Teaching German to Elementary Kids: German for Children

IMG_7958Recently I started teaching German to a 7 year and 9 year old. They are my friend’s children and they have no prior knowledge of German. It was tricky finding the right curriculum. I was surprised that there are actually choices for children younger than High-School. We first tried a middle school curriculum but soon decided it was too dry and and hard. Then I found this Mc Graw Hill program for ages 3-10.

IMG_7966It comes with a lesson book that track with two CD’s. There is also an activity book to practice their learning. The way it works is that children listen to the lesson on CD and use their course book to answer questions. Each lesson has simple songs, though cheesy at times, that help with the memorization. There are no home-work assignments just a list of vocabulary words to memorize.


There are 10 lessons covering introducing yourself, going to school, counting, going to the supermarket, etc.
IMG_7964 IMG_7962Here is an example of the activity book.

IMG_7965I find this to be a great introduction for younger kids. The games and song keep the kids interested. The lessons are about 20 minutes long, just right for their attention span. Before every lesson I spend about 10 minutes of review and conversation. The program does not do reviews, which to me are essential for retention.

The program is designed for children to learn on their own, but I would say it would be much more helpful if they had someone to practice and review with.

For those of you who like me are German native speakers trying to teach your children:  I have been including my 9, 7, and 5 year old during classes. Here is an assessment on them. This program is too easy for my 9 year old. He is not learning anything new. Still I have him there to review and realize how cool it is that he knows so much and he can help his friends. Part of cementing what you learn is teaching others. The program is perfect for my 7 and 5 year old. My 7 year old knows some but is learning right alongside. My 5 year old is learning a lot. I can see how lax I have been teaching her….

They like it, its fun, not dry at all.

I bought the program on Amazon.

Viel Spass beim Lernen!


Teaching German to Elementary Kids: German for Children

Teaching German


Today I’m going to share with you how I have taught my kids to read German. Understanding and or speaking wasn’t good enough for me. I really want them to be able to read German and ideally write as well. The challenge for me was to find the right material. They are not native speakers, so they are missing some vocabulary and grammatical nuances that are assumed in German school textbooks. However they are beyond the level that  might be available here to kids that have no prior knowledge. So you have to improvise. Personally I always wait until my kids are solid in their English reading before I would teach them how to read in German. However bilingual schools show that it is possible to do both at the same time. Thankfully German is much easier phonetically than English so it doesn’t take that long to teach. Above I have a German reader that is used in German schools. They are easy to understand even for non native speakers. Once we work through that I have them read simple books like the Max und der Keks series to give them the opportunity to read on their own.

For the next level I use the second grade reader above left. I also use different grammar and writing helps.

Above are German readers. They are called Leseloewen or Lesemaus.

After the second grade level I have them read books like early readers. Once they are at a 4th grade level they might be able to read Pippi Longstocking, or similar books.

I bought most of these books in Germany, they have great sales around August. Another great resource is Alphabet Garden, an online store; they have quite a bit of text books and refer you to billingual websites. Amazon.de is also a great option.

My oldest just started high-school. He is pretty fluent and a decent reader. However his grammar and writing skills are lacking. Therefore I enrolled him in German. I want him to start from scratch with Grammar and relearn some of those things he has missed.

In my experience immersion is not enough. If you don’t have a strong grammatical foundation you will always be guessing as how to built your sentences. I was immersed in Croatian all my life. I was taught grammar in elementary once a week but it was assumed that I was a native speaker. I would have benefited relearning it in high-school as a foreign speaker to fill all those gaps I have.

This is just to show you what we have done. I’m sure there are better options out there. If you know of any do tell. I’d love to hear from you.


Teaching German