Learning German: A Journey through Language and Culture

Rated 5 out of 5 by from It is extremely good: professional and engaging: I strongly recommend it
Date published: 2021-02-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wunderbar! My wife and I ordered "Learning German: A Journey through Language and Culture" as a Christmas present to ourselves. We have family in Germany and make frequent trips there, so we have a strong incentive to learn the native language. We are really enjoying Professor Pfrehm's teaching style and the content of the course. He has an energetic approach that makes the lessons interesting and fun. The course is laid out in a very logical manner to cover all the major elements of the German language. The cultural insights that are part of the course are an added bonus. The course workbook that's included reinforces the lessons and serves as a useful reference. If you really want to learn German in an engaging way, this is the course for you.
Date published: 2021-02-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An engaging and professional course leader. I am soon to become the grandmother of a potentially bi-lingual child as my son-in law is German and they are about to give birth. This provided my motivation, and lockdown provided the opportunity ....as in vast deserts of time. (Can one have a desert of time? Probably not.) This was an excellent course for me. The Professor is an excellent communicator. He seems to me to be extremely committed to producing a high quality, accessible and entertaining course. I also appreciated his candour and authenticity. I found the content challenging ( but, of course, learning a new language is) and will use it as a springboard to further study. I will re-watch it and utilise the workbook more second ( and probably subsequent ) time(s) around. I learned more from watching this 30 lesson course than from 9 months of usage of an online language learning app. I'm guessing though, that that is quite a low bar. The grammar is devilishly complex, a fact which I had not fully appreciated but, at the very least, trying to work it out may assist in keeping Alzheimer's at bay. I loved the clarity of the tables and the visuals of the process of sentence construction. It also left me very nostalgic for Berlin, which I last visited in 2018 and completed the marathon. I commend the Professor on his work. Thank you.
Date published: 2021-02-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very engaging I began my German journey using an immersion app. It has been very good at forming the foundational knowledge of German. However, I found myself grappling with the "why?" of what I was learning. I did not want to just parrot back sentences or select the picture that matched what I hear. One day, I saw a promotion for this course by Dr. Pfrem - it was on sale, so I thought why not? I am currently on lecture 14 and I really am enjoying the "journey!" It has helped bring clarity to some of the subtle (and not so subtle) differences between German and English - and I have the explanation behind the "why it is this way in German" to be helpful. I don't regret the immersion program I chose - In fact, I am still using it. I find this course to work well in tandem with it. I also enjoy the 30 minute segments. My routine is put in my headphones as I head out for a walk and by the time my walk is done, I've finished the lesson! My hope is that Dr. Pfrem will create another course that could serve as an follow on to this that could help with developing more confidence with conversational German.
Date published: 2021-02-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from German Journey Some of the reviews strike me as a bit odd. Do not be put off by grumpy reviwers. Be assured this is a great couse in everyway! The structure, content, and pace are about right. Professor Pfrehm covers an amazing range of material. The production values are execellent. However, you must apply dilegence and hard work to master the material. I often rewatch videos and rework exercises. I look forward, to the next edition with Professor Pfrehm. And I do hope, there is a next edition forthcoming. In short, I strongly recommend this course.
Date published: 2021-02-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Perfect Introduction to German Professor Pfrehm I think accomplished the perfect way to introduce someone to German. My husband is German and I want to learn the language to be able to converse with his family and one day move to Germany but combing through grammar rules on my own has at times been challenging. Professor Pfrehm's course not only helps you get the most important grammar rules straight but also helped me to learn the correct pronunciation of words (well, not that I can pronounce them correctly yet although my hubby is very sweet about it. Practice makes perfect!) If you are at A1 and A2, this course is absolutely perfect. Even for me as I'm trying to progress toward B1, Professor Pfrehm helped me better understand the basic rules I've picked up from exposure but didn't completely understand before. Kindly disregard the negative ratings - I've read through them and they are ridiculous. Several negative ratings for example have nothing to say about the course itself but that they had issues playing the videos, which is not something that warrants a feedback about the course itself but rather something to contact customer support with. You will not regret giving this course a try if you are serious about learning German in a well-structured way. In addition, I would also like to add in case the Professor reads this review, that my partner and I had so much fun watching your lectures. You have such a professional yet friendly demeanor, a wonderful and welcoming attitude, and a great sense of humor. The lectures did not feel like half an hour, time went by fast because each lesson was so engaging. My native speaker hubby very much loved your teaching style as well and he even asked to watch some of your lectures with me because he has so much fun following along your lecture style. You've brought a lot of knowledge and joy into my life, and one day when I finally master German enough and be able to proficiently converse with my partner's family, I want you to know that you were a big part of that journey. Teaching can and does change lives and I hope you will continue to spread the joy of such a beautiful language and culture.
