Dresden skyline viewed from the Elbe River at sunset

13 Intensive German Language Courses in Germany and the US

Whatever stage you’re at in your German studies, you’re probably looking for some kind of power-up to take your skills to the next level, and the answer might just be an intensive German course.

It’s a fantastic option if you’re thinking of going abroad to Deutschland for a while. There are also excellent German programs for kids and adults in the United States!

Below, we’ll help you choose from 13 top-tier intensive German courses in Germany and in the US. There are options for many different learning levels, budgets and course lengths.

Contents

What Are Intensive German Courses?

Language courses labeled as “intensive” mean that you’re in for a powerful language learning ride.

Intensive German courses will be fast-paced. Whereas in regular language courses the syllabus usually designates specific parts of the language for different days (for example, learning vocabulary one week, practicing informal conversation the next week, etc.), in an intensive course you’ll be learning and practicing lots of skills every day.

Intensive German courses are also usually held in person. While there are some hosted online, the majority are offered in real schools, particularly language institutes and universities.

The duration of intensive German courses is typically dependent on the learner. You can choose how long you want to study for. While there’s usually a minimum requirement (often around one or two weeks), you can stay for much longer, even up to a year, so long as you pay respectively.

Alternatively, German schools for children in the U.S. typically offer year-long curricula from preschool to grade 12. Some start even younger. And the longer a child stays enrolled, the better for their linguistic and cultural fluency.

While these schools are actually bilingual, most classes and even extracurricular activities are held entirely in German for a complete immersion experience. English is reserved for use only when absolutely necessary.

The Benefits of an Intensive German Course

The whole “intensive” part sounds a little intimidating, but there are great pros to taking an intensive course.

While you’ll certainly be learning things at a fast speed, this doesn’t mean that you’ll be frantically trying to cram everything into your brain. You’ll be digesting and applying each aspect of the German language, all the time. An intensive course makes you constantly engaged in the language, and this immersive method will seriously power-up your skills and confidence.

Speaking of immersion, the intensive courses you can take in Germany will give you a huge perk: you get to experience the culture firsthand. Many courses will include excursions and activities, so you won’t just be stuck in a classroom all the time. What you just learned in a class day can be immediately put to use in the real world, all while you’re enjoying what the country has to offer. In fact, many intensive language courses can also be considered immersion programs.

Being able to choose the course duration is another great benefit. Standard language courses usually last for a specified timeframe, and you may feel that it’s either too short or too long. With intensive German courses, whether you think a week or a few months is appropriate for your learning, you’re guaranteed the satisfaction of controlling the length of your study period. Plus, should you intend to stay over a certain length of time, the weekly price of the course will likely be reduced.

6 Intensive German Courses You Can Take in Germany

Here’s our short list of fantastic intensive German courses and their hosting schools. Note that the base prices listed often exclude non-course costs such as accommodation or extracurricular activities.

Humboldt-Institut

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Location: 17 different centers located throughout Germany and Austria

Price: Varies by location and duration

Accommodation options: Student residence, homestay, hotel

With its centers spread throughout the country, in cities big and small, Humboldt-Institut stands out as a dependable teaching institute. Which center you go to will depend namely on your age. For example, adults can study in Berlin, Constance or Wittgenstein Castle (this option is reserved for parents with children).

Intensive courses can be taken either in a group class (two to 52 weeks) or one-on-one (one to 52 weeks). For the class-based course, you can expect to learn with a small group of around 10 students with 30 lessons of 45 minutes per week covering all areas of the German language. For the one-on-one course, you can choose to study for 25 to 4o lessons weekly, with the ability to request special teaching on certain topics.

Along with the courses is a comprehensive system to prepare you for standardized language tests, which are also offered in the centers. The institute estimates that a complete beginner can be prepared for the standardized TestDaF exam at the advanced level after only eight months of learning.

Humboldt also offers plenty of activities and excursions to coincide with your education, and the costs for these will generally be included in the overall course fees alongside those for course materials and accommodations.

German Language School Berlin

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Location: Berlin

Price: 320 Euros for one week, 230 Euros for 24+ weeks (see full intensive course pricing and course length options here)

Accommodation options: Apartment, hotel, shared flat, student residence, homestay

You can’t go wrong with learning German in the hip and funky city of Berlin, and with GLS’s huge campus located right in the center, you’re bound to have a fantastic experience.

