Learning German: A Journey through Language and Culture

Course No. 2846
Professor James Pfrehm, PhD
Ithaca College
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Course No. 2846
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What Will You Learn?

  • numbers Discover the beauty of the German language and the rigor of its grammar.
  • numbers Explore major cities and tourist destinations in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.
  • numbers Encounter German native speakers and gain insights into their culture.
  • numbers Learn tricks for mastering German case endings and irregular verb forms.
  • numbers Get tips on the hottest German pop stars and must-see German films.
  • numbers Hear a gruesome fairy tale with a happy ending-in German.

Course Overview

Learning a new language is an adventure like no other. Sounds that were once gibberish start to make sense. Words and cultures come alive. And visions of foreign travel begin to take shape.

And yet, the first step in learning a new language can be daunting. Maybe you’ve convinced yourself into believing, “I’m just not good at languages,” or “My days of learning are behind me.” Or maybe you’ve decided that, “It’s just too much work to start from scratch.”

While it’s true that there is no effortless route to learning a language, an inspiring teacher makes all the difference. With the right instructor to guide you, these doubts and hesitations disappear. And what can be an ordeal of memorization and drills turns into an accessible and entertaining adventure!

Consider German. It’s one of the world’s most important conversational, commercial, and literary languages—and also one of the most challenging to master, which makes a superb teacher truly vital. On the one hand, German and English are both Germanic languages and share a lot of vocabulary: Mutter, Vater, Hund, and Katze are probably words you already recognize. On the other hand, unlike the Romance languages, German has case endings, three grammatical genders, and very particular rules for its word order.

German, you might say, has gotten a reputation for being difficult.

But Keine Panik! (Don’t panic!) says award-winning Professor James Pfrehm in Learning German: A Journey through Language and Culture. With crystal-clear explanations and a cache of insider tricks, he conducts you through a full year of college-level German in 30 delightful, half-hour lessons. And with Professor Pfrehm’s engaging and entertaining teaching style, you will actually want to repeat each lesson!

You’ll learn all the skills needed to understand and speak basic German: from its sounds and vocabulary to its wondrously challenging grammar. You’ll be able to engage with films, literature, and other media in German. And most important, you’ll be ready to travel to any German-speaking country—whether it’s Germany, Austria, Switzerland, or others. The signs, menus, greetings, and customs will be more meaningful to you, and you’ll be equipped to converse at an elementary level.

In short, you’ll be well on your way to forging your very own “journey” through the German language!

Learner-Friendly Features

An Associate Professor of German and Linguistics at Ithaca College in Upstate New York, Professor Pfrehm enlivens his presentation with learner-friendly features, such as these:

  • Take It Slowly: Rather than just throwing you into the deep end with an overwhelming “full immersion experience,” Professor Pfrehm mixes authentic examples of German with straightforward explanations in English. As the course proceeds, the examples get longer, the vocabulary richer, and the grammar more complex, but he never leaves you floundering or feeling lost.
  • Travel Tips: Many lessons in this course include a short dialogue starring two animated German tourists, Ralf and Mia, voiced by German actors whose accents can help you develop your own. You’ll get to know new grammar, along with Rolf and Mia’s foibles, as they take in urban, natural, and cultural attractions in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, giving you a preview of popular points of interest for your own travels.
  • Learning Should Be Fun: Professor Pfrehm has perfected the art of educating through entertainment. He dresses up as Father Christmas and sings a carol to demonstrate a new type of dependent clause; delivers a newscast on current events featuring genitive case constructions; and in a pair of lessons, he narrates a thrilling animated fairy tale to drive home the simple past tense.
  • Workbook: To get the most out of the course, you’ll want to use the accompanying workbook. Each lesson has a grammar summary, grammar exercises, vocabulary, vocabulary exercises, answer keys, and the German text of the dialogues along with translations. The workbook also includes a resources section with recommended German dictionaries, cultural books, and language apps.

Throughout Learning German: A Journey through Language and Culture, vocabulary and grammar examples appear on-screen in German with translations, allowing you to pause the video to review new material and let it sink in. An especially valuable feature is that the listening-comprehension element—a standard component of most language courses—is “baked in,” meaning that it’s integrated directly into the lessons. As a result, you hear increasingly long extracts of spoken German via the dialogues, stories, skits, and other pieces, always with Professor Pfrehm’s explanations in English before and after.

