We all know how easy it is to get sucked into a video game!
One hour quickly turns into three, and you don’t even notice that you skipped lunch.
What if you could turn this addiction into a language learning experience?
Games and language study go together like Curry (curry) and Wurst (sausage). Using games as a part of your language studies can add that extra motivation to help you get over a learning plateau.
“Gamification,” or rewards-based learning, can supercharge your studies, but so can video games. Video and computer games can be a rich source of story, dialogue, action and—of course—fun!
Many game releases have German-language options you can toggle on and off to include translated subtitles, menus and even full German audio. Adding German-language gaming to your studies, coupled with flashcards and memorization methods such as spaced repetition systems, is a great way to improve your German comprehension.
But what if you don’t have the time to sit down and muddle through a new release? What if you’d like to move beyond just playing games? What if you’d like a bit more conversational German listening practice?
Enter German “Let’s Play” videos, streams that features video game play overlaid by German-language discussion.
By watching and following some of the many, many German Let’s Play channels hosted on YouTube, you’ll be able to get plenty of listening and reading practice, not just from German-language video games, but from German gamers themselves.
This article will provide a selection of Let’s Play streamers to check out on YouTube—and offer ways to find others like them.
What’s So Great About Let’s Play?
If you’re not into games, that might not sound very exciting, but even casual fans can enjoy streams of their favorite titles. Let’s Play videos are a type of screencast where gamers play through video and computer games, sometimes featuring additional webcam footage or voice-over commentary on the stream itself.
Additionally, many Let’s Play streamers can be funny, witty or interesting, so even non-gamers can enjoy listening to the thoughts they share.
Although Let’s Play is a genre that’s flourished on English-language YouTube, there are also many German-speaking streamers. In their streams, you’ll not only hear hours of conversational speech—sometimes with different dialects—but also running commentary centered on a single topic. For this reason, Let’s Play videos are a treasure trove of German-language listening practice.
Like with watching the news or listening to talk radio, both of which focus on topics like weather, politics and local events, a Let’s Play video can offer focused vocabulary based on the game being streamed. For games you like, you’ll automatically have an idea of possible proper nouns (“It’s a-me, Mario!”), allowing you to practice learning verbs and prepositions from context. Graphic elements on-screen can also provide clues.
Some Let’s Play videos feature streamers reading in-game text as the game’s characters, while others will ad hoc translate if the game has English text. When a streamer reads for the characters in a fun way, it’s almost like listening to an audio book or radio play, interspersing carefully crafted texts with off-the-cuff speech.
How to Learn from a German Let’s Play Video
You can watch Let’s Play videos for fun, just passively soaking in the audio, or you can take things further by creating flashcards and using tools like SRS to pick up words and phrases. While not every streamer will speak “proper” German, hearing real-life speech is invaluable for bolstering your comprehension. For this reason, even non-gamers can benefit from watching German Let’s Play streams.
Many streamers will speak too fast for even high-level intermediate learners to follow everything. Try to pick up what you can, going back to old videos to gauge your progress over time. If it’s still too fast, YouTube allows you to slow down a video’s speed. Try going down to 0.75 speed for a slower—and possibly easier to understand—Let’s Play experience.
For even more control, you can use a third-party service to isolate and loop parts of YouTube videos. Youloop is one such tool that allows you to create and save YouTube loops.
Also, it helps to hear the words in multiple contexts. So if you find that you can’t get enough of these videos, supplement your learning with a platform like FluentU. FluentU is an online immersion platform that takes real-world videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
Lastly, if there are parts of a video that are hard to comprehend, try checking the YouTube comments to see if you can glean things from context. You can also look on fan sites or even Wikipedia. For example, if you were watching “The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time” stream, you could pick up tons of useful vocabulary from the German-language Wikipedia page.
Learn German on YouTube with 14 German-speaking Let’s Play Creators
If any of the streamers listed below strike your fancy, be sure to subscribe to their channel! You can find other channels on YouTube that they follow by going to their profile page and clicking “Channels” to see which channels they’ve subscribed to or recommend.
