My primary advice would be for you to check out the
links on our course website. It contains links
to everything under the sun, and if you play with these
links a little every day, you can learn a lot and have
fun while you're doing it. In particular, you'll
find links to:
websites where you can watch German
TV programs or listen to German radio "live" or "on
demand" over the internet, which is a great way
to see and hear authentic German
homepages and websites with music lyrics
newspapers and magazines
humor sites, including the complete text of The
Life of Brian auf deutsch
homepages, movie reviews, movie schedules
texts of lots of literary, philosophical and religious
texts (including the Bible)
Menus from German restaurants and university cafeterias
and popular scientific news and articles
dictionaries and German courses/exercises
of some German or German-American companies
works in German
For more structured practice, you can refer to some
other features of the general German course website,
list of the most
frequent German words (learn these 200 words,
and you'll know 1/3 - 1/2 of the words in just about
any German text!). Lots of these words will
already be familiar to you, but spending some time
making flashcards of the ones you don't know and then
periodically reviewing those would be a very worthwhile
investment of your time.
Grammar Tutor. Especially useful:
Chart" of der- and ein-word endings and of the
forms of the personal pronouns (also lists the cases
associated with the most common prepositions)
Overviews" summarizing the German case system;
the second one especially may help clarify when
to apply which of the various rules you have learned
summary of Verb
Watch German TV. Soap operas and kids' shows are especially good for language learning. Unfortunately, the International Channel and GermanTV are now defunct, so to watch German TV, you'll probably have to follow some of the links already mentioned above to sites where you can watch German TV on the internet.
you have access to the Language Resource Center or
to any of the rooms with built-in TVs in the MLB,
or if you are living in a dorm room with UMTV, you can watch Deutsche
Welle TV on UMTV channels 12 and/or 76. Deutsche
Welle TV broadcasts news programs and interesting
documentaries on a wide range of topics, including music, science, current affairs and economics.
Watch German movies! Even the big video stores
have pretty good foreign film sections these days, and
you could ask the clerks for help in identifying which
movies are German with subtitles (as opposed to dubbed).
In Ann Arbor, Liberty Video is especially good: they
have a whole rack full of German movies. The list
of German movies on reserve at the Language Resource
Center (including links to info on these movies
in the Internet Movie Database) is always available
on the course website.
The language courses they sell at stores can be a helpful
supplement, if you want to spend the money for them.
I mean the ones with CD-ROMs and/or CDs/tapes.
You would hear lots of German, and get a fairly systematic
review of fundamentals plus lots of emphasis on conversational
skills. I haven't tried any of these (==> please take this advice with a huge mouthfful of salt), but...
- Our Language Resource Center has gotten lots of enthusiastic feedback on the Tell Me More series of CD-ROMs, so on that basis, this is the software I would recommend most highly. For this and any other such materials, you could check the reviews at amazon.com for more info (bearing in mind that just about any product, no matter how inferior, will have some rave reviews at amazon.com, and also, that just about any product, no matter how excellent it is, will be trashed by some people there)
- Based on my high opinion of some of their dictionaries and other materials, I would think that a language course by the German publisher PONS (possibly marketed by Harper Collins in the US) could be very good, if you're able to find one.
- I'm skeptical of the Rosetta Stone method, but know that some people swear by it ==> would definitely recommend trying it out carefully before purchasing it. The picture-based method they use is very effective for teaching vocabulary (though I'm not sure how long you would retain what you learned without using the vocabulary more actively than what the program gets you to do), but you would want to look into how well the software is able to teach you grammar, reading, listening, pronunciation, etc.
- I've heard some very enthusiastic comments about the Pimsleur method, but have also heard it described as excruciatingly slow.
- Some cheap audio-only introductions to various languages that I think are quite ingenious for getting people a "running start" with a language are marketed under the title Learn _______ with Michel Thomas. His method is to introduce a few simple cognate words, get students to form some sentences with them, and then alternate introducing more vocabulary and some simple grammar with new tasks for students, so that one is always actively processing the new information. One ends up with a somewhat odd selection of vocabulary, he speaks German with an accent, and he may make a few mistakes, but nevertheless I think that for a relatively small investment of time and money one learns quite a bit, and is then better prepared for using a more systematic and comprehensive self-study course.
- I would
guess (but don't know) that anything with the Defence Language Institute's
approval can't be too bad.
- I would
stay away from any "Hugo" course, based on a very poor German text of theirs I saw some years ago - but my bias against them may be outdated.
A good library, or most Borders stores or similar places
would carry some German newspapers (probably the dull
ones) but also some magazines that might be fun.
Check out the list of links I mentioned above for online
newspapers. In particular, for German tabloids,
a good link might be http://www.bild.de.
This is the Bild Zeitung, a repulsive newspaper
I've vowed never to read again, but its German is simple
and great for learning, and the sensationalism helps
keep one's interest for a while.
For some ideas on how to find German music, and some artist names and song titles to look for, check out this German 221/231 activity on German music. Bear in mind that this was written by someone over 40, and that e.g. a German email pal [see below] would be able to give you a much better idea of what's hip right now
Anytime, anywhere you can think in German about what
you're doing and seeing as you're doing and seeing it.
This will help you in particular to get to know the
words and constructions that are most relevant to you
You could find a German email pal. Click here for an annotated list of sites that will help you find German email pals for free.
You could buy a dual-language book, or try reading a
German translation of a book you like and know.
This is a great way to learn if you have the discipline
not to overuse the translation. If you're in Ann
Arbor, try checking a book out of the free
reading library in the LRC. Incidentally,
you can turn many websites into a "dual-language book":
if the site is available in German and English, you
can open a second browser window and read the two versions
side by side. Or go to the Grimm
fairy tales site, where you can click on the option
of reading the texts with a facing translation.
For an annotated list of some other recommended books,
generally available in the bookstores in Ann Arbor,
but otherwise easy to get via www.amazon.de, click
Find some American friends who are into speaking German.
Or some old German Americans. Or some German tourists....