A Cultural and Linguistic Journey

Professor Pfrehm is an American who fell in love with the German language in college and has visited German-speaking countries repeatedly ever since. Impressively fluent, he has absorbed the culture with enthusiasm and understanding. And since he remembers the frustrations of being a beginner, he tailors his lessons to anticipate the most frequent pitfalls and trouble spots, doing this with a teaching approach that echoes the exciting experience of learning German in a natural setting.

For example, you start the course with the all-purpose greeting, Guten Tag (Good Day), paying attention to German’s pure u tone, which is unlike the “yew” sound in English. But let’s say you’re in southern Germany or Austria. There, the usual salutation is Grüß Gott, which has ü (u with an umlaut). Professor Pfrehm demonstrates how to move your lips and tongue to make this very distinctive German sound. Accordingly, you proceed through the alphabet, learning useful vocabulary and how to pronounce it like a native speaker. And if you know nothing else, a simple Guten Tag or Grüß Gott is a surefire way to break the ice during your travels in the German-speaking world.

Of course, you go much, much farther in Learning German: A Journey through Language and Culture. You’ll plunge deep into the fascinating grammar and sentence structure of the language, along the way picking up cultural pointers such as these:

  • Berlin, City of Contrasts: Devasted during World War II and divided by the Berlin Wall during the Cold War, Berlin is now the glittering capital of a reunited Germany. In the course of a lesson on the subjunctive mood, Professor Pfrehm gives you detailed suggestions on what to do in this endlessly interesting city.
  • Out on the Town: Other cities you visit include Munich, Hamburg, Vienna, Salzburg, and Zürich. Your lessons in urban adventure include ordering drinks and coffee; toasting your new friends at Munich’s Oktoberfest; visiting a Swiss chocolate factory; listening to popular German recording artists; and previewing three, must-see German films.
  • Practical Skills: Professor Pfrehm instructs you in Germany’s many typical civic duties and activities. Your vocabulary lessons also feature shopping for clothes, names for parts of the body, how to tell a doctor what’s ailing you, giving directions and understanding them, telling time, and counting up to a billion.
  • A Remarkable Walk: When you visit Germany’s North Sea coast, you’ll want to take off your shoes, roll up your trousers, and venture out into a vast intertidal zone called the Wattenmeer. Butseid bitte vorsichtig (please be careful)—an imperative instruction you learn in this lesson—since you don’t want to get caught by the rising tide!

Professor Pfrehm refers to these 30 lessons as a “journey” rather than a “course” or “class.” That’s because learning a foreign language really is a journey. A journey has twists and turns. Milestones and mistakes. And most of all, journeys are full of surprises. Your biggest surprise with Learning German: A Journey through Language and Culture may be that the language is easier and more rewarding than you ever imagined.

