I found Wheelock’s Latin to be amazingly straightforward and comprehensive.

The many German books which I have found are in no way comparable. They are absolutely annoying with their pictures, phrases, and dimwitted conversations, but no actual rigor. I need rigor. I thrive on rigor. I feel that every problem I have ever had in my 4 months of German has been caused by a lack of rigor in the sources I have used.

Does anybody know of a German book that is generally along the lines of Wheelock’s Latin: grammatical explanation, vocabulary, sentences, paragraphs then repeat?

It seems to me to be the most obvious method of organizing a language-learning book, but it is also the way no author I've encountered has set up their books.

  • Write a letter to the authors of Wheelock's Latin and ask them to write the book you want. I guess it's just a matter of supply and demand. If you show them that there is demand for such a book, then maybe they will create the supply. Mar 15, 2016 at 6:20
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    Few people will be interested in learning German as a dead language, i.e. for reading elaborate texts only. Most will want to get along in a German-speaking country, talk with people etc.; none of which “your” book could prepare them for.
    – chirlu
    Mar 15, 2016 at 6:30
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    Do you want to learn or study the language? The approach you describe seems a better fit for the latter (and appropriate for Latin), but the usual course books focus on the former. You may have more luck with older books or with ones intended for an academic audience.
    – Crissov
    Mar 15, 2016 at 8:43
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    The post is a valid Q nonetheless. I don't see how it's off-topic. Mar 15, 2016 at 12:30
  • The thing is, I don't agree that those conversation-oriented books help with conversation. I can speak better Latin after doing Wheelock's than I can German after doing a couple modern-style German books; I feel like these are dumbed down, not geared towards the would-be conversationalist. Mar 17, 2016 at 8:59

2 Answers 2


As other commenters mentioned, you will have difficulty finding a similar book for German because this method is simply not how we teach living languages anymore. You might be able to find a similar method if you look for books that were published until the 1960s.

If you just want a solid grammar reference with exercises, I'd recommend Dreyer & Schmitt's Lehr- und Übungsbuch der deutschen Grammatik, also called Die neue Gelbe.


Any possible answer depends on your actual level. Assuming you’re a beginner, and you’re looking for a grammatical and systematic approach, I’d suggest you get yourself a concise German grammar and a list of the most important words, preferably including example sentences (like many beginner’s dictionaries offer). Study the grammar and basic vocabulary. You will find the grammar similar to and easier than Latin, and you’ll profit from your English and Latin vocabulary. Then grab a German novel and a bigger dictionary.

This method will get you reading fast, but unless you engage in actual conversation – which is what the boring textbook stuff is designed at – you won’t be able to communicate.

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