Episode 1 – Stress Free German

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Listening Comp. Audio (download link is to the right of the volume icon)

Welcome to Stress Free German, Volume 1, Lesson 1. The goal of this course is to turn you into a confident speaker of German. We’re going to do that by applying advanced techniques like visual grouping, pattern recognition, construction branching and more. Each lesson has two parts: Part I uses English to explain the language, and to prompt you to speak German. Part II is the listening comprehension section, and is entirely in German.

So, who is this course for? Well, it’s for two types of students. If you’re an absolute beginner, this is definitely a great place to start. But students with experience in German are also welcome. I think most beginners quickly get frustrated trying to memorize the gender of hundreds and hundreds of German nouns. And I think they wonder, Is there a better way?

There is. There’s a much better way. It’s called Visual Grouping.

And certainly a lot of students feel overwhelmed by the German case system. The genitive, dative, accusative….And as they’re forced to memorize declension charts I imagine they’re also wondering, Is there a better way?

There is. It’s called Pattern Recognition.

If you’ve been having these kinds of problems trying to learn German, then you’re definitely in the right place and your struggle ends today. All you need to do is just follow along, and be sure to speak out loud when prompted.


Even though this is an audio course, we’re going to take a very visual approach to the language. So let’s start by trying to envision a scene. Imagine a man standing in a park. Beside the man is a dog. The man and the dog are standing beneath a large tree. I have an actual picture of this scene, which I’ll direct you to after the episode, but for now, let’s just imagine it. So our image had four elements. Here they are in German this time. Listen?


Can you figure out what each word was? Listen again…

MANN…is obviously the man

PARK…is park, although that German ‘R’ is kinda soft, isn’t it?

HUND…sounds like the English word “hound” doesn’t it? Which is a type of dog. And then…

BAUM…think of that old Christmas song, “Oh, Tannenbaum, oh Tannenbaum..” which means, “Oh, Fir tree, oh Fir Tree…” So BAUM is a tree.

As you repeat each one after our native speaker, try to envision that element of our picture. Ready?


You might be wondering, Why start a course with those four words? Well, two reasons: They are all concrete nouns. More on that concept in a future lesson. But also, in German those four words all happen to be masculine nouns. If you’re new to German, you might be surprised that nouns have gender. But actually, most European languages do this. They assign gender to nouns. And in German, there are three gender choices: masculine, feminine or neuter.

This tends to be the first big problem that students of German have; they can’t recall the gender of German nouns. And the problem is a very serious one: If you dont know the gender, you can’t use the word properly. And again, in this course, I promise, we’re going to solve that issue for you.

Speaking of words, what were the four words that we started with today? Can you see the image in your head? Say them with our native speaker…


Next, listen to these German phrases. All I want you to catch is the first word in each phrase:

Der Mann ist schlau.

Der Park ist sauber.

Der Hund ist braun.

Der Baum ist hoch.

Did you hear it? DER. That’s called the article. It basically functions as the word “the” in German. The man is smart. The park is clean, and so on. Or listen to these. They’re asking, Where is the…..

Wo ist der Mann?
Wo ist der Park?
Wo ist der Hund?
Wo ist der Baum?

Can you try that? Ask…

Where is the Park?

Wo ist der Park?

So your friend points to a map and tells you…

Der Park ist hier.

Imagine again our image of that park. Imagine yourself inside the picture. Put your hand on the tree and say…

The tree is here.

Der Baum ist hier.

So we’re coming up on a key point: If you didn’t know that those words were masculine, you would not have been able to say even those very simple phrases.

Okay, pardon me while I turn on my Warning Alarm…


Why the alarm? Because this is it. This is where virtually every course gets it wrong. At this point they casually instruct you to memorize the article along with the noun. Are you kidding me? You want me to memorize thousands of ders, dies and dasses? I’m not going to do it. We’re not going to do it. We’re going to use something called visual grouping.

The thing about German…the words themselves aren’t hard. For example:

Haus Bier Pizza Garten

House, beer, pizza, garden

It’s not the vocabulary that’s tough, it’s remembering the gender of all those words. And yet you have to, because if you don’t know the gender, you can’t use the word.

But don’t worry: We are not going to memorize anything. We are going to simply see the gender of each word we learn. Tell me, what’s the gender of the following German word: Mann

Did you say masculine? Excellent. How about: Hund

Right again. Masculine. Can you think of two other masculine nouns we learned today? Hit pause. Try to see the picture…

Baum. Park.

Did you memorize them? Nope. You’re basically just seeing them in your head.


So, you’re standing there with the dog under that tree in the park. And suddenly, a woman approaches. She’s holding out her phone and showing you a photo of the dog…

Entschuldigung, das ist mein Hund.

That can’t be! I mean, it sure looks like your dog. Isn’t that right Fido? (dog panting)

So you tell the woman…

Nein, das ist mein Hund.

