German Lessons


A look at pronunciation, Part 1

When it comes to German pronunciation, Yabla has you covered. In the videos, you hear German spoken exclusively by native speakers, and have the ability to slow down their speech. Additionally, Yabla has videos that point out the rules and tackle particularly tricky aspects of pronunciation. This week, we'll look at one topic for beginners and one that's a bit more advanced. In the examples, vocabulary related to pronunciation is highlighted.

In the German alphabet, there are standard pronunciations for the vowels—actually more so than in English. However, it's very important to know the following rule:


Wenn in einem Wort ein doppelter Konsonant vorkommt, werden die Vokale, die davor stehen, kurz ausgesprochen.

When a double consonant occurs in a word, the vowels that precede it are pronounced short.

Captions 24-25, Deutsch mit Eylin: Alphabet, Betonung und Aussprache

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An example of this is provided here:


Zum Beispiel „Ebbe“: Das „E“ wird kurz ausgesprochen. „Eben“: Das „E“ wird lang ausgesprochen.

For example, "ebb": The "E" is pronounced short. “Even”: The “E” is pronounced long.

Captions 26-27, Deutsch mit Eylin: Alphabet, Betonung und Aussprache

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Another topic that can be tricky is the "ich" and "ach" sounds that are so common in German words. Luckily, the following two-part video explains the rules for when they are used and how to make each sound:


Wenn das „CH“ nach „ä", „ö", „ü", „e“, „i“, „l“, „n“ und „r“ erscheint, ist es der „Ich“-Laut.

If the "CH" appears after "ä," "ö," "ü," "e," "i," "l," "n," or "r," it's the "ich" sound.

Captions 33-34, Deutsch mit Eylin Aussprache: Ich- und Ach-Laute - Part 1

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It's worth noting that like the vowel "e," the vowel combinations "ei" und "eu" are also followed by the "ich" sound. 


Wenn das „CH“ auf „a“, „o“, „u“ und „au“ folgt, dann ist es der „Ach“-Laut.

If the "CH" follows "a," "o," "u," or "au," then it's the "ach" sound.

Captions 14-15, Deutsch mit Eylin Aussprache: Ich- und Ach-Laute - Part 2

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Listening to the following example is a good way to understand the difference: 


In dem Wort „Töchter“ hörst du den „Ich“-Laut. Im Wort „Tochter“ den „Ach“-Laut.

In the word “daughters," you hear the “ich” sound. In the word “daughter," the “ach” sound.

Captions 11-12, Deutsch mit Eylin Aussprache: Ich- und Ach-Laute - Part 1

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Further Learning
We will be back with more tips on pronunciation and references to helpful Yabla videos in the future. To learn more about the topics in this lesson, watch the three videos mentioned above on German Yabla in their entirety. The first video contains a guide to the entire alphabet. The other two look at many more examples of "ich" and "ach" sounds and explain how to make these sounds like a real native speaker!

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