You’re taking German lessons online, you have a good vocabulary app, but perhaps you are still looking for a reliable German textbook to help you with your basic German grammar rules. Something that can stay open on your desk, or load onto your Kindle for easy reference.
So if you are wondering where to find the easiest German books for beginners, perhaps even something pocket-sized that is able to travel around with you, keep reading for suggestions.
When it comes to German books for beginners, the easier it is to refer to, perhaps even on a train, bus or at a restaurant or to flick through a few pages while you are waiting for an appointment, the more effective it will be to help you to learn to read and write German.
If you want to learn German quickly, there are many publications that can assist you along the way by growing your vocabulary and even improving your German grammar sentence structure.
Here, we will outline some of the many publications for German beginners that aim to make learning German easy.
How to Learn German Quickly and Easily
You have probably heard of the popular series called ‘The Idiots Guide’ as well as the “For Dummies’ guide, which covers a plethora of topics for beginner students. They have also covered how to learn German quickly and easily, and are worthy of review.
“The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Learning German”
The downside to the Idiot’s Guide is that it takes a bit too long to reach the point - it doesn’t actually teach you anything about German grammar sentence structure until Chapter 8. It is only from here that it gets into basic German grammar rules, pronunciation, and colloquialisms that are especially useful if you find yourself in a German-speaking country.
When it comes to using gender and cases to better understand German grammar sentence structure, it also doesn’t make the point quickly. The book then progresses to include grammar lessons that include situational chapters that could help you with how to attend a doctor’s appointment, order at a restaurant.
However, taking time to reach a point is usually because something is being addressed thoroughly. So, this is certainly one of those German books for beginners that is able to introduce the reader to a wide range of topics while also teaching those all-important verb tenses and everyday phrases at the same time.
“German for Dummies”
Amazingly, the “For Dummies” series has five books that are dedicated to education in the German language. You can purchase them separately, or as a 5-in-one edition that comes with the added bonus of a CD and even links to apps. If you are not requiring the comprehensive edition, you can choose the ones you need depending on which one will best suit you:
- If you simply require a truly basic guide or one that will assist you in specific situations, then either the “German for Dummies” or “German Phrases for Dummies” would be good German grammar textbook options for you, from this series. When compared to “The Idiot’s Guide”, pronunciation can take up a lot of space, while the cognates and false friends sections have extensive tables.
- German books for beginners, “Intermediate German for Dummies” and “German Essentials for Dummies” both provide more extensive information on basic German grammar rules. On the plus side, the explanations are easy enough to follow, however, not everything is grouped according to themes. When it comes to this series, it’s important to note that the various verb forms are covered in both books, so if you require a book about basic German grammar rules, it might be more beneficial to get the five in one edition.
There are also appendixes that include lists of irregular verbs, auxiliary verbs, conjugation exercises, and a glossary.
You could also visit this website to find useful words and phrases like days of the week, greetings, months, how to order in restaurants and phrases that can be used in an emergency.
German Books for Beginners
“German DeMystified by Ed Swick”
This book takes the student on a slow and thorough journey to learning basic German grammar sentence structure.
It is one of the typical German books for beginners and certainly covers all the basics. The benefit of this book when compared to both the Idiot’s Guide and German for Dummies, is that the grammar exercises are incorporated within each lesson. These include oral exercises (where audio tracks are available online, or through an online app) as well as written and pronunciation exercises to immediately practice what has been learnt.
While this is one of those good German books for beginners, it is recommended for those who are quite serious about their quest to learn to read and write German. The formatting is smaller with fewer visual aids than the books already mentioned.
If visual aids are important to you, these can actually be found in a German grammar textbook. See below for recommendations.
“The Everything Essential German Book”
This little German grammar textbook is fairly easy to use. Chapters are clearly marked and grouped according to topics like direct and indirect objects, the genitive, and cases. In terms of format, it is not too thick, which makes it the perfect pocketbook size to stuff into a backpack. Explanations are clear and short and include discussions on verbs and things like telephone numbers, postal addresses, and even how to describe fractions!
