After returning home from my time abroad in Germany, I remember sighing at the rain trickling down my window.
Just wishing, wishing that I was back in Deutschland.
All I had to do was step out into the bright summer sunshine to be totally immersed in German.
Street signs, shops, Biergartens und Eis (Beer gardens and ice-cream), people laughing and joking, all in German.
But here I was stuck at home with a seemingly endless list of conjugations to memorize by tomorrow.
Whether or not you’ve managed to make it to Germany, Austria or Switzerland, we can all relate to interminable tables of declensions, mountains of vocabulary words and the confusion—wait, is it die, der or das Sonne (Sun)?
Surely there has to be a better way. Surely.
The Best Reasons to Use German Immersion Software
We all know that immersion works.
The conventional advice is to move to another country and let yourself learn by osmosis.
But for those of us that can’t just pack our bags, hop on a flight, and start a whole new life in Germany, are we totally out of luck?
Your dreams of German fluency are completely possible through language immersion software, whether you’re a total beginner or much further along on your journey.
Immerse yourself anywhere, anytime.
Turn your world German!
- You can use it anywhere — With the constant hustle and bustle of modern existence, it can be difficult to regularly fit German practice into your life. Fear not though—immersion software is always there for you whenever you’re ready and free to pick it up and have a spare moment, wherever you may be.
- Learn German quicker — Although immersion is simply the best way to learn, classroom teaching can give you measured progression, structure and guidance. Immersion software delivers the best of both worlds! Most programs are designed for speed, so you’ll pick up grammatical points quickly!
- Learn functional skills — Traditional classroom teaching and many online courses focus predominantly on vocabulary and grammatical points. While these are a great way to learn the rules of a language, they don’t help with listening and speaking. However, immersion software shows you these concepts in context, and helps you dive right into understanding and responding.
- Diverse and interactive — Because they strive to provide you with a similar experience to being surrounded by German in Germany, you’ll be exposed to a variety of interactive activities, visual, textual and audio. They’re designed to be refreshing and fun, so learning will feel exciting rather than a chore.
How to Blast Through German with Immersion Software
German immersion software gives you a similar experience to the classroom, but there’s no teacher to tell you what to do and no classmates to practice with.
Learning this way requires a lot of self-motivation, discipline and diligence to work through each unit of the course in order. If you skip around, you may miss out on crucial building blocks needed later on.
Although it can be difficult, try to set aside some time each day to go through the course and review what you’ve learned. A little bit every day is better than huge chunks of time with large gaps in between.
Ideally, you should find a quiet place where you can study without distractions like Facebook or Youtube. There are a number of techniques you can use like making flashcards for vocabulary, either using paper or electronically, having a journal you can jot things down in—writing will help make it stick. If you’re not too embarrassed, try to study out loud, as it will help your pronunciation a whole lot.
To compensate for the lack of classmates, look for an online community that uses the same software as you to ask questions and for feedback. This way you’ll be able to get the support you need through your German learning journey. Who knows, you might even make some good friends! For the lack of a teacher, there are many places to find online tutors, or even native speakers who wouldn’t mind doing a language exchange. Where there’s a will, there’s a way!
Most importantly, don’t forget about the resources you already have! It can be so easy to get wrapped up in a shiny new course, but just like a balanced diet, a well-rounded set of resources gives your brain everything it needs to learn. It means you have extra opportunities to practice while putting things into context.
There are a number of useful apps that help with specific skills, while reading German blogs and novels, watching movies, listening to music and podcasts and reading novels are an enjoyable way to see what you’ve learned “out in the wild.” The possibilities are endless!
The Best Modern German Software to Immerse You in the Language
Price range: $179 for a 24-month subscription or a CD-ROM set.
Format: CD-ROM, downloadable software and an app (iOS and Android)
Best For: Visual learners
Free Trial? Only an online demo as to how things work
This program is great for visual learners as Rosetta Stone mimics the natural language learning process of a child, with many visual associations and vocal repetitions of words and phrases.
For example, a picture of a woman will be coupled with the word Frau. New vocabulary is linked together with scenes, and you’ll soon make connections between the sights and sounds. Eventually, you’ll be able to look at an object and just know the German word for it. The two will be irretrievably bound in your mind—just like when you were a child learning your first language!
There are also several other features that might make Rosetta Stone the right choice for you. They have a Live Tutoring service, where a tutor guides you through activities that inspire conversation, as well as a strong community of language learners that communicate through online forums. A good place to get support and make new friends!
$20/month for the annual plan
$30/month for the monthly plan
Format: Online and an app (iOS and Android)
Best For: Learning with authentic real-world material
Free Trial? Yes!
FluentU has a fantastic, flexible and fun German immersion program to help you sharpen your skills, full of enriching cultural information to help you contextualize what you’re learning.
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.
$575 for the entire software course or $150 for each level
$559 for the entire audio course or $119.95 for each level
Format: Downloadable software and MP3s
Best For: People who want to focus on listening and speaking
Free Trial? One free lesson
The Pimsleur Method was developed about 50 years ago, renowned for both its efficiency and simplicity.
Each lesson is 30 minutes long and primarily audio-based, so very easy to slot into your everyday life. You’re presented with native speakers (both men and women) either saying a sentence or having a discussion.
They offer crisp enunciation and syllabic breakdowns—all you have to do is repeat. It focuses on core vocabulary and grammatical points via spaced repetition—that is, words are presented repeatedly, but further and further apart so that they’re committed easily to memory.
For those of you that enjoy a variety of input, Pimsleur offers software that also gives visual and textual input, and also offers supplementary reading material to complement their audio approach.
Pimsleur allows you to hit the ground running by speaking from day one. Keep up with it consistently and you’ll be talking like a pro with native speakers in no time!
$99.95 for level 1
$249.90 for levels 1 and 2
$259.90 for levels 1,2 and 3
Format: Online, CD-ROM and an app
Best For: Those who enjoy a more traditional, module-based approach
Free Trial? 4 hours of lessons
Rocket German is created for language learners by language learners, to teach you how to read, speak and understand as quickly and fully as possible. There’s a nice balance of lessons—both free and premium to try and give you the best bang for your buck. The lessons run the spectrum from beginner to advanced, so there’s something for everyone, no matter where they are.
When you log in, you’ll be presented with a personalized dashboard that will guide you through the diverse cultural and audio lessons. These are delivered with supplementary text, and progressing through content will turbo-charge your learning! There’s also a pronunciation tool that will hone your skills by comparing your speaking to that of a native speaker.
Additionally, there’s a special “Survival Kit” module that focuses on the essential phrases for when you go traveling. You won’t want to go to Germany without checking this one out!
Even if it isn’t realistic right now for you to hop on a plane to Berlin, you still have all the tools you need to get studying and become a marvelous German speaker.
With a little bit of persistence and hard work, you really can turn your whole world German!
Viel Gluck und viel Spaß haben! — Good luck and have fun!
Winter Jones holds a degree in Linguistics and German and is studying towards a further one in Psychology. When he’s not studying in the library or dreaming of going back to Germany he’s writing and brushing up on vocab for his current linguistic love—right now, New Zealand Sign Language.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn German with real-world videos.