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German Language Resources

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Absolute Beginner

Short introductory courses that assume no knowledge whatsoever.

Pimsleur German Complete
Format: Audio CD
An audio-only course for complete beginners. Very good for developing pronunciation skills. Focuses more on core vocabulary and function words than on long lists of nouns and verbs, and uses a somewhat non-traditional lesson structure, steadily introducing new concepts while assuring the learner retains those already covered.

Pimsleur German IA (lessons 1-15)
Pimsleur German I B (lessons 16-30)
Pimsleur German IIA (lessons 30-45)
Pimsleur German IIB (lessons 46-60)
Pimsleur German IIIA (lessons 61-75)
Pimsleur German IIIB (lessons 75-90)
Pimsleur German Plus: (lessons 91-100)
 
Living Language All-Audio German
Format: Audio CD
Another audio-based introductory course. Has many of the same advantages as Pimsleur, though somewhat shorter, and with a slightly more traditional structure. Despite the name, it features a small (purely optional) guide booklet listing the vocabulary for each lesson as well as a transcription of the main dialogues.
 
 

Beginner to Intermediate

Longer, more extensive courses that start with the basics and continue on through a much higher level

  • (Assimil) German With Ease
    Format: Book with Audio CDs
    A thorough course with an engaging style and good sense of humor. Has an atypical but carefully planned-out structure based on high audio and visual input (hence the "assimilation" aspect), with grammatical explanations typically being saved until after the learner has seen a particular concept used several times in practice. Covers many styles of speech and writing, from the colloquial to the more formal, making it a solid and entertaining introduction to the German language.
    Note: Uses old spelling.
  • FSI German Basic
    Format: Website with digital text and audio (MP3 format)
    An excellent and extremely comprehensive course designed by the US government (Foreign Service Institute) for training diplomats, this course covers all essential grammar points and provides the learner with a wide base vocabulary. Though the dull subject matter and repetitive nature of the exercises may render this course a bit too tedious for some learners, it is nevertheless one of the fastest and most effective ways to obtain a solid grounding in the German language.
    Note: Uses old spelling system; ALL instances of "ß" replaced with double-S. Quality of audio in Volume I is somewhat sub-par.
  • Deutsche Welle
    Format: Website with digital text and audio
    In addition to being a fine source for news and informational programming in German, English, and many other languages, Deutsche Welle also provides some superb resources for learners of German, the most prominent being Deutsch Interaktiv, a comprehensive and personalized course for beginner and intermediate learners with extensive audio and video material plus additional learning aids. Also of note is Deutsch - Warum nicht?, another extensive and audio-rich course developed in collaboration with the Goethe Institute.
 

Higher Intermediate

Perfecting one's grammar and moving from textbook-style dialogues to the living language.

Coggle, Paul and Heiner Schenke
Teach Yourself: Improve Your German
PF3112.5.C66 2004
More a collection of thematically arranged word and phrase lists than a proper course, but for those who like flashcards, this will prove a useful resource. Those who prefer to learn vocabulary in context would probably do well to search elsewhere, however.
 
Jannach, Hubert and Richard Alan Korb
German for Reading Knowledge
Format: Book (Call Number: PF3112.J3 1998)
A series of short readings on various topics in the humanities and sciences, as well as some rapid-fire grammar review. The lack of any real exercises and the fairly steep increase in difficulty level over the course of the book make it ill-suited as a main course, but it nevertheless serves as a great source for supplementary reading material over the length of one's intermediate learning stage.
 
Baumann, Uwe and Annette Duensing (ed.)
Developing Writing Skills in German
PF3410.B38 2006
Format: Book
An entertaining and accessible book with readings and exercises covering a wide range of topics, including many of the most important social issues in the contemporary German-speaking world. In addition to exposing the learner to a diverse assortment of writing styles, from literature to jokes to classified ads, this course also provides valuable practice in actively using the target language to express one's own ideas and opinions.
 
Werba, Henry
Intermediate German
PF3112 .W43 1972
Format: Book
This little-known and easy-to-overlook book will help the learner to decisively master some of the trickier and subtler points of German Grammar as well as providing a massive vocabulary boost. It also provides--in the target language--a brief history of the German-speaking world from Roman times to (roughly) the present, some background on important German cultural figures and even an introduction into German literature. A hidden gem.
Note: Uses old spelling.
 