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30 lectures
 |  Average 27 minutes each
  • 1
    Guten Tag! Your first lesson in German introduces you to useful expressions and some of the distinctive sounds of the language. Professor Pfrehm shows how to turn u into u (u with an umlaut) and how to transform ch, spoken in the front part of the mouth (as in ich, meaning I"), into German's back-of-the-throat ch (as in the composer Bach). And, you'll discover why German is worth learning." x
  • 2
    Definite Articles, Gender, and Nouns
    Meet German's three definite articles-der, die, and das-which correspond to masculine, feminine, and neuter grammatical genders. Get tips on how to predict the gender of nouns. Learn the names of the letters of the alphabet and their pronunciations. Survey the countries where German is an official language. And add to your growing vocabulary-from der Arm (arm) to die Zeit (time). x
  • 3
    Personal Pronouns and the Verb sein
    Warm up with Zungenbrecher (literally, tongue-breakers"). These are phrases that add fun to learning German pronunciation. Then study the singular and plural forms of the personal pronouns. Practice conjugating the most important verb in the German language, sein (to be). Finally, discover how to make singular nouns plural, looking for patterns that will aid memorization." x
  • 4
    Regular Verbs in the Present Tense
    Begin with the greeting, Wie geht's? (more formally, Wie geht es Ihnen?) Rehearse responses, such as, Es geht mir gut and Es geht mir Ausgezeichnet. Practice conjugating present-tense regular verbs, and discover the wonderful utility of the indefinite pronoun man. Finally, learn the German names and nationalities for European countries. Along the way, encounter a new sound: the a-umlaut, a. x
  • 5
    Indefinite Articles and Numbers to 100
    Indulge your appetite for German by learning the protocol for ordering drinks in a pub and treats in a bakery. Dip into the relevant vocabulary, focusing on the indefinite articles and the numbers from 0 to 100, which are pleasingly like numbers in English. Get a taste of German's famous system of word endings, known as inflections, which are packed with useful grammatical information. x
  • 6
    Eine Reise nach Wien und Salzburg
    Travel to two cities in Austria, Vienna (called Wien) and Salzburg, to practice your fundamental skills in German. Learn useful expressions for giving directions. Then investigate the beautifully simple word gern, which expresses approval or enjoyment. Find out how to negate a statement with a well-placed nicht. And along the way, you'll drool over Vienna's multitude of delicious coffee libations! x
  • 7
    Asking Questions and Numbers above 100
    Start with another satisfying Zungenbrecher. Then get acquainted with the different ways of asking questions-both open-ended and close-ended questions. Survey the interrogative pronouns, focusing on the special uses of wo, wohin, and woher, which all mean where," but with distinct implications regarding motion and place. Finally, learn to count to a billion! (Without saying every single number on the way.)" x
  • 8
    The Nominative and Accusative Cases, and kein-
    Plunge into German's grammatical case system, covering the nominative and accusative cases, which correspond to the subject and direct object. View a declension table of nominative and accusative endings for articles, and practice them in a tour of a typical house, learning household words. And discover how to negate a noun phrase with kein, and the supreme utility of the expression, es gibt. x
  • 9
    Time in German and Possessive Pronouns
    Wie viel Uhr ist es? (What time is it?) Learn to tell time and how to read a railway timetable. Rehearse using the prepositions um, von, and bis in a temporal context. Also discover that German has three distinct words that cover our English term, time." Then dive into possessive pronouns-in singular and plural, as well as nominative and accusative-picking up new vocabulary along the way." x
  • 10
    Coordinating Conjunctions and der- Words
    Coordinating conjunctions-such as aber, denn, oder, sondern, and und-allow you to link two dependent clauses in expressive ways. Get the hang of these simple words that let you say complex things. Then unlock the secret of German syntax with the Word Position Model. Finally, study a handy class of noun modifiers, called der-words, that have endings patterned after the definite article. x
