When I arrived in Germany I didn’t speak a word of German. However, I found a job almost immediately in a small clothing store that took me several hours a day.
But not having much time – to tell the truth, not even money – for a course, I decided to study alone home in my free time.
Despite the initial difficulties, the results did not wait too long.
After just over 8 months, in fact, I managed to reach the B2 level (saving hundreds of euros in classroom courses!)
How did I do it? Simple!
I searched a lot of books for the study of German and I tried them more or less all.
Some I found very good, others a little less because of explanations too difficult to understand or grammatical rules explained rather poorly.
But you’re lucky because you won’t have to try them all as I did.
Below, in fact, you will find both the list of all the books I have studied personally, and those I have come to know and which I believe are the best on the market to reach an excellent level in a relatively short time.
Moreover, if you think that at least an integration course costs about € 120 a month (€ 1200 a year!), I would say that you will be able to get excellent results saving a lot of money!
If you are looking for advice to have a good study method, also read my article with 15 effective methods to learn German by yourself.
But now it’s enough with the promises and we immediately see the German books that have been able to help me most in the self-taught study of this language.
Books for studying German: grammars and paper courses
Dies und Das
If you prefer a “classic” study method based on the study of grammar, the best book on the market is Dies und das, often used also in university courses.
It is a very complete book, full of tables (which I adore!) And also accompanied by a booklet of solutions to the exercises that you will have to purchase separately (you can buy it, it costs € 3.95 and I suggest you to have it to double-check the exercises you will do ).
It’s also pretty cheap but being a bit rich in technicalities, I don’t recommend it if you don’t have a solid knowledge of Italian grammar.
If instead, you have a good base of Italian linguistics or if you are followed by a teacher, you are sure that it is a great manual!
German in 30 days. To work, study, travel, know
In my opinion, this book fits very well for those who do not make big claims but still want a general smattering of German grammar.
I bought it mainly because of the wealth of expressions of colloquial use and it helped me a lot to enrich the vocabulary of the everyday language.
It is sold with an Audio CD in MP3 format, very useful for listening to dialogues and pronunciation.
The active grammar of the German language
This is one of my absolute favorite manuals.
I used it when I started studying German and I must say that it taught me a very good linguistic basis on which I based the most recently acquired knowledge.
It gives excellent preparation for the levels A1 to B2 of the European Framework.
The explanations of the grammar are quite simple, it is full of examples and exercises and also has a section dedicated to solutions, which is always excellent for testing the results obtained.
One thing I really like about this book are the tables (did you understand that I love the tables?) That summarize all the topics covered in a schematic way.
Last but not least, a great price for the quality of the book!
Assimil: my favorite!
This course is the absolute best for a self-taught study.
The price is around 70 euros – less than any German course! – and it’s perfect if you work and you don’t have much time to study or to take a course with a teacher.
In this book, there are lots of very simple and detailed explanations and 4 CDs that will help you a lot both for understanding and for pronunciation.
After studying German, with Assimil I learned two other self-taught languages reaching an excellent level.
It’s a fantastic course, I ‘m sure you’ll be enthusiasts!
I tried several online platforms but in my opinion, Babbel is the best.
It is ideal if you work and have little time to study or if you prefer to study interactively rather than bend over a book for hours.
It’s also a lot of fun: many words are explained (which with the visual help of the images are very fast to learn ) and many everyday phrases, from greetings, to talking about oneself, one’s home, one’s life.
Signing up for the site is free and gives you the chance to try the platform and decide if you like it.
After the first level, in fact, it becomes a fee, which in any case is very low (between € 4.95 to € 9.95 per month depending on the type of subscription, monthly, quarterly, half-yearly or yearly).
I suggest you register for free (you can do it) in order to try the first level.
If you like it, then buy the package to unlock the next levels.
Other recommended books
These books have been recommended to me over time. I tried them and I must say that they are really good!
If you want to enrich your vocabulary in a short time, I recommend this visual dictionary.
I was given by my mom when I moved to Germany and I think it’s the most useful gift I’ve ever received in my life.
In practice, it is not a real dictionary but an illustrated dictionary. There are so many illustrations divided into categories and the name in Italian is accompanied by the name in German.
Therefore also useful to help to learn thanks to your photographic memory.
In my opinion, the dictionaries on the market are almost all good.
My favorite is Zanichelli’s new German-Italian Italian-German dictionary(guess why? Exactly, it’s full of my beloved tables!).
In my opinion, it is a great purchase to have a large paper dictionary at home.
Improve pronunciation and understanding
Have you ever heard of shadowing?
Shadowing is a very nice technique to improve your pronunciation. It is a matter of listening to a text and repeating it word by word with a delay of about half a second.
The texts are generally read very slowly and you will have a text in front to follow that you will repeat trying to copy exactly both the sounds and the intonation.