Highly Recommended Websites, Podcasts and YouTube Channels
It is a sheer pleasure to listen to the voice of Annik Rubens. She speaks clearly and slowly, so that you can distinguish every word. What’s more, you can download the PDFs of her podcasts and look up all the words you don’t already know. In the last few years, she has introduced a full-speed version as well as a subscription for seriously dedicated learners.
Public domain image from Wikimedia Commons
What a beautiful sentence that is for learners to read.
A search machine for children that includes interactive forums, links to a wide range of topics, videos, learning modules and more.
A gentle introduction to German with a winning format: a teacher and a learner speak together and gradually build your knowledge of vocabulary and your confidence with pronunciation.
This is a charming classic of German children’s television. You can download the video podcasts via your podcast app on your smartphone and there’s even a dedicated Die Maus app. The “Sachgeschichten” are funny, quirky short videos that explain the things we’ve always wanted to know in simple, clever ways, with many visual cues.
This is the best translator in the world: intuitive, precise and accurate. It’s like having a German-speaking robot in your corner. The best way to use it is to type a text in German, observe how DeepL translates it into English and make any necessary adjustments, then watch how it translates your adjusted text back into German. Sometimes DeepL suggests alternative phrasing or a more precise verb. It is a tireless, all-knowing, uncritical teacher. You do have to be careful sometimes with colloquial expressions. After all, it’s not a human being.
This app trains you to remember the gender of German nouns and it is a surprisingly addictive sport. As you work through each thematic category, the app counts how many you get right in a row and keeps a tally of your progress in graph form. In addition to the app itself, the makers provide an online list of rules that will help you to predict gender and identify the patterns of German nouns.
An Example: Was isst du zu Mittag / zu Abend?
Inap is from Nepal and he teaches German as a foreign language. His course is particularly helpful for beginners because he explains everything in both German and English, with the written as well as the spoken word. I like especially how Inap ties in relatable personal information; in the video above, for instance, he shows what he is cooking for lunch while delivering his lesson on lunch and dinner in German.
Rieke provides precise explanations of difficult vocabulary with examples based on life experiences or quality German texts. Highly recommended for advanced learners. Rieke offers a quiz based on each video as well. Her website is here.
An Example: Bitte nicht verwechseln!
On her YouTube Channel for advanced learners (B2, C1 and C2), Susanne explains fine distinctions between similar words, tricky grammatical rules, essential nouns that advanced learners really ought to know, and many idiomatic aspects of the German language.
This site provides hundreds of short audio and reading texts, along with questions and activities to check and improve comprehension. I find it particularly helpful that the questions focus not just on understanding but also on those tricky verb and preposition choices that can confuse even the most dedicated learner. Each video or audio comes with a full PDF text.
Kindly recommended by Andrea Reichert.
Forvo is a pronunciation dictionary. Once you have signed up to this free service, you can request pronunciations of tricky words and download the mp3 files generated by native speakers. For example, here is möchten, a perennially tricky word for learners.
This site provides an open-access online textbook for beginners. There are quizzes, videos, pictures to click on and various other interactive resources. All education should be as accessible as this. This site was kindly recommended to me by Andrea Reichert.
Laura, the author of this podcast, is a brilliant person who loves and understands German grammar and explains it with precision and flair. She speaks in English but provides many examples in German.
This is a search machine for children and young people in Germany. There are many fascinating articles on this site as well as quizzes.
The materials provided for German-speaking children on the internet are impressive and diverse. This site provides stories, videos, news commentary specifically for children, podcasts and documentaries.
An Example: Die Vergangenheit und Zukunft von allem
The creators of this YouTube channel usually publish scientifically fascinating, visionary and original videos in English, but they also offer some of their best titles in German. Here are just a few: Warum du nicht genug Freunde hast | Der letzte Mensch | Einsamkeit
An Example: Klimakrise – Zeit zu kapitulieren?
A passionate scientist and physicist, Harald Lesch talks about our world and our future and he doesn’t pull any punches. He and his team provide subtitles, which is just as well, because he tackles complicated subjects.
This site is possibly more useful for intermediate and advanced learners. It provides hundreds of online examples of how an idea has been expressed in English and German. It’s especially useful for modern wording and phrasing that might not have reached the dictionaries. Dictionaries are based on searching for words (and hoping to find phrases); with the Linguee Dictionary, you can search directly for the phrases.
An Example: Die Wahrheit über Volkswagen
Mirko Drotschmann is the creator of this YouTube channel; he is knowledgeable, engaging and current. When there is a new development anywhere in the world, he publishes a new video within hours. His pronunciation is very clear and he speaks in a considered and impartial way. He also provides subtitles in German.
An Example: Klimagerechtigkeit – Was ist das eigentlich?
The website and the films, which can be watched online or downloaded via Apple.com and YouTube (or your chosen provider), are lively and engaging, featuring clever editing and including conversations with young speakers, often teenagers. The themes are current and the graphics eye-catching. Click on UT to read the subtitles as you watch.
An Example: Wie viel Hitze verträgt die Erde?
Planet-Schule is a multimedia website offering materials and films relating to every conceivable school subject, with additional resources such as worksheets, audio and other materials. A number of broadcasting corporations in German contribute materials to this website, including WDR (Westdeutscher Rundfunk) and SWR (Südwestrundfunk).
An Example: Wie holen wir das C02 wieder aus der Lufe?
Planet-Wissen provides a wealth of educational materials, including videos and articles presented according to school subjects and covering a vast range of themes. This is a joint project from SWR (Südwestrundfunk), WDR (Westdeutscher Rundfunk), ARD alpha and Bayerischer Rundfunk.
Once you have created an account with Kobo, you can change the site language from English to German and start searching for German books. Kobo also has an app for smartphones and laptops.
I have tried other German book suppliers over the years, such as Weltbild and Thalia, but Kobo seems to me to be the most reliable.
These online exercises are graduated from easy (A1) to strenuous (C2). The whole site is in German and the presentation is very old-fashioned, but the A1 and A2 exercises are ideal for beginners – and you get a % mark straightaway.
An Example with Transcription Provided: Magersucht – Therapien gegen die Essstörungen | Anorexia Nervosa – Therapies for Eating Disorders
This podcast offers fascinating sociological and scientific topics with manuscripts available to read along. It can be downloaded through your smartphone’s podcast app as well as through the website.
A Few More Links:
• Deutschlernerblog: This is an extremely helpful site with many useful examples of wording and sentences, as well as tests, practice with hearing comprehension and much more.
• ARD: Frag mich – Die Nachrichten und ich: A podcast for children with current themes, friendly presenters and interviews with children
• Deutschwortschatz.de: An amusing and expressive set of pictures to represent some of the most ingenious words in the German language.