If you’re going to get fluent in German, you’re going to need more than textbooks.
Even so, it may still seem strange to think of Twitter as a learning tool.
Please, give tweets a chance!
Even if you’re not a regular Twitter user, following a few German feeds can be a great way to effortlessly incorporate laughs and learning into your daily life. It’s just like how you keep track of your favorite blogs for learning German.
The main goal is for you to become totally immersed in German, a little bit at a time.
8 Great Twitter Accounts for Improving Your German
Let’s start with German humor.
Firstly – yes, it does exist! Being too serious and severe is a common stereotype of German people. The reality is, you have to get used to German humor in order to really find it funny.
It’s often subtle, clever, wicked and wry, the kind of humor that sneaks under the radar for many non-native speakers. But embracing a language also means learning to understand its jokes. It might take a bit of effort, but peering at that deadpan tweet until the punchline hits you will sharpen your comprehension skills and is a great exercise in finding your way into the German mindset.
The reward is completely worth it – whether you’re travelling through the diverse regions of Germany or studying from afar, I promise that understanding the German way of laughing at the universe will bring an entirely new dimension of lightheartedness into your existence. But then again, you probably already know about the many, many reasons why everyone can benefit from learning German!
For that “Denglish” perspective, I’d recommend legendary Twitter comic, misanthrope and philosopher @NeinQuarterly. Behind the nihilistic man with the monocle hides a deeply kind and intelligent individual named Eric Jarosinski, who began tweeting as a way of avoiding his professorial research responsibilities.
He is now leaving the ivory tower to focus on his brand of bilingual humor full-time. If you’re dabbling in German philosophy or literature along with the language itself, his tweets will double you over in hysterics with their witty references. This might be precisely the impetus you need to take that first step deeper into German culture. Funny in both English and German.
I like my chocolate like my Weltanschauung: German and very, very dark.
— Nein. (@NeinQuarterly) December 2, 2012
Das Wort zum Sonntag: Entspannungspolitik.
— Nein. (@NeinQuarterly) October 20, 2012
Vertrauen ist gut. Snowden ist besser.
— Nein. (@NeinQuarterly) November 10, 2013
This feed takes the art of transitory tweets to the next level. The long-suffering proprietor of @Aus_der_UBahn is stuck in the rattling compartments of Hamburg’s underground metro for hours every day. He takes advantage of all that time to compose caustically funny notes on the quirks and quotes of fellow passengers, the tedium and occasional caprice of the journey and general musings on life. Tones of resignation and subtle irony, the silent observer with the incisive pen – or smartphone.
Pärchen in der #U1: Sie redet unentwegt auf ihn ein. Er liest einen Thriller und nickt gelegentlich.
— Der Dings (@Aus_der_UBahn) September 4, 2014
Telefoniertyp: "Erst mal klingeln lassen."
Klingelton: Helene Fischer.
— Der Dings (@Aus_der_UBahn) September 1, 2014
Oh, #Easyjet Business wirbt mit festen Sitzplätzen im Flieger. "Wir sind nicht mehr scheiße, wir haben jetzt, was alle anderen auch haben!"
— Der Dings (@Aus_der_UBahn) September 1, 2014
This one will treat you to the news and the oddities of digital life. It’s a running German-language commentary on the happenings of this weird world with a general tone of disbelieving amusement. The “Grübelmonster,” aka @mainwasser, does that ironic, pointed Teutonic brand of humor so well. Reading these tidbits, you’ll often find yourself inspired to look up individual words and news happenings in greater depth.
Angesichts der bisherigen Bewerber um die Wowereit-Nachfolge schlage ich vor, den Job über eine RTL-Castingshow zu vergeben.
— Grübelmonster (@mainwasser) August 29, 2014
Im Wedding hat gestern jemand ein Auto geklaut. Mit wartender Beifahrerin drin. Die Leute werden echt immer schusseliger.
— Grübelmonster (@mainwasser) September 2, 2014
The sourpuss character @GrumpyMerkel is hilarious but presents slightly more of a challenge to German learners. To understand the jokes you’ll be required not only to parse the language, but to keep an eye on German and global current events, particularly in the political and cultural arenas. Luckily, you’ve already read all about the best resources for learning German through the news.
When the linguistic elements come together with whatever cultural references are being made – oh, the multidimensional amusement. Worth its bandwidth in gold. For instance, this tweet only makes sense or entertains in the context of the recent hacker dump of celebrity nude photos:
Wo sind eigentlich meine Nacktbilder hin?
— Grumpy Merkel (@GrumpyMerkel) September 1, 2014
This one references the Ice Bucket Challenge currently making the viral rounds all over the net, seasoned with that wonderfully acerbic humor:
Seit wann wird man im Netz mit Kübeln voll Eiswasser übergossen? Das Netz ist doch dazu da, um Leute mit Kübeln voll Scheiße zu übergießen!
