How to Learn German - Prepare For the German A1 Level Test

According to CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning, Teaching, Assessment) put together by the Council of Europe, A1 level is the breakthrough level. The Framework describes what a learner can actually do with the learned language in reading, listening, speaking and writing at each level. CEFR shares many similarities with the US developed ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines, thereby providing a substantive and comparative dialogue about language learning and assessment internationally.

German A1 level

A1 level for each language assumes that the learner can understand and use familiar, everyday expressions and very basic phrases. He/she can introduce him/herself and others and can ask and answer questions about personal details such as where he/she lives, people he/she knows and things he/she has. The learner can interact in a simple way provided the other person talks slowly and clearly and is prepared to help.

The level is divided into two courses: A1.1 and A1.2. The total amount of teaching/learning hours is around 120-160 school hours.

People from all over the world learn German as a foreign language. The advantage of learning German language in Germany is in the integration process: many people coming from different cultures and speaking areas and attend the classes together, usually in a group of 15 people, and are forced to use the target language since the mother tongue or a media language in the process of teaching is never used. People like to communicate and make friends and become more and more motivated once they start noticing their own progress in learning.

Main Themes in German Coursebooks for Beginners

The main themes in coursebooks for beginners (A1) are greetings, the world and its diversities in nations and languages, food, people and every day basic communication, numbers and counting, cities, villages, means of transportation, family, hobbies, vacations, sightseeing, restaurants and shopping, hotels, clothes and fashion, work and occupations.

Grammar in a Beginner's Level

The grammar integrated in the content in German A1 level (A1.1 and A1.2), assumes the learning of the German alphabet, sentence stress, long and short vowels, question words (where, where to, where from, how long, how much, who, who to, who from, what…), auxiliary verbs to be and to have, conjugation of verbs in present and past tense, separable verbs (German: trennbare Verben) and modal verbs, the imperative mode with sie (formal), nouns, the definite and indefinite articles, singular/plural, negation, adjectives, comparation of adjectives, possessive adjectives, personal pronouns, prepositions, nominative, accusative and dative case.

Teaching German tips!

The methodology of teaching a foreing language without the use of the mother tongue or a media language can be pretty demanding but the CEFR principles encourage learner-centered, task-based approaches to the teaching and learning of foreign languages which makes teaching much easier. Every teacher should use his/her creativity in making interesting games and exercises for adult learners. Learning includes a lot of repeating so these didactic games are very useful for building and using knowledge. Next to usual teaching materials (coursebook, workbook, audio Cds, chalk or whiteboard markers) the teacher should use the world map and the map of the country the language of which is being taught, pictures (for easier acquirement of vocabulary), home-made cards with grammar references and anything else the teacher finds to be useful teaching material.

How to use alternative teaching materials:

  • When you want to divide people into groups use coloured cards and offer them to all the participants. If you want a group of four you'll need four different coloured cards. People with the same colour belong into the same group. To make groups of two people for pair work you can use children's memory cards.
  • When teaching numbers, you can use a piece of blank paper (landscape page setup) and write down numbers. On another piece of paper (of another color if possible) write down numbers in letters and cut them out in rectangular form. Give the papers to students to put the numbers in letters under the corresponding numbers.
  • You can do the same when teaching definite and indefinite articles. On a piece of paper (landscape page setup) write down nouns and on another paper definite or indefinite articles or both and then cut them out in rectangular forms and ask the students to put the corresponding articles to the nouns.
  • Take a few dice (with numbers 1-6) and 6 little papers. On one side you write down a number and on the other side what you expect the students to know. For example: ''Conjugate the verb to be'' or ''2nd person plural for live/wohnen'' etc. Each member of the group rolls the dice and takes the card with the corresponding number. The cards are set on the table face down. He/she turns the card and solves the given tasks, the other members confirm or correct. If the person is mistaken then he/she rolls the dice again.
  • Let students play the snake game!

What do you need for the snake game?

Material: paperboard, dice and tokens.

Draw a snake on a piece of paper, in one corner make the tail, diagonally on the other side the head and fill the paper with circles one next to the other making the body of the snake. Make the head the starting GO space and the tail the ending FINISH space. Use three colours to colour the snake, for example red, blue and yellow and colour the circles. The red field is the pausing space (three to four fields), the blue field (every fourth field) makes you go two steps back and the yellow field is the field with a task.

