The Best German Textbooks

The best textbooks of the German language: A review. Part I.
There are a great deal textbooks of German now. From Russian publishers, Belorussian, Ukrainian, French, American as well as original German editions, such as from Goethe Institute or Klett Verlag.
They are all not ideal. Practically in all the textbooks there are grammar or orthographical mistakes, some old-fashioned and rarely used constructions and clichés. Sometimes there are even mistakes in explanation of grammar rules. I will try to describe shortly the best textbooks which I use and which my students like a lot.

Daf Kompakt A1-B1
A super-duper textbook, I would say. There are 3 levels: A1, A2 and B1. Some themes are repeated on different levels and often some specific topic is described in more details with new words and grammar in the new level. In this textbook all the skills are trained: Reading, Speaking, Listening, Writing as well as Grammar and Vocabulary. There are lot of interesting texts, small and big, lots of real examples of letters, emails, announcements. All the texts are separated in several smaller ones, which makes reading easier. There are a lot of listening exercises. Besides, there is a Workbook which can be used for improving all the skills. At the end of every chapter all the information is summarized, there is a vocabulary and grammar list.

One of my favorite textbooks which I always advise as for beginners and for Advanced. The topics are really interesting, and all the materials are well presented: topics, vocabulary, phrases, some small grammar pieces, which are connected with the topics.
Exercises and texts are interesting, and at the site of the publisher there are a lot of additional exercises for all the levels (for these textbooks).
These textbooks are used in Goethe-Institute and Studienkollegs. Besides, this textbook is good because it is “user-friendly.” You can easily find anything you want and use that as a cheat sheet where you can always check the necessary words and grammar. However, there is one detail: this textbook is a bit complicated for self-study. Grammar themes can be located in different chapters, that’s why it can be difficult to pass that a page after page. Sometimes I have to change the order of studying chapters, depending on the group of my students.
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  1. OlgaHelga 03 september 2019, 12:35 0
    The best textbooks for learning German. Part IV.
    We continue to discuss the best and the worst textbooks for self-study and learning with a tutor.


    The textbooks for the level B1 and higher ones of my favorites. There are lots of texts and exercises for discussion. Texts are much more complicated than in the series Begegnungen or DaF Kompakt.
    There are some short stories, tales, as well as scientific-journalistic articles.
    In these textbooks the emphasis is more on specific topics rather than on common every day routine. For instance, there are discussed some table-top games, facts from history, science, popular magazines publishers.
    However, the emphasis is not exactly on the specific topic, but for learning suitable vocabulary for higher levels.

    I really like that there is a separate grammar page in every chapter, and sometimes grammar is recycled from the previous levels, and from time to time there are presented some small but important grammar details, which are not explained in the lower levels. At the end of every chapter, there is a list of phrases and expressions dedicated to the certain topic.

    There are a great deal of textbooks for learning German, but many from them are not really popular right now in Germany, such as Em, Tangram aktuell, Themen aktuell. These textbooks, even their new, cutting edge editions are considered not actual and modern according to the teaching approach and the style of presenting of the learning material. They are considered less interesting and enjoyable comparing to the textbooks, which I have described in the previous parts of the “Best German textbooks” theme.

    However, there are a great deal of some materials which I have not described yet: such as learning podcasts, like GermanPod101, German Earworms, learning podcasts from Deutsche Welle, Goethe Institute and some others.
    Probably, I will dedicate to these materials my other articles.
    1. OlgaHelga 03 september 2019, 12:33 0
      The best textbooks of German, Part III
      We continue to discuss the best and the worst textbooks for self-study and studying at German courses.

      This textbook is quite popular at courses for beginners. Honestly speaking, I really like illustrations in this series of the textbooks. As an adept of visual learning, for me, it is important that pages are colorful, accurate, capturing attention, and neat.
      In these books there are lots of exercises for all the skills training: Speaking, Writing, Reading, Listening. All the themes are illustrated, that’s why it is quite easy to find what you need without a helping hand of your teacher. However, some grammar topics are simplified.
      Initially, you may not notice that, but such short explanations can lead to the situation when the grammar rules are incorrectly understood and look like ambiguous.
      This disadvantage I learned from my colleague who worked at some language courses in Germany. She used this textbook a lot for her students, but as the result had to stop using that.

      An amazing series of textbooks for the level B1 and higher. In terms of vocabulary these textbooks are much more complicated and extensive than the textbooks Begegnungen.

      Tracks for listening are more difficult, dialogues are faster, however sometimes you can notice that speakers are not playing the dialogues, but are reading them. The main emphasis is put on learning of vocabulary and improving speaking skills, as well as for building a good reading skill.
      Grammar is not really the first topic for this series, which is quite logical for Advanced and Upper-Intermediate levels.
      In these textbooks really interesting themes are presented, but these textbooks are mainly dedicated to school graduates and students, that’s why several chapters describe the theme of school finishing, entering universities, looking for undergraduate training, etc.
      On the whole, quite a fresh approach to famous topics for Intermediate, Upper-Intermediate and Advanced levels.
      1. OlgaHelga 03 september 2019, 12:31 0
        There are a great deal of German textbooks to learn, but not all of them are equally good. We continue to discuss advantages and disadvantages of textbooks for learning the German language.

        Studio 21
        (as well as his forerunner Studio D) — the textbooks, which are frequently used for beginners at many universities and courses of the language in Germany.
        This textbook is dedicated to the students, who have just come to Germany.
        I am bit unsatisfied with this textbook: there are a bit fewer exercises, than in the similar textbooks, lots of rude mistakes in using words starting from the first chapter for the level A1, boring topics and not suitable for beginners vocabulary. However, there is one plus: a great deal of additional materials (which, actually, are not free and provided for payments) like DVD, intensive grammar learning, and additional materials for tutors. That’s why, in rare cases I take some exercises from these textbooks.

        The textbook series for all the levels. I have heard that this textbook is quite popular among Russian teachers and in some language schools in Russia.
        However, I have never seen any tutor in Germany who would use this textbook for teaching or just suggest his students work on separate exercises for learning.
        There is one advantage of this textbook: it is colorful. Lots and lots of pictures, bright colors. Lots of exercises for Speaking, lots of role-playing games for training conversations in German, a really good material for group study. As for disadvantages: few exercises for all the other skills. Less vocabulary, less grammar, than in other textbooks. It is pleasurable to thumb through the book, lots of pages, attracting attention, however I have not found a really practical use for all these beautiful photos. That’s why –it is certainly not my favorite textbook. What a pity!

        Ja genau!
        A new textbook for me. I have not sued this textbook a lot, but it is certainly something good that we can analyze. The textbook for the level B1 is a wonderful book for learning Reading: lots of short texts and everything packaged with sound tracks. Lots of material are dedicated to learning words and phrases: new words are collected at the margins of the textbook, at the sides and at the bottom, that’s why if it is necessary, it is easy to find and to repeat some vocabulary. Lots of games for group studies and modern, actual, cutting-edge topics, lots of enjoyable communicative exercises.