It can definitely be defined as one of those learn German quickly books, but the only difference is that those little situation teachings, like learning how to say happy birthday, for instance, are cleverly interspersed into the grammar chapters.
“Schaum’s Outline of German Grammar”
The main advantage here is that it is amazingly easy to look things up and therefore to learn German quickly!
You will not even need to flip through the index, because the chapters are well organised according to the parts of speech: verbs, nouns, adjectives, etc. In addition to this German grammar textbook, Schaum also has a vocabulary book.
Learning German Vocabulary
“German Vocabulary” by Liliane Arnet (Barcharts)
An essential element to include if you want to learn to read and write German is to use flashcards to learn German quickly, but especially for building up vocabulary! Flashcards are useful for students who prefer something physical as opposed to using an app to learn vocabulary. This resource provides 1 000 words to build up your vocabulary and will set you up for those important basic German grammar rules.
“Wort für Wort: Advanced German Vocabulary” by Paul Stocker
If like your German vocabulary arranged in categories, this list-based German grammar textbook could be the one for you. Topics are provided in German and the lists are arranged from German to English without too much introduction to clutter the purpose of simply building up vocabulary.
“Schaum’s Outline of German Vocabulary”
If you want to learn German quickly, this book has a more complete approach to absorbing and retaining German vocabulary. Chapters are categorised by situational subjects (for example, “At the Airport”) and start with a simple sketch that includes basic vocabulary.
There are also vocabulary lists for specific circumstances and also common phrases that you might hear in that particular situation. These are followed by exercises that include basic German grammar rules to consolidate those newly-acquired words.
“German Vocabulary: Puzzles and Exercises Beginner to Intermediate Level” by Monika Beck
If you are weary of those fill-in-the-blanks sentences and rote type learning methods, you could try and consolidate your German vocabulary with this novel German grammar textbook that teaches through crossword puzzles and word grids!
This book is also organised thematically but will challenge your brain in new ways through puzzles that will make learning German fun. If you enjoy these and have mastered them, look out for “Easy German Crossword Puzzles” by Suzanne Ehrlich.
German Short Stories for Beginners
If you want to learn to read and write German, stories are an excellent method to do this.
As a beginner, be realistic, by starting with children’s books. Here are a few suggestions to help you get started.
“Short Stories in German for Beginners”
“Short Stories in German for Beginners” is a wonderful collection of eight slightly unconventional, yet fascinating short stories especially aimed at adults and young adult students.
So while this book isn't for absolute beginners, it is well organised in that it starts off using very basic German grammar rules in sentences and then gets progressively more difficult as you flick through the pages of the stories. Vocabulary that the author, Olly, thinks you may not know are cleverly highlighted in bold, and there is also a useful glossary at the end of every story.
If you decide to keep at it and read the book all the way to the end, you are bound to improve your German grammar sentence structure.
“Skorpion” by Christa Reinig
Skorpion, written by Christa Reinig tells the tale of a man who feels lonely and left out of society simply because he looks unusual. During the story, he tries to convince certain people to acknowledge and accept him despite his strange appearance.
The book is fundamentally about an important moral message, but it is also an entertaining read, especially for those who like emotive stories. On a practical level, it provides vocabulary and German grammar sentence structure to describe a face and other physical features in memorable ways that are not necessarily the norm.
Find the story online which comes with a helpful vocabulary list.
German Lessons for Visual Learners
Do you want to learn to read and write German, but a page full of words tends to turn off your brain? If so, don’t despair because the German grammar textbook that caters to the visual learner does exist! Here are some recommended books that combine traditional German lessons with visual depictions of situations and even vocabulary!
Learning German with Pictures
“Willkommen! German’s Beginner Course” by Paul Coggle & Heiner Schenke
This book is arranged by situations but is well illustrated. In fact, the book exists to complement the audio tracks and only offers the bare essentials with regards to basic German grammar rules. Most of its methods to learn German grammar sentence structure is focused on written and oral exercises.
