We love it, crave it and can’t get enough.
Besides being the best way to spend a lazy Sunday morning, is there more to sleep that we’re not appreciating?
If you’re a German learner, then yes—there is!
With practice and the right tools, you can build your German skills even while you’re drifting off into dreamland.
In order to achieve German fluency, you don’t want to miss any chance to up your game. You may already be aware of the linguistic tips and immersive strategies to keep you sharp in your daily, wakeful language learning process. But you may not be taking advantage of your nights to further build your German skills.
But how do we go about learning when we’re ready to doze off?
We’ll show you 12 fantastic resources that can help you make the most of your sleep. But first, let’s take a look at what you can and can’t expect from this type of learning.
How Does Sleep Learning Actually Work?
A number of scientific studies suggest that your language learning can continue even when you’re ready to snooze. The “studying” you’ll use here will primarily be audio playback—that is, listening to audio resources in German.
When we’re asleep, our brains are actually quite active and thus can receive and respond to information on some level. We can refer to this as “passive intake,” in which content is flowing through our minds and able to leave some kind of mental track without conscious effort on our part.
For the most part, this will help reinforce what you’ve already learned while awake. Studies have shown that hearing previously-learned words of another language during sleep can help to reinforce them in the memory.
Some research has even indicated that we can learn new information in our sleep. But before you grab your pillows and get cozy under the covers, keep reading…
Sleep Studying Can’t Replace Wakeful Studying
Remember that sleep studying should just be a supplement and not substitute the learning you do when you’re awake.
Mastering German will require a good deal of active, fully-conscious studying. Listening to German audio when you’re asleep might improve your memory of vocabulary, but it certainly won’t make you fluent overnight.
We advise that you review the material offered in sleep-learning resources when you’re awake and monitor your improvement. Note where you’re still struggling and try to push the troublesome content more in your sleep-learning, then check any progress made the next day.
With enough vigilance, it’s possible that all your sleep-learning sessions can add up to quite a bit. But with this vigilance, you’ll also need some good study resources.
Use Your Snooze: 12 Great Audio Resources to Learn German While You Sleep
There’s an app for nearly anything you can think of, and that includes studying German when you sleep! You should definitely check out apps that teach German in general, but here are a few that would work quite well when you’re ready to doze off.
Available on: iTunes
A simple app designed for quick nighttime learning, SleepyGerman is ideal for those who fall asleep instantly but still want to catch a short but substantial amount of language review. The app is designed to be used for three minutes nightly before you nod off, taking advantage of the memory boost that a good night’s sleep can provide.
The main study format involves auditory “A or B” tests—basically mini quizzes where a word is given and you have two possible answer choices. With enough nights of using this app, you’re sure to see an enhancement in your German vocabulary.
You can download the app for $1.99 on iTunes.
Available on: iTunes, Google Play
Friendly to both absolute beginners and more advanced students, 50 Languages gives a package of 100 vocabulary lessons that help you learn basic German in a variety of contexts. You can choose a category and access a list of words and phrases, complete with audio recordings.
There’s an option to download bilingual audio in case you want to simply listen to the vocabulary. This would be ideal when you just want to immerse your brain with the lovely sounds of specific German words before you sink into blissful dreams.
As the scientific studies suggested, doing just this seems to have positive results, but make sure that the audio you’re listening to has at least some words that you’re familiar with.
Available on: iTunes, Google Play
FluentU is a unique language learning app that you can use morning ’til night.
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.
To get the most out of your sleep study regimen, try watching a FluentU video right before you go to bed. That way, the new vocabulary can cement in your memory as you sleep. When you wake up in the morning, you can use FluentU’s built-in progress tracking tools to find out exactly how much new vocabulary you’ve retained.
For even more passive bedtime learning, you can download audio files from FluentU to listen to as you drift off, no internet connection needed.
Available on: iTunes, Google Play
This app offers a large collection of nearly 700 audio files ranging from German literature to audio/radio drama. With such diversity of materials, you’ll be exposed to a great range of German vocabulary and speaking styles. It’s recommended that more advanced learners use this app, although confident beginners can try it out as well.
It would also be a good idea to pay the $2.99 to get the pro version, which lets you mark favorites, lose the pestering ads and use a “Sleep Timer” option. The “Sleep Timer” enables you to set a time to terminate the app and stop the audio playback, a feature which is a must if you want to save your phone battery or if you don’t want to wake up in the middle of an entirely different story narration!
Podcasts are a particularly fantastic source for quality German content. From real-life conversations to more structured, educational dialogues, you can get access to a great variety of audio to boost your familiarity with the Deutsch tongue before you decide to pass out.
If you’re in the mood to listen to some friendly, informative conversation, you should kick back, relax and listen to Jolanda and Vera give their thoughts on different matters, all in the German tongue.