  • 11
    Modal Verbs and More Accusative
    Use the public service messages on German Bierdeckeln (beer coasters) to launch into modal verbs-a two-part verb construction that expresses desire, necessity, or possibility, as in Ich mochte Deutsch lernen (I would like to learn German). Review the months, seasons, and days of the week. Also, see how the accusative case is used with certain expressions of time and after specific prepositions. x
  • 12
    Eine Reise nach Munchen und Rothenburg ob der Tauber
    Prost! Open with toasting customs at Oktoberfest in Munchen (Munich). Your visit to this vibrant city and to charming Rothenburg ob der Tauber introduce you to stem-vowel changing irregular verbs-those that undergo a simple vowel change in the present tense, second-person familiar, and third-person forms. These verbs are generally so common that the irregular forms are quickly memorized. x
  • 13
    Present Perfect and da- and wo- Compounds
    Learn to form compounds with da- and wo- plus a preposition, as in dahin (to there) and wohin (to where?). Then leave the present tense to meet your first past-tense form, confusingly called the present perfect. Concentrating on verbs classified as weak, discover that their present perfect forms are satisfyingly regular. Finally, practice getting these syntactic elements in the right order. x
  • 14
    Ich hab' mein Herz in Heidelberg verloren
    Via a love story, encounter irregular strong verbs in the present perfect tense. Along the way, find out where the terms weak and strong come from (hint: the same scholar who compiled a famous collection of German fairy tales). Then explore vowel changes, known as ablaut, which characterize strong verbs. Cover all seven ablaut classes. Also, learn about model verbs and mixed-class verbs. x
  • 15
    Separable-Prefix Verbs
    Open with a tutorial on the refuse recycling system in Germany, leading to final pointers on the present perfect, which for native speakers is the most widely used tense for expressing past events in everyday speech. Then tackle another widely used grammatical feature, separable-prefix verbs, seeing how they fit into the Word Position Model introduced in Lesson 10. Finally, go clothes shopping! x
  • 16
    Subordinate and Infinitive Clauses
    Meet two German superstars-singers Herbert Gronemeyer and Annemarie Eilfeld-in a dialogue that covers subordinate and infinitive clauses. Together with indirect questions, which are formed just like subordinate clauses, these constructions take your German fluency to a new level. Then, use the Word Position Model, plus fresh insights into word order, to build a classic long sentence in German. x
  • 17
    More Infinitive Clauses and the Dative Case
    Sankt Nikolaus (Father Christmas) sings a holiday song and introduces the useful dependent clause, um...zu + infinitive. Also learn how to deal with the dative-the case used for indirect objects and that answers the question, to whom or for whom?" Practice fitting this form between the subject and direct object, and see how it relates to the case forms you've already learned." x
  • 18
    Eine Reise nach Zurich und Zermatt
    Visit two attractions in German-speaking Switzerland: the charming city Zurich and the Alpine resort Zermatt. Featuring a chocolate factory and other delights, the dialogue brings up the dative forms of possessive pronouns, which follow the pattern of ein-words. Next, learn the dative endings for der-words. Finally, discover an interesting exception to word order rules presented earlier. x
  • 19
    Reflexive Verbs and Pronouns
    Learn parts of the human body from two unusual experts: male and female Schaufensterpuppen (mannequins). Then, visit a German doctor in a dialogue that introduces reflexive verbs and pronouns. These verbs involve actions that refer back to the subject of the clause, such as sich fuhlen (to feel; or literally, to feel oneself). The examples you cover take pronouns in the accusative case. x
  • 20
    More Dative and Subordinating Conjunctions
    Continue your study of reflexive verbs and pronouns by looking at constructions that require the pronoun in the dative case. One example is the very useful sentence Das ist mir egal (I don't care). Then step back and consider the four major uses of the dative. Also learn how "The Blue Danube" waltz by Johann Strauss II is the key to learning some of the most common prepositions with dative objects. x
