When I got serious about teaching German as a foreign language, I went to see a friend who works in a bookstore in the small town where we live in southern Germany. I asked her if she could help me to find suitable books for learning German so that I could start courses with my students.

My friend took two books from the shelf and said that these were the best-selling books for learning German in her store. Meanwhile, after years of real experiences with my students who are learning German, I made a personal list of German books, which you’ll find below.

In this article:

Why learn German with books for learning German?

If you are a beginner, there’s a lot of reasons to start to learn German by using a textbook for learning German. However, not everybody likes learning after textbooks. But those who do, will certainly appreciate the advantages course books offer.

First of all, it will give you structure.

Imagine you are set off to learn German and all you need is a plan. A German book will give you this plan. By following it, you will be able to follow a line.

Second, the best books for learning German are written by specialists.

With many years of teaching experience. For instance, publishing houses of German books such as Hueber, Ernst Klett or Cornelsen hire experienced experts to create their books for learning German.

Third, good books for learning German can open an entire world for you.

Today, it’s rather rare to buy a German book and not to have access to further, interactive digital products. Via CDs, DVDs, online portals, and, of course, mobile apps.

Fourth, the books for learning German will give you the knowledge you need to obtain a language certificate

The manuals for learning German, which you will find below, were created with reference to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages [CEFR].

The CEFR is the reference guide describing the achievements of foreign language learners in Europe and its main objective is to provide a method of learning, teaching and evaluation applicable to all languages in Europe. See Wikipedia definition.

Therefore, if you are looking to obtain a certificate for German as foreign language (A1 to C2), you have to prepare yourself by using a course book created by having CEFR as reference.

Any disadvantages of books for learning German?

Yes, there are disadvantages of learning from a course book: Some course books are not easy to use without a teacher’s help.

How to choose your books for learning German?

These are the criteria after you should choose your German course book:

Set first your objective for learning German before choosing your books for learning German

Do you want to learn German to get a certificate for speaking German? In this case, choosing one of the books below is the right thing to do.

Do you want to learn German for the integration test? In this case you should choose the books that are especially done for this purpose.

Is your aim to learn German to get a job in Germany or Austria? If yes, then you should look for books for learning German that cover predominantly topics related to work.

Do you want to learn German for travelling? Also for this topic you should select the right book.

Get clarity on the level in German you would like to achieve, before byuing your books for learning German

As most course books for learning German are created with reference to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages [CEFR], they are usually structured on the A1 to C1 levels. Normally, one course book would cover a half (A1/1 and A1/2 for example), one (A1 and A2) or two CEFR (A1-A2) levels in German.

For instance, if you are an absolute beginner, you should start with A1. Or, if you have some basic knowledge in German language, you should start with A2. B1 and B2 represent the intermediate level. C1 stays for advanced, while with C2 level you would reach the proficiency level in German.

Check whether the books for learning German you select have comprehensive textbooks and workbooks

Some manuals offer textbooks and workbooks as separate books for learning German. Others combine textbooks and workbooks in one volume. The fact that you have a larger number of volumes for a course book means that textbooks and workbooks are either offered as separate books or are combined into one volume for each level (or half level).

With this I would like to emphasize the following:

Regardless of the format of the course books, the textbook and workbook must be comprehensive enough to cover all the important topics that need to be covered at each level.

So, in this case, quantity often means quality, as well.

Are there any additional training booklets?

In addition to textbooks and workbooks, some course books for learning German offer additional resources for practicing the content learned in the German course. These supplementary materials can be purchased separately or are offered free of charge in the form of an electronic version that can be downloaded from the website of the respective publishing house.

The best books for learning German need to offer access to additional digital resources

Usually there are CDs, DVDs or audio resources on the Internet, downloadable worksheets or templates, online exercises such as grammar and vocabulary trainers, and other digital materials.

When choosing your course book, make sure that many additional resources are provided in the form of digital materials.

Is there any app offered?

Many books for learning German offer a free app, so learners can access the materials in the book, such as pictures, audio and video files over their mobile devices.


Before choosing one of the books for learning German below, you should know that using these German course books is only one of the many strategies you can use to learn German. You can find more strategies for learning German in my recent article:

How to learn German fast: Learn from my own experience! where I share my top 10 strategies for learning German fast.

The 7 books for learning German I recommend:

The links to the books listed below may contain partner links from Amazon. There are two reasons why we use affiliate links: For each purchase we receive a small commission to support our website. On the other hand, clicking on these links will take you directly to the books and allow you to view the customer reviews. Please read them carefully and make a documented purchase.

