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LEARNING GERMAN

Nine expressions that perfectly sum up spring in Germany

As the days get warmer and the streets are awash with bright green foliage and cherry blossom, there are a few German words and expressions that you may find handy this season.

Daffodils bloom near Tegernsee in Bavaria.
Daffodils bloom near Tegernsee in Bavaria. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Sven Hoppe

German is not an easy language; most people agree about that. However, what many people don’t know (or will only learn once they start learning German) is how amazingly specific it can be.

German speakers have words for all sorts of things, and the way they form their vocabulary is also quite interesting.

As spring gets underway (finally!) and temperatures rise all over Europe, there are certainly a few words and expressions that will be very useful during the coming months.

Like in every language, some idioms shouldn’t be literally translated – but we will do it just for the fun of it. After all, it’s fun sometimes to understand only train station.*

READ ALSO: These eight words show just how different German and Austrian Deutsch can be

Here are a few expressions and words that you will probably hear, or might even incorporate, in the following months:

Sauheiß or Affenhitze

Sauheiß is literally “pig hot”, and Affenhitze would be “monkey heat”.

Both can be used for that extreme heat that is becoming ever more common during European summers.

Das Kaiserwetter

Literally, the “Emperor weather”, or something like a weather fit for an Emperor. Usually, they use that for those days when the sun is shining bright, and the skies are cloudless blue.

READ ALSO: Frosty German sayings that’ll make you a winter wordsmith

Some say the idiom comes from Austria. Emperor Franz Josef had an August summer birthday and enjoyed sunny birthdays.

Etwas Sonne tanken

To fuel up with the sun. It is a very typical sentence, especially by the end of summer days, as winter looms closer and Austrians, Germans, and Swiss know that they need to “stock up” in that summer feeling to face the cold and dark days (weeks and months) ahead.

Es gibt kein schlechtes Wetter, es gibt nur falsche Kleidung

This is a very typical expression and a life lesson, really. It means “there is no bad weather, only wrong clothes” and it’s usually said during winter and cold days.

The life lesson could also be employed during summer – at least to a certain degree, unless you go for the FKK (frei korper kultur), of course.

READ ALSO: Eight unique words and phrases that tell us something about Germany

Die Sonne lacht

Literally means the sun is smiling or laughing, and it’s used for when the sun is shining. A less sweet version would be “Die Sonne scheint” (the sun is shining). 

Badewetter

When the weather is hot and sunny as well, there are few things Germans like to do more than take a dip in an idyllic lake or even (for the brave) the North or Baltic Sea.

No matter what part of Germany you find yourself in, there are bound to be at least a few beautiful lakes nearby that are perfect for swimming, complete with options of fun waterslides for kids and artificial beaches. The many public pools and parks options also allow for fantastic swimming opportunities for the city dwellers, so don’t miss out when it’s Badewetter (swimming/beach weather).

READ ALSO: The five best Bavarian lakes for a spring day trip

April April, der macht was er will

Watch out for those days when sun and rain take turns for hours on end, or when it’s the middle of April, and it just starts snowing. This is when Austrians will typically shrug and say: April, April, it does what it wants to.

A man takes a nap on the riverbank of the Tegernsee

A man takes a nap on the riverbank of the Tegernsee in Bavaria. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Sven Hoppe

Auf der Sonnenseite des Lebens stehen

This literally means “to be on the sunny side of life” and is used to say that someone has a nice life – who wouldn’t when standing in a sunny place?

Geh mir aus der Sonne!

Finally, a good expression for those tired of being bothered by someone else. After all, nobody wants to share the sun with an annoyance – or find that same annoyance casting a shadow over their sun-lounger. It means something like “get out of my sun” and is used in the same way as “get out of my face”.

READ ALSO: Why traditional German names are often used as insults

*Ich verstehe nur Bahnhof is a very famous German idiom that is literally translated as “I understand only train station”. It means “I don’t understand a single thing”.

