♦ Duolingo – This website and app costs nothing but allows you to learn German logically and sequentially, through hearing, speaking, writing and translating. You can create a profile and compete against your friends (either through Facebook or email invitation). Each tiny module takes about five minutes to complete; two or three a day would be ideal as a way of revising and improving your knowledge of German. The app is free. ⇒ Apple App | Android App
It is also possible to complete these modules on computer; when you open your app, it automatically recognises which modules you have completed on another device.
The latest addition to the Duolingo app offerings is Tiny Cards, which allows you to create your own cards or follow others who make cards, including four teachers at this school. Once again, you can work on a laptop or computer or a smartphone (only Apple so far). Here is our page on this blog. You can use Tiny Cards for any subject, but of course we’d prefer it if you devoted yourself to German…
♦ Website: Free German Materials from the Goethe-Institut – At this page you will find a wide range of materials, including short videos, quizzes, apps, transcripts and activities of all kinds. Start exploring and downloading. Some of the most useful materials are mentioned and described below, along with other apps and websites that will help you to become an independent learner of German who forges ahead of the class and delights your teacher with unexpected and interesting words and expressions.
♦App: The Collins German-English Dictionary costs $24.99 (less than half its price as a paper dictionary). The reason I recommend it for students is that it has conjugations of every verb in every tense. For this reason alone it is very useful, but it also provides detailed (though not too detailed) definitions, along with examples of usage and expressions. Click here for more information: LINK TO COLLINS DICTIONARY INFORMATION
♦ Website and App: Leo Dictionary – An online dictionary and corresponding app – This dictionary does not reside on your device, so you will need to use data or wifi to look something up. It is free. ⇒ Apple App | Android App
♦ Website and App: Linguee Phrase Dictionary – An online dictionary and corresponding app. This dictionary is available on the net but can also be downloaded to your device. It is ideal for looking up phrases, not just words, but you need to be prepared to read several phrases in order to select the one that most suits your purpose. The app is free. ⇒ Apple App | Android App
♦Quizduell – Addictive multiple choice with others
This game has taught me a lot of words for anatomy, psychology, medicine and various abstract concepts. There are several categories to choose from and you play six rounds against a known or unknown foe. The categories include: «Bücher und Wörter», «Körper und Geist», «Comics», «Computerspiele», «Kunst und Kultur», «Essen und Trinken» and various others. You need some vocabulary background to get started, and there are bound to be times when you look up words after a round and realise that the answer you guessed was utterly impossible. But it’s fun to challenge your friends, or utter strangers, and you can choose between the free app and one that allows you to create your own avatar. You only get 20 seconds to read the German question and the four options, so the game forces you to speed up your reading. Recommended for students who have at least 2 years of German. Three or four years might be better. ⇒ Apple and Android
♦ Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair…and other famous stories This series is slightly easier than the crime stories that I have recommended directly above this. In addition to Rapunzel, there is Little Red Riding Hood, Rumpelstiltskin and Hansel and Gretel. The stories are interactive and can be heard in English as well as German. You can choose to have them read out to you or to read them to yourself. They are an ideal way to get used to the sound of spoken German, check your own pronunciation and gradually extend your vocabulary beyond your text book. The maker of this series is Story Toys. Go to THIS LINK to find out more. By the way, these apps are also available in the Android Marketplace.
♦ Schlafgeschichten HD offers a large number of in-app stories that one can buy for 99 cents each. All of the stories can be heard as well as read. All are classic fairy stories and fables. The advantage of these stories is that you should already know most of the stories quite well so you’ll be able to guess at the vocabulary. Intelligent guessing is a crucial part of language learning and these stories provide an easy way to practise your guessing, improve your reading comprehension and get a feel for the German language. Many are also beautifully presented. THIS LINK is in German but will take you to the iTunes location for this app if desired.
♦ Aschenputtel from Carlsen, a publisher in Germany – This app is pricy (around $9), but utterly beautiful. By clicking on the characters‘ bodies, you can get them to make a range of pithy and amusing remarks. Cinderella, for instance, comments on how she is getting really fed up with cleaning up after her stepsisters and speaks wistfully of her longing to go to the ball. The fairy godmother („die gute Fee“) has magic knitting needles.You can choose to have the story read out to you in clear, beautifully pronounced German. Download the free version to see if you want to outlay the extra and read/hear the whole story. You can also download Rotkäppchen (preview on Youtube) and Die drei kleinen Schweinchen from the same publisher.
Preview of Rotkäppchen App
♦ The Podcasts app is one of the most important ones for language learning. It is so important that I am giving it a page to itself. It’s worth mentioning here, though, that the app costs nothing and that all of the podcasts are free. You can listen to podcasts especially made for German learners, watch TV programs and videos and, as you progress, hear the children’s news in German, radio broadcasts and the adult news. It’s the closest you can get in Australia to a virtual German world – unless you have many German friends who invite you over for coffee and cake and ply you with vocabulary help. Don’t miss this app and the world that it gives you.
♦Audible: This app is ideal for advanced learners who can listen to audiobooks. There are even some great Australian audiobooks available on the Audible.de site, which is linked with Amazon.de. The readers speak clearly, but fairly quickly, so this option is only appropriate for students with strong auditory comprehension. Capable students in Year 11 and 12 or native speakers would benefit greatly from listening to audiobooks in German. Browse through the varied and tantalising options at this link. Incidentally, the audiobooks are very reasonably priced, usually between five and ten euros.
♦ Zeitungskiosk – Some German magazines are available through the Australian iTunes Store, while others, for no clear reason, are not.
For learners of German, especially school students, I highly recommend Zeit Leo, which can be directly downloaded through an app called Zeit Kiosk. This is a magazine that only comes out every two months. Each issue costs around $5. Each is full of short, clearly written articles aimed at intelligent children in Germany. What I find particularly helpful is that there are so many speech bubbles and brief blocks of text with comments from children themselves – on their lives, their schools, their families and their problems. The language is down-to-earth and authentic, as well as varied and thoughtful – all this without being inaccessible to a learner. Check the website for some downloadable pages from the issues that have come out so far.