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How To Remember What German Letters Sound Like Posted by on Feb 2, 2017 in Language, Language Listening Lesson, listening, Practice, vocabulary

Recently, a reader of the blogs commented that it is difficult to remember what German letters sound like. Really, it is, just like most about learning a language, all about Übung (practice). Übung. How do you say that? Sounds like a good word to start with!

How to pronounce Übung

Ok. That is Übung. I am sure, when you listen to the recording closely, that you can replicate this. But will you remember how to say it? Let’s break it down.


A VERY important lesson is that there is NO y-sound in German as there would be in English if a word starts with a “u”. Take “usurper”, for example:

A German would say “usurper”, as if it were a German word, like this:

Ok! Did you notice that the two u’s are pronounced differently in English, whereas the German pronunciation of it is the same? That’s because a German u is always pronounced as:

So from that German pronunciation of the “u”, we go to ü. Check out this post to get to know the Umlaut, as those nice little dots on top of the are called.


The “b” sounds quite similar in German and English. There is not much to it.


As explained above, the German sounds a bit like the American “oo”, but then a bit more from the throat, so a little lower, like this:


Same here, as in English, the and are pronounced together as:

As you can see, a lot of the sounds are quite similar. It is good to practice sounds by listening to them. Transparent Language (follow this link for a free trial) offers great voice recordings that can help you. Or just watch German movies or videos and listen closely to the pronunciation. Listen to the parts that sound exactly like English and the parts that sound foreign to you, like a sound you would not know how to write.

A little story

So for this blog post, I wrote a little text below, recorded it, so that now you can tell me in the comments which words were difficult for you to pronounce yourself, and then I can give you further explanation in the comments! Enjoy, and don’t forget to listen closely!

Die Kirche steht mitten im Dorf. Viele Menschen gehen jeden Sonntag in die Kirche zum Gottesdienst. Die meisten bleiben aber Zuhause. Warum?

Es gibt genügend Leute die nicht mehr glauben, die aus ihrer früheren Religion ausgetreten sind. Die verbringen ihren freien Tag jetzt auf anderer Art.

Manche setzen sich ins Auto und fahren einfach los, und werden schon sehen wohin es sie treibt. An sonnigen Tagen gehen manche an den Badesee, und bleiben stundenlang dort, genießen die Sonne, schwimmen ein wenig…

Ein Sonntag ist schon was tolles. Was machst du an deinem freien Sonntag? 

The church is in the middle of the village. Many people go to the church for service every Sunday. However, most people stay at home. Why?

There are enough people that do not believe anymore, who left their former religion. They spend their free day in a different way.

Some get in the car and just drive, and they will see where it takes them. On sunny days, some go to the bathing lake and stay there for hours, enjoy the sun, swim a little…

A Sunday is really something nice. What do you do on your free Sunday?

I hope you enjoyed that. The words that you had difficulty with – let me know in the comments, and I will reply and help you out with it! Are there other words than in the story? Those count as well, just let me know!


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About the Author: Sten

Hi! I am Sten, and I am half Dutch and half German. I was on exchange in the United States, and I really enjoyed that year! So in that sense, I kind of have three nationalities... I love all of them!


  1. Carlos R Barron:

    I understood 90% , the wors were not so hard in fact aout kiche the church on Sundays I understood like I said 90%, and I happy for that. Ich glaube meine Deutsh is besser hoyte.
    Mach gud

  2. Pius:

    Thank-you for the lesson. It all helps me in my quest in learning German.

  3. Alexis:

    Thank you SO much! This is a really big help! I know for sure I will be coming back to read this post probably a lot!

  4. jill:

    Vielen Dank, Sven. Alles klar. I especially like the rhythm of your speech. Great website + thanks again.