“I have no idea what’s going on.”
I uttered these fateful words to my friend just minutes from the end of our last German class.
We would have our very first German final exam in one week, and the professor was using this class time to review the final topic for the most important test of the whole semester.
The only problem: I had totally spaced out through the entire thing!
Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love learning German, but I’m also the king of getting distracted during lecture.
Unfortunately, my friend didn’t have time to go over the material with me, but this wasn’t a problem.
Because I had one of the best study resources available: YouTube.
In this post, we’ll look at how to fully take advantage of this resource for your studies, too, and we’ll give you seven great videos you can use to start exploring the best German learning channels YouTube has to offer.
Why Study German by Watching Videos as a Beginner?
As a beginner German speaker, I’m sure you’re excited to be learning new things every day. However, it can get pretty bland just studying from your textbook or some chart you find online.
These resources are helpful, but they lack the engagement you need as a beginner language learner. Videos, on the other hand, are both visually and audibly engaging. (And you don’t have to worry about always relying on a friend to study with.)
You’re also going to learn much more content than you would just from the material in your courses. You’ll get exposed to a wider range of vocabulary and hear from so many different types of fluent German speakers, which I found crucial in my first few months learning the language (because you won’t talk only with your professor for your whole life).
German speakers from different parts of the world will pronounce certain things differently—or even use different words altogether—which is good to get used to at the beginner level when your brain is already acting like a sponge soaking up all the good knowledge that you need to start communicating with other German speakers.
When you introduce useful YouTube videos to your German study routine, you’re going to learn a lot of really important skills and you’re going to have a lot of fun doing it.
How to Effectively Study Using YouTube Videos
Stay on task and watch relevant videos
Now, YouTube is a super great tool for studying, but it can be easy to fall deep into the rabbit hole.
After you search for a video that you think may be helpful, stay on task and try not to click on every single suggested video that comes up. If you do this, you’ll go from learning how to conjugate verbs to watching Justin Bieber’s latest music video, which I’m sure is great but not too useful for studying German!
This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t go deeper and check out videos that look like they could help you out on top of what you’re already watching. In fact, this is a great way of growing your repertoire of study resources as a beginner language learner.
Just remember that using YouTube as your study guide is all about balance. You don’t want to watch the same video over and over again all day, but you also don’t want to get so off track that you can’t even remember where you started.
You should also know that you can get a lot more out of your German videos by watching on FluentU.
Every video has built-in, interactive captions: Just hover over any word for an instant definition, grammar info and example sentences. There are also adaptive quizzes for hands-on practice and multimedia flashcards for review. This means you can learn German vocabulary and grammar while enjoying fun video material intended for natives, even as a beginner.
You can keep using FluentU as you advance—there are videos for all levels, and they’re organized to make them easy to find. FluentU keeps track of your progress and shows you at a glance how much of any new video you’ll understand, based on what you’ve already learned. Check out the full video library for free with a FluentU trial.
Actively watch and listen
It can be just as easy to space out while watching a video in the comfort of your living room as while in a class setting. This is why you should have a pen and paper with you whenever you’re studying.
Always implement good note-taking strategies. Making sure to take good notes at the beginning of your language learning experience is crucial to building a solid foundation for your writing ability and memorization. Pay attention to key points and make sure to write down any examples that the speaker gives, just like you would in a classroom.
The beautiful part about studying with videos is that if you do miss something or need to go over it again, you can just rewind!
In fact, I would say that watching one video two or three times in a row is a good way to really get everything out of it and make sure you haven’t missed anything important.
Practice, practice, practice!
The best time to start practicing something is directly after learning it.
Since your short-term memory is stronger but more fleeting, practicing what you’ve learned from a video as soon as you’re done watching it can help you set those language skills into your long-term memory and smooth out any kinks or confusion that you might have.
Let’s say you’re watching a video on some simple conversation phrases. After you’ve watched the video a couple of times, you should try to write out some dialogue with as many phrases from the video that you can remember. If you get stuck, or your pretend conversation hits a wall, go back to the video and pick up some phrases that you missed by pausing and copying them down onto paper.
Also, try to remember to make a chart out of something if you can. I know that I said studying a chart online can be pretty boring, but when you physically create a chart yourself for something like conjugating verbs, for example, the information sticks in your brain much better. (If you don’t know yet, all it means to conjugate a verb is to change its ending according to the corresponding pronoun, which I’ll touch on a bit later.)