Books for learning GermanSchritte international Neu 1: Deutsch als Fremdsprache

Schritte international Neu 1: Deutsch als Fremdsprache

Level: A1

Course book series: A1 to B1

Age: from 16 years

Topics: Daily routine & workplace

Workbook and textbook: Yes

App: yes

Digital media offer: CD, online exercises, videos and audio files

Language: only in German

Additional resources for deep dive: Yes (additional charge)

Course book

With this book you get a manual for learning German that is divided into two sections: the course book and the exercise book (workbook). Looking at the course book section, all lessons follow a clear structure.

As an introduction to each lesson you have photo and audio stories, which introduce you to the topic. These are followed by texts in German related to the topic of the lesson. Most of the texts concern daily routine and topics you would have at your workplace. Each lesson contains one or two pages of grammar and vocabulary explanations.

The authors of this book for learning German intend to increase the learner autonomy in two ways:

  1. At the beginning of the book they offer a very good overview of the content of the book
  2. At the end of the course book you have the possibility to do a self assessment and measure your progress by answering “I can” statements (basically your learning goals)

Digital media & app

All audio and video files for the course book can be accessed via mobile devices (Smartphone, Tablet, and PC). With the free app of this German book, you can easily and quickly access the audio, video and slide shows of Schritte international neu. With the library function you can manage the content of all available courses and workbooks yourself.

Workbook

The workbook section contains a lot of exercises at various levels of difficulty. As a student you have the possibility to practice writing and phonetics. The workbook also contains learner tests with self-evaluation based on the topics from the workplace and everyday life. At the end of the book you’ll find vocabulary pages, with illustrations and example sentences, writing lines and learning tips. In the appendix there is also a systematic grammar overview.

Conclusion:

The books for learning German from the series Schritte International are very well structured books, with integrated textbook and workbook, with a lot of explanations, which are easy to understand. Some German students may miss the lack of explanations in English and they will have to get help either from internet translation pages or a German teacher to accompany them during their study.


Books for learning German Pluspunkt Deutsch - Leben in Deutschland - Allgemeine Ausgabe A1

Pluspunkt Deutsch – Leben in Deutschland

Level: A1

Course book series: A1 to B1

Age: from 16 years

Topics: integration in Germany (and Austria)

Workbook and textbook: Yes (separate books, but are offered as a bundle)

App: yes (vocabulary trainer)

Digital media offer: CDs, DVDs with audio and video files

Language: only in German (instructions in English, Arabic, Pashto as download on the homepage of the publishing house)

Additional resources for deep dive: Yes (additional charge)

Course book

This book on learning German helps immigrants to overcome their everyday life in Germany. The textbook provides information on topics such as finding accommodation, authorities, banks, working life, childcare and school and paves the way for them to become familiar with German (and Austrian) culture and language.

Students are taught important expressions and grammatical structures. In this way they gain confidence in the German language. I like the very detailed overview of the content at the beginning of the course, with very clear learning goals.

Digital media & app

Integrated videos with humorous episodes from everyday life in Germany are a great help. The audios, videos and interactive exercises can be accessed directly from the book using the free PagePlayer app. Or, if you have a CD player, you can use it to hear the audio files.

You can download all additional materials for the course book and workbook with chapter-specific assignment, including e-book from the website. The accompanying materials provide perfect support in preparing and conducting lessons.

Workbook

The workbook is a continuation of the lessons in the book. I personally like this workbook a lot, as it contains lots of exercises that support grammar understanding, writing and listening comprehension. I often use it for inspiration in my courses.

Conclusion:

Pluspunkt Deutsch – Leben in Deutschland is a well structured book, with separate books for lessons (course book) and for exercises (workbook). On one hand it offers a great help to immigrants who need to integrate in Austria and Germany. On the other hand it’s a good tool for the language training centers, that can organize courses and assess the knowledge of the immigrants in a structured way.

Similar to the first book presented above, this book for learning German is difficult to be used as a single resource for self study. Most of the students I know say they need additional explanations from a teacher or via an online course.

Books for learning German Alltag, Beruf Co. 1 Deutsch als Fremdsprache

Alltag, Beruf & Co. 1: Deutsch als Fremdsprache

Level: A1

Course book series: A1 to B1

Age: from 16 years

Topics: Worklife, job topics in Germany, Austria, Switzerland

Workbook and textbook: Integrated in one book

App: no

Digital media offer: only CD

Language: only German

Additional resources for deep dive: no

Course book

This one is one of my favourite books for learning German for the workplace. It combines topics from the everydays life with very specific topics from work. It’s an ideal book for all those who plan to live and work in a German speaking country. I’ve been using this book a lot with my students, as it has great exercises and texts.

