Close this search box.

How to Use German Audiobooks to Speed up German Learning?

German Audiobooks are great resources to improve our German listening comprehension. In this article, I would share with you how to optimize the process.
German audiobooks


Why audiobooks?

How to Use Audiobooks?

Where to Find Audiobooks?

Why German audiobooks?

Time Saver

Why do we want to listen to German audio books?

Well, most of us do not have the luxury of learning German full-time.

A lot of us have a nine-to-five job, and after that, there are chores to do like grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning. If you have a family to take care of, your time for German learning will be even less.  

With audiobooks, you can use the time when you cannot really use your eyes to ‘’read’’:

The time when you are walking, in the subway;

when you are driving, washing dishes or gardening, or even before you go to sleep.

Suddenly, you don’t need to find that much extra time for learning German. You just need to combine audiobooks with your daily routine and then you have already accumulated at least 45 minutes for German immersion.

Cool, right?

More Listening Input & Ear Training

Through the process of listening to audiobooks, we listen to a large amount of German, which helps us to review the words and expressions that we have previously learned in reading or from the classroom. Audiobooks will help deepen our memory of these expressions.

Besides, audiobooks familiarize our ears with the rhythm and intonation of the German language.

The more we listen, the more our ears are adapt to German. This makes us process information in German more quickly.

This is crucial for our daily life in Germany.

Dramatic Effects

If you listen to the audiobooks of novels, you will be amazed how enjoyable it is.

Who will record fictional works? Professional actors or narrators, most of whom have extensive acting experience and are adept at capturing the emotion and pace of the story.

Recording audiobooks is like acting, but the narrators are acting only through their voices. With your imagination, your can create your own version of the story in your head.

How to Use Audiobooks?

This question seems a bit silly.

What does it mean ‘’how to use audiobooks’’? Dah, of course you listen to it! Well, yes, we listen to audiobooks.

When we listen to audiobooks with our mother tongue, there is no trouble.

But if we want to use audiobooks to speed up our German learning, there are smarter ways for us to use them!

Listen to Novels!

For reading materials, it is mostly easier for German learners to start with non-fiction books, since the vocabulary and sentence structures used in non-fictions are much simpler and thus much easier to read.

However, when it comes to audiobooks, it is another story.

When I listen to audio books, I enjoy listening to fictions/novels much better than non-fictions.


Although reading nonfictions is much easier, the audiobooks for them are also much plainer. Due to the content, it is impossible for the narrator to add that many emotions as they read.

On the contrary, fictional works are usually read by professional actors. Because of their specialties, they are able to vividly present the stories through their voices. The dramatic effects of their reading makes the listening much more engaging and enjoyable.

Choose the Novels Smartly

Under fictions/novels, there are many sub-categories. We should choose the ones that suit us the best.

Unlike videos, audiobooks do not provide us with visual aids. So it can be a bit more challenging for language learners of intermediate levels.

Children Books

As German learners, sometimes we have to ‘’downgrade’’ a little bit in order to find the right materials, especially in the beginning.

My logic is that you have to make sure something is doable and simple enough for you in the beginning, so that you will not be overwhelmed, get frustrated, procrastinate and then give up.

If you just begin listening to audiobooks and jump right into novels like Pride and Prejudice or The Scarlett Letter, you might not survive 5 pages. Unless, of course, you love the novel so much and nothing can stop you from devouring it.

But if we choose children books, or books for teenagers, they are is much easier.

With them, you will quickly gain the ‘’sense of achievement’’. This is an essential part to help to gain confidence in our German learning journey.

We have to gain experience of success in order to proceed our German learning. If we jump directly to classic literature works, we are most likely to gain ‘’experience of failures and frustration’’, which lead to the feeling of ‘’I am too silly and German is too hard’’.

Then, guess what? We give up completely.

That is not what we want. We need to start simple and gradually go our way up to more sophisticated works.


Familiar Authors/Novels

If you are not yet so confident about your listening skills and are worried about being lost in the middle of the story, then it is smart to choose something you are familiar with.

It can be:

  • Books you have read before
  • Stories you are familiar with (like Harry Potter and Hunger Games)
  • Books of your favorite writers

I have currently borrow some books (both paper books and audiobooks) of Elena Ferrante. I have read her four-book series of Neapolitan novels as well as her The Lying Life of Adults in my mother tongue. (There is also a TV-Series based on her Neapolitan novels, but I have stopped in the middle of the series.)

Because of that, I already known the main plot and know that I will not be overwhelmed by the complicated language of novels.