On the side you need hand-made cards with written tasks or questions, for example, ''Which is the opposite adjective to old?'' (German: altjung) ''When do we use the verb to be in the past tense (in German, Italian etc.[in German: with verbs expressing movement from point A to point B, with the verbs to be and stay, with the verbs expressing the change in status or condition])'', ''Explain the difference between can and know (German: können and kennen), etc.

How to play?

Roll the dice to see who goes first. The player with the highest number on the initial roll will start the game.

Starting from the GO space, each player on his or her turn will roll the dice and advance that number of spaces.

Take the action required by the space you have landed on.

If you land on the yellow space take one card from the top of the pile and solve the task or answer the question. If you succeed, you stay where you landed until it's your turn again, and if you fail, you go back to where you were before landing on this last space.

Who reaches the FINISH space first is the winner.

Learning German tips!

  • When German grammar is concerned, the most important for a learner at the beginner's level is to learn the articles together with the nouns because there are only a few common rules about their usage and the rest is pure ''coincidence''. Usually, at the end of a coursebook there is an alphabetical word list, of course without translation. It is recommended that you write down the translation next to the words using the dictionary book or online dictionary in your mother tongue. Then mark all the nouns with fluorescent markers in three different colors depending on the grammatical gender (masculine, feminine and neuter). If you have time and frequently use the computer write them down separately in tables – this is a lot of work, but it's done during a longer period of time and it's very effective in memorizing genders.
  • Take the audio CDs that you got with your coursebook and listen to them repeatedly while you are doing housework, cooking or routine work in your home. Usually people never listen to these (not even once) but you will be surprised how much of it spontaneously impresses into your mind. Listening is a very important part in language learning because one fourth of your A1 exam includes understanding based on listening.
  • Find extra learning material like books with grammar exercises and little handbooks or pocketbooks with a simple and interesting plot corresponding to A1 level. These little books are specifically made to facilitate language learning and to help you determine what you've learned. Inside you can find also some grammar exercises and questions concerning the text with answers at the end so that you can check whether you've understood well what you've read. But remember, find the time at home for homework, grammar exercises and use the time in school (course) to speak as much as you can.
  • If you spend a lot of time surfing on the net and you like to chat with people, find a penfriend in Germany (or elsewhere) and use German (or the language you're learning) to communicate with a native speaker. Don't worry because you're a beginner – Google will provide you with a number of dictionaries you can use like for example, EUdict, The Free Dictionary, LEO English-German dictionary and many others.
  • If you have the opportunity to get DVDs showing original German films with subtitles or American films/films synchronized to German but with the subtitle in your native language, be sure to use it! Reading and listening at the same time is a very efficient way to acquire a language.

The A1 exam for German language

The exam German A1/Deutsch A1 (Start Deutsch A1) is based on the joint work of two institutions: the Goethe Institute and telc Gmbh. It's divided into four parts/tests:

(1) Listening [20 minutes]: here you've got three parts with 15 tasks;

(2) and (3) Reading and writing [45 minutes – cca. 25 minutes for reading and cca. 20 minutes for writing]. The reading test has three parts (15 tasks). Based on what you've read you need to mark the statements following the text as true or false or choose between statements a and b. The writing test has two parts; in the first part you'll read a short text on the basis of which you are asked to provide certain information by filling in 5 blank spaces in an application form (usually of a travelling agency). The second part assumes writing a letter to a friend or a formal letter to a tourist or travelling agency, hotel etc. based on three guidelines. You are asked to write down approximately six sentences (2 sentences for each guideline, circa 30 words),

(4) Speaking [cca. 15 minutes].

This test is divided into three parts. In the first part you are asked to present yourself providing information about your name, age, country where you come from, place where you live, languages that you speak, your occupation and hobbies. In the second part you are invited to speak with your partner (other student taking the exam), that is to ask and give information on certain topics. The teacher/examiner offers cards with face down and the student takes one card and reads the written word, for example, newspapers (German: Zeitung). This student has to ask two-three questions based on this word and the other student has to give answers:


A: Lesen Sie oft Zeitung? (Do you often read newspapers?)

