by Marc Wathieu via Flickr

by Marc Wathieu via Flickr

The process of learning a new language has many moving parts, whether it’s slippery sentence structures, esoteric conjugation rules (and exceptions!) or just simply too many sounds that knot your throat and twist your tongue.

Different Pronunciation Approaches For Different People

There are many ways to improve German word pronunciation, whether it’s working with audio lessons or studying vocabulary with phonetic or orthographic transcriptions. The perfect method doesn’t exist, there are simply some approaches which work better for some people sometimes.

For example, when it comes to beginners who don’t yet have enough vocabulary to deal with German audio lessons and also don’t feel comfortable reading the International Phonetic Alphabet, simply working with transcriptions of the target language’s sounds in their native languages’s spelling system can be helpful.

A Free German Word Pronunciation Guide by Vincent Ryan

Recently, one of my readers sent me a short German pronunciation guide he authored, which teaches basic vocabulary and German word pronunciation by spelling them out as if they were English. Put simply, instead of giving you the German word “Vogel” and letting you puzzle over its pronunciation, this guide will spell it out as “foe-gal” (or similar).

Vincent Ryan, author of this booklet titled “Spaß … is fun in German” , explains his idea behind the guide as follows:

“I began learning and loving German at age 11 but quickly became the only class member as all of my fellow pupils dropped out. [W]hen my own sons were faced with the same problems in their language education at ages 11,12, 13 etc (very old, worn and dull verb ending tables and complicated language terms – Nominative, Dative, Genitive etc) I decided to write a simple, hopefully attractive starter booklet to grasp and ignite their interest.

To give them skills to create simple (and useful) sentences and pronounce them as correctly as possible using understandable methods rather than, for example, Phonemes.”

You can download Vincent’s free German pronunciation guide here, directly from his website at as a full-color 26 page PDF, no strings attached.

3 German Pronunciation Audio Resources

Depending on the set of sounds that already exists in your own language, it may be easier or more difficult to acquire the pronunciation mechanics (of tongue, palate, teeth, etc.) which will yield the desired sounds of your target language.

Just like Germans are struggling with the “th” sound in English, for example, native English speakers almost always have difficulties pronouncing the “ü” in “Mütter” or the “ch” in words like “ich” or “Sache”, simply because these phonemes don’t exist in English.

In these cases, learning to read IPA transcription is good, but adding German pronunciation audio to the mix is even better!
1. Get German Word Pronunciation From Forvo
forvo-logoForvo is a site where people from all over the world record themselves saying words in their native language. Ever wondered how to pronounce “Schadenfreude” or “Fahrvergnügen” correctly? Just enter the word in the search box and hit play.

They have more than 300,000 German pronunciation audio files by more than 10,000 German speakers!

2. Hear German Pronunciation For Short Sentences Via Google

If you don’t just need the pronunciation for single words but would like to hear German word pronunciation in small sentences, you can use Google Translator to say them out loud. Just like Google’s translation, this feature is not perfect but gets it right often enough if you don’t challenge it too hard.


3. Free German Audio Lessons From Audio-Lingua
german-audio-lessonsLast but not least, you can browse the archive of German audio lessons on Audio Lingua to find short recordings suitable for your learning stage. Simply select your level and listen.

You can find more than 800 free German audio lessons on this site, across all levels from absolute beginners to intermediate and advanced.

image: Some rights reserved by Marc Wathieu