FSI German Basic Course

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Pages of Instruction
6 months
Completion Time

What is the FSI Basic German course?

FSI Basic German is a complete course for beginners that gives you a strong foundation in the language, rapidly enabling you to function in German in a variety of situations.

The course was created in the 1960s by the US Foreign Service Institute to provide diplomatic staff with a good working knowledge of German through a period of intensive study.

However, although it was originally aimed at American diplomats, the material is now available here as a free German course, making it an invaluable resource for anyone with an interest in learning the language.

What does the course consist of?

The FSI German course consists of two volumes, containing a total of 24 separate units and accompanied by over 30 hours of audio. The course allows you to acquire an in-depth knowledge of German vocabulary and grammar, and by using the audio files, you can also work on perfecting your pronunciation.

Within the course, you will find a selection of dialogs, drills, and other exercises that will help you acquire and retain everything contained in the lessons. Each unit presents at least one new grammar point in the form of model sentences, helping you understand intuitively how the grammar works through examples taken from every-day German.

The focus is not on memorizing grammar rules but rather on assimilating grammar by repeating sentences until it becomes second nature. However, each unit also contains notes on the key grammar points to ensure you have understood the focus of the lesson.

After completing each unit, you should feel confident using the new language you have acquired in the kinds of situations illustrated in the lesson. Later, with a few lessons under your belt, you will find the range of situations you can handle in German rapidly begins to grow.

How was FSI Basic German originally taught?

This course was created as an intensive program for full-time students. They were expected to spend six hours a day in class, and after just a few days, they were encouraged to speak only German during the lessons. After class, they were given homework, and even outside of lesson time, they were strongly urged to speak only German among themselves.

In other words, the students taking this course were provided with the optimum conditions for making extremely fast progress. This ensured US diplomatic staff quickly acquired the level of German required to carry out their official duties and social obligations in German-speaking countries.

How to study FSI German Basic

For most people, recreating the learning conditions enjoyed by US diplomats is simply not possible. However, if you know how to use it, this fantastic resource can easily be adapted to meet the needs of autonomous students studying at home.

Each lesson contains a wealth of material, and if you spend 30 minutes per day, you might complete a lesson every week or two. Your rate of study will depend on you, but the key is to be regular and to study every day if possible.

Start by listening to the recordings and repeating the sentences. At first, you don’t need to worry about the grammar, simply focus on the overall meaning of the sentence while concentrating on accurately reproducing the sounds of German.

Once you feel you have mastered the basic sentences, you can move on to the drills, which will allow you to practice variations of the sentences you have learned at the same time as improving your fluency.

Finally, when you feel confident with the drills, use the ‘Situations’ section to create dialogs of your own to practice everything you have learned in a freer type of exercise.

Taking it further

Of course, you can’t learn a language from books alone, and we recommend that as early as possible, you try to find someone to practice with. Perhaps you can find a study buddy, or maybe the solution is to find a language partner on a language exchange app. However, by using the FSI Basic German course complemented by regular practice, you will soon find that you begin making impressive progress in German.

Volume 1

  • Hours of Audio:  16 + hrs
  • Audio Files: 43
  • Pages of Instructions:  346

Student Text

Unit 01 Tape 1.1 Tape 1.2 Tape 1.3    
Unit 02 Tape 2.1 Tape 2.2 Tape 2.3    
Unit 03 Tape 3.1 Tape 3.2 Tape 3.3 Tape 3.4
Unit 04 Tape 4.1 Tape 4.2 Tape 4.3 Tape 4.4  
Unit 05 Tape 5.1 Tape 5.2 Tape 5.3 Tape 5.4 Tape 5.5
Unit 06 Tape 6.1 Tape 6.2 Tape 6.3 Tape 6.4  
Unit 07 Tape 7.1 Tape 7.2 Tape 7.3    
Unit 08 Tape 8.1 Tape 8.2 Tape 8.3 Tape 8.4  
Unit 09 Tape 9.1 Tape 9.2 Tape 9.3 Tape 9.4  
Unit 10 Tape 10.1 Tape 10.2 Tape 10.3    
Unit 11 Tape 11.1 Tape 11.2 Tape 11.3    
Unit 12 Tape 12.1 Tape 12.2 Tape 12.3    

Volume 2

  • Hours of Audio:  14+ hrs
  • Audio Files: 31
  • Pages of Instructions:  383

Student Text

Unit 13 Tape 13.1 Tape 13.2 Tape 13.3    
Unit 14 Tape 14.1 Tape 14.2 Tape 14.3    
Unit 15 Tape 15.1 Tape 15.2 Tape 15.3 Tape 15.4 Tape 15.5
Unit 16 Tape 16.1 Tape 16.2 Tape 16.3 Tape 16.4  
Unit 17 Tape 17.1 Tape 17.2 Tape 17.3 Tape 17.4 Tape 17.5
Unit 18 Tape 18.1 Tape 18.2 Tape 18.3 Tape 18.4  
Unit 19 Tape 19.1 Tape 19.2 Tape 19.3 Tape 19.4  
Unit 20 Tape 20.1 Tape 20.2 Tape 20.3    
Unit 21 Tape 21.1 Tape 21.2 Tape 21.3 Tape 21.4  
Unit 22 Tape 22.1 Tape 22.2 Tape 22.3    
Unit 23 Tape 23.1 Tape 23.2 Tape 23.3    
Unit 24 Tape 24.1