Learn German Online: The FluentU Method for Real German Language Skills
What would make German learning easier for you?
I know—a more dense and boring textbook, right?!
How about instant access to authentic, entertaining German content—with the tools to understand and learn from it?
That’s more like it.
Learn German online with FluentU, and that’s exactly what you’ll get. FluentU uses real-world German videos such as movie trailers, music videos, inspiring speeches and more to teach the German language. Built-in language features and review tools make it easy, fast and fun to learn how to speak German.
Here’s how it works.
Learn German Online: The FluentU Method for Real German Language Skills
Check out this six-step guide on how to maximize your use of FluentU to learn German online and get fluent in no time. You can try out the program for free and follow along with the steps below. It’s available for your computer or as a mobile app for iOS and Android.
1. Complete the “My Course” Beginner German Lessons
If you’re learning German for beginners, look for My Course in the FluentU sidebar. This is where you’ll find specialized beginner German lessons.
If you already have a basis in German or don’t want to use the beginner lessons, move on to the next step to start learning German with the best online videos right away. You can change your language level at any point by going to Settings and then Study Settings.
The beginner course is perfect for learners who’ve just started to learn German online or who once studied German and are ready to dive back into it.
Getting started with FluentU’s online German lessons is easy. Simply choose a lesson on a topic that you want to learn. Lessons include:
- Basic German verb conjugation
- Asking questions (Wann gehst du nach Hause? — When are you going home? Was machen Sie? — What are you doing? Etc.)
- Cases (Genitiv — genitive, Akkustav — accusative, etc.)
- Separable verbs
- Plural forms
- Everyday vocabulary for food, travel, home, school, etc.
- Among many others!
If you’re unsure where to start, follow the lessons in chronological order. Or, if you know exactly what you need to practice, go to the Audios tab from the sidebar (under Browse), where you’ll find all the My Course lessons.
Completing the lessons is fun, effective and fast. Simply watch the video, listen to the audio and follow along with the subtitles. As we’ll discuss more below, you can click the subtitles for extra information about any German word. You can toggle between English and German subtitles, but I recommend watching the videos with both sets of subtitles for beginner learners.
Each lesson also includes a quiz, but we’ll explain these quizzes in more detail in step three.
2. Start Watching the Video Lessons (Beginner Through Advanced)
Head over to the Browse section to find video content under the Videos tab. This section includes authentic German videos that’ve been transformed into personalized language lessons.
First, choose videos based on your level (Beginner 1, Beginner 2, Intermediate 1, Intermediate 2, Advanced 1, Advanced 2) and topic. Topics include Business, Culture and Science and Tech, and these are perfect for homing in on a specific area of German learning and growing your competence in that area by hearing the language in real-world context.
Next, choose a video format such as commercials, music videos or the news.
While watching, you’ll see two sets of subtitles: English and German. You can toggle these subtitles on and off. I suggest starting with both, but turning off the English subtitles once you’re comfortable enough in the language. This will accelerate the acquisition process because you’ll learn the language in context and your brain will work to derive meaning from the German-only subtitles.
Further, these interactive subtitles allow you to hover over any word in German and get an instant, professional English translation. By clicking on a word, you’re brought to a second screen where you can see sample sentences and a more in-depth look at the word. This includes grammatical information such as noun declinations or verb conjugations.
For a more in-depth experience, add familiar words to the Already Known list or new words to My Vocab. This will sort words into appropriate flashcard decks and make review of new vocabulary targeted and efficient.
The flashcards use a spaced-repetition algorithm for effective memorization—we’ll discuss that more later on.
3. Complete the Video Lesson Exercises
Once you’ve watched a video, it’s time to complete the associated quiz to reinforce everything you learned.
Constant review and exposure to the language is essential to successfully learn German online. While a traditional class would usually build review sessions and quizzes into the curriculum, with a self-paced online German course it’s up to you.
But FluentU makes it easy by creating personalized quizzes for every single video and automatically prompting you to complete them.
