9 Best German Magazines to Help You Learn the Language
Trying to master German by reading textbooks, newspapers and classic German literature? Magazines add a colorful splash to anyone’s language learning experience.
Germany has a magnificent tradition of printed media—the Western printing press was born in Mainz, after all. As a result, the array of high-quality magazines with fascinating, worthwhile articles is immensely diverse.
There’s a Zeitschrift (magazine) for every subculture, niche interest and field of knowledge! You can get an Abonnement (subscription) to most of these, or Abo for short.
Let’s have a look at nine magazines with their roots in Germany.
- 1. Der Spiegel
- 2. Focus
- 3. Zeit Wissen
- 4. Stern
- 5. Titanic
- 6. The European
- 7. Brigitte
- 8. Bunte
- 9. 11 Freunde
1. Der Spiegel
Der Spiegel is one of the foremost news magazines in the world, reporting on affairs of national and global significance and featuring strong investigative journalism.
It tends to lean left on the political spectrum and is like a German blend of Time and Newsweek. German learners will pick up high-level analytical language, political terminology and a broad-based awareness of current events.
After all, the last thing you want is to be a clueless tourist when entering into discussions with native German speakers—the odds are good that your Gesprächspartner (conversation partner) will delve through the surface chit-chat quickly and want to tackle some deeper topics. Check out the print and digital versions.
Focus (the German word would be Fokus ) is another news-based publication, with a Schwerpunkt (emphasis) on economics and politics.
Many of the pieces tend towards shorter formats rather than the long-form journalism showcased in Spiegel, which can be helpful if you’re scanning for information or want to test your vocabulary with a quick read.
Staying informed on the German Wirtschaft (economy) can be particularly helpful for language learners who are active in business, hoping to get hired by German companies or have regular dealings with German clients. You can get both the print and digital versions.
3. Zeit Wissen
If the cutting edge of science makes your heart beat faster, Zeit Wissen is magazine for you.
Stories present the latest news from the research world, including updates from the areas of medicine, energy, technology, physics and more.
Reading this magazine is particularly rewarding for German students who are also pursuing a career in the hard sciences and want to acquire advanced vocabulary or those who are simply ravenous for Wissen (knowledge). You can order the print version or the digital version.
Stern offers plenty of human interest pieces, cultural coverage and profiles of prominent people, generally accompanied by high-quality photo spreads.
The language won’t be as challenging as the average article in Focus, but it can be a great publication for learning about significant figures in German society and is often entertaining.
Not that they don’t also have hard-hitting political articles, but the overall tone is lighter than most of its news magazine competitors. It’s also available in print and digital formats.
The keen satire of Titanic is a laugh factory for German learners—nobody and nothing is sacred to these pen-wielding pranksters. It’s humor, politics and Gesellschaftskritik (social criticism) rolled into one.
Read it for the jokes, study the verbal style and improvise on your own arsenal of witty, sarcastic and deadpan rejoinders—and then go get a real news magazine to make sure you know what’s actually going on in the world.
You can get a subscription to the print version and separately buy the digital version as a PDF in the Titanic online shop. It’s also possible to get the digital magazine through the app.
6. The European
The European is a political magazine dedicated to presenting a broad spectrum of arguments and perspectives. At the moment, the content is published through the website.
Contributing authors come from diverse backgrounds in journalism, politics, science and industry. The level of analysis is elevated and the issues complex—if you’re a beginning language learner, you may need to keep a dictionary handy.
The reward: You’ll be more able to hold your own in challenging discussions. Writing a a term paper on European politics? Familiarizing yourself with a wide range of standpoints will allow you to anticipate counterarguments and deftly defend your assertions.
The most popular women’s magazine in Germany, Brigitte has been in circulation since 1886! It was originally called Das Blatt der Hausfrau (Housewife’s Journal) and was renamed in 1954.
It has articles on topics on such as fashion, beauty, health, food, lifestyle and more. You don’t need any specialized vocabulary to read the articles, since they cover everyday themes. There are print and digital versions available.
What do Elyas M’Barek, Heidi Klum and Bastian Schweinsteiger have in common? They are all prime candidates to appear in the bright pages of Bunte.
Fresh gossip, fluffy interview pieces and society updates—this is essentially a glorified tabloid in glossy format. Bunte is rather similar to People, with all the latest on Germany’s stars of the silver screen, runway and sports world.
There is also plenty of coverage dealing with international celebrities, so if you need to keep track of your favorite stars, do it in German and pick up new words while you’re at it. There are print and digital versions available.
9. 11 Freunde
Speaking of Bastian Schweinsteiger, if you’re a Fußball (football / soccer) fanatic, a subscription to 11 Freunde might be just your cup of tea.
The magazine presents in-depth interviews with players, historical reflections and other interest pieces delving into das schöne Spiel (the beautiful game).
11 Freunde aims to appeal to fans of all clubs in the Bundesliga (national league) and will keep you abreast of all the latest developments in Germany’s number one sport.
By picking up soccer fan lingo and obscure facts, you can build street cred with Fußball-obsessed German Kumpels (buddies) and the regulars in your local sports bar. Never again be labeled an “event fan” who only tunes in every two years for the European or World Cup! Check out both the print and digital formats.
Whether you ultimately opt for a digital subscription or the printed product, magazines offer a unique way to regularly hone your reading comprehension while entertaining or informing yourself on your favorite topics.
So check out these magazines and watch your German improve!
To round out your listening and speaking skills, you might also enjoy watching videos on FluentU.
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.
To keep things fresh, FluentU keeps track of the words you’re learning and recommends further lessons and videos based on what you've already studied.
This way, you have a truly personalized learning experience.
Start using the FluentU website on your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes or Google Play store. Click here to take advantage of our current sale! (Expires at the end of this month.)
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn German with real-world videos.