  • 21
    The Simple Past
    Delve into the checkered past of Professor Pfrehm as you learn about ... the past-the simple past, that is. This tense is different in form from the present perfect you learned in Lessons 13-15, but its meaning is the same, though it is mostly used in formal writing. Cover the simple past forms of the verbs sein, haben, and geben, and the modal verbs mussen, konnen, mogen, durfen, wollen, and sollen. x
  • 22
    Bauerin Barbel und die drei rotbartigen Zwerge
    Enter the world of fantasy with a Marchen (fairy tale) designed especially for this course to present verbs in the simple past tense. Featuring a widow in distress, strange little men with red beards, and a gruesome plot twist, the story is so thrilling that the seven classes of simple past endings for strong verbs, plus the much less complicated paradigms for weak verbs, will go down like candy. x
  • 23
    More Simple Past and Relative Pronouns
    Reach the exciting conclusion of the fairy tale from the previous lesson, while finishing your exploration of the simple past. Then turn to vocabulary for professions and the workplace, using it to construct sentences that present a new grammatical element: relative pronouns. Learn 12 of the 16 relative pronouns, which happen to be identical to the definite articles (with one exception). x
  • 24
    Eine Reise nach Hamburg und Cuxhaven
    Travel to two more intriguing destinations in the German-speaking world: the bustling German port of Hamburg and the quaint seaside town of Cuxhaven. Hear about die Wattwanderung, a remarkable walk across an extensive mudflat near Cuxhaven. Meanwhile, learn to form the imperative mood, which is used to issue commands, and practice constructing relative clauses with prepositions. x
  • 25
    Two-Way Prepositions and Verbs That Use Them
    So far, you have studied prepositions that always take the dative case (bei, mit, von, etc.) or the accusative (durch, bis, fur, etc.). Now, look at those that can take either case, depending on the context. These two-way" prepositions include an, auf, and in. Study the verbs that often accompany them, expressing either location (and, therefore, dative) or placement/destination (hence accusative)." x
  • 26
    Comparative/Superlative and Adjective Endings
    Professor Pfrehm introduces his three favorite German-language movies-a war film, a spy drama, and a sci-fi thriller-giving tips on the best way to watch them to improve your German comprehension, all while being entertained! His goal is not film criticism, but rather teaching you how to construct comparative and superlative sentences. After that, he tackles the three sets of adjectival endings. x
  • 27
    The Genitive Case and the Passive Voice
    Practice your first joke in German. Then meet the fourth and final German case-the genitive-completing your study of the case system. See how von + a dative construction performs the same function as the genitive. Then turn to prepositions that take the genitive, such as wegen, trotz, and laut. Finally, plunge into the passive voice, learning how to turn the object of a sentence into the subject. x
  • 28
    The Subjunctive Mood
    So far, you have been using mostly the indicative mood-the verbal form used to express reality and facts-with a brief foray into the imperative mood used to express commands (in Lesson 24). Now, learn the mood for expressing contrary-to-fact or hypothetical situations: the subjunctive. The dialogue centers around the frustrations and second thoughts attending the purchase of a new smartphone. x
  • 29
    Eine Reise nach Wittenberg und Berlin
    Dig deeper into the subjunctive by learning to express hypotheticals in the past tense. The dialogue takes you through eastern Germany via the famous Autobahn: first to Wittenberg, site of Martin Luther's historic challenge to the Catholic Church, and then on to Berlin, where you survey some of the many monuments and museums, including sites commemorating the Berlin Wall and the Holocaust. x
  • 30
    Our Journey: The End or Just the Beginning?
    Finish with a series of unaided dialogues of increasing difficulty, covering grammar you have studied in the course. You'll be surprised at how much you understand! Looking ahead, Professor Pfrehm offers tips and strategies for improving your German, from getting a German-speaking, video-chat pal to subscribing to German language podcasts. And so, viel Gluck, auf Wiedersehen, und bis gleich! x