However, it is rather difficult to use for self-study, especially because there are no explanations in English and the pages are quite crowded. Nevertheless it’s really worth a try.

Digital media & app

There is only a CD offered with each course book. So, if you buy this book, make sure you have a CD player. Additionally there is also a resource for the online exercises. Most probably you won’t find it that easy, so you can find here the link to the online exercises for this book for learning German for work.

Workbook

There is no separate workbook for this book. The course book consists of 10 lessons. Each lesson contains an exercises section. At the end of the book you’ll find a final test, which takes you through everything you have learned from this German manual.

Conclusion:

Alltag, Beruf und Co. is a must for all those who are working behind an office in a German speaking country. It contains a lot of expressions that I use everyday in my work in product management. However, as all the books presented here, it is rather difficult to use it as only a resource for self-study, if you are not accompanied by a German teacher.


Books for learning German Begegnungen Deutsch als Fremdsprache A1 plus

Begegnungen Deutsch als Fremdsprache

Level: A1

Course book series: A1 to B1

Age: from 16 years

Topics: everyday situations and situations at the workplace

Workbook and textbook: Integrated in one book

App: yes, mobile app for additional exercises

Digital media offer: 2 x CDs with course book, comprehensive offer on the webpage

Language: only German

Additional resources for deep dive: yes

Course book

This course book is designed for adult learners who want to learn German as quickly as possible. The clear structure enables the learners to work independently with the learning material, with or without a teacher.

I had a closer look at the course book and workbook for learning German at A1 level and I liked the fact that the authors have combined day to day situations with situations at work:

  • Introduce yourself in German
  • The first contacts at your workplace
  • In hotel
  • Eating and Drinking
  • At the doctor
  • etc.

Concerning the structure of the course book you’ll find first the situations and different learning tasks. You’ll then have an optional part that offers you in depth information about the respective situation. For those who want to do exercises (which I strongly recommend!) they’ll find a lot of grammar and vocabulary exercises in the third part of the book.

The final section is a wrap-up section, where you’ll find additional expressions, verbs, and tests.

Digital media & app

The course book (which is also available as e-book) comes together with two CDs. So, if you start learning German with this textbook, you’d better make sure you can listen to the CDs.

Independently of this course book, Schubert Verlag offers also a mobile app called Schubert Wort+Satz (Android & iOS) where you can find additional exercises to expand your vocabulary and train your grammar, at different levels. Also I was positively surprised by the additional offer on their webpage. You have access, for free, at a lot of additional materials such as audio files, online exercises, internet tasks (links to other websites + learning tasks), worksheets.

Workbook

As for similar books for learning german, the workbook is integrated with the course book in the same book. You can find here the exact description of the learning contents.

Conclusion:

At least for my taste, this is one of the best books I have found until now. I like the simple structure and the abundance of exercises. The grammar and vocabulary explanations are also very comprehensive. But most of all I like the online offer, this course for learning German comes with.

So, a clear “Go for it!” for Begegnungen Deutsch als Fremdsprache if you want a very good organized book for learning German with a nice collection of online resources.


Books for learning German Linie 1 A1 Deutsch in Alltag und Beruf

Linie 1 A1: Deutsch in Alltag und Beruf

Level: A1

Course book series: A1 to B2

Age: from 16 years

Topics: Everyday situations and worklife situations

Workbook and textbook: Integrated in one book

App: yes

Digital media offer: CD, online media offer

Language: only German – with glossary translated in different languages

Additional resources for deep dive: no

Course book

Linie 1 A1 is a course book for learning German from the Klett Verlag. It is designed to give foreigners who live in a German-speaking country without any previous knowledge the ability to communicate in everyday life and at work. In my courses the students want to talk and learn about different situations. Some of them want to learn German for work, others want to get to know everyday situations.

This book enables them to get to know all these different situations. In this way you as a learner will be motivated to act outside of the German course.

The book comes with a CD containing all video clips, texts and pronunciation exercises in MP3 and MP4 format. You can watch here a presentation of the structure of this book for learning German, a video created by the publishing house:

Digital media & app

There is only a CD offered with each course book. However on the website you will find a very rich digital media offer: transcripts, word lists, online exercises, the solutions for the exercises and many more. The book also comes with a very interesting app offer: By buying the book you get access for free at all the videos and audio files via the augmented reality app called Klett Augmented (iOS and Android).

Workbook

The workbook is integrated with the course book and it containes lots of useful exercises.

Conclusion:

Klett Verlag, the publisher of Linie 1 A1: Deutsch in Alltag und Beruf is expanding its digital offer very rapidly. And this is mainly the differentiator when it comes to learning (but also teaching) German.

