So, you’ve managed to get your German up to an advanced level.
But be careful. It’s all too easy to let yourself slip and end up undoing all that excellent effort you’ve been putting into your language studies.
Once you’re at this elite level of German, you may want to kick back and, as the saying goes, rest on your laurels.
Number one rule of being an advanced learner of German: Don’t do this, under any circumstances!
Trying to just coast along on what you already know can be really detrimental for your language learning.
First of all, you’ll never build your vocabulary this way. Sure, you’ve got a big pool of words up there in your brain, but what if you just stop adding to it?
Not progressing in vocabulary can really limit your understanding and your ability to speak well in German.
It can also stunt the development of your grammar—if you stop practicing, all those German sentence structures and handy spelling rules will slowly start to slip from your mind and you’ll find yourself starting to struggle with building up complex sentences.
It’s critical that you keep immersing yourself in the German language, even if you consider yourself fluent!
So instead of simply kicking back and relaxing, try kicking back with a great online study resource for advanced learners.
In this post, I’ve compiled a list of my favorite websites for advanced German practice.
Los geht’s! (Let’s go!)
Why Advanced German Speakers Still Have Work to Do
Have you ever been on vacation for a week or two and taken this time off from the gym? If so, you know how hard it is to get back into your fitness routine. Your muscles ache and you have to build your stamina back up again.
Well, this is also the case if you give your brain a couple of weeks off from German. After all, it’s a muscle as well. Some of you might already know the feeling of trying to get back into your studies—it can really take some extra effort!
After a couple of weeks of no German, your brain will start to push all your knowledge aside. Once you start up with the language again, you’ll probably find your speaking will be slightly slower as your brain fights to remember all those words and sentence structures. If it doesn’t need to know where that verb goes in a sentence, it’ll see this as useless information and just forget it.
So imagine how hard using German will be after an even longer break.
To keep your brain in top form, you should be exercising it regularly—it needs to break out in a sweat over grammar exercises, conversations and reading various styles of writing.
Keep in mind that grammar can be really hard to learn. We all have our grammatical Achilles’ heel, whether it’s mixing up our definite articles or using the incorrect verb ending. There are small niggling parts of grammar that trip us up, no matter how advanced we are!
Continuous practice helps exercise the language part of your brain and overcome these obstacles, helping you jump from being an advanced learner to fluent speaker.
Also, just because you know a language really well doesn’t necessarily mean you sound like a native speaker when you speak.
There’s only one way to fine-tune your accent and pronunciation: practice, practice and practice even more! Get to training your tongue so it sounds as advanced as you actually are.
So, ready to dive into some advanced German practice?
Serious Applicants Only: 4 Sites for Advanced German Online Study That Aren’t Messing Around
Not ready to go back to school but still want to take your German to the next level? If you can’t afford the money or time to do a whole degree but want something more in-depth than free online resources, this is the place for you!
The institute has six brick-and-mortar locations in the States—Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago, New York, San Francisco and Washington—but also offers personalized online courses that you can use to polish up whatever skills you need to, wherever you are.
All the online courses try to put you in real-world situations to develop your everyday German, and you’ll even be given the chance to take part in virtual classroom sessions with a real-life tutor. Each course is super flexible and you can study at your own pace, which allows you to conveniently fit everything around your work or other studies.
For an all-around learning platform that really hits all the spots for advanced studies, FluentU has you covered.
FluentU is one of the best websites and apps for learning German the way native speakers really use it. FluentU takes real-world videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
Watch authentic media to simultaneously immerse yourself in the German language and build an understanding of the German culture.
By using real-life videos, the content is kept fresh and current. Topics cover a lot of ground as you can see here:
Vocabulary and phrases are learned with the help of interactive subtitles and full transcripts.
Hovering over or tapping on any word in the subtitles will automatically pause the video and instantly display its meaning. Interesting words you don’t know yet can be added to a to-learn list for later.
For every lesson, a list of vocabulary is provided for easy reference and bolstered with plenty of examples of how each word is used in a sentence.
Your existing knowledge is tested with the help of adaptive quizzes in which words are learned in context.
FluentU keeps track of the words you’re learning and gives you extra practice with difficult words. It'll even remind you when it’s time to review what you’ve learned.
This way, you have a truly personalized learning experience.
Start using FluentU on the website with your computer or tablet or practice anytime, anywhere on the mobile app for iOS and Android.
University of Oxford
Lots of university language department websites have free online materials and resources. As they’re aimed at those studying the language to degree level, they’re great for other advanced learners to pillage!
So even if you don’t want to commit to a university education, you can still use top-notch university resources. Oxford University is one of the world’s best, so why not dip into their pot of gold? They’ve gathered together a list of fabulous links to German language resources from all over the web.
Their resources are split up into different topics—business, politics, literature, theology, etc.—and each topic section has a selection of links sending you to various online language exercises, reading materials, videos or other content. For example, they link to a huge, fantastic archive of German poetry!
So if you want to know where one of the world’s best educational institutions is sending its German students, check out the Oxford German language portal. It’ll give you a wealth of options right at your fingertips. Best of all, it’s free!
As an advanced learner, Deutsche Welle should be your number one stop for all things cultural, political and newsworthy in the online German-speaking world.
Keeping on top of what’s going on in Germany, Austria and Switzerland will increase your interest in and give you a reason to keep learning the language. Deutsche Welle has a wide selection of articles on its website for you to get your teeth into.
As the topics are usually fairly high-brow, the language tends to be in the intermediate-to-advanced range. The website even broadcasts its own live TV channel online, so it’s perfect for your daily reading and listening practice!
No matter what type of advanced German study you’re looking for, this list should get you off to a great start with advanced German online.
The above sites offer more than enough to keep the German part of your brain ticking!
After studying German and Philosophy at The University of Nottingham, Laura Harker relocated to Berlin in 2012. She now works as a freelance writer and is also assistant editor at Slow Travel Berlin.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn German with real-world videos.