The Goethe Institute offers an online placement quiz here. It takes twenty or thirty minutes to answer the thirty questions. The questions get harder as you go along.
Here are some reference books and materials I have found helpful. Send your favorites.
- Schaum’s Easy Outlines: German Crash Course by Elke Gschossmann-Hendershol, Lois M Feurle, Edda Weiss, Conrad J. Schmitt, and Christine Effertz. Just the facts, but all the basics are there. Lots of charts and outlines. Includes a vocabulary section by categories at the end. I found mine at a used bookstore for $1.00. There are two separate books on Grammar and Vocabulary available at Amazon and Hastings, but I don’t find the “crash course” book listed at either place. I suspect the two separate volumes are good, just not quite the bargain.
- Many readers recommend April Wilson‘s German Quickly–or you can go to Chicago and learn it from her in person.
- Carolyn Thompson at Abilene Christian University has a very nice site that she uses along with her German classes. The page also has links to sites for German and Latin, including a German/English Parallel Bible by Dieter Goebel, and links to other sites about German and Germany.
- There are a few online courses available: njouba with pdf files, Deutschkurs, and Theological German.
- For someone starting from scratch or needing a review after a long hiatus, I would recommend the Pimsleur method, available direct or from Amazon and other vendors. The “Conversational” level will get you started with correct pronunciation, and you will be well on your way to basic conversational skills–you will soon be ordering beer or wine at the Red Lion on Goethe street, and counting your change. The audio-only method is good for those who spend much time commuting, exercising on a treadmill, etc.
- The standard reader is Helmut Ziefle’s Modern Theological German which now combines the reader with a dictionary of theological vocabulary. The readings include several selections from various editions of the Bible followed by brief selections from theologians. The biblical selections are well chosen for inherent interest and vocabulary and grammar (Amazon).
- I’ve used the Collins German Dictionary for some time (Amazon). Most of my real German associates agree with Judy (see comments below) that the Oxford Duden is the standard.
- I am finding the LEO online lexicon very helpful. Click on “English Version” if you prefer to read the instructions in English.
- The University of Iowa has a really nice online phonetics tutorial for English, German, and Spanish. Just click on the German flag, and you can see a diagram of the speech organs, along with a closeup of a native speaker, and audio for the individual sounds of the language, and representative words. Thanks to my student Megan Baehr for finding this resource.9
- From Thomas Riplinger: I highly recommend the Dict.cc [http://www.dict.cc/?l=e] as an online English/German, German/English dictionary. Besides general usage vocabulary it includes numerous entries from all sorts of special fields. Together with several other theologians I am engaged in improving its coverage of specialized theological terms. It is easy to use and offers various special features, among them the possibility of maintaining personal vocabulary lists.
I’ve seen a few other sites and lost track of them. If you know of any others, please forward the information.