Have you ever attempted a German DIY project?
Instead of hammers, screwdrivers and WD-40, you’ll need some German learning tools to build strong and sturdy language skills.
If your toolbox is feeling a little empty or rusty, don’t worry!
We’ll show you all the best German learning resources, from language classes to textbooks to apps.
30 Digital and Real-life German Learning Tools for Successful Self Study
German Language Classes
Most people who study German will, at some point, end up in a classroom, either through school, university or in night classes after work. Classes are great for all levels of learners, but especially beginners who need a helping hand to get them up and running.
You’ll be taught a wide range of German by a professional teacher, someone who will be able to pick up on your weaknesses and provide you’ll the much-needed resources to help to reinforce important points.
Not only will you have professional help, but you’ll also be put in contact with fellow students who you can bounce ideas off and use as a support network. Classroom learning provides you with tons of precious feedback, from your teacher, peer conversations and grades.
Fancy a summer abroad? Why not double it up with a language course? Here are five of the best…
Goethe Institut’s summer course in Heidelberg
This two-week course incorporates loads of extra-curricular activities.
F+U Heidelberg’s summer course
Another summer course based in Heidelberg, this fab course also offers a packed cultural program.
DAAD’s summer school in Trier
As well as German classes, there are excursions to neighboring France and Luxembourg.
AIFS’s summer in Berlin
You’ll spend four weeks at the prestigious Humboldt University.
GLS summer camp in Munich
Aimed at younger learners from ages seven to 17, the GLS summer camp is perfect for complete beginners.
Online German Courses
If you’re more of an independent learner, this type of German learning tool might be better suited to your learning style. All the focus will be on you, and you can tailor the course to suit your own needs.
Why sit through a lesson on the subjunctive when you know your biggest weakness is noun genders? With an online course, you can concentrate on your weaknesses and iron out all of your little grammar problems at your own speed. What’s more, some online courses even offer a personal tutor.
Whatever the size of your budget, you’ll find a course to suit your needs—some are even free!
A subscription-based service aimed at beginner to intermediate levels. You’ll get a fun, game-like structure that is accessible on your smartphone, and access to a learner’s community that can help make your adventure a little more social.
Students can choose between interactive online lessons or printout worksheets.
A free course providing 20,000 vocabulary and grammar exercises.
Offers a free placement test to find out your current level of German.
This is a very popular and reputable, international institute that’s all about learning German language and culture, and it features personal tutors.
German CD Courses
CD courses may seem slightly old-school compared to state-of-the-art apps and online German learning resources, but they’re still really useful learning tools. They’re fantastic for pronunciation—you can simply rewind what you’ve just heard and practice your pronunciation until you get it right.
Another edge they have is that you can listen to them in the car and take your German learning with you wherever you may be heading! Here are five of the best to consider.
Rosetta Stone CDs will also give you access to the Rosetta Stone online community and much more. You may still have Rosetta Stone stuck in your mind as that yellow box in the airport, but it has come a long way in recent years to integrate online language learning.
Rosetta Stone includes online classes, games and mobile apps, hopping on board with a lot of recent language-learning trends. Recommended for long-term learners rather than quick phrase-building.
Only takes 30 minutes a day to reach conversational fluency in German. Learning German with Pimsleur means listening to a conversation and then repeating parts of it, gradually building up knowledge until you can recall the phrases that have been said when prompted.
Conversational fluency always comes first. Just let the teachers guide you from basic phrases to complete sentences. It always prompts you to listen, repeat and respond, making it highly interactive. Check out all the German materials they have available here!
Drive Time German
Specifically aimed at those wanting to use a CD while driving.
Comes with a 64 page vocabulary guide.
Michel Thomas Method
Great for absolute beginners, these CDs produce very fast results.
German Learning Apps
German apps are really great if you have a very tight budget as they’re often free. Once you’ve downloaded one, you’ll have a lot of useful information at your fingertips and, even better, you can access all this info wherever you may be—even if you’re not online!
So whether you’re at home on your couch or traveling around on public transport, you can whip out your smartphone and start practicing German!
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.
Highly addictive, Duolingo will have you building sentences in no time at all.
This app uses flashcards to help you memorize words.
You’ll be competing against friends—is there a better form of motivation?!
The exercises on MindSnacks have been developed by Ivy League instructors.
By perusing German websites—and I mean any kind of website in the German language—you’ll be seeing the everyday language in use. Checking out online newspapers will give you a great insight into all of the country’s politics, culture and current affairs. And, thanks to almost everything being available online, you’ll definitely be able to find something to interest you.
Here are five of the most well-renowned and high-quality German websites out there.
This newspaper constantly updates its website with fresh articles.
An excellent website for anyone who wants to inform themselves on German politics.
This popular magazine features articles on lifestyle and the arts on its site.
Das Bild‘s sports pages are fantastic for those wanting to catch up with the latest Bundesliga soccer matches.
Get cooking with these excellent German recipes.
I know I said CDs are old school. That must make textbooks antiques!
Textbooks have been used for centuries and no doubt they’ll be used for centuries still (in paper or digital form, who knows)—solid proof that language textbooks really do work.
They’re great German learning resources if you just want to knuckle down with some back-to-basic grammar. After all, you will have to face up to verb tables at some point I’m afraid! They’re usually packed full of writing exercises too, something that online forms of learning often overlook.
Often found in most classrooms across America, this great textbook conveniently themes each chapter around specific topics.
There’s no English at all in this book, so expect to be plunged into the deep end. An excellent choice for those who want to go the whole way to fluency!
“Die neue Gelbe”
Aimed at intermediate to advanced learners.
Perfect for preparing you for a major exam.
Aimed at beginners who want to develop their reading, listening and speaking.
Now that you know the best German learning tools for your toolbox, you’ll be able to build you language up without any problems at all!
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.