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Your professor

James Pfrehm

About Your Professor

James Pfrehm, PhD
Ithaca College
James Pfrehm is an Associate Professor of German and Linguistics at Ithaca College. He received a master’s degree in German Literature from the University of Washington and a doctorate in Germanic Linguistics from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Dr. Pfrehm’s teaching and research areas include the German language; the literature and culture of German-speaking countries; and several subfields of linguistics,...
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Learning German: A Journey through Language and Culture is rated 4.7 out of 5 by 76.
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Outstanding lecturer! Wish this engaging professor would record a second course to follow this one. Great use of video technology for language instruction. Excellent explanation of German grammar. My partner who isn't learning German enjoyed watching the videos if places in Germany.
Date published: 2020-06-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great exploratory/introductory/refresher course This course is the reason I decided to subscribe to Great Courses Plus! Professor Pfrehm has a lively, engaging, and personable teaching style that contributes to the eager anticipation I felt for watching each new video in his "Journey through Language and Culture". And the attention given to "die Nüßen und Bolzen" of the language is satisfying for a grammar hound like me without being likely to stultify anyone. I have prior experience with learning and occasionally reading and speaking German, and had acquired a fairly good sense of word order and some of the unexpected ways that sentences can start and end (e.g., how you need to recognize when you're going to find a separable prefix or an infinitive at the end of a sentence, and to go looking for it right off so you don't lose the meaning before you find it), how meaning can depend on inflection of articles and pronouns (e.g., how 'der' and 'sie' can indicate very different roles for their nouns and antecedents) in the absence of prepositions and English-like word order, and so on. Nevertheless, my experiences had been occasional, erratic and varied, and there are important aspects of basic grammar, like declension of articles, pronouns, and adjectives, conjugation of irregular verbs, and helpful rules for gender and plurals, that I didn't have a good grasp of. Professor Pfrehm's course has been an ideal way to firm up my foundations and clear out some misconceptions. As well, he introduces a number of terms and colloquialisms that I was unfamiliar with that are helpful in understanding everyday conversational German. The fundamentals covered here are comparable to what's covered in a formal first-year German course, and to my mind taking it would be an excellent way for those scheduled to take one to prepare for it in the month before school starts, or to review for those planning to take a second year. Likewise, for those contemplating but undecided about taking a German course, taking Prof. Pfrehm's video course would help make the decision as well as to prepare. For travelers interested in learning more than phrasebook German (not essential, but it makes the enjoyment of travel deeper and richer – and besides, the locals love it when we do), just taking half an hour a day in the month prior to the trip to attentively watch the 30 lessons would be extremely helpful. For those interested in really learning the basics of the language, doing the accompanying workbook will greatly enhance and firm up what's learned and retained. Those headed for an extended stay in Germany with the military or their employer will find this course a terrific ('toll!') way to prepare. Some reviews have made the criticism that this is "not the equal of a college course". But no one should expect 30 half-hour videos to BE the equivalent of a college course! (On the other hand, by avoiding the time given in a live class to the vagaries of spontaneous lecturing and time to write on the board and to deal with questions, each brisk, clean, edited video is probably equivalent to a full classroom hour or more.) If you want an enjoyable "Reise durch Sprache und Kultur" that will give you a basic grounding in German, a preview, a review, or the basis for further self-study, this course is for you.
Date published: 2020-06-01
Rated 2 out of 5 by from How is this college level? I was excited by other Great Courses, and thought that this was what I needed for German. But I'm seven episodes in, and we haven't even come close to what is covered in a single episode of the Greek Course. It is taught at a middle-school level. I am shocked that this is a college-level course. The professor is engaging, handsome, and easy to look at - but I bought this to learn German, and I'm getting impatient.
Date published: 2020-05-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Worthwhile I knew basic German. I bought this for my son, and we went through it together. First, one could not find a more genial professor. His friendly personality goes a long way toward making the course fun. I just wish he’d quit sighing. :) This course is a great introduction to German. Now make an intermediate course and we’ll buy it.
Date published: 2020-05-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Highly engaging! Professor Pfrehm provides a highly engaging path to learning the German language and culture. The course provides the framework that one would expect from a good language course, focusing on specific points of grammar and building vocabulary in each lesson. What makes this course very unique is how Professor Pfrehm's enthusiasm and personality infuse every aspect, making the learning experience most enjoyable. I hope that a German II course might be available soon.
Date published: 2020-05-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent course, lots of fun! I lived in Austria for several years and picked up the language by ear very well by the time I came home to the UK, achieving a high level of spoken fluency which always won me a lot of praise from my native speaking friends and colleagues. Despite learning it so well through simple listening I never learned the grammar concepts formally and found them very difficult to understand on paper. However, all these problems have now been solved by this course. Professor Pfrehm is very personable and funny which made me look forward to the lectures. After a few lessons something clicked and from then on I was able to understand the language's grammatical concepts for the first time in my life. I've finished the whole course and am now working on a more formal grammar course, reverting back to Professor Pfrehm's course when needed. I think if you are a complete beginner this course will move very fast so be patient, but for people like me who have a good vocabulary knowledge already it will be perfect. The suggestions for further study in the final lesson were particularly helpful, but hopefully a second course is underway. One issue I have though is with the workbook. I've noticed a few errors and emailed Great Courses about them, but never heard back. For example, in the answers for chapter 20 section C there are 6 questions but the answer for question 6 is missing. In chapter 8 in the translation section question B1 asks us to translate 'there are many mirrors' into German but the answer given is 'es gibt keine Spiegel' which of course means 'there are no mirrors'. Similarly question B3 asks us to translate 'we think they are sweet' but the answer given is 'Sie finden ihn intelligent' which means 'You (or they) find him intelligent'. This makes me doubt the book and might baffle those who can't work these out. Hopefully if I'm right and these really are errors they will be fixed soon.
