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German is a West Germanic language, thus related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. It is one of the world's major languages and the most widely spoken mother tongue in the European Union. Around the world, German is spoken by approximately 105 million native speakers and also by about 80 million non-native speakers. Standard German is widely taught in schools, universities and Goethe Institutes worldwide.
German is spoken primarily in Germany (first language for more than 95% of the population), Austria (89%) and Switzerland (65%). The majority of the small population of Liechtenstein also speaks German.

Other European German-speaking communities are found in Northern Italy (Bolzano-Bozen), in the East Cantons of Belgium, in the French Alsace region which often was traded between Germany and France in history and in some border villages of the former South Jutland County (in German, Nordschleswig, in Danish, Sønderjylland) of Denmark.

Michel Thomas ( by Michel Thomas)  No memorizing, no text books, no drills, no homework!
The German series by Michel Thomas is another extremely popular and effective course which is again taught in small pieces and gradually built up. After just an hour you will find yourself being able to say long and fluent sentences. The Michel Thomas method has only been mainstream for the last 10 years, previously it was only accessible to the super rich who paid around $18,000 for lessons with the great man. You will understand why when you use it! Again though, the students can be annoying but its all part of the learning experience. The courses are all audio. Please also look at the reviews others have given. There is now an Advanced course
 

Assimil German With Ease ( by Assimil) 
Assimil has a glowing reputation for language learning based on their simple two fold approach. The first stage is known as "Passive Learning" which requires you to listen to the lesson, say it aloud (or to yourself) so you get pronunciation right and then to follow it again using the translation conveniently written directly opposite. The second stage is called "Active Phase" and starts approximately half way through the book. At this time you carry on doing the Passive phase (daily) then you revert back to the first lesson and translate it yourself without looking at the translation. It is more effective if you approach this as a written exercise rather than trying to recall it in your mind only. Then you do your next passive lesson and go to the second lesson of the book to translate and so on.... Don't worry, though, the instructions are clear and you won't go wrong. You need to do one lesson a day (also a translation when you reach that second stage which adds another half an hour). The dialogues are expertly written and played out by professional voice actors of the country. They are lively and humorous and keep your interest. The lessons are ordered so you build gradually on what you have learnt. Don't be tempted to do more than one lesson a day, there is a reason why its "little and often" so to maximise your learning capability. This is an approach that will take at least 6 months to complete and by then you will acquire a level of German understanding comparable to B2 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. The lessons/stories are different for each language.
 

 

C1 Fluency

 

Complete German( by Paul Coggle) 
Following hot on the heels of Assimil is this completely revised and user friendly pack for learning German to B2 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages.  This is a more traditional learning process rather than the mainly "intuitive" learning you get with Assimils'

The thematic approach is much in line with traditional language learning and does cover the subject in depth and more importantly progressively so you can see progress being made. Each unit starts with a "Statement of Aims" and completes the section by

a) Presenting the language

b) Practicing it

c) Description of language forms: For producing your own sentences

d) Pronunciation and Intonation

e) Information on German People and German Life

It is essential to have the CD's that go with the course to get the language practice and work through the book, since a lot of the exercises are listening and commenting. It's a very bad idea to try and learn a language without hearing it!

A very enjoyable course indeed and a great improvement on the older versions. Extremely well taught and presented. We recommend that you follow only one unit a week and really absorb it ! There are 25 units in total so will take 25 weeks to complete. Level B2 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages compares to a good A Level.

There is now a follow on course for C1 Fluency, entitled Perfect Your German (Audio Support here)

 

 
Tell Me More  
Tell Me More is a revolutionary new approach to language learning. The German language course has over 5 Levels with 250 hours of learning, 1200 exercises and 3 hours of video role playing where you get to dub your voice over a character in films. Tell Me More will allow you to achieve fluency in the German language and its not hard work but really great fun. Its very difficult to tear yourself away from it! This will last you a long long time but its an enjoyable way to learn.
 

