is the Zettelkasten, a “card index” you can use to link ideas in a card-catalogue-type system. This system is a great way to buttress your memory, especially if you’re not a fan of rote memorization.
As always with learning a new language, it’s critical to find a dictionary you can refer to constantly as you record what you’re learning. Langenscheidt and LEO are two of the best out there.
LEO even has a mobile app that’ll definitely come in handy when your friends ask you, “How do you say _____ in German?” Look it up, share your answer and then put it in your notes, too!
One-stop German Shop: All the Best German Language Notes You Can Find Online
The University of Michigan: Lernstrategien (Learning Strategies)
Notes for: German studying techniques and hacks
You know what they say: study smarter, not harder. This notes resource is an excellent place to start since it covers not only German language concepts but also techniques to improve your German studying.
Check out the site’s following notes:
- German Language Learning Advice: Learning a new language is much like learning a new way of thinking. This page will help you focus your learning and get the most out of your study sessions.
- Self-study Ideas: A resource-within-a-resource, this compiled list of links will support anyone who’s teaching themself German.
- Writing in German Without Thinking in English: At some point in your learning, if you want to truly get fluent, you’ll have to begin thinking in German rather than in English. It can be daunting at first, but this guide will help you through the thought process—literally.
- Some Hints on How to Guess Gender: Remembering the gender of a German noun is hard and takes practice. Keep these grammar hacks in mind the next time you’re trying to figure out the gender of a noun you don’t know or have forgotten.
- Essay Writing Checklist: Proofreading your German writing is as critical and time-consuming as actually putting your ideas down on paper. Never fear! Consult this checklist to make sure the essay you turn in is correct.
German Studies at Dartmouth: A Review of German Grammar
Notes for: German grammar fundamentals
Though many people begin studying foreign languages in middle school (or sometimes even earlier), generally speaking, the most intensive language learning occurs at the college level. This is also where you’ll find the most accurate resources. Universities often hire native speakers to teach their classes, and the resources offered must be of a high caliber.
After all, they aren’t just handing out degrees—they have to be earned.
This site from Dartmouth is a great free German grammar resource that caters to students of all levels. You’ll find clearly structured notes with plenty of examples and explanations to clarify your understanding. Here are just a few concepts Dartmouth provides language notes for:
- The Present Tense: This page describes the use of the present tense in German, comparing it to the many ways we have in English of expressing the same thing. You’ll learn how this tense is used and you’ll get a rundown of regular and irregular present tense verb forms.
- The Simple Past or Imperfect Tense: This tense is separate from what’s called the “conversational past tense,” even though both tenses describe events that’ve happened already. Again, examples and verb form tables will answer any questions you might have about the simple past tense.
- Comparative and Superlative Adjectives and Adverbs: Using comparatives and superlatives in German is similar to how it’s done in English. Dartmouth offers a great explanation so you can knock this topic off your study to-do list.
- Relative Clauses: Word order is important to the German language, as evidenced by relative clauses. Use this resource to make sure you choose the right relative pronoun and place your commas accordingly.
- Infinitive Clauses: This is another type of clause where word order is key. These notes make the concept clear with example German sentences and real-life examples from German ads and signs.
FluentU German Blog
Notes for: German language explanations, resources and learning tips
We’ve built this FluentU German blog to give you the best of all worlds when it comes to German notes. The posts cover everything from unique German learning tools, to effective study techniques, to tricky grammar and useful vocabulary.
Use the search bar on the right side of the blog to look for specific topics you’re struggling with, or choose from the article categories for some structured browsing.
Here’s a list of recent FluentU German notes that you may find helpful, just as examples—there’s plenty more!
Common German for More Efficient Learning
- 200+ of the Most Common German Nouns: Bookmark this handy list or even download it as a PDF so you always have the right words.
- 12 Common German Phrases: A short but sweet guide to simple phrases you can memorize to sound more fluent, faster.
- 10 Commonly Used German Verbs: These are the essential German verbs that you need to start forming sentences in German.
Notes and Recommendations on the Best German Learning Resources
- The 6 Best Conjugation Apps: This article helps you overcome the frustrations of conjugation with a little help from technology.
- Practice Resources for Fast and Accurate Verb Usage: A walkthrough of the best online verb practice tools and what exactly they cover.
