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10 Best Series And Films To Watch When Learning German

Learning a new language can be a long and difficult process. At Learn&Co we’re here to make that a little easier and maybe more enjoyable. Learning languages, including German, through series and films can provide you with variety. This is especially when it comes to content and experiencing conversations in context. This differs from learning through an app where you’re only given single sentences or phrases. For example, a whole film or sequence can be used to practice listening and reading. They can also be used as models for speaking and writing.

This article consists of 10 German series and films that are definitely worth the watch if you’re trying to learn the language. There is beginner friendly, intermediate and advanced. This list consists of everything from Gothic Horror to Comedy and Science Fiction, and everything in between.

  1. Dark
  2. Barbarians   
  3. Stromberg 
  4. Dogs of Berlin 
  5. Good Bye Lenin! 
  6. Nosferatu the Vampyre  
  7. Soul Kitchen 
  8. Inglourious Basterds 
  9. Victoria 
  10. Downfall 
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1. Dark (2017 – 2020)

Germany’s version of Stranger Things, a Science Fiction thriller about time travel and teenagers. A child in the small fictional town of Widen in Germany goes missing. Dark follows the characters in the aftermath as they try to find out the hidden secrets riddling their town. This series follows connections between four estranged families to unravel a complex time travel conspiracy that goes back generations. 

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You have the option to watch the series on Netflix in English, or you can easily change it to its original format in German. The show may be more suitable for advanced learners, as the storyline is very complex. Characters also have very specific dialects and often mumble, making it difficult to understand for the beginner.

2. Barbarians (2020 -)  

Barbarians is set in 9 A.D. Germany and is a dramatisation of the events leading up to the battle of the Teutoburg Forest. It takes place at the end of the reign of the emperor Augustus in an area conquered by Rome over a period of twenty years. Full of violence, blood and gore, if you’re a fan of Game of Thrones or Vikings this one may be a good show to add to the watchlist.

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Although the characters mainly speak German, there is also some Latin. Therefore, you may have to be an advanced German speaker. This way, you can ensure you can keep up with everything on screen.

3. Stromberg (2004 – 2012) 

Lovers of The Office, gather around this mockumentary comedy series that takes place in the office of a fictional insurance company called “Capitol Versicherung AG”. It focuses on the department headed by Bernd Stromberg. The TV crew documents the day-to-day occurrences in the office. Stromberg tries, often failing miserably, to have his department come off in the best light. Certainly a parody of the modern “reality show.”

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Stromberg is great for German students as the humour is modern and sophisticated, although the show would be a great watch for anyone. With five seasons and 46 episodes, you won’t be running out of entertainment anytime soon.

4. Dogs of Berlin (2018)

Two police detectives are tasked to investigate the murder of a Turkish-German football player. The chain of evidence may lead them into the highest offices of the capital. The politically sensitive murder forces the detectives to uncover the truth. In order to do such, they are forced to have to dive deep down into the Berlin criminal underworld. This confronts them with their own weaknesses and criminal activities – and into a final decision on which side of the law they’re actually on.

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This show would be great for intermediate learners, someone who is already comfortable with certain words and ready to integrate more into their knowledge. It will expose you to German slang, vocabulary and language usage that comes with official investigations, in addition to phrases used in the underworld.

5. Good Bye Lenin! (2003) 

In this 2003 comedy, Daniel Brühl (The Alienist and Falcon and The Winter Soldier) is a young boy named Alex Kerner in East Germany post the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of communism. Alex’s mother, a supporter of the Socialist Unity Part of East Germany, suffers a heart attack and falls into a coma in October of 1989. After she awakens eight months later, the doctor tells Alex any major shock will cause her to have a second fatal heart attack. Alex tries to hide his bed-ridden mother from the changing outside world. Such results in Alex crafting fake news reports on TV and false newspapers.

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All German learners can indulge in viewing this warm-hearted comedy. You definitely do not have to be an expert in the language to find the movie entertaining.

6. Nosferatu the Vampyre (1979) 

This classic story of Nosferatu plays homage to the 1922 silent film version by F.W. Murnau. A perfect film fit for horror fans, this eerie and beautifully shot tale takes the audience back to 19th century Germany. A young real estate agent named Johnathan Harker (Bruno Ganz) must travel to Transylvania to sell a property to the ominous Count Dracula. As with most Gothic horror stories, tragedy ensues. 

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The short dialog is easy to follow for beginner learners, yet the story is compelling enough to keep your attention. As a bonus, you’ll pick up a few outdated words along the way.

7. Soul Kitchen (2009)

Zinos is the owner of Soul Kitchen, a run-down, shabby, and struggling restaurant for the working class in Hamburg. Zinos decides to take his chances and rebrand the restaurant using a modern, and experimental chef. 

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This Comedy/Drama has a fun and simple storyline that’s easy to follow while also enjoying the film. There are moments of slapstick and clichés, however this light-hearted comedy would be a good watch for a beginner.

8. Inglourious Basterds (2009)  

One of Quentin Tarantino’s modern classics, Inglourious Basterds is set in World War II Nazi occupied France. It follows officer Lt. Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt) who assembles a team of Jewish soldiers to take down the Nazi government through violent acts of retribution to bring an end to the war.

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English is featured as a main language in the film, along with German, Italian and French. This would be a great watch for a beginner. You would still be able to follow along with the storyline and not lose yourself in trying to understand the foreign languages. One of Tarantino’s best, it’s definitely worth a watch.

9. Victoria (2015)

Uniquely filmed in one continuous shot, Victoria is a German crime thriller following a thrill-seeking Spanish woman (Laia Costa) who’s in over her head when she gets recruited by four Berliners to be their getaway driver during a bank robbery. 

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Suited for the intermediate learner, as characters often tend to speak in the second person. They also use slang such as “Typ” which translates into “guy”. This is important to understand if you want to sound natural.

10. Downfall (2004)

Last on the list of German series and films is Downfall. Traudl Junge (Alexandra Maria Lara), who was the final secretary of Adolf Hitler (Bruno Ganz) tells the story of the Nazi rulers and his inner circles’ final ten days in a Berlin bunker following the end of World War II. The film is set mostly entirely in the bunker, only venturing outside once to show the collapse of the Nazi defence of Berlin.

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Although a powerful and thought provoking film, intermediate learners can definitely understand it a lot more than beginners. The specific language used during the war might be a little difficult for the beginner to grasp and at times the dialogue can be complex.

So, between all of these German series and films, are any of them worth a watch? Learning a language is truly a valuable skill, whether it’s for work or personal growth. It is sure to add value to your skillset in this ever growing and competitive world, where standing out is a necessity for progression. Hopefully with the aid of this article you’ll be on your way to starting your journey of learning German. Then, just pick your favourite German series and films, and let them aid you as well!

If you are looking to take a step into learning with a tutor, have a look at the numerous courses we provide at Learn&Co. We have a group of professional language specialists to help provide you with the best learning experience, ensuring you are able to understand your strengths and where you may need to improve. Our tutors work with people from the age of 7 to 70 so you will surely find the correct course and tutor for you.

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