YouTube is a site for procrastination, right?
Be it work, studying or learning German, it seems like YouTube can distract you from anything.
C’mon. It’s full of music videos, cute animals, kids saying funny stuff and people hurting themselves in ridiculous ways.
It’s what you watch when you’re putting off whatever it is you’re supposed to be doing.
But have you ever thought of using YouTube to be more productive?
Turns out there are actually a ton of great videos out there that can accelerate your German learning.
How YouTube Can Improve Your German Skills
Using YouTube to work on your German skills might not be the most obvious choice.
You’re probably more used to flashcards, dictionaries, and textbooks, especially if you’ve studied German in a classroom setting.
Of course, like many learners, you’ve probably tried improving your German vocabulary by watching German TV or German films—these are awesome ways to expand your German knowledge. But if you’re a brand-new student, watching an entire movie in German might be a bit intimidating.
And, hey, we’re all busy. You might not always have extra time to set aside for TV or a film.
The thing is that, no matter how many flashcards you learn or German exercises you do, simply listening to German is one of the absolute best things you can do to improve your speaking and comprehension abilities.
Pepper your day with short, German language YouTube videos here and there. Take 5 and 10 minutes breaks from work and study time to procrastinate with these German vids — I mean, you’re going to do it anyway, so why not do it all in German?
Little by little, you’ll find that your days are simply infused with German learning. Your brain will get accustomed to German input being a regular thing. Listening to German and thinking about German will become second nature to you.
After living in Germany for only a few months, I realized that I understood WAY more than I had when I’d arrived — and this was without even really trying. Just hearing people around me speaking German, seeing German advertisements, signs, menus at Imbisse (fast food stands)…the constant exposure to German helped me retain new vocabulary. This is very much the same way that babies learn how to talk simply by listening to people around them.
Now, you’re going to use YouTube to simulate this immersion.
The more often you hear German, the easier it’ll be for you to use correct grammatical constructions, pronounce words properly and remember which adjective endings and prepositions to use—that’s just to name a few of the many advantages to learning German this way.
Okay, So How Exactly Can I Use YouTube Videos to Learn German?
If you’re in a German class, you have the advantage of getting to hear correct German spoken out loud on a regular basis. YouTube video German is often captured in home movies and more casual recordings, so you’ll get snippets of everyday German to supplement your formally learned German. That’s why taking the time to listen to German by yourself can help put you at the top of the class.
Not only can YouTube videos be a great help when you’re reviewing for that tricky German test, they can keep you up to date on important (and interesting!) things your classroom German might not cover—like slang, for example.
I think by this point it should go without saying that listening to German online is one of the absolute best ways you can study if you’re teaching yourself German independently. Not everyone who’s learning German gets the chance to hear it very often in person, especially if you don’t happen to live somewhere with many German speakers. While it’s an experience I’d recommend to all German learners, heading off to a German-speaking country is a big commitment — and it’s not really possible for everyone.
That’s why YouTube videos are a total lifesaver when you’re learning German. Not only will you be improving your understanding by hearing someone speak German out loud, you’ll also be expanding your grammatical knowledge and vocabulary…without having to do any boring written exercises! Best of all, YouTube videos are a super quick way to learn. You can squeeze in 5-10 minutes of German practice whenever you have the chance by watching one of these awesome clips.
If you’re new to German, don’t worry—the more difficult concepts here are all explained in English!
And when you want to try watching real-world German content like music videos and TV shows, check out FluentU! FluentU takes real-world German videos and turns them into German learning lessons.
10 YouTube Videos German Learners Have to See
We’ll start off our list with a super short video explaining how to introduce yourself. In under three minutes, adorable German vlogger Katja will teach you all the basics you need to know when meeting someone in Germany. She also throws in some useful phrases that all German learners should remember—for example, how to tell someone it’s nice to meet them (“Es ist schön dich kennen zu lernen”)—and introduces how to talk about your interests (“Ich spiele gerne Klavier”—“I like to play piano”). It’s perfect for German beginners and a nice refresher for slightly more advanced students.
2. Das Deutsche Alphabet-Lied (The German Alphabet Song)
Remember the alphabet song you sang as a kid to learn your letters? This is the exact same thing…but in German! Okay, this video may seem goofy, but I guarantee that watching it a few times will be a massive help if you ever have trouble remembering how to pronounce German letters. I know that I’d probably been studying German for around a year before I really got the hang of pronouncing the entire alphabet! Kind of embarrassing, but, well, my teacher only went over the alphabet once or twice in class. Plus, spelling words didn’t come up all that often in the classroom or in conversation. So, I just didn’t remember some of the weirder letters (for example, the yot sound for “J” always threw me off). Listening to this catchy song would probably have helped. If you’re just starting out with German, definitely check this video out.
