Teaching German through Geography

Teaching foreign languages in your homeschool can provide challenges depending upon your own experience with the language you or your children choose to learn. While there are resources available, sometimes it’s fun to take a unique approach such as teaching German through geography.


A unique way to approach teaching German through geography is looking at the history of the German peoples. Germany, as a nation, is younger than the United States of America. It was unified in 1871 with the Prussians pushing for expansion and colonization of non-Prussian Germanic territories. But what is Prussia? And who were the Germanic people? These questions allow us to examine the history and create a lot of maps! 

Before jumping to the geographic expansion of Prussia, one can travel back to the Germanic peoples and their description by Tacitus during Roman times or at least as far back as the medieval period. The Germanic people during the medieval period didn’t actually live in what is known as modern day German. They settled under the Franks in Gaul (France) and established a monarchy. This royal line changed several times so one could study the changes from Merovingians to Carolingian kings and the different areas of the Frankish kingdom they controlled by mapping it out. 

Throughout the medieval period, the German empire expanded but as individual kingdoms like Bavaria, Saxony, and East March. As time marched on, literature changed and expanded so you could take a look at some chivalric literature in the early German dialects of the time period (Early New High German). Compare and contrast similar words and sentence structure of modern German and the German of the medieval time. 

Now to continue teaching German through geography, let’s look at the House of Hohenzollern briefly. They ruled over Brandenburg and expanded their territory. Be sure to study how FrederickI expanded control and then how religion changed under Joachim II. Examining the Thirty Years War and the Northern War offer opportunities to look at primary sources in the native language as well as labeling maps with shifts in territorial control and battles. 

Eventually, the electors of Brandenburg would consolidate their power and crown one of their own king of Prussia. Under the leaders of Brandenburg-Prussia, they would become a major power in Europe. Teaching about the interactions between the different nations and peoples provides another opportunity to look at primary sources and possible missives in the original languages for translation. 

This is only a look at the early history of German and how you can use that to teach German through geography in your homeschool. You and your children could continue in this manner by researching Germany after the unification, its involvement in World War I (examining telegraphs and diplomatic documents in the original language), World War II, and the changes from a divided Germany to a unified country again. More opportunities for mapping! 


One of the best ways to put into action your teaching German is through travel. Whether you travel abroad or you visit locals where there are pockets of German-speaking individuals, you can learn so much about the culture and language by using it and hearing it used in a natural setting. 

If you are traveling around the United States, be sure to visit places where modified versions of German are spoken such as Amish communities in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. While the Pennsylvania Dutch that the Amish and Mennonities speak is not true German, it is interesting to see how the German language changes once removed from native Germany. 

Learning a language also opens doors in your travel opportunities in addition to allowing you to hone those speaking skills. Your children will be able to visit more places when you teach them a foreign language. And they may even be able to order a meal in German at a German restaurant overseas or at home! 

Jobs or Careers

A variety of jobs are available for those who focus on German. While geography may not be directly related to each job or career, there are some wonderful opportunities for your homeschooled children. 

  • Customer Service Representatives
  • Tour Guide 
  • Interpreter 
  • Immigration Specialist 
  • Writer
  • Flight Attendant or Pilot 
  • Translator 
  • Foreign Language Teacher
  • Diplomatic Agent 

Other Ways to Learn German

Of course learning a language through geography is just one way to learn! For example, maybe you want to check out picture books in foreign languages from your library to practice language skills. Or you could use video courses or audio courses. Include movies in German and utilize the subtitles to help you understand the plot. So many opportunities are available. How will you study German in your homeschool? 

HomeschoolingFinds.com Author

This article has been written by Kristen Heider. She is the Business Building Team Manager of The Old Schoolhouse® and the Social Media Manager of HomeschoolingFinds.com. She shares more about her family’s homeschooling journey at A Mom’s Quest Teach.

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