Ever feel like the world is moving too fast and you’ve got a lot on your plate?
Sometimes we can’t seem to find the time to do the things we want, such as taking an in-person German class.
Maybe your schedule isn’t flexible enough to sit in a classroom every week, or maybe there isn’t a class being offered near you. Maybe you see enough people in your day-to-day life and just want to learn German on your own time while relaxing.
Hey, no judgment here! Taking advantage of online resources to learn German just makes sense.
The good news is that as long as you have an internet connection, it’s easy to find online German tutorials that you can squeeze into any tight schedule.
Whatever your reasons for wanting to improve your German, you’re going to need the right German online tutorial that fits your specific goals.
Below are six tutorial sites that promote autonomous learning and offer something a little different. Choosing the right course can be the difference between your learning experience being a misserfolg (flop) or gelingen (success).
But first, a few tips…
How to Get the Most Out of an Online German Tutorial
Taking a German tutorial online allows you to learn the language anytime and anywhere, without waiting for courses to start nearby or having to spend hours driving to lessons. Nonetheless, without specific class times and a teacher to stand over you, it takes some self-motivation to get the most out of online resources.
It helps to approach online tutorials after you create a specific plan. Schedule your weekly study times and remain resolute. It’s amazing how tempting it becomes to dust the shelves or vacuum the sitting room when there are important German adjectives to learn.
If you know you’re going to miss your allotted session due to a birthday party or family reunion, then be sure to make up the lesson before your slotted time, as it becomes easy to let it slide after the fact.
It’s also important to define clear objectives when deciding to learn German with an online tutorial. In other words, you need to have zeal for a ziel (goal).
Set yourself benchmarks to aim for in your studies, whether it’s being able to write complete German sentences in 90 days, make conversation in six months or understand a German soap opera in a year.
Some online tutorials offer ways to check your progress with the language, another great tool to ensure your consistently meeting your objectives.
It also helps to find a way to reward yourself for your good work…maybe a trip to Germany?
Without further ado, here are some one-of-a-kind sites where you can get started learning German on your own time.
Unlike what you get when you come across average German videos on the web, FluentU’s content always includes subtitles at the bottom that you can hover over to reveal translations, definitions and examples of word usage in other videos.
The interactive captions on the videos provide your learning with context while adhering to an immersion-style learning method, a proven model that expedites language acquisition. Perhaps more importantly, this interactive tool makes learning German fun and encourages you to stick to your study schedule.
What makes this site unique: The use of current material. The average person spends hours a day watching news clips, humorous videos and viral content. By posting relevant videos, FluentU allows you to turn this pastime into a productive language learning opportunity.
Do you already have the basics in German but want to take things to the next level? SimplyGerman.online focuses on training you to speak like a native by ironing out your sentence structure and making sure you’re using the most appropriate word choice.
This makes the site particularly good for intermediate learners.
Besides watching video lessons on grammar and reading explanations on word order, you can speak directly with the founder of the site, Kristina Day, in a live tutoring session.
What makes this site unique: The focus on business German. SimplyGerman.online offers resources to improve language abilities associated with the office. This is handy for learners who are expected to work in a German-speaking company or interact with German clients.
Looking to use your commute or time in the gym to learn German? Instead of videos, Rocket Languages offers interactive 20-minute audio lessons to help you on your way. These lessons are designed to give you all the right stepping stones to learning the language, as well as insight into the German culture itself.
The site allows you to track your progress so you can see which subjects you need to work on more and even gives you a chance to compete with other learners.
What makes this site unique: Voice recognition software to perfect your pronunciation. Unlike many sites, Rocket Languages includes a special focus on pronunciation. By using their language software, you can ensure you’re saying the sentences just like a native German speaker.
Ever feel like you could successfully read real-life German articles if there weren’t so many big words getting in the way?
News in Slow German posts current world news articles and gives you the ability to hover your mouse over carefully selected words to translate them. Why not get caught up on current events and improve your German proficiency at the same time?
The articles are also categorized by topic, making it easy to find pieces that interest you.
What makes this site unique: Immersion-style reading. As mentioned before, jumping straight into the German language is the fastest way to learn it because it provides context for the vocabulary and sentence structures you’re studying. With immersive reading, you’ll find that you’re picking up words without even realizing it!
Verbalplanet believes the best way to learn German is to talk to a native German speaker. The site connects learners with native-speaking tutors via Skype. This type of online tutorial offers the benefits of a classroom experience with the flexibility that comes from studying at home.
Verbalplanet allows you to enjoy the personal attention of a tutor, as well as the instant feedback that comes with one. It also gives you more control over the type of language you want to learn.
What makes this site unique: Talking with a real live tutor. You can customize your learning experience and have a chance to get questions answered immediately. Stay motivated by studying the topics most important to you.
With more than 80 lesson units, Busuu offers a comprehensive foundation for getting started with the German language.
Like some of the other sites mentioned, it provides a means to track your progress by using a vocabulary trainer and giving you a periodical fluency score.
The site also includes resources for educators and businesses, allowing them to set up learning platforms for their students or employees.
What makes this site unique: It monitors your study plan. Busuu not only keeps track of your progress but asks you to develop a study plan and checks in with updates as to how well you’re sticking to it. Remember what I said about staying resolute with your sit-down German time?
The internet that brought us epic fails and funny cat videos is now making it easier to learn German. Finding the right site that gives clear instructions, keeps you engaged and immerses you in the language is the first step on your path to fluency.
Here’s to wishing you great gelingen on your German journey!
Ryan Dennis was a Fulbright Scholar and previously taught at Pädagogische Hochschule Schwäbisch Gmünd. In addition to hating ketchup, British spelling and violence, he writes The Milk House—the only literary column about dairy farming.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn German with real-world videos.