To find more videos on YouTube, try searching for “let’s play Deutsch,” which will pull up German Let’s Play videos. You can add a game title, like “Bravely Default”—to find streamers focusing on a particular game.
Some streamers will have links to Twitch pages. Let’s Play videos have flourished on Twitch, and live commenting is both encouraged and expected. Because of this, you can practice commenting in German and possibly conversing with the streamer you like.
Now let’s get to those German-speaking Let’s Play channels. You’ll find them listed in alphabetical order. They were chosen for their popularity and for the variety of games the streamers play. If you find that you enjoy watching German-language Let’s Play videos, you’re in luck—there’s plenty out there.
Well-known, a bit goofy and a huge fan of Nintendo games, Domtendo is a popular streamer in the German-language Let’s Play community. Although he can speak a bit quickly, his voice and inflections are fairly easy to understand, making him great for beginners.
He sometimes explains game mechanics in the beginning of game playthroughs, as in this “The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker” video, which can help you pick up lots of verbs. He seems to be a bit more accessible for non-gamers given that he plays recognizable titles and likes to ease viewers into his streams. His character voices are also very fun!
This smaller Let’s Play channel features videos from the graulöwigen (“gray-lionish”) ElikChan, as well as the occasional group video (“Let’s Play Together”). Solo videos have clear, slightly fast audio.
In group videos, like this playthrough of “Super Mario 3D World,” streamers are very enthusiastic, yelling out things and going back and forth in fast-paced conversation. As such, while videos on this channel can be challenging to watch for new learners, some provide good conversational listening practice.
ElikChan tends to play lots of RPGs and fun, casual games. As the channel’s description states, he focuses on die bunte Welt von Nintendo (the colorful world of Nintendo).
Endzeitkind starts up streams with a hearty “Moin Moin” (hello), which is certainly a fun way to begin a stream. For the most part, he speaks slowly, making for excellent practice for lower-level learners. (Switching to 0.75 speed feels very slow!)
Unlike many of the streamers on this list, he doesn’t focus on Nintendo games, instead streaming a lot of horror and indie games. His playthroughs of indie titles are organized into “Indie Spotlight” playlists for each year.
FreshCuppa is a joy to watch for lower-level learners, since he speaks in a measured, clear manner. His streams are fairly easy to follow. Although he tends to play less triple-A titles than some Let’s Players, other titles he’s streamed are pretty recognizable, like his videos featuring the action RPG (or, as he describes it, a Rollenspiel) “Chrono Trigger.”
The first video of that particular playthrough is interesting in that he mentions that he’s playing a fan-translated version of the game. Unfortunately, his last upload was in 2012, so what you see is what you get.
This channel offers exactly what the title says: German plays of “Hearthstone.” If you’re a fan of Blizzard’s mega-popular card game, you’ll likely enjoy watching these German streams and hearing explanations of decks and card choices auf Deutsch (in German).
The videos are nearly an hour apiece and offer loads of color commentary. With the streamer speaking at a mid-range speed, videos shouldn’t be too hard to follow for intermediate-level learners. He quit playing “Hearthstone” in 2016 following this video, but there are still plenty of other videos on his channel.
What’s especially cool is seeing the text on the German-language “Hearthstone” cards, many of which feature lots of interesting spell names (like Kampfschrei, or “Battlecry”).
This popular German-language YouTuber (with millions of subscribers) offers more than just Let’s Play videos on his channel. He likes to stream community-style games and creates videos featuring more than just one speaker. He tends to speak quickly, so using YouTube’s video speed function may be helpful.
Some of his videos feature cross talk—that is, people talking over each other—such as the spirited conversations held during his “Uno” streams.
His videos have a lot of colorful language, so if you’re up for it, you can pick up a lot of Umgangssprache (slang). His tagline on his YouTube About page reads, “Klick mich hart, du Sau!” (Click me hard, you pig!).