Let’s try those again. Say: This is my dog.

Das ist mein Hund.

Say: No, this is my dog.

Nein, das ist mein Hund.

Say that word “my” again? MEIN MEIN

Now, we’re gonna talk a lot more about this in an upcoming lesson, so all I’m going to say for now is this: Mein is one of the ways that we refer to masculine nouns as being “mine.”

So try that again: This is my dog.

Das ist mein Hund.

Let’s learn a easy new word here. In English we can refer to our dad as Papa. In German, they use the same word. Listen: Papa.

And the word Papa is masculine, of course. So say…

This is my Papa.

Das ist mein Papa.

How about: This is my tree.

Das ist mein Baum.

I know it doesn’t feel like much so far, learning words like tree or park, but actually if you’re following all this and getting the phrases right then you’ve already taken a big step forward in German. Ok..quick break..


In each lesson I’ll be sharing ideas about how to learn German efficiently. For today’s tip, I’d like to return to that idea of Comprehensible Input, or C.I. for short. Usually C.I. is a video where a native speaker talks in such a way that you can mostly follow what he or she is saying. They usually have a whiteboard, and they draw whatever it is they’re talking about, so you can get the gist. A well-made C.I. video is an excellent resource, and you should definitely be watching them regularly.

The drawback, though, to C.I. is that there’s basically zero explanation. Like, wait…Why did she say Die Tasche in one phrase, and in the next it’s Der Tasche? Another issue is that there’s very little prompting for you to talk. So your listening skills get developed–and that’s definitely important–but you don’t walk away talking much in German.

It’s those two shortcomings in the C.I. methodology that prompted the creation of this course.

We’re going to help you understand how German works, and we’re going to prompt you, more and more often, to speak the language. And toward that end, let’s get back to the lesson.

Try to say:

Where is my dog?

Wo ist mein Hund?

Where is my Papa?

Wo ist mein Papa?

This is my tree.

Das ist mein Baum.

Where is the park?
Wo ist der Park?

Alright. Let’s try adding another new word. It’s a yummy one. (CRUNCH / chewing of apple)

Can you tell what fruit I’m eating?


Right. An apple. So let’s envision our tree in that park. The man and the dog are now gone, but a shiny red apple is on the grass beneath the tree. Let’s listen to a couple of phrases and see if we can figure our which article it gets. Ready?

Mmm! Der Apfel ist lecker!

Der Apfel ist nicht so gut.

Are you hearing the article Der? Because these were simple, declarative sentences, we know that Apfel must be masculine. I’ll cover this in a future lesson, but for now just know this: The article Der does NOT automatically mean that the next word is a masculine noun. Here, yes. Der Apfel is indeed masculine.

So, as someone takes your apple let’s tell them…

This is my apple.

Das ist mein Apfel.

Say: No, this is my apple.

Nein, das ist mein Apfel.

Ask them: Where is my apple?

Wo ist mein Apfel?

So the man pulls an apple out of the refrigerator and puts it on the table. He tells her…

Hier ist dein Apfel.

So, dein is our last new word for today. Again, we’re gonna talk a lot more about this in an upcoming lesson. For now just know that dein is one of the ways that we refer to masculine nouns as being “your.” Try this. Ask…

Where is my dog?

Wo ist mein Hund?

Here is your dog.

Hier ist dein Hund.

We notice that mein and dein rhyme, which is helpful. But it goes deeper than that. Both words refer to just one person…me or you. So we can’t use dein if you’re talking to a group of people.

You also should only use this word dein with people you are friendly with. So if talking to a stranger, or in some other formal situation, it’s impolite to use dein. Again, more on this aspect of German in an upcoming lesson.

Imagine a kid asks you:

Wo ist mein Papa?

Tell her Here is your Papa.

Hier ist dein Papa.

If you’re getting these right, you’re doing great.


Almost done. But before we go, let’s do a review of everything we’ve learned today. Ready? Say…

Where is the park?

Wo ist der Park?

Here is the park.

Hier ist der Park.

Where is my dad?

Wo ist mein Papa?

Here is your dad.

Hier ist dein Papa.

This is my tree.

Das ist mein Baum.

This is your apple.

Das ist dein Apfel.

Alright. Great job today. This is the end of the “teaching and prompting” section. The next part, our Listening Comprehension section, is entirely in German and can be found over at the site StressFreeGerman.com. Be sure to listen to that, and also download the PDF which has today’s two key images.

You do that, and I’ll see you in the next lesson.

Lesson PDF Download – Right click on PDF Icon – Save Link As…

38 thoughts on “Episode 1 – Stress Free German”

  1. Super good.. great listen easy to go along. I am looking forward to Vol.2 and in the mean time I’ll just play back Vol.1. Context and explaining made my put my online lessons on hold until I finished the Pod. Great Pod

  2. LOVE this method! It’s really resonating with me and I’m feeling confident about my upcoming trip in September. I’ve tried lots of other language learning programs, even took in-person classes (Failed. 🥺) But Stress Free German is just that, stress-free, effective, and kinda fun too! Danke!

