German is our primary language and while we don’t speak it fluently yet, that is our goal. My oldest son and I can speak pretty well as tourists but when it comes to everyday conversations it’s a bit more difficult as most programs tend to teach only traveler’s German. Here are some of the resources we use for learning German:
Coffee Break German: I love this series because you get to learn German from native speakers and you get the basics plus a bit of conversation.
German for Children: This is a fun CD series with silly songs that teach basic things like greetings, food, animals, etc.
Jo-Jo Sprachbuch & Lesebuch: These are the books they use to teach grammar in our local German school, so we purchased what we would need for the next few years before we left Germany. It’s definitely not Charlotte-Mason style but it forces us to learn more than we would otherwise.
Deutsch-Stars Silbentraining: I use this book with my 7 year old who knows a bit of German but needs to enhance his vocabulary. It comes with a bunch of silver stars that they get to put on when they’ve completed their lessons.
Youtube: We love listening to German kids songs and learn at least one per term, the boys also enjoy watching some of the cartoons in German
Living Language German: This is by far the best audio German program I’ve tried (and I’ve tried almost all of them). I like to listen to it while I’m running in the morning…
Germanpod101: I was quite skeptical of this site at first as it is very gimmicky and they are always emailing about “limited time offers” and “last chance” opportunities for savings. I bit the bullet during one of their “big sales” and got the premium package for less than $150 for 2 years. I have to say that I am actually enjoying it a lot more than I anticipated. It might not be as interesting for children as for adults, but it is fabulous for immersion learning. Each lesson is a conversation between two people, they play it at regular speed first, then slowly, then go line by line and translate, next is a review of new vocabulary followed by insights into different cultural aspects of Germany, followed by the conversation again. I am listening to them with my kids and am learning so much more than I ever expected. I think I’ve finally found something that will get me beyond the basics.
German Tutor: There is really no substitute for a native German speaker if you really want to learn the language. It is quite simple to learn the basics of any language and get by as a tourist, but if you want to go beyond the basics, you really need to speak with someone who is fluent in the language. We usually ask around church and neighbors and so far we have always been able to find a recommendation.
I also have a growing library of German vocabulary books as well as children’s storybooks that we have accumulated over the years that we use off and on. For adults, there are lots of online radio stations and other basic language programs you can find for free. I think the radio is also helpful simply for hearing the language.