The Pop Culture Guide to Learning German

This a guide for German pop culture  that I created for everyone interested in learning German in a „natural“ and fun way. My goal was mainly to include media one could watch, listen to and read for fun. I tried my best to categorize the different sources by level of difficulty but still, it is up to the reader to decide whether the language used fits his/her listening and speaking abilities.

Please keep in mind that this guide is neither neutral nor an official guide but instead heavily biased by my own likes and interests. If you like to make some additions, please shoot me an e-mail via berlinmag[at]outlook[dot]com!

The guide will soon be available as pdf and text via the Creative Commons.

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For starters:

For the advanced reader:

Television

Shows that are watchable for German learners in the first and second year (These are mostly shows for children but please keep in mind that it is a huge advantage  for learners starting out that  the shows’ protagonists speak very clearly and slowly):

  • Sesamstraße The German equivalent to “Sesame Street,” you can find it on Youtube)
  • Logo  The world’s news in a suitable language for children

For speakers with fluency or near native fluency:

Podcasts and online radio

Beginners:

Especially language learning beginners will have problems understanding what is said on the channels since native speakers tend to speak very fast. Instead of listening to a radio channel, you can start with online podcasts. A very good podcast for learners with a need for slow-spoken German is http://www.slowgerman.com/. The cast presents topics of German everyday-life in an entertaining way and provides the listener with lots of cultural information. The website of  “Deutsche Welle” provides podcasts as well, although more suitable for learners already  familiar with the language.

Advanced learners:

Germany’s broadcasting landscape offers a variety of channels. I would like to share with you the ones made for a younger audience.

Music

Beginners and advanced learners:

Music is all about your own preferences and taste, so this can serve as a brief introduction before you continue to discover your favorite bands yourself. Write me if you’re looking for a specific genre. Some bands most Germans know are: Die Toten Hosen, Die Aerzte, Juli, Pur, Sportfreunde Stiller, Jan Delay, Wir sind Helden, Peter Fox, Prinzen, Nena, Rammstein, Peter Maffay, Grönemeyer, Westernhagen, Die Fantastischen Vier, Element of Crime… In my opinion, it is more important to find something which suits you instead of looking for songs which you understand every single word of. Open your eyes and ears and start to explore and experiment!

Comics

Beginners and advanced learners:

Comics and cartoons are a very good way to have fun while practicing German. While they have the advantage that texts are mostly short and  easier to understand, they tend to use slang and “play” with the language (often using puns and wordplays) a lot.

Books

If you own a German text book already, beginners should better stick to the texts provided since the level of difficulty of „authentic“ German literature tends to frustrate learners who just started. One way to start reading German for advanced learners is to use books with a German text accompanied by an English translation. Here are some examples: German Short Stories 1 and German Short Stories 2. Fluent readers can find classic, often “canonical” German texts for free on Gutenberg.

German movies  (with subtitles)

A small but great collection of German films I can recommend to watch. All film are available in German with English subtitles. Click on the titel to watch the trailer on youtube.

That’s it! If you have any further questions or additions, e-mail me!

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