Interests Come First

I personally prefer listening to fictions. I also recommend them. Nevertheless, for you, you have to figure it out which genre suits you the best.

If there is a topic that you are very passionate about, then choose books in that topic. Because you are so into it, you must have known so much background information and it will help you understand the contents better.

Your own interests are the priority.

Combine Reading & Listening

As mentioned, audiobooks are more challenging than watching movies or YouTube videos in German due to the lack of visual aids. Thus, it is smart for us to combine audiobooks with paper books, or e-books, if you prefer digital reading.

When we combine reading and listening, it would be much easier, both for reading and listening. When we have a book in hand, it helps us to concentrate better and easier to note down the words that we do not recognize. It also build connections of the words and pronunciations in our head.

With the presentation of the audiobook narrators, we can understand the books easier.

I like this combination of reading and listening because it stimulates more senses for me. It also gives room for my imagination.

Of course, you do not need to always listen and read at the same time. There are many variations.

For example, you can read 1 chapter at home, and then listen to it again on your way to work; or you can listen 1 chapter, and then continue reading for the next chapter and vice versa.

Don’t Push Yourself too Hard

Sometimes we feel like we have to make every minute count and want to squeeze every juice out of the book by marking all the words we do not know, look them up, analyzing grammar rules, making memory cards of them and and and…

But we should not push ourselves too hard.

Intensive reading is a great strategy. We use it very often in language classes. It helps us build up solid German knowledge.

The downside is that it is quite energy- and time-consuming. When applying this method, you have to spend quite a great amount of time even for a short article. If you do it when you are reading a novel .. well, it might take at least half a year before you reach the last chapter.

Another problem of this kind of method is that you will find it difficult to see the big picture of the novel, since you have been so into the little details of it.

Intensive reading is like anaerobic exercise. We can go to the gym two to three times a week to pump iron, do deadlift, pull up and deep squat to build muscle. But we also need easier aerobic exercises like walking, jogging, dancing, and following Pamela Reif’s fitness routine.

We can’t push ourselves to do intense anaerobic exercise every moment, because too much intensity is bad for our health.

So is learning German. We need to pump iron (intensive reading) and, at the same time, we need Pamela (extensive reading).

So my suggestion would be: let’s switch to extensive learning mode when we are enjoying audiobooks. That means, we simply immerse ourselves in the story, trying to understand the main plot of the book. If you have to, then limit yourself to only look 2 words up each double-page. Leave the intensive learning to magazine articles, DW articles and textbooks.

Where to Find Audiobooks?

german audiobooks

Audiobook Platforms

The most convenient place to find audiobooks is the audiobook platforms.

My favorite platform is Audible. Other than Audible, there are also many other platforms that provide great amount of German audiobooks, like BookBeat and Storytel.

These platforms usually have apps that allow you to listen to audiobooks on the background. This makes it very easy to integrate audiobook listening to our daily routine. I usually listen to them on my way to work or when I am doing chores like washing dishes and cleaning.


If you are in Germany, I strongly suggest you visit your local library. Compared to the audiobook Platforms, the cost of your local library card is much lower.

For example, my local library charges 24€ a year, so I just need to pay 2€ monthly for all the resources in the library. Libraries nowadays do not only offer books; they also have audiobooks, magazines, CDs, movies, eAudios, eMagazines and more.

As mentioned before, I have recently borrow the books alongside with audiobooks of Elena Ferrante, which is a perfect combination for my German learning.

german audiobooks - Library resources

Just check out you local library, you will be surprised how many resources it has to offer.


If you prefer free audiobooks, then check out YouTube. There are quite a lot of free audiobooks out there.

However, the selection is of course not that big compared to platforms like Audible. If you are not that picky, then maybe you can find some good German audio resources there that suit you.

Also, if you do not have YouTube membership, you cannot play audiobooks in the background. It is alright if you want to listen to the audiobooks with your laptop, but it will no work so well when you want to listen to them on your way to work.


Audiobooks allow us to make good use of our “trash time” to speed up our German learning.

While we use audiobooks, there are some smart tricks that we can use. We could choose the right books (novels, in my opinion) and combine listening and reading. At the same time, it is better for us to switch to extensive learning mode as we use audiobooks.

At last, we can find audiobooks in audiobook platforms, our local library or YouTube.

Have you listen to German audiobooks? Do you have your favorite German audiobooks? Feel free to leave a comment below. I am excited to hear from you!

Recommended Reading:

  • Want to improve you German listening skills smartly? Check out here.
  • Want to improve your German by reading magazines? Here are my recommendation!

Leave a Comment