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At what point would you be able to watch/read German movies/books

I know this is a pretty general question but If you're learning German through Duolingo, at what point would you say you could start watching German language movies or reading German books.

I ask because I'm sure that if you start trying that too early you'll simply be frustrated. So when would you say someone would have enough proficiency to start using books and movies?

March 7, 2013



I think that it's never too early to read something in your target language if you take it slowly. Search for an article about a subject that you're interested in and see how much you understand of it. You can then fill in the gaps using a dictionary until you're comfortable with reading it on your own. Being motivated to read something might be more important than the amount of words you know.

If you want to understand spoken language, it might be easier to start with podcasts as they don't contain any visual distractions. It could help to read a summary of the podcast first to be able to pick out the things that are being discussed. Listening to songs might also be a good place to start as the melodies make them easier to remember and you can read along if you have song texts. Another starting point could be watching a cartoon in your own language and then rewatching it in your target language. Choose something that interests you and don't get frustrated when you're not ready. Just try taking a step back to find something you feel more comfortable with.


Excellent advice. I was so focused on books and movies it never occurred to me to find articles. And podcasts seem like a great start. I can see how starting with movies would be a distraction. But focusing on reading and hearing first would be good until I'm with adding visuals.

I think I may even see what I can find in German audiobooks. I agree that it needs to be something of interest. Especially if it's something I've already read or heard in English.


I have not read any books in German yet, but I can share my experience with French. I read "The Little Prince" after about 2 months of studying at Duolingo and some other resources. I took it slow, looking up every new word and writing it out (surprisingly, there were less than 400 from the entire book) and figuring out all the grammar points. After that I proceeded to "Sans Famille" and "The Planet of the Apes" which I had already read in translation before. Those two I read without making any notes and with only looking up words that were crucial.

Reading is OK when you know all the major tenses and about 1500-2000 most common words. I would not start reading earlier because skipping word endings and guessing grammar are no good. On the contrary, when you know conjugations and cases, you recognize them in the text and reinforce your knowledge.

I'll also recommend types of books in the order of difficulty:

Children's books that you read before (in translation) and remember well → Young adult or adult books that you read before and remember well → Children's or young adult books that are completely new for you → New adult books → Classic books or other books with extensive vocabulary and complex wording


Thanks for the input. I especially appreciate the recommendations.


In addition to all the good advice the others have already given: many bookstores carry (or can order) little booklets written for language beginners. They are not necessarily children's stories! I even found a booklet that was written in Italian on the left-hand side, while having the German translation on the right-hand side (I think it's from the publisher "dtv"). It was very helpful because I could read it wherever without carrying a dictionary with me, and it helps understanding idioms, too. Also, the book was telling short stories the length of half a page up to a few pages. Sometimes it can be exhausting to read long passages in another language, so it's good to find something short for a start.


Thanks. Never even knew about these. I'll definitely investigate that where I live. I know what you mean about long passages being exhausting. Especially in the beginning.

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