B: Ja, ich lese oft Zeitung. Jeden tag kaufe ich Die Welt und Frankfurter Rundschau. (Yes, I often read newspapers. Every day I buy Die Welt/The World and Frankfurter Rundschau.)

A: Haben Sie heute Die Welt gekauft? (Have you bought Die Welt today?)

B: Nein, ich habe gestern Die Welt gekauft. (No, I bought Die Welt yesterday.)

Each student takes turn twice and then you've got the third part in which you are offered cards with pictures on the basis of which the students are asked to formulate questions and answers.

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Comments 52 comments

DaniellaWood profile image

DaniellaWood 6 years ago from England

Great hub, vox vocis! I'm currently doing French and German at A2 Level (so I did my AS Levels last year) but this is still a very useful hub. I love languages and can't wait to try out these tips. I definitely recommend watching German DVDs, even if you use the subtitles - it helps you get used to the sound, speed and prosodic features of the language. Vielen Dank! :) Daniella

vox vocis profile image

vox vocis 6 years ago Author

To DaniellaWood:

Thanks for your comment! I'm glad to hear you're learning foreign languages because that's one of the best investments in life - the kind of one that always pays off, one way or another. Keep on learning...I wish you success!

Kerkedijk profile image

Kerkedijk 6 years ago from Ireland

Ich lebe in Deutschland jetzt und lerne Deutsch seit dem Februar. Ich bin an A2 nivelliert jetzt und hat Studium zu B2 Höhe vor. Dieser Artikel war sehr gut - vielen Dank! Ich komme aus Irland.

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vox vocis 6 years ago Author

Hallo Kerkedijk! Ich auch lebe in Deutschland :-) I have to go all the way to C2 in order to verify my Master of Arts degree and to begin with PhD. Long way to go...

Learn How To Speak Russian 6 years ago

Speak Russian is like learn language of any country. There is not habit but this is dedication to him.

Thanks for blog.

vidhya 6 years ago

hi, thanks for the informations on A1 level exam. My hubby has got an onsite opportunity to german for a period of six months and i heard that if i wanna accompany him i have to get my A1 level certification in german it would be great if u could tell me if its true.. thanks in advance

vox vocis profile image

vox vocis 6 years ago Author

To be certain, go to the German Embassy in your country or phone them and ask. As far as I know, A1 level certificate is a must if you want to marry a German or a person with a permanent residence in Germany. If it is only for a period of six months, you sholud be able to get a visa to accompany him without a problem. If you live in the European Union, then you do not need any other documentation but your passport.

Opal 6 years ago

Hallo! Ich bin ein Schweizer!! Ich wohne in Kenya jetz. German ist ein sehr gut. Its a very helpful language, I mean its spoken in many countries. Like here in Kenya many locals speak it fluently. They speak it better than english. And piece of advice, dont think that German is such an easy language, it may be easy at first but it tends to get harder!!! I've been speaking German my whole life!! Since I could talk! and I still make mistakes!! But if you really want to learn it you've got to pour your heart and soul into the language!!! Auf wiedersehn!! Gut glück!! :-xoxo

apeksha profile image

apeksha 6 years ago from India.

nice hub ll help me to learn german ..but still I would like to add u on face book if u wont mind ..

m staying in germany ..wan know more about languge

moz 6 years ago

Hello everyone.

I've recently started living in germany and want to start learning the language asap. Problem is that in my area there only seems to be an A1.2 course available. I haven't done A1.1 yet. My question: is the A1.1 very necessary or can I skip it and go onto the A1.2 since I am now a bit more familiar with the language. Thanks a lot for your help! :)

vox vocis profile image

vox vocis 6 years ago Author

I believe you could skip the A1.1, if you are familiar with the language. You use the same book for A1.1 and A1.2 (Passwort Deutsch A1 - the blue book), just work a little on the first part of the book to get ready.

Bishal Subedi 6 years ago

I am learning German.

Sana 6 years ago

Hello dear

i started studying Germany language, and i have exam 02/09

to get certificate on level A1 and get the visa

i need help to solve the question in ending book

vox vocis profile image

vox vocis 6 years ago Author

Hi, Sana!

