I am looking for a book like English Vocabulary in Use Advanced für Deutsch.

I have already checked Da fehlen mir die Worte but seems too much theoretic and it is not divided in themes as the first one. Also Wörter zur Wahl is not bad but it is not what I am looking for, it is organized in a different way. Probably the best one I have found so far is Übungen zum Wortschatz der deutschen Schriftsprache: Niveau A2 - C1 although it is only for "written" German and it seems in any case quite hard.

So do you know any books to improve German's vocabulary? Possibly something good for selflearners as I have no occasion to attend any classes for now. Ich habe letztes Jahr die B1 Prüfung gemacht und ich will jetzt meinen Wortschatz verbessern.

  • Improving vocabulary through boring lists of words is not the most enjoyable (and, normally, successful) method (at least for me). Once you got the basic hang of the language, start reading literature (start simple, then go complex). That gives you words in context and makes you learn them much faster, especially if you go for books you'd enjoy reading or have already read in your native language as well. Refrain from constantly looking up words in a dictionary. Read one full page, try to get the meaning from context - Then go for the dictionary to verify. – tofro Nov 1 '16 at 11:59
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    To second that comment, look at the Reclam Orange literature books. These are cheap-printed world literature books in the original language and German translation. Originally they are meant to help German speakers learning a foreign language but they obviously work in the other direction, too. There are 38 books from English speaking authors at reasonable pricing: reclam.de/programm/weltliteratur/… – Janka Nov 1 '16 at 12:50
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    @tofro I quite disagree (this is my point of view). The English book I cited at the beginning is far from a "boring list of words". It is a well organized set of two-page units, dealing with a precise topic, presenting a range or expressions from the basic ones to the most difficult and idiomatic (plus exercises). I think this is a good way to enlarge vocabulary: for example, take as topic the "human body": we all know how to say "bein", "kopf", but how do you say "liver" in German? [to be continued] – Romeo Nov 1 '16 at 13:42
  • @tofro [continued] I do not think you will find easily words of this level in reading literature. It is something you have to learn in an organized way. Of course reading books it is a nice way to "pratice" language - especially if you live in a different country. - but I think it is not the most useful way of learning words. – Romeo Nov 1 '16 at 13:42
  • @iris Wow, that looks really amazing! :-) Thanks for the comment, I think I will save the page among the "Bookmarked" :-) – Romeo Nov 1 '16 at 13:54

I save sentences from lots of different sources (Google News, ebooks, podcast transcripts, magazines, Tatoeba, dictionary examples, cookbooks, Reddit posts, scripts, songs, etc.) and put them into Anki. I put a blank where the new word is (leaving the first letter if I need it), add a picture on the question side, and put audio on the answer side. I use the add-ons AwesomeTTS and Basic_CLOZE. I find this technique (sentence mining) really effective for both passive and active vocabulary acquisition. Question side above line, answer side below

  • This is really a good answer, thanks a lot for making me discover Anki! I did not know it, it will be really precious to study new words and idioms. I was wondering if there is the possibility of exporting my own vocabulary in Babbel to Anki in a - more or less - direct way, including pictures and sounds (without activating AwesomeTTS on every flashcard). In any case thanks a lot! – Romeo Dec 9 '16 at 15:22
  • I'm glad Anki will help. I haven't used Babble yet, so I don't know about importing from it. There is a way to add audio to every card at the same time: batch add (from the browse screen). I also recommend using the Basic_cloze add-on. With that, you can just select the word you want to test yourself on, and create a cloze question instantly. To find images and example sentences (from tatoeba.org and Google News, mostly) I use Keybreeze on Windows and Alfred on Mac. I've been using Anki for amost 5 years, and it's been incredibly helpful. I know I'll remember everything I put in it. – Ngrammer Dec 23 '16 at 13:36
  • Also, you could transfer your Babbel pictures using screen grab (PicPick for Windows, CMD+Shft+4 on Mac. Here's (someone else) Here's someone else [lifehacker.com/5903288/… who used Anki. Let me know if you need any other tips. who used Anki. Let me know if you need any other tips. who used Anki. Let me know if you need any other tips. – Ngrammer Dec 23 '16 at 16:45

I really like dictionaries with images for learning new vocabulary in other languages.

