5 TV series that can help you perfect your German

When deciding to learn a new language, the first thing that comes to mind is to find an adequate language course that can ideally fit in our everyday schedule. But what about a good TV series?

Lessons are undoubtedly a fundamental point for departure when learning a language, but at times it might not be enough. Learning a new language means accessing to a new way of thinking, opening our mind to a new culture. Essentially, learning a language implies not only knowledge of the grammatical rules and the lexical, but also knowledge of the so-called pragmatic language, everyday expressions and spoken terms. If one doesn’t have much contact with native speakers, watching TV series in the original language can be a very useful means through which one can learn new expression. Terms that we would otherwise not know of through a strictly theoretical study. For this reason we would like to propose a few German TV series, very different from one another, that might help you further your knowledge of German.


1. Türkish für Anfänger

“Kebab for breakfast” is one of the most notorious German productions. The series, which lasted for 3 seasons, it set in Berlin, the German city with the highest concentration of Turkish citizens. The storyline is about an enlarged family made up of a Turkish man and German woman, both with adolescent kids. It is a funny series, that opens a window on Berlin’s multiethnic social fabric. It is suitable both for young people and adults. In 2007 it won the Civis Media Prize in the entertainment category for having promoted the integration of family that have a foreign background.


2. Stromberg

Stromberg is one of the most appreciated German TV series. Five seasons that tell the story of Stromberg, a manager of an insurance firm by the name of “Capitol Versicherung AG”. It is the German version of the American series The Office, portraying life in the office in a funny way. This series, however, is not advisable for beginners due to the fact that a lot of the irony derives from word games. It remains nonetheless a rich source of everyday expressions.


3. Gute Zeiten, schlechte Zeiten

It is a German soap opera of 1992 that had a 6 million audience count. The story is set in an imaginary neighbourhood in Berlin and it recalls the Australian series The Restless Years. Unlike other soap operas that portray the life of families belonging to a high social background, this one focuses on the life of young people and for this reason it is very appreciated by a younger audience.


4. Tatort

Tatort is a police genre TV series. It is the longest one as it has been broadcasted since 1970. The commissioners are at the center of each episode, lasting about 90 minutes. The episodes are quite plausible and, unlike other police series, the various regional broadcasters of ARD are responsible for their territorial spheres and their investigative theme. The series is shot in different cities in Germany. Berlin, Munich, but also in other countries, in Vienna and Lucerne. For this peculiarity it is very useful to learn different accents, to know more of the city and to get an idea of German speaking countries.


5. Die Sendung mit der Maus

Der Sendung mit der Maus is one of Germany’s most famous animated series. It was first aired in 1971 and it is intended specifically to a young audience, between 4 and 9 years of age. Following it is also very useful for who doesn’t really know the language and finds more comfort in linear stories. This TV series has been recalled “the school of the nation” precisely due to the way it helps its audience to learn and assimilate the fundamental lexicon in different settings, from history to science.

Cover photo: © Youtube
Do you wish to learn German or perfect your knowledge? Then take a look at the German courses that Berlino Schule organizes in Berlin here!

Berlinerisch, a small dictionary of the Berliner language

If it is true that in order to understand the culture of a place you have to know the language, it is essential to understand the dialect spoken in our beloved city: the Berlinerisch.


This folkloristic dialect, known for its sarcastic and often rude tones, is loved by many in Germany. Adored by the Berliners, it is a blend of old spoken dialects in urban centers, which in the past formed the city of Berlin. It also comes from the Berliner Schnauze, the typical berlin doc character.


The Berliner language

Some polls reveal that the Berliner language is very much in vogue among the new generations and is even turning out to be one of the most talked about in the city. So if you want to keep up with the times and understand what your interlocutor is talking about, here are some examples of Berlinerisch:

ich: ick / ikke (me)

aber: aba (or)

auch: ooch (also)

auf: uff (above)

etwas / was: wat (something)

ein: een (indefinite article, masculine, singular)

gehen: jehen (go)

gucken: kiek’n (watch)

klein: kleen (small)

laufen: loofen (walking)

nein: woman / nee (no)

nichts: nüscht / nichs / nix (nothing)

Schnauze: Schnute (1. mouth, 2. face / animal face)

das: dit / det (1. determinate article, neutral, singular 2. this)


The most common linguistic tendencies are to transform the “s” into “t” (was> wat, das> det, alles> allet) and the “g” in “j” (gut> jut, gehen> jehen, genau> jenau)

As for the ways of saying:

Allet comes! (Alles gut!) = Everything is alright

Moin! (Guten Morgen!) = Good morning

Du Alta! (Du Alter) = Hey you!

