1. Pronunciation (Aussprache)

This training is all about speaking of and listening to the German language. So we start with the pronunciation of the German language.

Your voice is the tool by which you communicate the most. You can use this tool to make yourself better understood by making the German you speak, sound more German. What do I mean by that? Every language has its own sound and melody. For example, an Italian sounds different from a Swede, a Frenchman sounds different from an American. What’s it all about and how can you make yourself sound a bit more German?

As an introduction, please first watch this video.


The video is, of course, a funny caricature. I am not saying that you should pronounce German this way, quite the contrary. Then it would sound idiotic and might even be insulting. What I’d like to say is that if you Germanize your pronunciation a bit, the sound will be more recognizable for the jetty operator and you are therefore more understandable to him.

You Germanize by speaking more in the front of your mouth, with a sharp s-sound. Dutch, for example, is spoken much more from the throat, especially the g-sound. Listen to this:


Het schip ligt in de haven

Das Schiff liegt im Hafen

The Umlaut

The Umlaut is a diacritical mark that changes the letters o, u and a into ö, ü and ä. Not only are the letters pronounced differently, they change the meaning of the word completely. 

Examples are:

Schon means already, schön means beautiful. Fordern means to demand but fördern means to promote. Kuchen is cake, Küchen are kitchens. Zahlen are numbers, Zählen is a verb that means counting. And finally, the Umlaut can change a word from singular to plural: ein Apfel (one apple), zwei Äpfel (two apples).


Go to page 9 of German Grammar, read lesson 2 and listen to soundfile track5 to hear the
pronunciation of every letter in German.

Eventually, you will pick up the pronunciation by listening to the audioclips during the course. Every
clip offers you the possibility to practise your speaking skills also.

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