The host, Laura, provides a clear explanation of how to introduce yourself appropriately in German. Importantly, she make the distinction between formal and informal introductions. The phrases being practised can be seen on screen as they are spoken and various elements are highlighted in different colours to aide understanding. It is scripted, but the speaker reads it well. The 'Learn German in 3 Minutes' series is one of several video series to support learners, all of which have explanations and/or subtitles in German and English. Although this may annoy some teachers, not understanding can be the most frustrating experience for many learners and this prevents them from listening for what they can understand. Those students who want to challenge themselves will read the German. Those less confident will rely on the English. Those not interested might just allow themselves to hear German without the excuse of saying they don't understand and perhaps surprise themselves that they can follow or understand parts. In this series, there is no dialogue providing examples of people interacting together in German. Further language services are available for a cost.
Anja has produced many videos for her YouTube channel. She speaks at normal speed and the sound quality is very good. The language being taught is displayed in German and English. Anja uses English to explain the language and any associated cultural matters. If she uses German, she usually follows that up with an immediate translation. This can be annoying, but some learners of German would appreciate always knowing what she has said. Anja's casual manner is appealing and her experience in teaching German outside of Germany is evident in her personable style of presenting, which develops more in later videos. You really have the sense that she is talking directly to you and understands where you may have difficulty. You feel that she is your friend helping you out, rather than instructing you. The videos can be watched in isolation, which make them a good supplement for classroom programs. Anja offers a range of free and paid services from her website.
The host Jenny explains what she is teaching in English. When she speaks German, it is slow and deliberate, sounding out each syllable. The language being taught is shown in German and English. In this video, Jenny is sitting on a high back chair with a large black microphone in front of her. The sound quality is not as good as others. The presentation feels scripted, so it has a more formal overtone. This changes in later videos when she speaks more freely, and the microphone is no longer visible, although the presentation is still somewhat stilted. However, learners have different preferences for presentation styles and some would appreciate her straight-talking manner. The videos are mainly lists of functional vocabulary. Jenny sells further materials and support from her website.
The videos and materials for the series Nicos Weg from Deutsche Welle are all free and a good way to consolidate the learning as it cleverly develops a good story with short bite size chunks of simple language. The video has subtitles only in German. However, online exercises have instructions in English. The exercises are varied and self-correcting, although there is no explanation about the grammar points covered. This makes the exercises a suitable consolidation of understanding. Whilst videos from the other series can be viewed in isolation, this series is best followed in order to follow the story. Although the language is simple, the story is credible and accessible with characters interacting in everyday settings. Moreover, Nico is a welcome male voice, as well as being a role model for all learners of German. Learners can identify with Nico as he negotiates daily life while learning another language. It plays in real life settings, so aspects of contemporary life and culture of Germany can be seen in the locations used for filming.
Easy German is the most authentic video series in this selection. The host, Cari, only speaks German and approaches people in the street to ask them specific questions but the answers are completely unrehearsed. However, the videos are subtitled in German and English, so learners are left in no doubt as to what has been said. In this video, Cari does not use (or we do not hear if she uses) the formal form, which is not a good model for students, who may be unaware that there is a formal form. However, the series is about casual encounters on the street with an overriding familiar tone and this video is really aimed at beginners. This series is less about teaching German, and more about immersion and allowing viewers to hear from a diverse range of speakers who reflect the multicultural society of modern German-speaking communities. In contrast with the other video series, the real life conversations on the street provide learners with comprehension practice in listening to different voices and ways of responding in authentic interactions. Learners will feel empowered that what they have learnt in class or through other videos has currency. Notably, Easy German specifically acknowledges and values the different standards and varieties of German e.g. some of their videos are filmed in Austria and Switzerland. All of the Easy German videos are free to watch on YouTube. Additional services are offered for a small cost.
The format of this series is a screencast. The speaker, Anna, claims it is a new approach. She introduces functional language in context through short dialogues based on a static black and white sketch of a scene. The host explains the lesson in English in early videos (later only in German) and when using German in the dialogues and a male voice is required, a male voice is heard. The male voice in this video sounds a lot older than the sketch of Ben. The sound quality could be better, as could the editing. A red dot hovers over the words seen on the screen as they are spoken. For a course claiming to be about practical communication, too many grammatical concepts are covered in the first lesson and this would scare people off. Some students might welcome such coverage, especially those who have formally learnt another language before, as the grammatical terms would be familiar to them. It could also be a refresher course for those who learnt German in school and want to jog their memory. However, as a true beginner, other video courses would probably be more appealing. Learners can pay to access further materials and services.