HerrDekay is a fast speaker, and he can be a bit hard to understand even for intermediate learners. That said, he’s a prolific content creator, and he’s uploaded tons of videos to his channel.
He mostly streams Nintendo games, particularly “Zelda” titles, but he’s also done playthroughs of older RPGs such as “Illusion of Time” and the first “Kingdom Hearts.”
In these long streams, he reads through character text and provides fun, engaging voices. This combination of acting and long, conversational streaming is enjoyable to watch. He stopped streaming as of late 2016.
Honigball offers a mix of Let’s Play and vlogs on her channel, with “Stardew Valley” and “Sims 4” being the two games she most currently plays. She adds a cam overlay to her screen and provides lots of color commentary.
Given that she plays a number of more open-ended games, her gameplay commentary is less focused on the games themselves and more on the stories she creates, as in this Let’s Play of “Die Sims 4: Hunde & Katzen” (“The Sims 4: Dogs & Cats”).
A wonderful streamer for lower-level learners, lookslikeLink loves Nintendo games—and especially “Zelda” titles. He acts out voices, as shown in this video for a “Mario & Luigi Superstar Saga” game, with his squeaky Toad voice being especially goofy and fun.
He doesn’t speak too quickly, making him easier to follow than some other Let’s Play streamers. He streams new games frequently, and his channel features a number of well-organized playlists, from “Doom” to “Pikmin 2.”
Pugnax speaks slowly and with gravitas, and the deep timbre of his speech distinguishes his streams from others on this list. He plays a variety of games, with one of his playlists being devoted to a “Harry Potter” game, “Harry Potter und der Gefangene von Askaban” (“Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban”).
One unusual title he’s played is one featuring the grumpy, popular German character Bernd das Brot (Bernd the bread), offering a peek at a “slice” of German culture not usually seen in English-speaking countries.
With nearly two million subscribers, Sarazar is a fairly popular streamer. His channel features lots of action and adventure games like “Uncharted,” “Assassin’s Creed” and more.
He doesn’t tend to speak too quickly, and he likes to act out voices as he plays. In addition, he doesn’t talk over in-game cut scenes, allowing viewers to see the games’ stories unfold.
He likes to dig into the mythology of games, too, like when he talks about finding a Ganesh figure in the India-centric “Uncharted: The Lost Legacy.” His YouTube page is well-organized, with playlists separated out by game and genre.
Suishomaru streams fairly often on Twitch, uploading finished streams to YouTube. As such, his streams for games such as “Pokémon” feature on-screen displays of chat logs.
He has a fun sense of humor—as you can see in this clip of him naming his Pokémon after foods—and he often interacts with his audience. He speaks quickly at times, particularly when reading out viewer comments from the chat.
In addition to playing “Pokémon,” he also plays RPGs such as “Fire Emblem,” with his channel featuring a playlist of videos from “Fire Emblem Fates.”
TRASHTAZMANI plays a wide variety of games, including point-and-click titles. One surprisingly helpful series of videos is her playlist for “Sally’s Salon,” a casual game set at a hair salon.
The vocabulary in the videos is fairly useful in normal life, what with the focus on providing customers with a Haarschnitt (haircut) and grabbing a Handtuch (towel) after giving a Shampoo (shampoo).
She acts out some voices and doesn’t speak too quickly, making her channel good for lower-level learners.
Yume PeachyPie streams a number of open-ended sandbox titles such as “Sims 4.” While reading out characters’ lines, she sometimes skips ahead in the text, giving her videos a conversational feel.
In addition to creating stories for sandbox games, she also streams games like “Harvest Moon,” as well as point-and-click titles. She can speak a bit quickly at times, so be prepared!
If you’re at all interested in games—or just want to hear hours of conversational German—try looking at German-language Let’s Play videos for something new.
You won’t be disappointed, but you might get a little addicted!
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