  3. I have gone through all 20 lessons and am looking forward to the next level. This is my third foreign language and I am finding this method incredibly helpful. Thanks guys!

  4. Thank You, have heard the first two episodes and I’m really enjoying the lessons, the technique and the “tip of the day”.

  5. I love this. The pacing is perfect for me. The explanations along the way help me comprehend why and when words get used. Im 41 and I dont remember how to break down sentences any more. I barely remember what Nouns and Verbs are lol. So the explanation of Concrete Nouns is super helpful. I hope you continue including explanations of what word types are. Im only up to episode 3. The German speakers speak clearly and slowly so I can follow. I really like this podcast! I’ve tried Duo Lingo, I’ve tried tutors, different books, different youtube channels. This is the first thing that has felt natural and intuitive and comprehensible!

    1. So glad to hear it, Carissa! Yes, the approach we use in these first episodes continues throughout all the lessons of the course.
      Keep up the great work. I’m confident you’re going to be speaking conversational German soon.

  6. I love this podcast. I learn a lot every day listening to these lessons in the car and during my dayly hiking. Please keep going this way. I’m a fan❤️

    1. So glad to hear it, Jacob. And if it’s okay, I’ll take your “Smooth” as an adjective (It is a smooth experience…) instead of as a command ((Please) smooth the user experience…) 🙂

  7. I took many years of Spanish and one class of German the traditional way, learning to conjugate and ‘engineer’ sentences. This time I’m listening to the pod and I’m amazed at how naturally everything is coming. This is a very interesting approach. Kudos!

    1. Thanks, Doug. The traditional way most languages are “taught” is frustratingly ineffective. An unending procession of info dumps. Memorize this, memorize that. As if that’s how languages are learned….

  8. Hello I came across your podcast on Spotify. I have done the so called A2 Level, however I never got things as instinctively as with your method. I don’t even fully focus and do these Exercises while cleaning the house. It’s so great I can multi task and yet get most of the things right.

    1. So glad to hear it. And you’re right. There’s something about walking around / moving / doing housework which is conducive to language learning. Anyway, hope to welcome you to Volumes II and III after you’re done.

  9. Jesper Rodin Augustsson

    I have finished RME and RME + | since september. And now i will start with this course. This way of learning is very good, thanks for all these great episodes, your work with this is amazing. I love it, and mostly i am listening while working.

  10. I’ve been learning German using Duo Lingo for the last 40 days and have been doing well, but have not been understanding the “why” and was also having a terrible time trying to remember the gender of everything. I completed your first episode today and it was the “aha” I’d been looking for. What a fabulous resource!

  11. Expat in Nürnberg

    I recommend to everyone I get the chance to talk about my German classes. So convenient and easy way to learn without sweating your brains out every lesson through conventional ways of learning(Der/die/das nightmares).

    Please don’t stop growing and expand this course, I listen to the podcast while driving and at work, and in the evenings I replay and write everything down. So good, best way for me to learn German so far.

    1. Thanks, Simona! We plan to continue expanding the course. What helps is when people spread the word about the course on other platforms, like reddit or youtube, and so on. Meantime, keep up the great work and I hope to see you in Volume II (and III and IV…) 🙂

  12. Hi I have a question , I have read the super literal translation is essential and very useful when it comes to languages with complex grammar such as Russian and German and Agglutinative languages such as Korean , Japanese and Turkish.
    While on the other hand it’s not very useful when it comes to romance languages such as french, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese or highly contextual languages such as Mandarin
    So the question is you already have courses for Russian, Japanese and German.
    Do you plan to have a course for Korean or Turkish in the future?
    Because I couldn’t find any online courses that uses SLT for these two languages.
    Thanks in advance 🖤

    1. Hi Ahmed,

      Personally, I find the SLT useful for any language I’m learning. After all, I always want to know what I’m actually saying. I’d love to teach both Turkish and Korean, but we have no plans in the near term to tackle those.

      1. Okay, no problem.

        What do you You mean by “in the near time” you mean in the current period like this month or next couple months or even this year or next 2 years because you will be busy creating content for the German Course.

        Or something like 6 to 7 years .

        After which you will start thinking about creating a course for other language.
        Because the meaning of word near vary from one person to another.

  13. Really enjoying this method. Intuitive clear and actually fun to listen to. You clearly have put a lot of work into this!
    I believe that school districts should adopt this method! Thanks Mark!

    1. My pleasure, Dave. I’d really appreciate the help in spreading the word. It’s the hardest part of this business, getting heard above the din of info dump videos, and gamified apps and such. A few sincere posts on sites like reddit or youtube / FB…those really help.

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