How much time do you spend procrastinating online?
Wouldn’t all that precious time be better spent focusing on some German study? Ja wohl!
As distracting as the internet may be, it’s also a unique tool for learning German.
In this blog post, I’ll show you the best websites to learn German through immersion online—arguably the fastest and most effective way to do it!
- Die Zeit
- BBC German
- Foreign Services Institute
- Why Learn German with Online Immersion?
No doubt you’ll already have a Netflix account. But have you ever thought about checking what the German version of this online streaming service has to offer? There’s a wide range of popular TV shows and movies from Germany on the website, covering comedies, dramas and documentaries—perfect for entertaining German immersion online, no matter what you’re in the mood for.
Once you’re immersed in a show or movie, your ears will be exposed to all kinds of German. Depending on what you’re watching, you could be listening to highbrow review shows or some easygoing sitcoms.
Checking out different genres will allow you to see lots of different aspects of German culture, which is essential if you truly want to learn to speak German.
The FluentU program immerses learners in the German language and culture through authentic German videos like movie clips, commercials and inspirational talks.
Every video includes interactive captions in German and English, both of which can be toggled on or off to suit your needs. You can also create flashcards with audio, video and visual elements from any word you find while watching.
Videos come with ready-made quizzes to practice words immediately, or you can study words from your flashcards with personalized exercises. These exercises let you listen, watch, write and even speak your answers.
Videos are arranged by skill level, type and topic, making it possible to find and watch videos that are best suited for your interest and language skill level.
If you’ve been studying German for a while and feel you’re ready to move up a level, online German newspaper sites could be key. As newspapers are often written in a plain and clear language, they can usually be fairly easy for intermediate learners to understand, while still using fairly high-level sentence and grammar structures.
Bear in mind, though, if you’re reading an article that’s heavy on the politics, you might come face-to-face with some lengthy and complicated vocabulary. Die Zeit is a great mix of politics, culture, lifestyle and current affairs, so you’ll be able to avoid the more challenging topics (if you want).
Linguee is a great online dictionary but has one very special USP (unique selling proposition). When it translates words, it shows you the translations in different contexts—you’ll see your word or phrase being used in a few different paragraphs just to show the full range of uses it might have.
And these paragraphs have all been taken from current content around the web, so you can be sure that these examples are flawless and relevant to modern speakers!
The BBC language pages are definitely worth checking out for any language learner. They offer lessons in many different languages including Arabic, Chinese and Catalan. German is one of their most popular languages and there’s an invaluable amount of help, resources and lessons for those wishing to learn.
Everything’s split up into topics so you can dip in and out depending on what exactly you want to learn. There’s also a lot about the German culture and tips on what you might need to know while visiting the country. Since it’s from the BBC, you can expect polished, top quality resources that hold to their reputation for professionalism.
Be careful when starting out with Duolingo—it’s highly addictive!
Duolingo is terrific for learning grammar and writing and it’s one of the more popular options to learn German for free, especially for beginners.
Even though you can easily while away an hour or two procrastinating here, it helps your language progress rapidly. Once you’re signed up, you’ll be thrown in at the vocabulary deep end.
Through constant and varied forms of repetition, this great smartphone app helps it all to stick in your brain. Then, if you’re more of a beginner, it slowly begins to show you how exactly to go about constructing sentences. Before you know it, you’ll have progressed to quite complex grammar structures without even realizing you were studying!
You’ll even get to listen to audio recordings and try your hand at pronouncing words if you like!
Foreign Services Institute
If you’re the kind of person who thrives off of verb tables and hardcore grammar study, the Foreign Services Institute is the best way to learn German for you!
It’s quite old school in its structure. Don’t be expecting any flashy graphics or sound effects—this site is wholly dedicated to the pursuit of grammatical perfection by using to-the-point texts and clips of natives speaking. All the resources here have been developed by professional linguists, so you can be sure that this is top level gear. What’s even better is that it’s all completely free!
As with Netflix, you’ve probably already got a Twitter account. Well, now is the time to start following all those German tweeters out there.
Not only is this social media platform fantastic for your reading, but it also gives you the chance to get interactive and converse with native speakers. Not sure who you should be following? Nein Quarterly tweets regular pearls of wisdom in both English and German. Often nihilistic, the professor twists famous philosophers’ words around for comic effect.
You can also find him in Die Zeit, where he writes a weekly column for the paper.
If you’d rather watch short videos instead of entire programs on Netflix, head on over to YouTube. You can check out the hottest music videos in Germany right now or try out clips of TV shows so you have a bit more of an idea about what you might like to watch.
You can also head straight to the Popular on YouTube – Germany channel to get immersed in the latest authentic clips that native German speakers are watching.
The great thing about YouTube is that there are also many videos aimed at language learners, and you don’t have to be that advanced to understand them. In fact there’s quite a few dedicated to beginners.
Why Learn German with Online Immersion?
The internet may be full of distractions, but if you can face going online without looking at all the videos and memes, it can actually become the best way to learn German.
German immersion online can be a great supplement to all the learning you’ve been doing in the classroom—or you can use it all on its own to teach yourself German.
What makes this better than learning from your teacher and classmates? You can tailor it to your own needs. For example, if you’re having problems with word order, you can focus entirely on this for hours or days. Just because you’re learning about the subjunctive in class doesn’t mean you’re restricted to studying this at home—if you’ve already mastered it, then just go wild and practice noun genders on your own. This way, you learn to speak German on your own terms.
The range of options for studying on the internet is vast, and German immersion is no exception. You can practice all your skills online—so that’s reading, writing, listening and speaking. And the door is well and truly opened to interaction with native speakers. You can converse with them on social media or see what they’ve been writing on the current affairs blogs.
Or, of course, use all the best websites to learn German that we’ll show you below.
Are you raring to go and log on to the best websites to learn German? I hope so! Even if you just do a quick 20 minutes per day on one of these sites, you’ll be sure to eventually see an improvement in you Deutsch. That’s just how powerful German immersion online can be!
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.