Resources for learning German

via the hilarious Itchy Feet

When we decided to move away from Houston, we knew we wanted an experimental year, testing out a couple theories we had about where we might like to live and what we wanted our life to look like. Well before CM got the opportunity to work in Vienna again we had blocked off the autumn to spend time in Europe. We wanted to see whether life over here was as attractive as we remembered (so far, yes indeed) and whether we could both find enough work to make a European home base make sense (TBD). My biggest goal was to improve/perfect my German enough to feel comfortable asking someone for a job here. We know lots of singers and pianists who start working here without being fluent in German, but my job is so language-centered that I would be at a huge disadvantage if I couldn't properly express myself.

I have been working really hard, and I've seen an enormous improvement since we arrived. I thought I'd share with you some of the resources I've used to supplement my formal classes.

Collins dictionary appThis dictionary has been a game-changer. It's amazing to have it on my phone at all times, and though it's a bit expensive, it is so worth it. It is so comprehensive, and it has verb conjugations built in as well. Plus, it saves a history of words you looked up, which is so helpful. I have used it every single day that we've been here.

DuolingoI still can't believe this app is free! I love the interface, love the mobile capabilities, and found that it really worked. I finished all the German levels‚ though—make more, Duolingo!

Memrise: Another free app, this one for building vocabulary. It's completely amazing. First it teaches you the vocab, then quizzes you on it. It keeps track of the words you miss and brings them back more often. There are lots of levels built in, but you can also make your own lists. I've gotten into the habit of writing down any word that goes by that I don't know, looking them up later, and building a Memrise list from them. Available online and as a mobile app.

Deutsche Welle: So many resources here for German learners of all levels. You can do actual grammar training, but we particularly like the videos (they have transcripts and little quizzes to accompany them) and the news read slowly, short segments that they produce daily.

YouTube: We don't have a TV here, so we rely on YouTube to watch various shows in German. Did you know you can see what videos are trending in any country here? Gives a little insight into the local culture. I've also found lots of interesting things just by searching "doku deutsch."

I haven't tried it personally, but I have a friend who swears by My Personal Language Tutor, and the prices are very reasonable.

I'd love to hear what you use for language learning—what has worked for you?


  1. I've heard but haven't personal experience with that Rosetta Stone is amazing.

    I like Duolingo too. Good luck, German intimidates the heck out of me as a language.

    1. Rosetta Stone isn't really my jam, though I know lots of people love it. I like to know the nerdy grammatical rules. :)

  2. I swear by Donald Duck comic books.


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