GLS offers different course packages based on your needs, going from “Standard” to “Crash” courses. The more intensive the course, the higher the price. While the “Standard” package has 20 lessons per week, the “Intensive” package has 30 lessons per week.

Each lesson is 45 minutes long with six lessons per day, lasting until the afternoon. The intensive course works in small groups with a maximum of eight people, ensuring that you get any specific attention you need.

There’s also a less strenuous “Semi-Intensive” package with a slightly larger group and 25 lessons per week.

Assessment is a big part of a GLS course—tests are taken at the completion of every level, which you must pass in order to advance.

Besides active discussion of culture, history and social life, after-class activities are also included where you get to travel to parts of Berlin and elsewhere. Because you’ll be in Berlin, you should take advantage to practice your German as often as possible, but there’s a good chance that you’ll be understood in English by locals.

Sprachcaffe

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Location: Munich, Frankfurt

Price: Select “Prices and booking” on your preferred course to calculate costs

Accommodation options: Apartment, hotel, homestay

Sprachcaffe hosts intensive German courses in Munich and Frankfurt, both lovely cities booming with culture and charm. You can easily step out and get involved with local goings-on for perfect opportunities to utilize your learning.

The intensive courses consist of 30 lessons weekly. Options include learning in a roughly 12-person group or one-on-one. In a typical group intensive course, there are two lessons each for grammar, conversation and written and oral skills, all taught by qualified and native teachers.

Private lessons, while more expensive, are more customizable and you can choose to have two to six daily lessons. Sprachcaffe emphasizes a comfortable and relaxed learning environment, and you won’t just be learning in a typical lecture style: you can expect more involved and entertaining methods of learning.

Goethe Institut

Goethe Institut logo

Location: 14 centers located throughout Germany and Austria

Price: Varies by course

Accommodation options: Apartment, hostel, homestay

Similar to the Humboldt-Institut, Goethe Institut proves its strong standing in language education with its widespread centers and comprehensive courses.

Goethe Institut offers a number of options for their intensive courses, which differ in duration and location.

You can choose to take an intensive course lasting only two weeks with 45 units of instruction, to eight weeks with 160 units of instruction. There’s also the learner-dependent option of “Vario” where you choose the duration (at a minimum of one week) and study with groups based on your appropriate level. If you’re particularly daring, there’s a two-week “Superintensive” course with 80 units of instruction.

Besides these, the institute also offers specific courses for exam preparation and business lingo, as well as evening-only classes.

Although the workload may be intense, expect leisure and cultural activities almost daily, as Goethe Institut wants you to incorporate your language learning with a good understanding of the country itself.

Kästner Kolleg

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Location: Dresden

Price: Varies by course

Accommodation options: Hostel, shared flat, homestay, private apartment

Placed in the historic and aesthetically-rich city of Dresden, Kästner Kolleg offers year-round, small-group intensive German courses for beginner and experienced speakers alike.

Eight weeks of 25 lessons each are dedicated for every language level (with four weeks for each module). Preparation for the TestDaF exam is also offered after reaching the advanced level.

In any German class at Kästner Kolleg, only German is spoken, so your language skills will be put to the test at all times. An assessment test will be given at the end of each module.

But the school isn’t just about work—there’s an agenda dedicated to regular activities with your classmates in and out of Dresden where you’ll practice the language in real-life contexts.

Since you’ll be in Dresden, you’ll find cheaper prices for accommodations than you would in larger cities like Berlin, but don’t think that Dresden has anything less to offer!

Augsburger Deutschkurse

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Location: Augsburg

Price: Varies by course length

Accommodation options: Homestay, apartment

In Augsburg, within the heart of Bavaria, the Augsburger Deutschkurse school offers intensive lessons year-round.

Group classes are offered for beginner to advanced students with 25 weekly lessons. The school especially emphasizes that you start at the right level, so you’ll be given a comprehensive placement test before you start learning. However, you can also switch to a different level if you feel over or under-challenged.

