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How to Learn Basic German Phrases & Pronunciation for Kids

by Maggie McCormick, studioD

A child's ear is better able to detect subtle differences in pronunciation, and if he begins learning German as a child his pronunciation may be better than if he started in middle school or high school. Seek out multiple ways that your child can learn the language, but focus on sources that use only native German speakers. Those who have learned it as a secondary language may not have correct pronunciation.


In an age when young children sometimes are better at handling digital devices than their parents, downloading German-based apps can be an effective way to encourage your child to speak German. Wired magazine recommends "KinderApp," "Learn German Baby Flash Cards" and "Living Language German," but you can search for other apps as well. The most important thing is to use apps that feature native German speakers, and encourage your child to verbally interact with the app. For example, it's fine for her to listen to the word and select the correct picture, but she should speak the words out loud as well. Sit with her a few times and encourage her to do this.

Videos And TV

If your child's going to watch TV, she might as well be learning from it. Little Pim is a cartoon character that teaches different languages. The company offers DVDs that teach German to young children, along with flash cards for review, and a toy version of the Little Pim character. Dino Lingo is similar -- a series of DVDs that have child-friendly cartoons in German, along with a set of flash cards for extra practice. The videos are interactive, encouraging your children to speak the language along with the characters. Some children might enjoy seeing some of their favorite characters, such as Bob the Builder or Spongebob in German. You often can find the German versions of popular TV shows on YouTube.

Learning Systems

Apps are great for on-the-go practice, but they don't always proceed in a lesson-like flow. Rosetta Stone is a language-learning software program. Your child will listen to conversations in German by native speakers and have the opportunity to "speak" with the videos. The videos also offer the ability to record your child's voice and compare the sound waves with those of a native German speaker to see how he's doing. Pimsleur offers an audio-based course in learning German. Both of these programs tend to appeal to older children, who might not want to learn from a cartoon.

Interacting With Others

Perhaps the best way for children to learn proper German pronunciation, though, is to have them interact with native German speakers. Not only can the child hear the other person talking, but the other person might be able to detect and correct small pronunciation mistakes your child is making. If a family member, such as a grandparent, comes from Germany, encourage her to speak German to your child, even if she usually speaks English these days. You also might find native speakers by seeking out German classes in your area or by getting active in the local German community.

About the Author

Maggie McCormick is a freelance writer. She lived in Japan for three years teaching preschool to young children and currently lives in Honolulu with her family. She received a B.A. in women's studies from Wellesley College.

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