Date published: 2020-05-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from engaging professor and great visuals! This course integrates a good teacher with clear content, helpful visual texts and interesting glimpses of German culture and places. The combined, varied format is entertaining and you absorb the language quickly. The changing format makes this the freshest and most well-done Great Course we've used so far.
Date published: 2020-05-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from LEARNING GERMAN: A JOURRNEY THROUGH LANGUAGE AND C I was stationed in Germany many years ago and learned quite a bit of German. Ove4r the years you forget a skill you seldom use. I have many novels in German and wanted some refresher training. This course covered the basics well. I'd like to see a German II course to bring my German up a notch. The course was well done. The travelogue parts were also nice. This is a great way to start learning German.
Date published: 2020-05-18
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Very clear explanations for a complex language Professor Pfrehm is an engaging and enthusiastic teacher. He presents things clearly, in a systematic way that makes sense, and is not intimidating. I am learning and understanding the grammar in ways that are missing from the more conversational programs I've used. I highly recommend this course for someone serious about learning German. The one downside - that's where I deducted a star - is that the course book is full of errors. Most units have an error in the answer key for at least one exercise. On the upside, when something doesn't make sense, I use google to source the correct answer. Also, so far (I'm on chapter 11), there have been two errors in the tables (personal pronouns p53, and possessive pronouns p.60). I replayed those sections of the lesson to cross reference. Also, the book does not include all of the dialogs although we are told they are there in the lessons. I've printed out the course book and do all of the exercises. In spite of the poor editing job, it's an integral part of the course. You need to study and do the exercises to have the best results.
Date published: 2020-05-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Nice and different I like this format as a supplement to my existing ones such as Babbel and Duolingo. The real person and the pronunciation help is exactly what was lacking in those formats.
Date published: 2020-05-14
Rated 3 out of 5 by from A bit fast , needs more repetition It is a pain to rewind the course to get repetition. Itbshojkd beveasier to print just a portion of the handbook.
Date published: 2020-05-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The German Language: Well Taught and Engaging! Over many decades, I have attempted to learn German, but somehow got stuck along the way. An upcoming trip to Germany prompted me to take up my German grammar books yet again, when--happily--I came across The Great Courses new offering of "Learning German: A Journey through Language and Culture" by Professor James Pfrehm. The course and the "journey" are fantastic. I finally understood the well-explained reasons behind much of German grammar (heretofore so daunting) and looked forward to Prof. Pfrehm's autobiographical stories (an American who tackles and delights in learning the German language); his two digitally graphic side-kicks, Ralf and Mia, as they trek throughout the German-speaking world; his explanation of cultural idiosyncrasies and his humor--all with a clear underlying pedagogical structure. I am so happy to have taken this course, now look forward to traveling to Germany, and hope that Prof. Pfrehm will undertake another course to further broaden and deepen our knowledge of the German language and culture.
Date published: 2020-04-29
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Pretty Fast and Deeply Intricate I took German I-III in high school, fifty years ago. I have visited Germany five times, and I was stationed there in the US Army for three years. I have a more than solid base in the language, and this course is too fast for me. The course workbook uses vocabulary not in print during the chapter, and the expectations for total retention of enormous amounts of information is unreasonable as well. This is NOT a casual review or refresher course. The good thing is I can replay and retake it until I am too tired to carry on. The professor is very clear, professional, personable and sincere, there's just too much stuff to cover in 50 minutes.
Date published: 2020-04-28
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Good for conversational German. This course does a good job with conversational German, but would be improved by including some work with German literature and poetry.,
Date published: 2020-04-21
Rated 4 out of 5 by from I have a year of high school German. The instructor provides an excellent presentation. You can go back over the material if you need more time on the particular lesson. You must put aside time and do the workbook material to get the most out of the course.
Date published: 2020-04-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Unbelievable instructor! Pfrehm is not good, he's GREAT, everything I could ask for in a German teacher! Clear, knowledgeable, entertaining and likeable! He DEFINITELY exceeded my expectations!
Date published: 2020-04-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Learning German Nice price. Convenient learning format. Excellent instruction. I view one lesson daily.
Date published: 2020-04-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent! Professor James Pfrehm is a great teacher. At first the lessons seem to move too fast but I found that as the lessons progress, everything is explained. Most importantly, I am learning how to speak and understand the German language.
Date published: 2020-04-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from This course worths every penny you paid for. Professor Pfrehm is very clear and he makes you understand very quickly the basis of German grammar. He is absolutely impassioned about this beautiful language and he is very motivating. Vielen Dank, lieber Lehrer!
Date published: 2020-04-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Learning a new language is daunting but Professor Pfrehm makes it fun and understandable. The German language is complex with a lot of rules (and exceptions to rules), but he explains them clearly. The dialogues with Mia and Rohlf help to develop an "ear" for the language. I am half-way through the course, taking one lesson a day - sometimes a half lesson a day - and have learned a lot. I found repeating lectures, or parts of lectures, very helpful in reinforcing some of the concepts. But as the Prof says "Ubung macht den Meister"! This course will give you a solid foundation to build on. Highly recommend getting a hard copy of the course book to work with.