German is spoken at all times during class, so translating will be quickly done away with and you can expect roughly two or more hours of homework daily. The school estimates that you can complete a given course level within eight weeks, from which you can ascend to the next level.

Regular out-of-class activities aren’t included in the intensive courses, but you can certainly make your own time and explore Augsburg’s many places of interest. The school is also located near the lovely city of Munich, so you can venture easily there.

A great plus is that, like Dresden, accommodations in Augsburg will be cheaper than in other major German cities. Many students opt for the homestay option, which will lend itself well to your class studies.

7 Intensive German Courses You Can Take in America

The first five entries on this list are for younger students, typically preschool through high school, though the exact age range varies.

Stick around for the last two entries for some great U.S.-based intensive German programs for adults!

German International School Washington D.C.

German International School Washington, D.C. logo

Location: Potomac, MD

Price: Varies by grade

The German School of Washington D.C. offers preschool, elementary school and grades five through twelve, making it the ideal spot for parents looking to immerse their kids in German while sticking around in the Washington, DC area.

This actually works just like a regular school in that open houses are held on a regular basis, tons of resources are available for parents and athletic teams are encouraged for staying fit.

German International School New York

German International School New York logo

Location: White Plains, NY

Price: $26,450 (2023/24)

This New York based immersion program presents a schedule that’s designed to prepare students for a successful life in college. The grades range from preschool to high school, and the curriculum covers everything from history to biology, music to ethics.

As with most of the schools on the list, your courses are completed in German and exams are administered on a consistent basis.

German International School Chicago

German International School Chicago logo

Location: Ravenswood neighborhood, Chicago, IL

Price: Varies by program

The Chicago International School of German is located in the Ravenswood neighborhood, and it offers preschool, kindergarten and elementary school options.

Before and after school care is provided, and students are taken through German classes on a weekly basis. You’ll also find that the math, art, music and even gym classes are taken in the German language.

Each class is broken into 45-minute periods, and the number of periods per week depends on the grade level.

German International School Silicon Valley

German International School Silicon Valley logo

Location: Mountain View, CA and San Francisco, CA

Price: Varies by campus and grade

For those tech families living in Silicon Valley, a German immersion course could do wonders for kids, considering many Germans are working in the technology markets.

Going all the way up to high school, this German school offers student exchanges, libraries, extracurriculars and after-school programs.

German International School Boston

German International School Boston logo

Location: Allston neighborhood, Boston, MA

Price: Varies by grade

Parents can enroll their kids in this immersion program starting at age three. It goes all the way up to grade twelve, and the German-language courses include English help for people from abroad, along with areas like math, science and history.

The rooms are spacious and you can join a student exchange program in high school.

Concordia Language Villages

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Location: Bemidji, MN

Price: Varies by session

The Concordia immersion program is one of the top places for adults in the United States to rapidly gain fluency in German. Fun subjects like music, film and dance are all covered, and you’re encouraged to explore the outdoors, or cuddle up with a good German book.

The village is modeled off of a real German town, and even the food you eat is authentic German cuisine. Your German speaking is honed through some of the following topics and situations: personal explorations, Germany’s relationship with the world and sustainability.

Goethe Institut USA

Goethe Institut logo

Location: Centers in Atlanta, GA; Boston, MA; Chicago, IL; New York, NY; San Francisco, CA and Washington, DC

Price: Varies by course. Click “Dates and prices” under your location of choice for pricing information.

Testing is required to be accepted into one of these schools, but it works differently from most immersion programs, since just about any skill level can join, and adults are accepted into designated courses.

 

If you’re looking for something to rocket launch your German skills, while also getting a taste of German life, then an intensive course may be your perfect answer. Taking one abroad will be an enlightening experience that’ll be the hallmark of your language-learning journey.

Before you go for intensive German language study, you can also start preparing with an immersive learning tool like FluentU.

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:

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Vocabulary and phrases are learned with the help of interactive subtitles and full transcripts.

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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.

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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.

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To keep things fresh, FluentU keeps track of the words you’re learning and recommends further lessons and videos based on what you've already studied.

This way, you have a truly personalized learning experience.

Start using the FluentU website on your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes or Google Play store. Click here to take advantage of our current sale! (Expires at the end of this month.)

If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn German with real-world videos.

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