Date published: 2021-01-30
Rated 4 out of 5 by from My apologies I was very upstet because my videos didn’t downloaded. I wrote a bad review. After one hour my videos are is working. So far is good. Thanks
Date published: 2021-01-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great overall videos Let me say that German takes some time to learn. I read from other comments about some struggle with the videos. Let me tell you that these video alone is just to get the ball rolling about the language of german. To learn a language one must have patience, time, and lastly and importantly have fun. I speak five languages and some took me 2-3 years to master and I still struggle with some words but again life is not perfect and mistake are common. One thing to keep in mind is practice makes perfect so memorizing words are essential because it helps when you want to built sentences. Overall, that is my point of view and again I love to re-watch these videos because memorizing is fun for me.
Date published: 2021-01-24
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Why is this course not taught by a native German speaker? This professor may be knowledgable, but he has bad pronunciation with a strong American accent. He can't pronounce R and ü sounds correctly. I am a beginning student, but I am very sensitive to sound.
Date published: 2021-01-09
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Not a good way to learn a language I watched all thirty lectures of Professor James Pfrehm's "Learning German" video course. I was not impressed. In short, this is NOT a good way to learn a foreign language. As several other reviewers noted, his enunciation is very good. I have no complaints abut the clarity of his pronunciation. However, this course is nothing but a paralyzing collection of grammar rules. There's actually very little German spoken in this course. It's been said that Americans are among the least capable when it comes to speaking foreign languages. This might be true, but it's probably because of the way languages are taught in this country. Every ten-year-old child in Germany can speak fluent German. But if you were to ask the child to explain the dative case, modal verbs, separable prefix verbs, or the subjunctive mood, the child would most likely be unable to do so. And yet, somehow the child speaks fluent German. How can this be? Professor Pfrehm's course also promises to lead the student through the multilayered culture of Germany. Really? I must have missed that part. I have one final criticism of the course; namely, the animated cartoon characters named Mia and Ralf look more like those inflatable air dancers that you see waving on parking lots outside automobile repair shops. They're more of an annoying distraction, and less of an effective teaching aid. Would I recommend this course to a friend? Yes, but only as a grammar reference. The best I can give this course is a score of 3.
Date published: 2021-01-08
Rated 1 out of 5 by from I started with high expectations Professor Pfrehm has great energy and a sense of humor. He gave translations of words orally and and on screen. He explained how to produce the unique sounds of German. Things started to go wrong in lesson 5, with untranslated words and wrong arithmetic. In lesson 6, on page 42 alone there were 16 untranslated words. The dialogs are so very fast that I felt discouraged and lost. If only they were a little slower I felt I could understand them. I found errors and inconsistencies. Asking how many seconds are in a day or hours in a century is absurd, and there was another arithmetic error. This course was becoming a total grind, not fun or appealing at all. I began to hate it and put it aside, maybe for another year. And I love languages!
Date published: 2020-12-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Highly, highly recommend!! This is a great course - I have made more progress with this than I have in years. There are great resources available. I would recommend printing out the course workbook - i had one printed at Office Depot. I also use the flashcard program Anki. In general - a great value - worth a whole lot more than what I paid for it. Sincerely thankful for this opportunity. I will be taking other Great Courses when I finish this one.
Date published: 2020-12-30
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Learning German Just had this course sent to my granddaughter she is happy to have it and get started
Date published: 2020-12-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from This guy has the gift of teaching. German, of course, is not a particularly easy language to learn even though it's a sort of sister language to English. It helps immensely to have a dedicated and skilled guide throughout the initial learning process. Pfrehm is an excellent speaker who knows how to vary his presentation in order to avoid either boring or stressing his viewers unduly. He utilizes English throughout so as not to intimidate, but manages to address his audience in a fair amount of German nonetheless. In short, I feel fortunate that this video course is the first real course in the German language that I've taken.
Date published: 2020-12-16
