Young kids between the ages of 3 and 8 learn German as a foreign language much faster than older children. In fact, children under 6 years of age learn a second language as easily as their mother tongue. This is because children at this age are highly motivated and enthusiastic about learning a language. They learn the language through songs, nursery rhymes, engaging games, cartoons and stories. Children are not worried about wrong grammar or pronunciation. They quickly pick up an accent of another language and their grammatical skills develop subconsciously. Therefore, they acquire another language naturally without any foreign accent or typical foreigner mistakes. In addition, learning a second language early in life promotes brain development and general learning skills, boosts self-confidence and helps kids develop interest in other cultures.
If your kid has a gift for languages, it can easily learn a German song, nursery rhyme or the whole sentences from a German cartoon just by watching these on YouTube. Therefore, German lessons for kids come in the form of addictive cartoons, games and puzzles rather than formal lessons. Below is a review of some of the best free resources on the world-wide-web that will help your kid pick up a German language naturally:
Interactive Games for Kids Learning German
- Hello-World.com is a children’s portal for learning languages through games and songs. It contains more than 600 free German games to teach the kids basic words such as numbers, names of foods, body parts, animals, etc. and some little grammar. Children can play most of the games alone just by clicking on the objects on the screen and listening to the sounds and words. But, in order to read the flashcards, young kids will require assistance from their parents.
- German-Games.net is a collection of educational games for children. There are dozens of games organized into such categories as animals, numbers, colours, family or grammar. Parents are supposed to read the tutorials to help their children play the games and complete the test after each course. However, the games are quite self-explanatory and many children will be able to play them with no explanation needed just by hovering a cursor over the images and listening to the words and then answering yes/no questions with mouse clicks.
- Bauernhof is an interactive educational game developed by PlanetSchule, which is a joint project of two regional German TV broadcasters – SWR Fernsehen and WDR Fernsehen. This game called farm in English will teach your kids about day-to-day life on a farm. Children can look around the farm, switch between the seasons, listen to the explanations of the farmer Wilfried, answer his questions and play interactive games to make sure they understand what they have been told. Explanations are simple and can be replayed as many times as they like. However, children must be able to read to answer the quiz questions and also because some explanations do not have an audio. Although this game was not developed specifically for German learners but rather for native German kids, the language is very simple and illustrations are self-explanatory which makes it suitable also for children learning German as a second language.
German YouTube Channels for Kids
- German Games is a channel for kids under 10 but it helps when children can already read. The main aim is to teach children the basic German vocabulary. Lessons are short and focus on teaching individual words from a certain category such as colours, body parts or animals, and simple sentences.
- Learn with me – ABC 123 International – this youtube channel is ideal for young kids, including pre-school children. In about 60 German songs children will learn alphabet and basic German words for each letter of the alphabet.
- HooplaKidz Deutsch – also uses a method of teaching German through cheerful songs and nursery rhymes. For kids this is the most natural way of learning a language. You can recognize many of the songs’ melodies and lyrics as being actually originally English. Therefore, some children will already know the English versions of these songs.
- Andrea Thionville – an easy way of teaching kids basic German vocabulary and phrases through children’s songs, games and short stories. German grammar is explained through building simple sentences.
- German for Kids – although this youtube channel offers German beginner lessons primarily designed for children, it is also suitable for teenagers and adults. Learners must be able to read English subtitles, so younger kids will need assistance of their parents.
Mobile Apps for Children Learning German
- Phase6 Hallo Deutsch Kinder is a vocabulary builder developed for children of immigrants and refugees who have absolutely no knowledge of the German language. This free app can also be used by anyone else who is a complete beginner in German. The aim is to help kids learn 1,400 German words and simple phrases in an entertaining way. Although primarily designed for children to develop basic vocabulary, this application is also suitable for practicing listening comprehension and writing skills. It is needless to say that it works on iPhones, iPads and androids.
Children’s Songs and Miscellaneous Other Courses
- Goethe Institute has developed a platform entirely dedicated to teaching German to children of all ages and all German-speaking ability levels. The platform contains nearly two dozens of different resources that address all aspects of language development. You will find there children’s songs, fairy tales, games, animated short movies, book recommendations as well as rather traditional German lessons tailored specifically for kids. In addition to using these materials online, you can download the videos and transcripts for offline use. Everything is available for free use. This platform also offers materials and recommendation for German-language teachers.
This is a selection of the best German language teaching resources freely accessible online that have been primarily designed for pre-school and young school children. Older kids and teenagers, depending on their German language skill level, may also enjoy some of the German lessons for beginners, intermediate and advanced learners as well as YouTube channels and mobile apps for teaching German to adult learners that are listed throughout other sections of this website. Lessons on YouTube and mobile apps can be particularly appealing to your child.