Learning German

My thread is probably gonna get relocated, but I would like to know, since there seems to be quite a number of polyglots here, nevermind Germans, what are some good serious coursebooks to learn German by oneself.

I want to avoid the usual “traveller’s guide” where it’s just a phrasebook, but want something fundamental and methodical. e.g. step by step German grammar along with basic conversations or stories to build vocabulary and get a sense of the language at work, learning declensions and conjugations step by step, etc.

thanks for your suggestions in advance.

When I were a lad we used a textbook series called Zickzack. They’re aimed at teenagers and kind of cheesy, but they do communicate a good deal of useful information in an accessible format. The audio stuff was pretty comprehensive too, but it still might work best with a teacher.

For serious grammar textbooks, the one we used at university was Hammer Grammar:

The workbook that accompanies it:

Those two books are extremely thorough, but probably not necessary until you’ve reached a decent level. For vocabulary, Schnorr and Forst’s Mastering German Vocabulary: A Thematic Approach was very helpful for me in improving fluency in areas that I didn’t use every day (the German half of my university degree focused on literature and translation):

All of the above use British English, just to warn you in advance. :wink:

thanks, ill see if i can locate a copy here in asia. british english should be fine; i grew up with canadian english which reminds me, my history professor from the US kindly thought she was doing a favour by explaining to me what a “lorry” was.

I speak German very badly but with near-native pronunciation. May I repeat my offer made in other places to teach German pronunciation (only) to complete beginners. No charge. You just buy the coffee or beer.

Same for French, Spanish, Italian, Russian and Turkish. I will always defer to native speakers if they are willing and available.

You probably know this already, but learning to speak German correctly is really hard. So many (in my opinion useless) things to remember, like the gender of every noun…

I am not really sure how deep you want to dive into the language, but there is one little-known book series that in my opinion could help for getting a very good jump start due to it’s unique approach:

reise-know-how.de/product_in … cts_id/237

If you speak a bit of German already, or have help from someone… just ask me :wink: you can even buy and download the book as PDF at that link.

This book series (“Kauderwelsch”) is not so much focusing on teaching the 100% correct grammar, but instead only teaches the very basics. The unique thing is that it gives you a feeling how the language “works” by additionally providing word-by-word translations to each sentence. See some examples here:

reise-know-how.de/download_o … lt_pur.pdf

reise-know-how.de/download_o … er_pur.pdf

Thanks guys.

Juba, thanks for the offer, but I’m not in Tpe (in HK/PRC). appreciate it though.

Olm. will check out the book at my bookstore. I have decent French and Latin, so yea, I’ve had my share of grammar hell, declensions, conjugations, and gender. nothing new, but just need to nail down some basics. I’ve got a pretty decent ear.

There’s a cool paper I was reading that compared Old Chinese (ie Shang and before) to other IE languages, the argument being PIE had lots of influence or loanwords to OC (arguing the Xia/Shang/Zhou had western asian influences e.g. the chariot that included linguistics).

Interestingly, German (since it’s changed less than other IE languages) supposedly has many analogs in OC.

It’s combined with gravel, then you gargle with it. That’s how you achieve that rustic Bavarian twang. My father was a Schleswig-Holsteiner, and it was either Austrians or Bavarians he could hardly understand, I can’t remember which.

Please be forewarned, I’m just throwing this out here, and with some reluctance, because I haven’t even investigated the materials, so I cannot vouch for them at all. That having been said: There are some old (Student Textbook Volume 1 is dated 1961, and Student Textbook Volume 2 is dated 1965) U.S. Foreign Service Institute German course materials on the Internet. At the time of this posting, the materials are located here:


Again, please be advised that I don’t know whether the materials are any good. Maybe another poster has some knowledge of these kinds of things and will be willing to offer an informed opinion.