I have the Visual Bilingual Dictionary DK in English-Portuguese to improve my Portuguese vocabulary and they also have one in German-English.

There are also online visual dictionaries, e.g., www.bildwoerterbuch.com. They show a lot of pictures with German vocabulary sorted by topics, e.g. food/kitchen > chocolate


I am native German speaker, but my girlfriend is not German and about level B2/C1. She is trying to improve her vocabulary at the moment. We do several things:

  1. We bought a subscription for a German Newspaper (Die Zeit). She reads me the news and I correct her pronunciation and explain her words or idioms. Newspaper articles are great for that because they have more variation than a long book.

  2. We often watch Tatort (a German crime TV series) because we can watch it for free. This is good for training comprehension of spoken German. What is also great about the TV series it that it plays in different regions in Germany so that you can train to understand the different accents.

  3. I recently bought an Amazon Kindle. It has a dictionary built in, which makes it very easy to look up unknown words. It also saves the words we looked up to flash-cards to train them later. I just bought it last week, so I cannot say how the long-term effect is, but so far I like it a lot.

  • Thanks for your answer. I also used to give a look at Spiegel or Bild, especially while preparing for the exam. The point is that I would like to improve my vocabulary in quite a systematic way, as the English book I quoted does. Watching TV movies is something I really like, but 1. not everything is available on ZDF (I do not live in Germany and some contents are restricted) and 2. you do not find "untertiteln" for everything (of course you can understand the situations, but it becomes difficult to enlarge vocabulary in this way). [to be continued] – Romeo Nov 1 '16 at 13:49
  • [continued] In any case, I will give a look to Tatort, thank you for pointing it out. Concerning books, maybe reading on a tablet could be an interesting option, you are right. I usually do not like reading books with the purpose "to enlarge vocabulary" (see my comments to the OP), I just want to enjoy them for their stories and not to look carefully through each word. I thank you again for your time and answer. – Romeo Nov 1 '16 at 13:51

Have you looked at the Routledge German Frequency Dictionary? It's ordered by frequency only, not by theme, but it could also be useful. Unlike with other sources, you don't run the risk of wasting time on rare words.


I learned English from reading novels in English. I read the first few books with a dictionary and had to look up several words on each page. After a while I began picking up the meaning of words from the context they were used in, much like a child learns his or her native tongue, so I put the dictionary away and just kept reading.

Read something that interests you. This will keep you motivated.

  • Depending on the novel the vocabulary is more or less useful. I rarely use my Harry Potter vocabulary: wand, owl, broomstick, wizard, witch, spell, charm, magical creatures.... – Iris Dec 2 '16 at 15:38
  • @Iris Depending on where you start out, every novel has a huge load of useful knowledge, from basic grammar and syntactic structure to prepositions and tense. And the characters in Harry Potter have emotions that they discuss and live in a world with many things that we also have (chairs, windows, and so on). A native speaker doesn't learn all the words in the world from their parents. They, too, are limited in what they home environment offers them and have to move beyond it. A language learner who starts with Harry Potter will probably not stop there. – user4973 Dec 2 '16 at 20:24

"Memrise" and "Duolingo" are very popular websites among language learners. These websites helped me a lot in learning vocabulary and idioms. In order to speed up my learning, I also create a several course my mother tongue and German on Memrise. When you are trying to add a new words to your course, you are also learning deeply and permanently. I have already learnt more than 2 thousands words in that way. When you are learning new words, you help also lots of other people in that way. Is not it great?

In addition to these websites, I would suggest you to read "Paralleltexte". If you search for the "Paralleltexte Deutsch Englisch", you will get lots of articles, news, and sometimes a book. In parallel texts, you read the topics, which attract your attention, if you get stuck, you can simply look at the meaning of the word with a simple eye movement without intefering your flow.

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