— Grumpy Merkel (@GrumpyMerkel) August 21, 2014
And this one-liner will inspire a particularly good chuckle if you know anything about German history and have also spent a winter freezing your fingers off in the Hauptstadt.
Scheiße, der russische Winter steht kurz vor Berlin!
— Grumpy Merkel (@GrumpyMerkel) August 31, 2014
On that note – why restrict yourself to learning about happenings in Deutschland solely through humor feeds? By following a couple German news feeds, you can constantly challenge and inform yourself. Reading the news is simply one of the best ways to elevate the level of your linguistic competence and deepen your understanding of the country.
An added benefit: You will always be on the ball and prepared to discuss meaningful topics when you encounter real Germans. You know that stereotype about Germans hating small talk? It’s not entirely true – but they certainly get through it quickly and dive into the real issues. Having well-founded opinions on relevant current events is a good way to break through the superficial niceties and make a solid impression.
I would recommend this feed for politics, investigative pieces and longform journalism. Der Spiegel is respected and oft-cited around the globe, and will keep you abreast of the most important developments in ‘Schland and beyond. The publication boasts an enviable network of sources, and has been in the vanguard with ongoing revelations about the activities of the NSA and other intelligence agencies in the wake of the Edward Snowden leaks.
Polizeigewalt in Mexiko: Dein Feind und Folterer… http://t.co/LIlB9mXhqp
— SPIEGEL ONLINE alles (@SPIEGEL_alles) September 4, 2014
Rückkehr in den Kalten Krieg: Denn sie wissen nicht, was sie tun… http://t.co/3KpQdvOiWs
— SPIEGEL ONLINE alles (@SPIEGEL_alles) September 4, 2014
For a mix of cultural pieces, human interest, global affairs and more, @dw_deutsch is a great option – the base of coverage is vast, but Deutsche Welle’s unifying thread throughout all of their platforms and media is an international sensibility and an interest in cultural exchange.
Their subsection @dw_kultur focuses specifically on the arts. The Deutsche Welle site also offers a wonderful mix of multimedia content. Much like NPR, articles that ran as features on their radio programs are accompanied by audio tracks, which can do a lot for improving your listening comprehension.
Japans Kabinett wird weiblicher: Japan ist die drittgrößte Wirtschaftsmacht der Welt, hinkt aber im internatio… http://t.co/0Ql1fHKAxH
— DW (Deutsch) (@dw_deutsch) September 3, 2014
— DW | Kultur (@dw_kultur) September 2, 2014
Last but not least, I’d like to give you a couple of trusty feeds for handy German phrases on the daily.
Constant exposure is key for improving your language skills, and no matter how fluent you become there is always room for improvement. That’s alright, since there will always be words in your native language that you aren’t familiar with. Don’t be content to let your abilities reach a plateau, and don’t think that language learning should ever stop within the confines of a classroom. Daily German language tweets will make sure that this stays in the forefront of your mind. You’ll always be learning something new.
With fresh new tweets rolling in, you’ll never have to hunt around for new words to hone your written and spoken German. They’ll be delivered right to you! Some days you’ll learn travel phrases, time-telling vocabulary or new ways to talk about delectable German foods.
Your reward will be the startled look of amazement on native speakers’ faces when you surprise them with a word or phrase they would have assumed to be beyond your scope of acquired knowledge. It’s always nice to thoroughly smash somebody’s expectations. Make the language truly yours by following these great Twitter accounts!
The philosophy of @LearnXDGerman is that German should be fun! I agree completely. You’ll get a steady stream of sentences and phrases for all situations, first in German, then in English, and often taking a whimsical turn to make you smile.
Nimm meinen Ratschlag, ich verwende ihn nicht. = Take my advice — I'm not using it 🙂
— German should be fun (@LearnXDGerman) September 4, 2014
Denke immer daran, dass du einzigartig bist. Genau wie alle anderen. = Always remember that you are unique. Just like everyone else 😀
— German should be fun (@LearnXDGerman) September 1, 2014
This one is an entertaining source of shorter phrases and single words. Each tweet provides a word or phrase, the general sense of its translation and also the literal meaning, which can be beyond amusing. If you like super-literal idioms, be sure to check out www.ithinkispider.com sometime for additional laughs. Preferably not while drinking any beverages over your keyboard!
The German for a wimpy person is ein Weichei which means a soft egg.
— The German For… (@thegermanfor) August 11, 2014
The German for someone who drinks a lot is ein Schluckspecht which means gulping woodpecker #Friday
— The German For… (@thegermanfor) August 15, 2014
While you’re subscribing to all these various feeds, make sure to change the language configuration of your Twitter account to German! In fact, I would recommend doing the same for Facebook, email services and maybe even your computer if you’re feeling up to a challenge.
Forcing yourself to solve problems, navigate settings and troubleshoot technical issues in another language can certainly be a challenge, but it will also help by exposing you to new vocabulary and ultimately improving your fluency – which is what it’s all about.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn German with real-world videos.