You can take advantage of the interactive course books, with interactive exercises, videos, audio files, which provide a very modern and straight forward way of learning German today.


Books for learning German Momente A1.1 Deutsch als Fremdsprache Kursbuch plus interaktive Version

Momente A1.1: Deutsch als Fremdsprache

Workbook is sold separately: Momente A1.1: Deutsch als Fremdsprache – Arbeitsbuch

Level: A1

Course book series: A1 to B1

Age: from 16 years

Topics: everyday life topics combined with work life situations, life in a German-speaking country

Workbook and textbook: Separate course book and workbook

App: Yes

Digital media offer: plenty of media offers for this book

Language: only German

Additional resources for deep dive: Yes, plenty of resources from the same publisher

Course book

I’ve been using some of the course books from this publishing house for teaching German but also for me, to learn French. However, this book is different. And much much better. Why? Because interactivity is the name of the game when it comes to this course book for learning German. Hueber Verlag presents this course book as the future of learning.

Each lesson in the book trains reading, listening, but also speaking and writing skills. The thematic framework of each lesson is created around a story. In addition, the individual words can be heard and repeated in explanatory clips. They are then folllowed by interactive exercises. And alos the grammar overviews are very clear.

At the end of each lesson you can then watch a video, telling a story related to what you have just learned.

Digital media & app

Nevertheless, the big plus of this book is the interactivity. I have tried by myself a couple of lessons and the use of the digital offer is very easy. Take a look at one sample video from the book:

With every lesson you’ll get audio files, videos, explanatory clips on vocabulary, grammar and expressions. They all can be played in the built-in player or over the Hueber App. Which, by the way, also works offline, so you don’t have to worry about internet access all the time.

Workbook

The workbook, with lots of exercises and additional tasks is offered separately. You can find it here: Momente A1.1: Deutsch als Fremdsprache / Arbeitsbuch plus interaktive Version (German).

Conclusion:

Although you either need a lot of patience to study by yourself or the support of a German teacher, Momente A1.1 : Deutsch als Fremdsprache opens an entire digital, interactive world for you. If you want to learn from a book with general topics and with very clear learning objectives in a modern and user focused way, Momente A1.1 is a good choice.


Books for learning German Spektrum Deutsch A1 plus Integriertes Kurs- und Arbeitsbuch für Deutsch als Fremdsprache

Spektrum Deutsch A1+: Integriertes Kurs- und Arbeitsbuch für Deutsch als Fremdsprache

Level: A1

Course book series: A1 to B1

Age: from 16 years

Topics: Everyday life, work related topics, studying in a German-speaking country

Workbook and textbook: Integrated in one book

App: Yes

Digital media offer: CD, additional materials on the website

Language: only German

Additional resources for deep dive: yes, offered by same publisher

Course book

My very personal opinion: If I would start to learn German again, by myself, I would choose this book for learning German to start off. It is very well structured, it’s packed with texts and explanations, and they offer additional materials on their website (which, by the way, needs a refresh at some point).

The first part includes reading and listening texts, exercises for verbal and written communication, vocabulary training, exercises and explanations, and phonetics exercises.

The second part, the in-depth part offers a lot of exercises.

The third part contains overviews of expressions, verbs in context and structures. Here you can repeat and consolidate the content you’ve just learned. At the end of each chapter there is a small final test that allows German learners to check their learning progress.

Digital media & app

If you order this integrated course and workbook for learning German you’ll also get 2 CDs and a leaflet with the right answers for the exercises in the book. If you don’t have a CD player, you’ll be able to access all the digital content of the book (mainly audio files and vocabulary exercises) on the website or over the app: Schubert Wort+Satz (Android & iOS).

Workbook

Similar to many other books presented here, SPEKTRUM DEUTSCH A1+ integrates course and workbook in one volume. The complete volume consists of 12 chapters and a preparation test for the language exam.

Conclusion:

SPEKTRUM DEUTSCH A1+ is appreciated by many German learners around the globe because it has a very good but simple structure, for the comprehensive explanations, as well as for the practical exercises which one can find in the course book.

I recommend it especially for those who are used to learning and reading long and complex texts.


So, what are the best books for learning German?

If you prefer interactive books for learning German, my recommendation is Momente A1.1 : Deutsch als Fremdsprache.

Is you objetive to learn German for work? In this case I’d recommend you Alltag, Beruf und Co..

For all those who want to learn German with a very structured and comprehensive book: my first choice would be SPEKTRUM DEUTSCH A1+.

No matter which course book you’ll choose, I can assure you that only a few people can study only by themselves up to a higher language level.

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How to choose books for learning German