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Not a Native Speaker I am enjoying the course and James Pfrehm has a very engaging personality; however, I just wonder why a native speaker wasn't chosen to present the course. No matter how well a foreigner speaks a language, there's really no substitute for a native speaker. It's not as though it would be difficult to find one. I didn't purchase this course separately: it was part of the access to all courses via The Great Courses Plus.
Date published: 2020-12-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Course I've learned a lot about German with the course. Now I can read and speak German fluently.
Date published: 2020-11-03
Rated 4 out of 5 by from German for Beginners I purchased this course to freshen up on my German grammar. The professor is very clear and his annunciation makes it easy to follow during his lectures. I wish the course was a bit more advanced, but I can see where this level would be good for beginners. My one criticism would be that there is a lot of talking and I would have liked the use of more visual aids. I realize that this type of course via video, limits any interaction, but 30 minutes of talking gets a bit dreary.
Date published: 2020-10-30
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great course for getting into studying German I bought this course after studying German from a book for about a year. The individual lectures are excellent in teaching German grammar and for expanding your vocab. Prof Pfrehm’s comments on German culture give a good background to learning the language and to help you avoid misunderstandings. Every lecture is filled with great humor. These lectures can be listened to again and again; you will learn something new every time.
Date published: 2020-10-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Expect Understanding, Not Fluency I've been teaching myself German on and off for the past five years or so, and I went through this course just to test myself on how much I had already figured out, and whether I missed anything fundamental. I have to say that I wish I had something like this when I started learning German as it would have saved me a lot of time and headscratching as there are many things about German that are very difficult for an English speaker to just figure out. This course gives a very good fundamental review of German grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation and culture. However, if you are expecting to become completely fluent just by studying the lectures and course materials, you will be disappointed. The goal of the course is more to introduce you to German grammar concepts and a base vocabulary so that you have a good starting point to delve deeper into the language. I think it accomplished this goal, and it was enjoyable to watch--the Professor is engaging and passionate about the subject, the course materials are good, and the presentation was excellent. You will still have to do substantial work and study outside of this course to approach fluency, just like you would for any language course.
Date published: 2020-09-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Good Content - Great Professor This course overall is excellent. The mix of vocabulary, grammar, and book exercises is well done and the depth of "learning German" is good. This is not just a phrase learning activity but a real course. Professor Pfrehm is one of the highlights. His style, knowledge and energy make the course enjoyable. I wish there was a "German II" offered with Professor Pfrehm. One area for improvement is the text book: overall it was fine and useful. It could use a more careful edit. Danke. Ausgezeichneter Kurs.
Date published: 2020-09-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from AUSGEZEICHNET! I had studied German many years ago and had a few friends I spoke with. Dr Pfrehm's course was a wonderful approve to re-learning a lot of grammar and syntax that I had forgotten or never understood. His approach was excellent and his stories of his early experiences with the language was touching and added to this class. I would recommend this to anyone no matter their level with German for you will learn so much!
Date published: 2020-09-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A useful and enjoyable introduction to German I encounter German in my professional life, where I sometimes need to read it or meet with colleagues. I already have reading skill in French and Russian; it definitely helps to have some previous language skill but is not essential to profit from this course. I am currently working slowly through the lessons and am making good progress. James Pfremd is an engaging and well organized professor; the lecture graphics are very useful, as is the workbook. Each lecture covers a lot of ground, and I have found it helpful to listen to each lesson two or three times before moving on to the next. I do the workbook somewhere in between and practice the vocabulary and grammar. I learn a lot more during the second and even third go-through and thus feel thoroughly prepared to move on to the next lesson. Thus my progress might seem too incremental to some, but is less likely to result in discouragement. I'm also having a good time doing this: it is fun and I have plenty of time and no pressure.
Date published: 2020-09-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An outstanding course and performance! Very well done, Professor Pfrehm! You made me feeling like speaking German and knowing more about this language. I was not a true beginner as I studied German when I was young (about fifty years ago!), but I had everything to (re)learn. Thanks to your enthusiasm, your sense of humour, and the multiple pedagogical means (graphics, maps, pictures, cartoons, dialogues...) that you used in this course, you have made this difficult language easier to understand. Now I would really like to have Part 2 of this "Great" course!
