Immersion is key to mastering a language and there are many ways to do it – reading books, watching movies and videos, going to meetups, having German friends. There is one more simple way that you can utterly enjoy and benefit from and it is one of my favorites – listening to German songs.
Yet many German learners don’t give it a try or quit too early as they don’t see how listening to something they don’t understand can help them.
In reality, that’s the heart of the matter — you need to follow a few simple steps before listening to German songs starts becoming more than just a ramble of arcane words and phrases.
Find German songs that you actually like.
This one is kind of obvious. If you are not into German Schlager, I don’t think that creating a playlist of German Schlagers will help you learn German.
Therefore you should enjoy the music and get excited when you hear those songs again whenever and wherever that happens.
Put in a bit of effort and understand the lyrics
Google the lyrics of your favorite German songs and translate them. Understand every verse. Specifically, make sure to focus on the context and meaning. As songwriters often use idioms and phrases, learning individual words doesn’t always make sense. This can be sometimes tricky but googling always helps. In fact, most probably someone else who listened to the same exact song has already asked for help on one of the myriads of forums.
Create a list of new words and phrases
You are very close to reaping the benefits of your effort. The last step is to collect the words and phrases that you like and find useful. For me, every song normally generates from 5 to 30 such words. Obviously, after some time, this number will start going down — so don’t be put off if you get too many new words in the beginning. You will start understanding much more very soon!
What is beautiful about this strategy is that you will be internalizing the new vocabulary by simply listening to those songs — over and over as I assume by now that you found the band or singer that you like.
Simply writing new vocab down doesn’t cut it — you need to retain those words. In other words, memorizing your list is a cumbersome and ineffective process if you don’t have the right tool. Thus make sure to choose the vocabulary learning tool that helps you stay on track.
Once you start following these basic steps, you will instantly see that all those songs start coming to life! You will understand the lyrics, what the singers are trying to convey and get to enjoy these songs even more.
As an inspiration, here is a list of my 12 favorite German songs that I have been listening to lately.
K.I.Z. — Hurra die Welt geht unter
KRAFTKLUB — Schüsse in die Luft
Andreas Bourani — Auf uns
Namika — NA-MI-KA
LOTTE — Auf beiden Beinen
Wincent Weiss — Nur ein Herzschlag entfernt
Tim Bendzko — Hinter dem Meer
Seeed — Dickes B
Immer wenn wir uns sehn (“Das schönste Mädchen der Welt”, Soundtrack)
Pocahontas — AnnenMayKantereit
MAXIM — Meine Soldaten
Elif — Doppelleben
Music is fun and now you know that it could also help you improve your German comprehension. Go ahead and create a playlist on your favorite music-listening platform. Happy learning!