German Grammar Guides
- How to Conjugate Haben and Sein in One Lesson: The title says it all! Cross these essential German verbs (“to have” and “to be,” respectively) off your study to-do list.
- German Cases Explained: Ah, German cases. The topic that sends a shiver through so many learners’ spines. These notes with tables and examples make it much less scary.
- German Possessive Adjectives: His or hers? Nail German possessives in three steps with this article.
German Media to Learn With
- Learn German with Music: You’ll love these 10 songs that secretly hold German grammar lessons.
- Learn German Through TV: Who said TV has to be a waste of time? Check out these great authentic shows for native-sounding German.
- 10 Best Magazines for Learning German: Reading skills need a boost? Here’s a fun way to do it.
Find these diverse German notes helpful? Make sure to supplement them with the FluentU app if you really want to communicate like the natives do.
FluentU is one of the best websites and apps for learning German the way native speakers really use it. FluentU takes real-world videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
Watch authentic media to simultaneously immerse yourself in the German language and build an understanding of the German culture.
By using real-life videos, the content is kept fresh and current. Topics cover a lot of ground as you can see here:
Vocabulary and phrases are learned with the help of interactive subtitles and full transcripts.
Hovering over or tapping on any word in the subtitles will automatically pause the video and instantly display its meaning. Interesting words you don’t know yet can be added to a to-learn list for later.
For every lesson, a list of vocabulary is provided for easy reference and bolstered with plenty of examples of how each word is used in a sentence.
Your existing knowledge is tested with the help of adaptive quizzes in which words are learned in context.
FluentU keeps track of the words you’re learning and gives you extra practice with difficult words. It'll even remind you when it’s time to review what you’ve learned.
This way, you have a truly personalized learning experience.
Start using FluentU on the website with your computer or tablet or practice anytime, anywhere on the mobile app for iOS and Android.
BBC Bitesize German
Notes for: Grammar deep dives
You might wonder what the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) has to say about the German language, but surprisingly, they do offer a number of language-learning resources. Each resource listed below offers in-depth modules on a variety of topics.
Each lesson addresses a specific concept comprehensively, offering examples, vocabulary and exercises to test your knowledge. They start with a broad topic and then explore it in a series of bitesize (hence the name!) chapters. Whether you’re a beginner German-speaker or looking to fill holes in your existing knowledge, BBC’s resources are a great place to start!
- Word Order: Word order is one of the more notoriously tricky elements of German grammar for English speakers. This guides walks you through how word order plays out in different types of sentences.
- Negatives: This is an in-depth guide to using negatives in German, from negating the present tense to German words that have negative connotations.
- Numbers: Learning numbers in German is much more than eins, zwei, drei (one, two, three). With these notes, you’ll be able to brush up on cardinal numbers, calendar dates and any number of other, well, numbers!
- Conjunctions: This eight-chapter guide will show you how to form and use conjunctions in German.
A great thing about this site is that along with the German notes, they also have exercises to help you succeed in the speaking, listening, reading and writing areas of a German class. You’ll explore articles and videos about German media, culture or current events and then answer questions and take quizzes on what you’ve learned.
Notes for: Classroom-style explanations of German concepts
One of the joys of learning a language is sharing your knowledge with others, and that’s exactly what Nancy Thuleen has done on this site.
Combining German language and literature, Nancy focuses on favorite topics she’s taught before. Thuleen offers a large number of resources in the style of educational worksheets, much like your favorite German professor might provide for you.
This is an expansive site covering dozens and dozens of German language concepts. To get started, head to the site map and browse for notes that cover your German weak points or that simply interest you. Most students will probably find the grammar, vocab and writing tabs most useful.
Here are just a few examples of the type of German notes you’ll find on this site:
- Separable and Inseparable Prefixes: Thuleen organized this guide into a memorable and easy-to-digest series of charts.
- Typing Umlauts on a PC and Mac: How do you type those pesky little dots? Thuleen clears it up quickly.
- Minimal Pairs: Learning a new language is often about getting your mouth to move in new directions. Use these tables of German minimal pairs to guide your own pronunciation practice.
Learning a new language requires time, dedication and passion. Bookmark these resources and reference them the next time you’re stumped. Soon, you’ll be that much closer to fluency!
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn German with real-world videos.