Date published: 2020-09-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Engaging way to learn German Although I took German many years ago in college, I had largely forgotten the language and bought this course as a refresher. What a wonderful surprise! The vocabulary came back quickly. From Prof. Phrehm's presentation I developed a deeper understanding of the rules of grammar, including verb tenses and sentence structure than I ever had before. It is far easier to remember than rote memorization. The presentations are straightforward, engaging and truly funny at times. As other readers have noted, there are some errors in the workbook and after notifying the Great Courses, I did receive a reply that they are addressing these errors. I was very sorry to see the course end, and hope that there will be a German 2.
Date published: 2020-09-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Great Course! I enjoyed this course, Prof. Pfrehm explains everything nicely and the lessons are easy to follow and you don't just learn German, you learn about the culture as well. After going through it - not the entire workbook though - I can say that it was really good and you can start learning German here, yes some lessons might be a bit overwhelming but never forget that you are learning a language through a video course - God bless the internet - and language learning can be challenging. My advice would be to go for the course but don't pressure yourself too much and check the workbook, it can be really helpful although overwhelming, especially the vocabulary in it which is a lot, and remember "Übung macht den Meister".
Date published: 2020-08-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Terrific course, but expect to work hard. The course is great. Dr. Pfrehm is a wonderful instructor.The visuals, and a workbook. are great. Expect to work hard and to repeat lessons. You will need a German/English dictionary. One small criticism--"die Reisen" greatly neglect the five states of the former DDR. Leipzig is the music capital of the world and Dresden is quite simply the most beautiful and cultured European city north of Florence. Halle and Magdeburg are fascinating. Worlitz is one of the most beautiful gardens in the world. Genug. Wovon Man nicht sprechen kann, daruber muss Man schweiben. Another series of lessons is a must.
Date published: 2020-08-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Professor Pfrehm makes learning German easy & fun! Learning a new language is overwhelming. I have been trying to learn German for over a year before finding this course. I've used several apps and books, and while I was getting a little here and there, I still struggled with the basics. Just in the first couple lessons of Professor Pfrehm's course I finally felt like I was progressing. He explains things thoroughly, and includes personal stories and examples to help you really connect with the material. The examples are fun and make learning German easier. Learning about Coordinating Conjunctions, for example, was really engaging when an example is about professional mind readers! My friend began learning German with me using this course as well. He had been learning Spanish for the last couple of years before adding German. Starting Professor Pfrehm's course with no prior experience trying to learn German, he has found the course incredibly easy to follow. All of example conversations are also printed in the course workbook, so you can spend more time with them. The video lesson is also written out so you don't need to go back to the video each time. There are also cultural and historical notes about Germany that add more context. I'm planning on moving to Germany for school, so the little history lessons have been helpful in learning more about the place I'd like to live. As we go through the lessons, sometimes more than once, we will be perfecting our speaking, reading, and writing. We hope to see more courses from Professor Pfrehm! If you want to learn German, I highly recommend this course. It's been the best tool in my German Language Journey.
Date published: 2020-08-27
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Not optimal for reading German lit The professor is very personable. If I was 20 years old again and taking his class I might like him much more than I do at age 68. The vocabulary he offers is for tourists to German speaking countries, or caters to what he perceives as the interests of the average college student (beergardens), and maybe he is right. However, my interest is being able to read German literature in the original, especially literature that has never been translated. Looking at any first page of a dual language book will highlight just how different the vocabulary and sentence structure is. For my purposes therefore, this course requires a lot of supplementation with other books on grammar, dual language texts when they can be found, and translation programs. If I had not already bought the course, I would search for something else more appropriate for my needs.
Date published: 2020-08-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Enthusiastic and educational course This course is presented in a friendly and engaging manner. Difficult grammar concepts are explained in simple terms. Very happy with my purchase.
Date published: 2020-08-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I have two courses that I am currently working on - Learning German and Learning to Play the Piano. Both are excellent and a good way to spend time at home during the virus pandemic. I ordered the DVD in both cases which came with a work book. I like being able to stream the courses on line or use the DVD. I ordered these courses on line at a great price on sale. A great way to have access to professional instructors at your finger tips!
Date published: 2020-08-15
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Learning German: A Journey through Language and Culture
Course Trailer
1: Willkommen!