There is an extra coursebook as well as exercises online.
“Usborne Internet-Linked German for Beginners” by Angela Wilkes and John Shakell
As this is a children’s book, you can be sure that it will be explained in simple, concise terms with plenty of illustrations and other nifty tricks to take the humdrum out of learning a brand new language.
It also includes links that will provide help with lessons and pronunciation.
“Bildgrammatik Deutsch: Deutsche Grammatik in Bildern erklärt” by Axel Hering & Gisela Specht
This German grammar textbook will help you to learn to read and write German thoroughly because it breaks down each point in detail and provides illustrated examples.
“BrainBox - Let’s Learn German The ten-minute brain challenge” by The Green Board Game Co.
This fantastic game comprises scenario-based flashcards, with exercises on the back. While it is a children’s learning game it can help make adult German lessons fun too.
“Visual Cues for Learning German Vocabulary”
This is another flashcard option with pictures to help the learning process.
There are also delightful illustrated books with quaint scenes in which every object is labeled in German. This tried-and-true method, which may take you back to your childhood is a great way to build vocabulary.
Learn German Quickly with Children’s Books for Beginners
When it comes to learning a foreign language, you don't have to be a child to read children's books.
Fairy tales like those by the Grimm brothers just don't age either, so reading these familiar stories as an adult is a great way to familiarise yourself with German grammar sentence structure.
“Fairy tales in Easy German Language”
Make sure that you try simplified versions of fairy tales to help you learn German quickly. You could live stream National broadcaster (NDR) which has had many wonderful classics re-written in simple language. Not only that, but they come with slow audio narration especially for language learners.
You could start reading (or listening) these at ndr.de:
- Die Bremer Stadtmusikanten
- Der Hase und der Igel
- Des Teufels rußiger Bruder
- Frau Holle
- Rotkäppchen (Little Red Riding Hood)
- Schneewittchen und die sieben Zwerge
- Der Hase und der Igel
- Hänsel und Gretel
- Der Wolf und die sieben Geißlein
- Die 3 Federn
Immersive German Courses: Reading in German
The best way to expand and merge your mastery of any foreign language is by reading and listening in that language.
Here are some useful books with short stories in simple writing styles to help you with your German grammar sentence structure and overall ability to learn to read and write German.
“The City Series” by André Klein
This recommended collection of short stories all have the name of a German-speaking city in their title:
- “Café in Berlin”
- “Walzer in Wien”
- “Ahoi in Hamburg”
- “Zurück in Zürich” and many more.
André Klein was born in Germany but grew up in Thailand and Sweden, and now lives in Israel! He has been a language teacher for over 15 years and authors books for German language students of every level.
Der Schatz von Hiddensee by Andrea Maria Wagner
When it comes to German books for beginners, storyteller, Andrea Maria Wagner knows how to do it. This book which is youthful, relevant, and full of colour illustrations is the perfect way to see basic German grammar rules on a page.
Intermediate to Advanced:
The “Learning German Through Storytelling” series by André Klein is more for intermediate to advanced German students. These are no everyday stories, but complex murder mysteries! The short length still makes for easy reading, without disheartening you by being too long.
His titles include:
- “Mord am Morgen”
- “Des Spielers Tod”
- “Die dritte Hand”
Remember those fantastic adventure books where you could choose the conclusion by flipping to a certain page depending on what you hoped the character would do?
This is a German version of one of those, but with a twist: you decide the outcome of the swordfights by having to answer German grammar questions correctly!
Don’t forget that one of the most effective ways to learn a foreign language is with a private tutor who can help you to reach your personal goals at your own pace and at a time and place that suits you. Try out a website like Superprof where students are able to review tutors, and where in many instances, the first lesson is for free.
Whether you are looking for German lessons online or face-to-face lessons anywhere in South Africa, there are German tutors available to assist you.