How much time do you spend procrastinating online?
It’s okay, you can confide in me.
In blog post, I’ll explain exactly why that is.
Why Learn German Online?
The Internet may be full of distractions, but if you can face going online without looking at all the videos and memes, the Internet can be really beneficial to your German.
It’s great as a supplement to all the learning you’ve been doing in the classroom. Heck, you can even teach yourself German almost entirely online.
What makes this better than learning from teachers alongside your peers? 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.
The range of options for studying on the Internet is vast. 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.
At the end of the day, the Internet is one great big collection of free resources.
The 9 Best Websites For Learning German
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 from Germany on the website, covering comedies, dramas and documentaries.
Once you’re absorbed in a TV program, your ears will be exposed to all kinds of German. Depending on what you’re watching, you could be listening to high brow review shows or some easygoing sitcoms. Checking out different shows will allow you to see lots of different aspects of German culture, which is also great for your language.
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!
FluentU is an app and a website that takes real-world videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons. Since this video content is all stuff that native German speakers actually watch on the regular, you’ll get exposed to modern, everyday German that’s relevant to your interests.
Just a quick look will give you an idea of all the diverse content that can be found on FluentU:
Watching a fun video, but having trouble understanding it? FluentU brings native videos within reach with interactive transcripts.
You can tap on any word to look it up instantly. Every definition has examples that have been written to help you understand how the word is used. If you see an interesting word you don’t know, you can add it to a vocab list.
And FluentU isn’t just for watching videos. It’s a complete platform for learning. It’s designed to effectively teach you all the vocabulary from any video. Swipe left or right to see more examples of the word you’re on.
The best part is that FluentU keeps track of the vocabulary that you’re learning, and it recommends you examples and videos based on the words you’ve already learned. FluentU’s algorithm sets you up for success by teaching you based on what you know. This means that the progression of videos and lessons will always feel natural and logical. This is a level of personalization that hasn’t been done before.
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!
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!
Duolingo is terrific for learning grammar and writing. You’ll even get to listen to audio recordings and try your hand at pronouncing words if you like!
If you’re the kind of person who thrives off of verb tables and hardcore grammar study, the Foreign Services Institute is 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.
The great thing about YouTube is that there are 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.
Are you raring to go and log on to all these awesome websites? I hope so!
Even if you just do a quick 20 minutes per day on one of these websites, you’ll be sure to eventually see an improvement in you Deutsch.
If you find any hidden gems out there on the web, you’ll have to come back and let us know!
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.