Each of their podcasts is relatively short (most being shorter than 20 minutes) so you can hit play just as you’re getting into bed. This podcast is suited for beginners to intermediate learners.
Conveniently, while being available for download, each podcast is also supplemented with a full transcript, which you should certainly review when you’re up and awake.
This podcast comes from the team behind LingQ, an entertaining (but effective!) German learning app for your waking hours. LingQ offers thousands of hours of German lessons from beginner and up, with tons of exposure to authentic German. You get reading, listening and vocabulary practice all integrated in this handy app.
A fantastic resource chock-full of learning material, GermanPod101 supplies an arsenal of lessons that can satisfy learners of all levels. With interesting topics and engaging hosts, the podcast will make your German studying both invigorating and fun.
In terms of your sleep-studying, you can just pop in an earphone and listen to any of the lessons. You can listen to acted out scenes, random discussions (about anything from German wedding customs to garden gnomes) or grammar instruction.
For more effective sleep learning, it’s recommended that you focus on something like conversations rather than pure instructional audio. The latter might be less immersive because there may be a little too much English used, and German conversations would likely have a larger range of vocabulary that your brain can filter through.
Regardless of what you listen to, you should also check out the accompanying text transcript when you’re not too sleepy.
The title says it like it is. This podcast is meant to ease you smoothly and gradually into your German comfort zone. The series is hosted by Annik Rubens, a journalist living in Germany. Depending on the episode, you listen to Annik instruct you on how to navigate through certain scenarios, discuss famous German figures or even talk about beer.
The podcast is great for beginners as there are episodes that include both English and German. There are also episodes almost entirely in German designed for intermediate learners, but Annik speaks slowly enough that you can pick up each word and not feel as if you’re floundering. All of this makes Slow German a lovely source for some good, tidy sleep-learning, perhaps even working as a productive lullaby!
Late-night Youtube Videos
Besides funny compilations and music playlists, Youtube also houses fantastic language-learning resources. There’s plenty of content aimed for German learners of different levels. Here are just a few channels you should listen to when you’re ready to hit the hay.
With more than 90 videos, the Einfach Deutsch channel is dedicated to teaching German in a variety of contexts. The topics range from specific vocabulary lessons to German fairy tales. There are also a few videos titled “Learn German While You Sleep” that offer audio of purely-German conversations and narratives, complete with sound effects.
The channel is a solid resource to get familiar with real spoken German. There isn’t much English used, which is great if you want to genuinely test yourself, but even absolute beginners should give a go at the videos.
A fantastic channel boasting over 600 videos purely on the German language, Learn German attempts to teach the language in as diverse a manner as possible. It’s great for both daytime and nighttime study.
You can study from lesson-based clips that focus strictly on grammar/vocabulary or listen to stories, news and recorded conversations. Beyond that, there are also videos meant to enhance your listening skills and even a crash-course series to learn German in 30 days (called “Deutsch in 30 Tagen”).
There’s a great deal of material on this channel to use for your sleep-learning with plenty of variety. The clips contain simple and clean audio of German vocabulary that’ll keep your brain entertained but certainly not strained.
The Language Channel
Although not solely dedicated to the German language, this channel offers helpful, lengthy audio that serves to pound vocabulary and phrases into your memory. Many of the videos focus mostly on conversational terminology. Conveniently, the audio also includes direct translations, so you get a word or phrase in English followed by the German equivalent.
This channel would be a good start to your sleep-learning journey. Beginners can keep up with the slower, steadier narration and the compact nature of the content of each video.
Audiobooks to Fall Asleep To
If you love falling asleep listening to a story, then you should know that doing so is also a great chance to get some German sleep-learning. Books and stories are fabulous in letting you get accustomed to both the basics and finer nuances of any language.
You don’t want to strain your brain right before you plan to sleep, and audiobooks (like the videos from the Youtube channels we mentioned) can be a great way to simply help your brain passively intake information like pronunciation and certain vocabulary. Luckily, there are several great places to listen to German stories and keep your brain and imagination active.
This website houses a sizable collection of audiobooks. The best part? They’re all available to download legally for free.
You can entertain yourself with books from a number of categories, including science fiction, horror, adventure, fantasy and more. The files are available in the convenient MP3 format, so you can easily download them onto your favorite device and listen to them wherever and whenever, in bed or outside.
Note: the website is entirely in German, but it’s not too difficult to navigate.
Who said that children’s stories are only good for kids? Ohrka puts that opinion to rest with its hearty collection, which includes iconic classics like “Alice in Wonderland” and “Gulliver’s Travels.”
This website is suited for beginners who want to listen to less complicated German, but learners at more advanced levels who want a refreshing take on their studies should definitely give it a try, especially because everything is free to download.
With these resources and good discipline, you should be all set to transform your snoozing hours into calm and quiet German study sessions.
Gute Nacht (Goodnight) and happy sleeping!
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn German with real-world videos.