Books for German Learners: Plays

As a language teacher, I have realised one of the trickiest things is identify the right resources to practice your skills – be it listening or reading. A learner is likely to easily spooked by the content out there that is just beyond your level of understanding… and be turned off by the concept of practice at all. So I’m going to share my go-to recommendations for learners to practice different skills and levels. This time sharing with you three plays.

Language learners should read plays, as dialogues are easier to follow than a third person narration. The language in today’s recommendations is too difficult for early readers, but not C2-difficult. And these are some of my favourite reads!

  1. Des Teufels General by Carl Zuckmayer – This play is based on the life of General Ernst Udet. Set in 1941, the lead character of this play is Luftwaffe General Harras and the three acts of the play center around conversations over drinks. Harras is skeptical of the Third Reich and its attempt to conquer the whole of Europe, and cynicism leads him to losing his friends.
  2. Die Dreigroschenoper by Bertolt Brecht – Personally, Brecht is not an easy read, but the play is fun, especially with its songs, like Mackie Messer. I would recommend watching the Theaterstück rather than reading it. Mackie Messer is a criminal who marries a woman whose family disapproves and then seeks to hang him.
  3. Leonce und Lena by Georg Büchner – Probably one of the more famous plays in German literature, this is a must read for advanced learners. This is a humorous play, and humour is always a little harder because of cultural differences and having to read between the lines. But if you’re up for the challenge, try this! A love story which is a political satire, what’s not to like?

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