Building Your Vocabulary
3. Deutsche Köperteile mit Herrn Kartoffelkopf (German Body Parts with Mr. Potato Head)
This cute video uses that popular kids’ toy, Mr. Potato Head (Herr Kartoffelkopf) to teach you the names for all the basic parts of the body. This is one of those aspects of German vocab that are easily overlooked—somehow, learning words like die Augen (eyes) and die Füße (feet) isn’t as immediately important for a beginner as figuring out how to say Guten Tag and Tschüss. So, especially for the German beginner, it’s great to have a fun, visual way to remember all these terms. In under five minutes, this video shows you the names of the most important parts of the body, as well as their plurals. Using Mr. Potato Head to demonstrate these words makes for a memorable image that’ll help you recall even the weirdest vocabulary. It’s easier to remember that der Oberlippenbart is a mustache when you can visualize Mr. Potato Head’s goofy plastic ‘stache.
The host of this funny and engaging clip walks you through the German city of Münster, chatting with people on the street about their jobs in order to pick up some new work-related vocab. This is just one great example of Easy Languages’ video offerings—their channel includes a whole bunch of similar German street videos. Here at FluentU, this kind of real-world video is the holy grail — our entire German language video collection features the casual, everyday German that’s spoken in these street interviews.
Watching casual conversations in videos like this one is a fun way to learn lots of new German Wörter while also getting some great exposure to different accents and ways of speaking. It‘s also perfect for learning a bit more about German culture, which is useful whether you’re just a German student or if you want to visit Germany sometime soon. Even if you’re not a beginner, you’ll probably enjoy this clip—I know I did.
Doch is one of those tricky German words which doesn’t have just one English equivalent, but rather many possible translations. For this reason, it can often trip up new learners who may find it hard to understand just what doch means when it’s used in a sentence. Watching this funny 4-minute explanation will save you time puzzling over whether doch means “yes,” “no,” “sort of,” “after all” or…something else? Turns out it can mean any one of those things — yikes! One of many helpful German learning clips from the quirky and educational Get Germanized channel, this quick video will clear up all your confusion. You’ll be using doch in sentences in no time.
German Grammar Tips
Figuring out German word order is a really, really important part of becoming good at German. Generally, German sentences are constructed in this order: (1) Time (2) Manner (3) Place. Unlike in English, where sentence syntax is pretty flexible and emphasis mostly comes from added words and tone of voice, the placement of words in a German sentence tends to change what the sentence is emphasizing. Mastering German word order can be hard. But this clear, in-depth video takes just 10 minutes to teach you how to master the art of German syntax, using helpful visual explanations and loads of examples. Even if you’ve been studying German for a while, this is a good look back on one of the most crucial aspects of German grammar. And for beginners, correct word order is a great skill to work on before you progress to more complex stuff.
For those of us who only speak English, figuring out the German adjective endings can be super confusing. After all, in English, adjectives don’t change depending on their case—but in German they do. Mastering which ending to use with which adjective can be a very difficult aspect of learning German. But this video takes only 3 minutes to teach you easy strategies for remembering the adjective endings by using neat textual visualizations to illustrate the differences between adjective endings in each different case. Remembering which adjective ending to use when will be simpler with these quick tips.
8. Dative Case
This 16-minute video offers a totally comprehensive explanation of how to use the German dative case, as well as quick recap of the accusative and nominative cases. The dative case tends to be a challenge for German learners, especially for those who only know English when they’re starting out. But it’s absolutely necessary to master using the dative if you’re going to progress in your German learning. This video may be a bit long, but after you watch it I bet you’ll feel way more confident about when and how to use the dative case. It’s like an in-depth classroom lesson on the dative, but condensed into a shorter summary! Great not only for beginners, but also as a review for more advanced learners.
If you’ve ever wondered about the difference in German pronunciation between Deutschland and Österreich, this video offers a nice overview by having a German native and an Austrian native repeat the same phrases to showcase their differences. Austrian German is much more similar to Hochdeutsch (neutral/formal German) than Schweizerdeutsch (Swiss German), but it can still sound quite different from the way most people speak in Germany. Don’t fear, total beginners: subtitles in German and English are included, so this video will get laughs from everyone. This quick clip will teach you some new vocab as well as help you learn to better recognize the difference between Austrian German and Hochdeutsch. Definitely recommended if you’re planning to travel to Austria!
Now that you’ve gotten a bit of exposure to the Austrian dialect of German with the last clip, check out this funny video (another from Get Germanized) for a fast overview of some different dialects within Deutschland. I’ve lived in Germany a couple times, and I still hadn’t heard many of these unique dialects before watching the video. Chances are, most German learners won’t have either! This video offers some truly hilarious examples of various German dialects and also includes some great links to check out, such as this map which explains where in Germany all these variations of German are spoken. Links to the full versions of the crazy clips included in the video are also provided, giving you another awesome opportunity to expand your German knowledge.
Alright, now that you’ve watched these ten videos, you’re well on your way to exploring the vast variety of language learning resources that YouTube has to offer! Try making a point of watching at least one German video every day—the channels here are a great place to start—and see if your skills start to improve. You’ll be adding new words to your conversations auf Deutsch in no time.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn German with real-world videos.