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Post A-Level Course

Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages and Linguistics


German: Post A-Level Course - Summer Preparation

Language preparation

It is vital that you work actively on your language skills over the summer. You may choose to take a summer language course or to spend time living or working in a German-speaking country. Or you may make a commitment to watch German television, listen to German radio, and read German newspapers or books throughout the summer. You should also revise German grammar, especially if you have taken a gap year since your A-levels and have not worked much with German in that time. Working through your school texts will benefit you. Your goal is to enlarge your vocabulary, improve your listening skills, and increase the grammatical accuracy and syntactic complexity of both your written and spoken German.

Preparatory reading

It is important that you familiarise yourself with the nature of the material involved in all six modules of the GE1 paper so that you can make informed choices as you move through the year about the four topics on which you would like to be supervised. You are advised to concentrate first on the topics for which lectures are scheduled in the first term. Bear in mind that this preparation will be extremely useful in relation to your language work.

Additional resources for German students

Language learning takes many shapes and forms. A lot of it can be done with using good online language learning sites (see below, under self help), but books still have their place.

Recommended books

Make sure that you have the books recommended for Use of German (GEB1) and Translation from German (GEB2).


It is also essential that you have access to dictionaries. Most students prefer online dictionaries. It will be useful to identify the one you find most accessible:

Hardcopy versions are listed below:

  • a good German-English/English-German dictionary containing around 200,000 items of vocabulary (i.e. not a concise dictionary) e.g. Collins German-English/English-German Dictionary or the Oxford-Duden German Dictionary. Use a recent edition.
  • a good English dictionary, e.g. Collins English Dictionary or the New Concise Oxford Dictionary.

The following books are also recommended:

  • M Durrell, K Kohl & G Loftus, Essential German Grammar (2002)
  • M Durrell, Using German. A Guide to Contemporary Usage (1992)
  • M Durrell, Using German Synonyms (2001)
  • A Künzl-Snodgrass & Silke Mentchen, Upgrade Your German (2003)
  • A Künzl-Snodgrass & Silke Mentchen, Speed up your German (2017)

The MMLL Library has an excellent collection of German reference books. Besides all the standard dictionaries you will find there not only a range of philosophical and historical ones, but also some more unusual ones which should make browsing in this section very enjoyable.

Self help

What you get out of your German Language work depends a great deal on what you put in independently of your teachers’ instructions. The following may help you improve your German on a day-to-day basis:

  • On our German online resources page you will find a large selection of online language learning and other resources for you to browse through and work with at different times and stages in your course.
  • The online resources of the Cambridge University Language Centre are well worth exploring, particularly ‘Just-in-time Grammar’, an extensive interactive German grammar revision programme. The Language Centre’s Language Learning Adviser in German may be able to pair you off with a German native speaker keen to swap conversation sessions - don't be shy!

Above all, keep a regular written record of the new words and phrases you meet every day - including the gender and plural of all nouns - and of the context in which you find them.

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