Learning through music can be a great way to help students understand the lesson and enjoy it at the same time. When it comes to the German language, there are many great songs to choose from that can really add to your classroom experience.
German music can teach culture and vocabulary simultaneously and many German teachers have learned the power of a good song. It's a great way to grab their students' attentions when other resources may not be working.
Students are discovering German music on their own as well, so many already have an interest in it. It is, quite simply, an effective teaching tool that teachers can take advantage of. Your lessons can include styles from classical to traditional folk tunes, heavy metal to rap, and everything in between. The point is to make learning fun and get students excited about learning a new language.
German Lyrics and Songs
An introduction to German music can begin with the basics. Something as familiar as the German national anthem is a good place to begin. A portion of the anthem comes from the song "Deutschlandlied" and it's also known as "Das Lied der Deutschen" or "Song of the Germans." The lyrics are simple, the translation relatively easy, and the tune breaks it down into short stanzas to make memorization smooth.
Depending on the age of your students, traditional German lullabies may not seem appropriate, but simple songs are often the best teaching tools. Quite often, they repeat the same words and phrases throughout, so this can really boost a classroom's vocabulary. It's also a chance to get a little silly at times.
If you're looking for familiar songs that are a little more hip, then you'll want to turn to deutsche Schlager. These are the German golden oldies from the 60's and 70's and they're reminiscent of some of the American tunes of that era. It's fun to turn on these timeless hits and watch your students as they begin to understand the lyrics.
Popular German Music Artists to Know
When you really want to grab the attention of your students, there are a few popular musicians who they will not be able to ignore.
Most Beatles fans know that the Fab Four polished their craft in Germany in the early 1960s. Did you know that the first commercial recording the Beatles ever released was partly in German? The Beatles' connection to Germany is a fascinating cultural lesson. It's also helpful when your students are already familiar with the English version of a song. It gives them something they can really connect to.
Another familiar tune is "Mack the Knife," which was popularized by stars like Louis Armstrong and Bobby Darin. In its original version, it is a German song by the name of "Mackie Messer" and the smoky voice of Hildegard Knef sung it best. She has other great tunes that your class is sure to enjoy as well.
As you might expect, Germans are no stranger to heavy metal music. A band like Rammstein is controversial, but their songs are well-known, especially the 2004 hit "Amerika." This may also be an opportunity to discuss some of the cultural and political aspects of German life with older students.
Die Prinzen is one of Germany's biggest pop bands. They have 14 gold records, six platinum records, and over five million recordings sold. Their songs are often satirical and play on words, so they're sure to peak the interest of many students, especially as they learn the translations.
Resources for More German Songs
The internet has opened up many new possibilities for discovering German music that can be used to teach the language. For instance, a venue such as iTunes is a great resource, though there are some tips you'll want to know to make the German on iTunes experience a little easier.
It might also be helpful if you review the contemporary German music scene yourself. You will find everything from rap to jazz, pop to more metal, and any other style you can imagine. It's always nice to find something that your particular students can connect to and there's sure to be a great fit out there for them.