Vocabulary Builder – German:
This is a well-rounded book that, for it’s size, covers a wide array of content. The focus is on words and phrases with lots of exercises to help learn vocabulary. It does a pretty good job of focusing on the most common words and situations that you may encounter. Also, there are lots of grammar points including adjective endings, separable verbs and noun declinations. All of the topics covered have easy to understand explanations followed by exercises to help you work through what you have learned. Of course there is an answer key in the back to keep you on the right track. Barron’s is a well known publisher in the language learning realm and for the price of the book it is a good supplement for people with a very basic understanding of the language.
501 German Verbs:
Although all of this information is available online on various websites, there is something about having all this information in one place right at your finger tips. Nearly every language you choose to study will have some sort of verb conjugation to deal with; it is unescapable and a necessary evil in your path to speaking at your target level. Not only is this book a great reference for looking up verbs and all of their conjugations but it also provides examples of common phrases and how they are used in sentences which is helpful in trying to differentiate between the tenses. It can be a bit daunting and is not a book you will ever read cover to cover, but if you like having a complete and consolidated reference handy when you need it then this is an excellent book to add to your collection.
In addition to the the verb tables, there are also useful charts that organize verbs into regular / irregular, lists and explanations for verbs used with prepositions and idiomatic expressions which is great as you progress your level in German. If you are looking to test yourself, there are also verb drills at the end of the book to complete. Although not as thorough as an exercise book it is nice to have a little of everything all in one place.
2001 Most Useful German Words:
This is a pretty basic book that simply covers the most useful and commonly encountered vocabulary in German. The words are listed in alphabetical order and are accompanied by a sentence using the word and English translations. At the end of the book there is a very small and basic grammar section which serves more as an introduction. Although all of this information is available online, if you are looking for a book to source vocabulary for the Goldlist Method or to generate flash cards this is a good choice.
German Problem Solver:
This is a unique approach to learning and practicing grammar. This book identifies the most common problem areas for English speakers learning German and provides well organized and detailed explanations to address them. There are plenty of activities and exercises to keep you going as you move through the book with accompanying answer key at the end. Most of the vocabulary has been selected based on word frequency which means that through repetition and relevant word choices you will grow your vocabulary while honing your grammar. This book does require you to have some basic knowledge of German but you could start to gain some benefits at an upper beginner level.
Language Hacking – German :
Benny Lewis is a well known name in the online language learning community and teaming up with the Teach Yourself Series he has created a pretty well rounded book to launch your German into instant conversation. Benny focuses on speaking early on and embracing mistakes. This book presents different “missions” in each of it’s chapters in place of grammar rules. This engages you from the start and encourages conversation and speaking to help you learn. One of the more unique aspects of this book and something that sets it apart from other self teaching books is it’s focus on practicality and relevance. Benny provides conversation and situational examples to guide your encounters speaking with natives. This book is best used in conjunction with apps and websites that allow you to converse with a native (see our German apps & websites page for more information). As a seasoned late-in-life language learner himself, Benny has plenty of “language hacks” that ensure you get the maximum results from your time. Although no audio CD comes with the book, there are files available online so you can follow along with some of the dialogue found in the book.
Selected Folktales – Ausgewählte Märchen:
This is a simple dual-language story book containing 27 popular fair tales by Jacob and Whilhelm Grimm. Many are familiar to most people including: Rapunzel, Hänsel and Gretel, and Little red riding hood. What makes this a good choice for a dual-language book is that the stories are originally written in German and translated to English – this means that more of the original context will remain. Additionally, these stories are familiar to most people which helps to decipher what is going on when you may not understand each sentence entirely. There are no pictures and some of the stories are a little longer so this would be geared towards an upper beginner or lower intermediate learner. Overall, for the price and cultural relevance its a great choice to improve your reading.