Date published: 2020-04-04
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Not what I was expecting This course is very academic. Many grammatical structures are reviewed, but conversation skills are not emphasized. The lecturer takes a lot of time explaining in English, rather than just speaking in German. I wanted a more conversation based course.
Date published: 2020-04-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Sehr gut! I have done five lessons, and I am thoroughly enjoying the course. The instructor is personable and easy to listen to. I feel I have learned a lot about the German language in just a few lessons, and I look forward to completing the course.
Date published: 2020-04-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Deutsch - erfrisshe mich auf I have a relativly fluent understanding of German both written and spoken, but my grammer is pretty rusty, so I do not always express myself very correctly or coherantly. This course has been a very useful way of correcting some of my infelicities, and every so often I come across points I had either never learnt or had forgotten. Moreover the course brings home ways in which the language has changed since I first began to study it in the 1960s (and from teachers who had grown up in pre-war Germany, Austria, or in one case Austria-Hungary). There are Anglesisms used today which in the past would have been strengt verboten! (Of course if you read something written in German in the 19th century one comes across an awful lot of French words and phrases - plus ca change!) My wife whose German is much more limited also enjoys the course very much and finds it one of the best she has tried. She seems to be making good progress. Professor Phrehm's pronunciation and accent are pretty good with little trace of his American origins.
Date published: 2020-04-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Sehr gut! I absolutely love this video course. I studied German in college for a few semesters as I studied abroad during college. I love so many things about this course...the pace...the pace is not so slow as to be boring but not so fast as to be too challenging. Each lecture is about 30 minutes...perfect. The teacher explains things well without getting into too much grammatical explanation (which as a language teacher I love but others maybe not so much). Really, the grammar explanation for everything is not necessary. The workbook/guidebook is great. The course provides vocabulary, some grammar, culture and is truly a "journey". And what a bargain! This program would cost hundreds and hundreds of dollars as a college course. And the teacher is a college teacher. This course and many others on this website makes education possible for everyone. And being able to download it gave me immediate access and access whenever and wherever I want. Thank you Great courses and Professor Pfrehm!
Date published: 2020-04-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from This was purchased as a gift, so, I have no direct experience with this particular course unfortunately. I did, however, purchase the intro to Spanish course for myself, and about 5 lectures in, I am well pleased with the quality and format of the program. My instructor is in great command of the subject and the materials are laid out in a very accessible, muti-media way. I can watch video on phone or laptop, and listen in the car as well. In regard to this subject, there is really not much lost with an audio only version, at least to this point. I have purchased numerous courses on a variety of topics that interest me, and have never been disappointed by the quality of the GC presentation. I think this is a great choice for someone wanting to dive into Espanol!
Date published: 2020-04-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from While only on lesson 3, I like the manner in which the language important points are stressed with tables and the pop ups.
Date published: 2020-03-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Course This course was exactly what I was looking for! Having studied the language in college I wanted a review of elementary levels. This hit all the needed basics. Very well presented. I hope it will be continued.
Date published: 2020-03-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very informative and easy approach I purchased this several months ago and it has been great. The lecturer is informative and fun to watch. I needed knowledge of German for reading and this helped me understand the language. It also helped with pronunciation and understand why certain words were used. I will continue to study German as this was a primer. Thanks
Date published: 2020-03-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Effective and nice intro to German Prof Pfrehm is very amiable and an easy teacher to like. The thing I like most was his attention to the student's understanding of what is being said. As compared to other classes I have undertaken (even Great Courses) this course was a real pleasure as I never once found myself missing the point; I always can see what he was talking about and even save the screen for later reference. The dialogues can move pretty fast but the Prof did a good job of explaining when they were done. The fairy tale sample of German was a bit off color but it is true fairy tales in their original form are known to be darker than modern sensibilities expect. I fully recommend this course for anyone looking for an easy introduction to German and look forward to a follow-up class that can maybe lead to reading something like Goethe.
Date published: 2020-03-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An Excellent Course! I'm very much impressed by your Learning German course and professor Pfrehm. The course has been very useful to me in my German language proficiency quest. Quite a number of years ago, I had taken four years of German in high school. I enjoyed the classes and did very well. In fact I did well enough so that I was able to meet the foreign language requirement of the college that I was about to attend. At the time I was more interested in mathematics and science so I did not take any further German courses in college. But over the years I realized that I should have continued with my German language studies. Since then, every so often I would make an attempt to resume my German studies. I'm afraid these attempts were not very successful as I got to a certain point and then put things aside. This time the Great Courses Learning German course with professor Pfrehm should help me in following through with my German language studies. I have a question regarding lesson nine of the course. One of the subjects mentioned is possessive pronouns. Shouldn't this section be labeled possessive adjectives? When we say “my sister” or “my book” in English, I believe that the “my” is an adjective. But in the sentence “That book is mine.”, the word “mine” is a pronoun.
Date published: 2020-02-26
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