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 ü (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.

29 min
Definite Articles, Gender, and Nouns
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).

29 min
Personal Pronouns and the Verb sein
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.

23 min
Regular Verbs in the Present Tense
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, ä.

25 min
Indefinite Articles and Numbers to 100
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.

27 min
Eine Reise nach Wien und Salzburg
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!

26 min
Asking Questions and Numbers above 100
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.)

32 min
The Nominative and Accusative Cases and kein-
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.

26 min
Time in German and Possessive Pronouns
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.

29 min
Coordinating Conjunctions and der- Words
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.

28 min
Modal Verbs and More Accusative
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 möchte 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.

26 min
Eine Reise nach München und Rothenburg ob der Tauber
12: Eine Reise nach München und Rothenburg ob der Tauber

Prost! Open with toasting customs at Oktoberfest in München (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.

28 min
Present Perfect and da- and wo- Compounds
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.

25 min
Ich hab’ mein Herz in Heidelberg verloren
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.

22 min
Separable-Prefix Verbs
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!

26 min
Subordinate and Infinitive Clauses
16: Subordinate and Infinitive Clauses

Meet two German superstars—singers Herbert Grönemeyer 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.

25 min
More Infinitive Clauses and the Dative Case
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.

24 min
Eine Reise nach Zürich und Zermatt
18: Eine Reise nach Zürich und Zermatt

Visit two attractions in German-speaking Switzerland: the charming city Zürich 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.

23 min
Reflexive Verbs and Pronouns
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 fühlen (to feel; or literally, to feel oneself). The examples you cover take pronouns in the accusative case.

21 min
More Dative and Subordinating Conjunctions
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.

29 min
The Simple Past
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 müssen, können, mögen, dürfen, wollen, and sollen.

24 min
Bäuerin Bärbel und die rotbärtigen Zwerge
22: Bäuerin Bärbel und die rotbärtigen Zwerge

Enter the world of fantasy with a Märchen (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.

34 min
More Simple Past and Relative Pronouns
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).

27 min
Eine Reise nach Hamburg und Cuxhaven
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.

26 min
Two-Way Prepositions and Verbs That Use Theme
25: Two-Way Prepositions and Verbs That Use Theme

So far, you have studied prepositions that always take the dative case (bei, mit, von, etc.) or the accusative (durch, bis, für, 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).

32 min
Comparative/Superlative and Adjective Endings
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.

31 min
The Genitive Case and the Passive Voice
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.

29 min
The Subjunctive Mood
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.

29 min
Eine Reise nach Wittenberg und Berlin
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.

30 min
Our Journey: The End or Just the Beginning?
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 Glück, auf Wiedersehen, und bis gleich!

32 min
James Pfrehm

Whether its literature, business, science, philosophy, music or history; German-speaking culture has literally helped shaped the world we live in today.


University of Wisconsin, Madison


Ithaca College

About James Pfrehm

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 are intentionally interdisciplinary and include the German language; the literature and culture of German-speaking countries; and several subfields of linguistics, primarily sociolinguistics, dialectology, linguistic anthropology, and technolingualism. He has taught at universities in Heidelberg and Münster, has written and presented his research at numerous academic conferences, and has led several workshops at universities across the United States on teaching foreign languages with technology.

Dr. Pfrehm has received recognition from the Student Governance Council at Ithaca College for his outstanding teaching and commitment to his students, and he has earned various institutional grants to take students abroad for short-term study experiences.

Dr. Pfrehm is the author of Technolingualism: The Mind and the Machine and Austrian Standard German: Biography of a National Variety of German. He is also the author or coauthor of two foreign language textbooks: Kunterbunt und kurz geschrieben: An Interactive German Reader and Textures: Pour approfondir la communication orale et écrite.

Dr. Pfrehm is also a published playwright and has had multiple plays produced by theaters in the United States and Canada.

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