Eyh, jeh ma nich uff’n Keks! (Lass mich in Ruhe!) = Don’t annoy me, leave me alone! (literally “do not stay on biscuits”)

Is aba warm heute, huh? (… nicht wahr?)=  It’s hot today, right? (At the end of the sentence, it means “true”)


One of the main features of this slang is the linguistic register, such as eating letters in the middle of words or dropping the final part

ist> is (is),

komm mal> komm ma (come)!


Some of Berlin’s typical particularities are the acronyms:

j.w.d. > janz weit draussen = a far away place. Could be translated “in the midst of nothing / the wolves”

Kotti, Alex, Rosi, Schlesi =  Kottbusser Tor, Alexander Platz, Rosenthaler Platz, Schlesisches Tor.

Vokuhila > vorne-kurz-hinten-lang = short in the front and long in the back. One of the most popular hair cuts in Germany between 1982 and 1987, also in the most punk “Volahiku” version (long in the front and short in the back).


Cover photo: © Daniela Spoto

Are you living in Berlin and wish to perfect your knowledge of German? Take a look at the courses that Berlino Schule organizes!

10 German words for a night out in Berlin

Berlin’s alternative and anarchic nightlife can be suitable for almost everyone. If you are visiting for a weekend, or having been living here for some time, you want to be well-prepared to know how to address in German your party mood or you after day hangover state. Deutsche Welle listed ten curious points to be aware of before going out for a night in Berlin.


Feel like going out tonight? First thing, you have to break free from working commitments and the stress. Germans have a word to describe exactly that moment: ‘Feierabend’, which literally means, to finish work or to knock off (work).


After work, a quick pit-stop back home to freshen up is definitely something worth considering before a nice night out. After all, you never know how the night is going to evolve. Aufbrezeln means exactly this; to pamper up, whether with a fresh t shirt for boys and a line of lipstick for girls (or the other way round..).


Although it wouldn’t be proper to incite readers to drink, not to drink German beers would be like missing out on a pillar of the country’s cultural heritage. Vorglühen, in English to pre-heat / pre-drink, is exactly that: the drinking of one, two or, who are we kidding, three or more drinks prior to commencing the night out, to relax and zone out of the working mind and get into the partying one.


After a while in Berlin you’ll notice it: whether it be one girl or boy walking on her own in the sole company of a cold beer in their hand, or bigger groups of people holding two or more bottles of beers (coats have pockets after all), you’ll be able to spot them in any neighbourhood of the city at any time of the night. A Wegbier is the beer you take along with you for the walk.

n.b. although drinking in public is legal in Germany, it is well advised to contain your exuberant- drunk spirits and maintain a dignified behavior – a bit of style never harms.


Sven: if you haven’t met him you surely heard about him. Berghains’ bouncer, in German, would be the Türsteher, as so would be a doorman or a doorkeeper, for the literal meaning is “Him who stands at the door”. Assuming a more active role than this passive description conveys, they are notorious here in Berlin. Starting by knowing how to address them could be a first, small, step towards getting into a club.


“Auf ex!” If your friends demand you do to so, perhaps it’s best you prepare for what will happen next. The literal translation? Empty your glass in one sip.


It’s that moment between day and night, or night and day – the beginning and end of a day all melted into one word. Between dusk and dawn, it can be a truly magical moment in Berlin (according to the season), and you’ll most likely find yourself more often than not at Dämmerung wondering how it is possible that the night is already over!


Being a night crawler. Everyone has one of those friends in Berlin that only emerge out of their den once the sun has set. Or maybe, you’ve become one of these yourself. Another interesting translation from German is night owl; you know that they are hiding somewhere during the day, but you’ll only see them at night.


Kater would be a ‘tomcat’, a male cat. But being one of those wonderful German words that have a certain meaning but actually mean something else, Kater is more commonly used to explain the state of being of the day following a night to remember (or not). You know it? You know it…

Photo:  © Christoffer Boman CC BY SA 2.0


Want to refine your German? Take a look at the German courses that Berlino Schule organizes.