I am going to start C1 in October...which question is a problem?

vox vocis profile image

vox vocis 5 years ago Author

Oh, hi akulkarni1234! I answered your question on hubpages yesterday - I don't know how I missed to reply to your comment here?! Well, I remember now what was my plan for October (C1); it didn't work out. I'm on B2 now :-)

cemiller 5 years ago

Hi, I am currently studying to take the German A1 test, but I am having a hard time finding where I can actually take the test. I am from the greater Seattle area, and really want to pass the test before I leave. Any advice?

vox vocis profile image

vox vocis 5 years ago Author

@cemiller: Sorry for the delay. It would be best to take the test at Goethe Institute, but the nearest to Seattle is in Washington, DC. I'm not sure what foreign language schools in the Seattle area have this institute's license. Check them out and ask if you can take the Goethe Institute test in one of those schools.

Slightly Bonkers 5 years ago

Great Artikel. For me as a German living abroad its nice to see that there is actually an interest in speaking "my" language. Most people choose Spanish or Franch. I am happy and hope that one day of the clichee German is well in the past :) We are modern and openminded and also quite multi-culti ;)

vox vocis profile image

vox vocis 5 years ago Author

@Slightly Bonkers: Yes, I know you're multi-culti :) I live in Germany. I also speak Italian and a little bit of Spanish. I'm also interested in learning more languages, but have to concentrate on these because of work, at least for the time being. Thanks for stopping by and commenting :)

htodd profile image

htodd 5 years ago from United States

Thanks for the great post..Nice

tomas 5 years ago

ich bin deutsch wohne jetzt aber in mexico und moechte dort ein wenig deutsch unterrichten.. deshalb benoetige ich ein textbuch fuer anfeanger kann aber keines finden. Koennen sie mir weiterhelfen?

vox vocis profile image

vox vocis 5 years ago Author

@to those who are interested:

The translation of the comment above (by tomas):

"I'm German, but I live in Mexico at the moment, and I'd like to teach a little bit of German I need a textbook for beginners, but can't find one. Could you help me with this?"

vox vocis profile image

vox vocis 5 years ago Author

@tomas: Schau mal unten "Main Themes in German Coursebooks for Beginners" oben im Text; ich habe den Link aus den Textbuchern für Anfänger hinzugefügt. Ich empfehle Passwort Deutsch 1.

Translation of my comment (for those interested :))

"Look under 'Main Themes in German Coursebooks' for Beginners" in the text above: I added a link about coursebooks for beginners. I recommend Passwort Deutsch 1."

Rosana 4 years ago

i am doing my A2 at Goethe Zentrum in Windhoek-Namibia .my question is ,what type of question does they ask at the Germany Embassy for the permanent resident visa? please someone help me.Danke

vox vocis profile image

vox vocis 4 years ago Author

@Rosana: It's not that easy to get a permanent residency visa. For example, if you marry a German citizen, you can get this visa after five years of marriage. In some cases, a spouse living in a foreign country (outside the EU) can't even get a temporary residency visa if the other spouse (with a permanent residency visa) doesn't have a high salary quote. I'm not familiar with other ways of getting a permanent residency visa.

jenny 4 years ago

please can some one help me out , have finish my A1.1

And i want to do my test. but then i was ask to go for A1.2 BEFORE THE TEST and the price am payine for one modle which is A1.1 is too much . so i decided to do the test . hope with this first class i can still pass my test.

vox vocis profile image

vox vocis 4 years ago Author

@jenny: check out this web page

You'll find the link to the parts of a test example for A1. It's based on the standards of CEFR (acknowledged in Europe and other parts of the world). You may also want to ask about the structure of the test in the institute where you'll be taking your exam. Good luck!

KAMRAN 4 years ago


vox vocis profile image

vox vocis 4 years ago Author

@kamran: You'll find the example of A1 test in my comment above yours (follow the link).

michelle 4 years ago

is it difficuult to pass the A1 cuz am alittle scared

vox vocis profile image

vox vocis 4 years ago Author

@michelle: sorry for the delay (I was on a trip) - no, I wouldn't say it is difficult to pass the A1 level test. Of course, it depends on how much you have studied for it. It's important to relax because you don't want to freeze during the oral part of the exam.