 

Advanced

For those with a strong familiarity with the language who want to refine their abilities.

Nielsen, Birgit
Living Language Ultimate German Advanced
PF3112.N56 2003
For those learners who already have a large vocabulary and good familiarity with all important grammatical rules but nevertheless don't quite feel ready for advanced literature and more technical topics. Features a series of lively dialogues built around real-world situations, with more realistic subject matters and a more natural style of speaking. Also covers many colloquial and idiomatic expressions often ignored by other courses.
 
Wells, Sydney W.
Teach Yourself More German
PF3111 .W44 1956x
Format: Book
One of the very few resources available to highly advanced learners, featuring far more complicated texts and dialogues as well as numerous excerpts from classic literature. Some learners may find the snobbish tone and the old-fashioned, upper-class slang that pervades the English translations of the dialogues something of a turnoff (the German versions are not as bad, but still contain a few old-fashioned expressions), but despite its flaws, this course is invaluable for filling those remaining, hidden gaps in the advanced learner's vocabulary and descriptive abilities.
Note: Uses old spelling.
 
Heller, Peter, Joerg Schaefer and Edith Ehrlich (ed.)
German Essays and Expository Prose
PF3117 .H42
Format: Book
A broad collection of essays from various renowned German-speaking writers and thinkers. At turns dull, at turns fascinating, and almost always challenging, this book will prove a great boon to anyone hoping to pursue the study of the German language at a serious academic level.
Note: Uses old spelling.
 
 

Dictionaries and Reference

Non-course reference books to assist throughout the learning process.

The Oxford-Duden German Dictionary
PF3640.O94 2005
A huge, comprehensive dictionary from two of the most respected authorities on the English and German languages. International Phonetic Alphabet pronunciation for each entry, plus many helpful informational tables. Also available in Concise and Pocket editions.
 
Strutz, Henry
501 German Verbs
PF3271.S855 2008
Those tricky irregular verbs can be one of the most bothersome parts of learning German at the beginner and intermediate levels. This book features many of the most common (as well as a few less common) verbs, in all their possible forms, plus a few sample sentences.
 
Farrell, R.B.
Dictionary of German Synonyms
PF3591 .F37 1978
A good resource for learning some of the subtler differences between words with similar meanings. Easy to understand and search through, with lots of sample sentences, as well as an appendix explaining a number of words which lack clear counterparts in English.
Note: Uses old spelling.
 
Beaton, K.B.
A Practical Dictionary of German Usage
PF3460.B35 1996
Something like a more advanced version of the above. More comprehensive and in-depth, though harder to navigate, and some word explanations tend to be so precise and nuanced as the confuse matters more than they clarify them. Nevertheless a valuable resource for the more advanced learner.
Note: Uses old spelling.
 
The Oxford-Duden Pictorial German-English Dictionary
PF3629 .O9 1994x
A large collection of exhaustively labeled pictures and diagrams describing the names of various everyday and not-so-everyday things. Great above all for the technically inclined, though perhaps a bit too detailed for the layperson, as one may indeed find one's self surprised to learn that a great number of the things listed have names in first place.
Note: Uses old spelling.
 

Websites

  • LEO Deutsch-Englisches Wörterbuch
    One of the most popular and extensive online German-English dictionaries. Also features a forum where one may request help on some of the finer points of translation between the two languages.
  • dict.cc
    Another highly extensive German-English dictionary which allows user input and contributions and has sound recordings. Especially good for looking up longer phrases and idiomatic expressions. Also available in numerous other languages (though none so extensive as the German-English version).
 
 

Pittsburgh Region

 

Web Sites

  • Goethe Institute
    The Goethe-Institut is a non-profit organization with 135 institutes in about 70 countries promoting the German Language and fostering International Cultural Cooperation. Top links to culture and society / more than 2000 annotated links. They even have a mobi site.
    • Goethe Institut New York
      The institute in New York functions as the regional institute for the United States and Canada coordinating the work of 13 institutes in this region.