Hey, can you hear that?
Sounds like it’s time to get to grips with your German learning!
Well, listen closely to this amazing little secret: if you have internet access, headphones and a pen and paper, you already have the tools to do it.
You just need to know what sources to use!
In this post, I will guide you through some of the best German learning audio courses and resources out there. Whether you are a beginner or near-native speaker, looking for a university-grade course or podcast lessons for your commute, we have got you covered.
So pop in those headphones and we will explore why German audio learning can be so important.
How German Audio Resources Can Boost Your Learning
If you understand why this type of content is so important for language learning, you are a lot more likely to take it seriously, and will therefore get much better results in a shorter time. One reason why so many people take audio resources for granted is that they do not think they will learn all that much.
However, this could not be any further from the truth! It is in fact very productive for language learning, even if it may not always feel much like hard work.
If you take care to consciously listen to your audio resources, you will quickly start to pick up new German skills through osmosis. This is when you absorb new vocabulary and grammar concepts just by being exposed to the language. So even though it may not feel as strenuous as running through a set of vocabulary flashcards, it is just as important!
But German audio learning is also great for focused language study. Most of the resources I will cover in this post specifically focus on the more difficult aspects of the language, such as sentence construction and specific grammar points like the gender of nouns.
So if you have been struggling with a certain part of grammar in your German classes, you will be able to find a YouTube video or episode of a German-learning podcast that focuses specifically on this point.
Listen Up! 4 Fantastic Audio Sources to Help You Learn German
1. German Learning Podcasts
Podcasts are great, because you can leave them on in the background while you are getting on with housework or cooking. There are also various ones for numerous subjects, from sports to film reviews, so you will surely be able to find one to suit your personal tastes!
When you are listening to German-learning podcasts, you can simply follow along with all the exercises and tests. However, to take your learning up a level, you should also note down any new vocabulary you hear so that you can review it on your own time.
One great podcast to start with, specifically created for German learners, is Deutsch—warum nicht? (German—why not?). This podcast is from the people at DW. Each episode follows the story of Andreas, a journalism student who also works as a hotel doorman. The story is peppered with quick language questions and exercises. The episodes cover beginner to early intermediate proficiency levels.
You can find some other great podcasts out there on the web, including GermanPod101, Learn German by Podcast and Radio D (which is a structured audio language course that also comes with manuscripts).
We should probably pause for a sec on GermanPod101 because it’s an outstanding podcast that’s so much more than a podcast. It offers over 1,200 audio and video lessons, catering to all skill levels from newbie to fluent. They come complete with interactive features like vocabulary tools, SRS flashcards, transcripts, bustling community forums and a handy app. If learning with podcasts is working for you, a GermanPod101 membership is highly recommended.
2. German Audio Courses
There are lots of foreign language CDs and audio courses that provide a range of benefits to learners. However, it is worth noting that not all of these are quite as good as their marketing campaigns may suggest! Some solid courses that are among my favorites include Michel Thomas’ language course, DeutschAkademie (GermanAcademy) and learn-German-easily.com.
And then there’s Pimsleur, a German learning program which is perfect for on-the-go learning. It’s ideal for anyone who spends lots of time driving in their own car, because the program constantly prompts you to listen, repeat and answer. Talking to yourself on the bus might come across a little strange, but you can go ahead and do it anyway! It’s also a pretty affordable option as you get plenty of material to work with, and there are almost always discounts for interested learners.
Just like podcasts, you can play these in the background whenever you are busy with some housework, commuting or doing other mundane tasks. You may find that words and grammar constructs start to stick in your brain because these courses often repeat a lot of the vocabulary and grammar constructs in certain sections.
However, because these courses are designed for focused study, similar to classroom learning, you will get more out of them if you listen with a notebook, pen or pencil and your full concentration.
While you are listening, take down notes. This will be just like being in a German lecture, except with the advantage that you can follow along at your own pace. Feel free to rewind difficult parts of the audio course, or pause the recording and repeat words out loud until you nail the pronunciation.
3. YouTube Courses
YouTube is a great resource for German audio learning because of the wide array of content that is available.
There are loads of YouTubers who regularly upload videos aimed at German learners of various levels. Whether you are a beginner or have been studying German for a number of years, you will definitely be able to find lessons that can greatly supplement your studies. Here are some suggestions to get you started:
- Deutsch für Euch (German for You) has some great videos for beginners covering a range of topics, from how to introduce yourself to pronunciation of the German alphabet.
- To get the most out of the authentic German videos available on YouTube, check out FluentU. Accessible via the website or an app, FluentU takes real-world videos, from news to inspiring talks to music videos, and transforms them into language learning experiences.
There are interactive captions so you can pick up new vocabulary in-context. Plus, FluentU keeps track of what you are learning and suggests further content, for a truly personalized learning experience.
- The guys at smarterGerman have some top videos aimed at advanced learners.
- This video from Polyglot Pablo will help you work on your pronunciation.
- The German Professor has videos that cover grammar topics suitable for German beginners, as well as some more advanced lessons.
Whether you are a beginner or an advanced learner, I am sure you will find the visual prompts that often accompany YouTube videos extremely useful! If you are struggling to understand the German in the video, don’t forget that you can often turn on subtitles. To do this, simply click the “CC” icon that is on the bottom bar of the video player.
Heard about MOOCs yet? The acronym stands for “massive open online courses”; they are often organized by colleges and universities. No matter what you are learning, you will be able to find a MOOC that has your subject covered. So it is well worth searching for a great German MOOC.
One great advantage of MOOCs is that instead of having to physically turn up to lectures and seminars, you can simply join them virtually online. More often than not, they are free of charge and are open to anyone, even if you are in a completely different country from the organization that is hosting.
MOOCs often do not require participants to have any prerequisites for enrollment, either. So, as you can see, these provide a great way to learn German with the help of some of the world’s top universities and colleges!
You can find a list of some German MOOCs currently available for signup at this website. Some of the best courses, though, include:
- The Open University’s introduction to German food and drink
- The University of Texas’s Deutsch im Blick (German in View) course
- You can also find a MOOC aimed at beginners from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Even though there are often set online seminars and lectures for MOOCs, they are usually totally self-directed, so that students can look over the materials, assignments and other tests in their spare time. So you should be able to fit all the work into your schedule, no matter how busy you may be!
Hopefully, all of these amazing German audio sources sound good to you. Once you start incorporating them into your studies, you should start to notice the benefits pretty much right away!
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn German with real-world videos.