Sharma 4 years ago

Hi ,

Thanks for your Hub..i have to give German A1 exam in 15 days..I am very tensed regarding letter wrirting..Thanks for your explanation on the paper. :) nad also any suggestions on letter writing ?? :) that would help me the most..

vox vocis profile image

vox vocis 4 years ago Author

@Sharma: Unless it's a formal letter, it should be written as you would write one to a friend or family member in your native language. You can go to a library and borrow Duden's "Briefe schreiben - leicht gemacht" to take a look at different forms and examples.

Sharma 4 years ago

Ok..Thank you ..:) that would help me..good day..

vox vocis profile image

vox vocis 4 years ago Author

@Sharma: You're welcome! In case you need more tips, let me know :)

Berliner56 4 years ago

I am studying German and just got back from several months in Berlin at a language school. I really enjoyed it and made some great friend from all around the world. I learned much as a complete beginner but one topic I had some difficulty with was with trennbare verbs and modal verbs. Are there any good textbooks I can purchase that is easy to comprehend? Thanks!

misty--- 4 years ago


great hub. Im still on the process of learning german language on my own. I just want to know if, Is it one of the requirement (A1 certificate, others) to work in germany right now?

Stefan 3 years ago


I have a question regarding what happens after you finish A1.2. Do you get a mark on the A1.2 exam and then you move on to A.2.1? What if you are better than A.2.1? Does the test verify this also?



vox vocis profile image

vox vocis 3 years ago Author

Hi Stefan! If you are asking whether you can take the test before the end of the course, I believe you can come to an agreement with the school where you attend the course. They have simple tests they use to conclude which course level would suit you best. You get a mark only for the exam you've taken, which means that if you do the A1 exam and pass, you'll get a certificate with a mark for that level only.

rana tanveer 3 years ago

ich bin student .ich lebe in Pakistan in Rabwah .ich lerne deutsch jetzt .ich bin ledig. ich gebe deutsch prufing . bitte betten sie fur mir danke ich arbiete buch geschaft . aufweidersehen .

Mrs Habib 3 years ago

Hi i want to information about A1 level course bcz my hubby is in london and i have to go for spouse visa but uk embassies require A1 level as a proof for visa.but i haven't any book or idea for preparing that course plz help me.when i preparing a1 level course which language i should use for test in lahore pakistan bcz i m confused nd is use only german language or other english ?i prefer only english language bcz i want to go uk only with regards.

vox vocis profile image

vox vocis 3 years ago Author

Try New English File Elementary :)

emma 3 years ago

I like to use cards with words on to divide groups into pairs. For example - they have to find the matching infinitive/past participle.

chel 2 years ago

I'm currently on vacation now here in Germany, and i enrolld myself for A1 COURSE basic German.. Im looking for somebody who can be my buddy for learning german.. pls add my facebook acount Lhec Shka

Vielen Dank....

vox vocis profile image

vox vocis 2 years ago Author

Hi chel! If you have any difficulties or questions about German you can contact me here :)

kingraf profile image

kingraf 2 years ago from Accra, Ghana

hallo! mein name ist Abdul-Rafik, ich komme aus Ghana und ich bin lerne deutsch in Ghana hier. Please i need your urgent help, i will be writing the A1 exams on Monday 10th and i will appreciate it much if you could send me some sample questions and answers for me go through especially the with essay. My email address:


vox vocis profile image

vox vocis 2 years ago Author

Sorry, I've just seen your request; it's probably too late, but still - here is the link to example tests for A1 level:

Lookie 2 years ago

If I pass, how long is the validity?

vox vocis profile image

vox vocis 2 years ago Author

It's a lifetime validity.

Natasha 2 years ago

I'm gonna take the german A1 exam this month i can get married to my german spouse :) I'm so nervous about everything ...I've been reading so many things online which is very confusing ...I've seen the sample test kinda look difficult to me ..I hate failure ...I will take it hard if I failed which isn't an option for me...I'm Jamaican... I write english better than how I speak it ...I actually sound better speaking "Deutsch" than my own language :( the point is i really need some tips from an experience person that did the A1 level!!!!!!!!!

vox vocis profile image

vox vocis 2 years ago Author

Hi Natasha! Don't be nervous because A1 is not that difficult if you learn using the books recommended by Goethe Institute. What do you find difficult in the sample exam? If I knew what the problem was, maybe I could help. Which books are you using to learn?

sarah 21 months ago

love german language

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