 
Berlitz (AvanQuest) 
At first we were quite amazed at the sheer amount of teaching material in this package. Berlitz Premier German covers three levels of teaching (Beginner/Intermediate/Advanced) mainly through a succession of videos with native speakers conversing in typical surroundings. The same types of conversations you would hear on the streets of Germany. The course starts with basic conversations and gradually increase speed and vocabulary while reinforcing the learning through quizzes and games. Its very interesting and engaging and will keep you hooked for months! This is one of the best value for money packages we have seen and have awarded it 5 stars.
 

Linguaphone All Talk (Linguaphone) 
Linguaphone's "All Talk" range is surprisingly good in that it is entirely audio and revolves around a soap opera type style of dialogues, involving a 'posh' English lady called Jane arriving on holiday in Munich and being helped by a native speaker, who speaks little English. You are always wanting to hear what happens next to our hapless heroes!

The dialogues are lively and funny, with background sounds (much like a radio play). After you are introduced to each dialogue you are then tested on the vocabulary and structure and also you are expected to apply it to alternative scenarios. These complete "All Talk" programs are 16 hours in duration and will give you a vocabulary of 2000 words, which is good enough to make yourself understood and converse simply with native speakers. It is a painless way to acquire an excellent understanding!

 

Pimsleur ( by Paul Pimsleur) 
Only the first 1-5 lessons of Level 1 are linked here. You should try these as samples to see if it fits your learning style. There are 5 Levels in total for Pimsleur's German. Pimsleur start you off immediately speaking and responding in German. These courses are excellent but they are expensive and you may not be suited to this way of learning. These are all audio courses and teach conversational German, by using them for 30 minutes each day. There are 5 levels and each level comprises of 30 half hour length lessons, each level building on the previous one. No explanations regarding verb conjugations though, but there is an English speaking host who guides, prompts and gives you not much more than word meanings. However it is an extremely effective method and has been used extensively within Govt and educational establishments. You can read about the method here. Download more detailed information on course content here (PDF)

 

 

Rosetta Stone ( by Rosetta Stone) 
A nice fun way to learn German in the same way you learnt your own language. Total immersion is the name of the game and it works and works well, if you can afford it! As before there are no translations or explanations and you learn by intuition and association, matching words or sentences to pictures. You will definitely need a bi-lingual dictionary and preferably a basic verb book. Its actually quite an enjoyable experience. All 5 levels are included here and for Rosetta Stone this is great value!
 
 

 
Learn in your Car ( by Henry Raymond) 
The Learn in your Car series is a slight improvement on Vocabulearn in that the quality is slightly better and the music has gone! What you have instead are around 100 audio lessons of an American man saying things in English for the softly spoken German lady to pleasantly translate it for you. These native speakers are dialect free and the series is great for revising on the go. Like Vocabulearn you play these over and over again, but they do work. I don't recommend them for beginners because they don't give any instruction on verb usage or sentence construction. It is however a very pleasant revision experience. Product shown is for all 3 levels.
 
Vocabulearn ( Penton Overseas Inc) 
These are similar to the Learn in Your Car series by Henry Raymond. At first glance these seem like rather ineffective ways of learning as they generally comprise of an English speaker saying a word or phrase which is followed up by a German lady translating it all to a backdrop of light music. You are essentially learning by rote. As such you play them until you scream! Yes you will learn hundreds of words and phrases but really for beginners this is not a good way because you are not getting an understanding of verb structure of sentence construction. However this is great for testing yourself while commuting or making use of dead time to revise what you know. Vocabulearn is great for clarification of genders which often need reinforcing! There are also Level 2 and Level 3 if you want more advanced learning/testing.
 
 

Earworms ( by Marlon Lodge) 
This is a very simple idea that makes learning German fun and easy. Its an English man conversing with a German woman and asking her how to say things in German. All the time there is a rhythmic sound/beat going on to her syllables which is designed to stick in your mind rather like a catchy song. The vocabulary being taught is basic but essential and is a relaxing experience. You don't need to make any real conscious effort as your brain is absorbing it through the beats. There are two cd's in the German range and you can listen to samples by clicking the pictures on the left. Overall a fun and enjoyable experience, reasonably priced and it works but only for basic survival skills. Product shown is complete set (1&2).
 
Recommended Study
 

 

 

 

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