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LEARNING GERMAN

The best podcasts for learning and perfecting your German

Once you've learned the basics of German, listening to podcasts is one of the best ways of increasing vocabulary and speeding up comprehension. Here are some of the best podcasts out there for German learners.

The best podcasts for learning and perfecting your German

STARTING OUT

Coffee Break German

Coffee Break German aims to take you through the basics of German in a casual lesson-like format. It is extremely easy to listen to. Each 20-minute episode acts as a mini-lesson, where German native Thomas teaches Mark Pendleton, the founder and CEO of Coffee Break Languages, the basics.

All phrases are broken down into individual words. After new phrases are introduced the listeners are encouraged to repeat them back to practise pronunciation.

The advantage of listening to this podcast is that the learner, Mark, begins at the same level as you. He is also a former high school French and Spanish teacher. He often asks for clarification of certain phrases, and it can feel as if he is asking the very questions you want answered.

You can also stream the podcast directly from the provider’s website, where they sell a supplementary package from the Coffee Break German Academy, which offers additional audio content, video flashcards and comprehensive lesson notes

German Pod 101

German Pod 101 aims to teach you all about the German language, from the basics in conversations and comprehension to the intricacies of German culture. German Pod 101 offers various levels for your German learning and starts with Absolute Beginner.

The hosts are made up of one German native and one American expat living in Germany, in order to provide you with true authentic language, but also explanations about the comparisons and contrasts with English. This podcast will, hopefully, get you speaking German from day one.

Their website offers more information and the option to create an account to access more learning materials.

Learn German by Podcast

This is a great podcast if you don’t have any previous knowledge of German. The hosts guide you through a series of scenarios in each episode and introduce you to new vocabulary based on the role-plays. Within just a few episodes, you will learn how to talk about your family, order something in a restaurant and discuss evening plans. Each phrase is uttered clearly and repeated several times, along with translations.

READ ALSO:

Learn German by Podcast provides the podcasts for free but any accompanying lesson guides must be purchased from their website. These guides include episode transcripts and some grammar tips. 

DEVELOPING YOUR GERMAN

Easy German

This podcast takes the form of a casual conversation between hosts Manuel and Cari, who chat in a fairly free-form manner about aspects of their daily lives. Sometimes they invite guests onto the podcast, and they often talk about issues particularly interesting to expats, such as: “How do Germans see themselves?”. Targeted at young adults, the podcasters bring out a new episode very three or four days.

News in Slow German

This is a fantastic podcast to improve your German listening skills. What’s more, it helps you stay informed about the news in several different levels of fluency.

The speakers are extremely clear and aim to make the podcast enjoyable to listen to. For the first part of each episode the hosts talk about a current big news story, then the second part usually features a socially relevant topic. 

A new episode comes out once a week and subscriptions are available which unlock new learning tools.

SBS German

This podcast is somewhat interesting as it is run by an Australian broadcaster for the German-speaking community down under. Perhaps because ethnic Germans in Australia have become somewhat rusty in their mother tongue, the language is relatively simple but still has a completely natural feel.

There is a lot of news here, with regular pieces on German current affairs but also quite a bit of content looking at what ties Germany and Australia together. This lies somewhere between intermediate and advanced.

A woman puts on headphones in Gadebusch, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. Photo: dpa | Jens Büttner

PERFECTING YOUR GERMAN

Auf Deutsche gesagt

This is another great podcast for people who have a high level of German. The host, Robin Meinert, talks in a completely natural way but still manages to keep it clear and comprehensible.

This podcast also explores a whole range of topics that are interesting to internationals in Germany, such as a recent episode on whether the band Rammstein are xenophobic. In other words, the podcast doesn’t just help you learn the language, it also gives you really good insights into what Germans think about a wide range of topics.

Sozusagen

Bayern 2 present their podcast Sozusagen! for all those who are interested in the German language. This isn’t specifically directed at language learners and is likely to be just as interesting to Germans and foreigners because it talks about changes in the language like the debate over gender-sensitive nouns. Each episode explores a different linguistic question, from a discussion on German dialects to an analysis of political linguistics in Germany.

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