In fact, I’d say that pretty much anytime you come across a new verb that you have no idea how to conjugate, you should look up the different verb endings and write out your own chart so that you remember how to do it correctly.
So now that you know why and how you should use videos to study, check out these ones to get started!
7 Essential German Videos for Beginners
These videos will be really helpful for you during your first year or so of learning German. They cover many of the major topics that you’d come across in a standard German course.
In addition to the learning channels we’ll introduce below, you can always check out GermanPod101 for guided video learning. On their site, you’ll find videos that cover a variety of topics for all levels. In addition to the videos themselves, a subscription will give you access to PDF lesson notes, flashcards and other vocab learning tools.
1. Personal Pronouns
Personal pronouns are one of the most important parts of speech that you learn as a beginner German speaker. Personal pronouns (in English: I, you, he, she, etc.) let you know who’s doing what in a sentence, which is pretty crucial to having a basic understanding of what someone’s saying.
This video done by Jenny from Learn German with Jenny is super helpful and explains the German personal pronouns pretty simply. She’s really easy to listen to and gets straight to the point, making for a short and sweet video packed with useful information.
2. The Numbers from 0 to 20
Learning how to count in German was probably the very first thing I ever learned in the language.
Ania from Learn German with Ania here is a native German speaker who’s absolutely fun to watch and—as you can probably already tell—full of enthusiasm.
Her funny and engaging video on the German numbers 0-20 provides some nice examples to help you remember not only the numbers themselves, but also their spellings and pronunciations. (Be sure to check out her video on numbers 20-100 as well.)
3. Basic Conversation Phrases
As an excited German beginner, you’re obviously going to want to learn how to speak full sentences in German as soon as possible. This video by Easy German will give you a pretty good handful of important conversation phrases that are perfect for beginners and that you’ll use at every level of German.
4. Conjugating Regular Verbs
Conjugating verbs is where your German learning starts to get a little technical. That’s why it’s important to use videos such as Katja’s here. Regular verbs in German are verbs that generally end with –en, such as springen (to jump), bringen (to bring) and kommen (to come).
These verbs are all conjugated according to their corresponding pronouns using the same general guidelines, which Katja explains in the video, and they’re the first kind of verbs that you learn to deal with as a beginner.
Katja runs a YouTube channel called Deutsch für Euch, where she goes over a lot of German language topics that can be tricky to understand. She’s great at explaining everything clearly. Just remember to keep that pen and paper handy!
5. “Vor und Hinter” (The Two-way Prepositions Song)
Warning: Will get stuck in your head!
Die Wechselpräpositionen (the two-way prepositions) were certainly difficult for me to remember in my first year of German. This particular set of prepositions can be used in both the Akkusativ and Dativ cases, and without some sort of method, it’s tricky to remember which ones they are.
When my professor introduced this video from Uwe Kind & LingoTech to us during lecture, the class practically erupted in laughter, but thanks to this song, we’ll never forget the two-way prepositions.
6. Introduction to Modal Verbs
Here’s Ania again!
The German modal verbs are another important part of speech that you learn in a beginner German course. The modal verbs—können (can/to be able to), wollen (to want), sollen (should), müssen (must), mögen (to like), möchten (would like) and dürfen (to be allowed to)—can change the entire context of your sentence, which is why it’s important to know which one to use.
For example, if you’re grounded and your friend asks if you want to go see a movie, you might want to say, “Ich dürfe nicht” (I’m not allowed to) rather than “Ich kann nicht” (I cannot) to be more clear on why you aren’t going to be joining them at the movies.
Ania’s enthusiastic introductory video on the modal verbs will give you some great examples and keep you fully engaged while learning this topic. She’ll help you learn how to conjugate some of these modal verbs and even how to use them correctly in a sentence.
7. German Weather Vocabulary
Everyone has something to say about the weather. That’s why you’ll definitely want to learn a bit of weather vocabulary during your first year of German.
This video from Get Germanized goes over some really useful and funny examples of how you can talk (or complain) about the weather.
Don’t stop here!
This is only the very tip of the iceberg. Go discover more German videos and witty YouTubers you enjoy!
The more resources you find and the more Germans you listen to, the better of a German speaker you’ll become.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn German with real-world videos.