The quizzes include multiple choice, fill-in-the-blank and manual input questions as well as activities where you have to choose the correct word order to make a sentence. This way, you’re not simply memorizing words and spitting out definitions.
You’re learning how to use words correctly in context and build meaningful sentences.
Best of all, the quizzes aim to help you learn all the words in a given video so you’ll get targeted vocabulary practice on the lesson or video topic you just completed.
4. Review the Spaced Repetition Flashcards
Throughout the first three steps of the FluentU method to learn German online, we’ve been adding new words to the My Vocab list. What that means is that FluentU is compiling your words into flashcards for personalized review.
Simply click on My Vocab from your main feed to see the words on the list. You can also access it from the Flashcards tab under My Content.
In addition to words you’ve added manually, FluentU adds all new words from the lessons you’ve done.
From My Vocab, you can manage these words by removing them from your list if you don’t want to review them anymore, or you can add them to the Already Known list. On the right-side column of the list, you’ll also see the fluency bar. This tells you how well you know a given word depending on how often you’ve previously practiced it.
Once you’re satisfied with the words in your My Vocab list, simply click the green “Learn” button at the top of the screen to practice the flashcards.
The cool thing is that you don’t need to keep track of your vocabulary review yourself. FluentU uses spaced repetition—a science-backed method that involves reviewing material regularly at different intervals. Just go to the Ready for Review page from the Flashcards tab, where the spaced repetition system will prompt you to review words at just the right moment to keep them in your long-term memory.
Many of the videos, audios and beginner’s lessons have corresponding flashcards. Under the Browse tab, click on Flashcards to access a list of topics sorted by difficulty level. From there, click on a topic and begin. I suggest reviewing flashcards from videos, audios and beginner lessons that you’ve already completed.
Best of all, the flashcards in the FluentU system aren’t just words to memorize and regurgitate: they review vocabulary in context and use sample sentences to help you know where learned words fit in natural speech.
5. Maintain a German Study Streak
Regardless of what method you use to learn German online, attaining fluency requires daily dedication. FluentU makes it easy and enjoyable to work toward German fluency everyday.
First, from the Settings menu, establish your Daily Goal, which is based on how many points you want to earn each day (100? 500? 2,000?). You earn these points by watching and completing video lessons.
Achieve your goal for several days in a row, and you get a streak! This incentivizes you to keep going rather than break your good habit and all the momentum you’ve built up.
In addition to completing new lessons, videos and audios every day, I suggest using the My Vocab flashcards to continually review vocabulary until they’re labelled Already Known. As I mentioned in step four, use the fluency bar to gauge how well you can recall a German word from your lessons.
Further, use the Playlists tab to rewatch videos and listen to audio again. This repetition will reinforce what you’ve learned and help the words move from your passive vocabulary to your active vocabulary—meaning you won’t just recognize them, but you’ll be able to use them in real German conversations.
Which brings us to…
6. Take It to the Real World
For many people who learn German online, one of the biggest challenges is applying lessons to real life. That’s what makes the FluentU method so valuable—you’re learning natural, native-level German from the start.
So, in addition to daily lessons and keeping up a streak, I suggest making FluentU part of your offline life as well.
Carry a notebook with you to write down new German words you encounter. Then, you can import these words into FluentU. FluentU will create a flashcard that shows you the word’s definition, grammar information and videos where you can hear the word used in different contexts. You’ll be able to review it just like your other flashcards.
(Plus, the act of writing down vocabulary is a great way to strengthen the neural pathways in your brain and allow you to recall and apply the information more easily.)
And don’t forget that you can practice with FluentU anywhere you go with the mobile apps for iOS and Android. This makes it easy to find time for German practice, keep up your streak and make sure you’re always moving toward fluency.
Best of all, take your knowledge from FluentU to conversations with native speakers. Since you’ve been learning German from authentic sources, it’ll amaze how easy it is to transfer your knowledge to real-world conversations.
So, what are you waiting for? There are six simple steps to German fluency, and with FluentU, it’s never been easier to learn German online!