When working on your foreign language skills, it is absolutely vital that you surround yourself with helpful resources. This can be accomplished simply by watching your favorite television show in a foreign language, or switching your iPod over to that language.
For most students, however, this can be as easy as opening a book.
Books continue to be a leading–and relatively inexpensive– resource for language learners, as they tend to provide credible information that’s easy to understand. I know I have had great success using books as part of my tutoring curriculum.
Below is a list of my top five favorite German books for language learning:
1. 501 German Verbs, by Henry Strutz
Germans are sticklers when it comes to grammatical correctness, in particular proper verb conjugation. Conjugating verbs in German can be difficult, as there are many complex rules one must follow. This German book is an excellent reference for learning essential German verbs. The verbs featured are fully conjugated (in all possible forms), which I believe is the greatest value.
If you practice memorizing these verb forms, you can use that knowledge to conjugate other German verbs. What’s more, this book is highly recommendable because each conjugation is accompanied by a detailed explanation, which helps to clarify how the language uses tenses.
2. Bilingual Visual Dictionary, by Dorling Kindersley Limited
If you’re more of a visual learner, then this book if perfect for you. This resource–which has helped countless students I have tutored– is the ultimate vocabulary trainer. The book organizes German vocabulary words into various different themes, such as der menschliche Köper (the human body) and Gemüse (vegetables).
What’s more, the book includes the grammatical gender of each word (if applicable), which I consider indispensable when learning German grammar. Lastly, it is most useful for foreign travel because of it’s compactness. I have used it myself on my travels, and I highly recommend it to German learners of all stages!
3. German: A Self-Teaching Guide, by Heimy Taylor & Werner Haas
This German language book is one that I found at my local library, and helped take my German from an early beginner’s level to a solid intermediate level. The best part about this book are the exercises, which clearly demonstrate complex grammatical topics.
What’s even better is the book provides all the answers, so students can check their work to ensure they’re on the right track. This book will not only teach you key grammatical concepts, but it will also provide you with exercises to test your understanding.
4. German for Children, by Catherine Bruzone
It wouldn’t be a complete list of the top German books if I didn’t include an educational option for students ages 5-13. This book retains a five-star rating on Amazon.com, and it is a personal favorite of mine for keeping children engaged. It includes two CDs with audio exercises that guide students through the entire course.
The book includes games, activities, songs, and interactive puzzles that make learning German fun and easy. Children are generally so entertained by the book’s activities that they will take the time to learn German on their own!
5. The Everything Learning German Book, by Edward Swick, MA
The Everything Learning German Book can be used to supplement any student’s skill level. The book is written in an entertaining format because it submerses the reader into different culturally relevant scenarios. Topics include ordering food using phrases such as “Ich möchte ein Berliner, bitte”, or asking how much an item costs by inquiring “Wie viel kostet der Käse?”
The book also includes thorough explanations of essential German grammar rules, including spelling, punctuation, appropriate language format for writing e-mails, and many other exercises.
I tell all of my students that there is no better way to supplement their German lessons than to read German books. Write down new vocabulary or things you don’t understand, and then discuss them with your tutor afterward.