Web-surfers, there’s a whole new wave to ride!
That wave is online learning, and it’s reaching impressive heights within the world of academia.
As it turns out, there’s much more you could do on the internet than just watching videos of cuddling cats or publicly posting (or reading) ramblings about latest fashion trend.
For many folks, the web is becoming increasingly popular as the go-to method for learning a new skill—even if the skill is something as sophisticated as learning (or even mastering) a completely new language like German.
And with hard work and diligence, it can indeed be done!
That’s right: It’s possible to gain fluency in the German language with a purely digital education.
We’ll give you some insight on why moving your German learning to the online realm may in fact be an excellent decision for a number of reasons.
Learn German Online vs. In-person
There’s a common belief that in-person classes and lessons provide the highest caliber of education. It sounds reasonable, as most of us grew up learning within physical schools and institutions, so any other method of learning seems either supplemental or somehow of lesser quality.
However, this is certainly not the case. Online learning, also known as e-learning, has taken the world by storm due to a number of compelling reasons, many of them seen as advantages over in-person learning. Thus, with German e-learning, you may find that the online realm can serve you unique purposes that will make your studies much more efficient.
Let’s go over some of those major pros.
Learn at your own pace
Whether it’s due to your schedule or personal learning preferences, you’d like to have a large degree of control over how and when you’d like to get your German studies done. With online learning, you’re almost always guaranteed that freedom.
This can be possible due to a variety of reasons, the most common of which is due to the fact that most online language learning resources won’t enforce a strict study agenda. You can choose what to learn at any time and you can focus on studying a particular aspect of the German language for as long as you want.
There are some online resources that function much like a school, with limited class sizes and a determined curriculum. However, the majority of these online institutions still allow learners plenty of choice while providing a reasonable length of time to accomplish any assigned work.
Use your favorite resources
You want the best resources to use for your German learning, and what’s best for you is usually highly personal and subjective. It’s good to be picky about your learning tools, especially if you’re serious about gaining German fluency.
If you’re learning online, you can amass your own collection of German learning resources that just hit the spot. There’s no restriction to any one method of learning; you can choose to learn with websites one day and hop on to German apps the next.
Focus on your weakest areas
With in-person German classes, it might feel like you have to barrel through material in order to keep up with the curriculum. You won’t always be able to backtrack and review as needed, even as you continue to encounter concepts of higher difficulty, and the growing shakiness of your knowledge will facilitate your helpless tumble through any future lessons.
It’s critical that you build your German skills progressively, so you should always review foundational concepts before moving on. It won’t do for you to start treading into more advanced German lessons when you’re still struggling to grasp intermediate (or even beginner!) concepts; this can be detrimental to your learning and deal a big blow to your confidence.
With e-learning, you’re generally able to learn and practice whatever you’d like, whenever you’d like. It’s up to you to search and study further anything that’s troubling you. As long as you’re vigilant, you can move forward in your online German studies with the assurance that you yourself can build upon, not abandon, the concepts you need to work on.
Hire a tutor online any time you need
The web isn’t just a place for content; it’s also a place for instant interaction with folks around the world! While you can certainly encounter and chat with other German learners online, you can also go a step ahead to search for people who can offer private teaching services..
It’s quite easy to find German language tutors online who can help you out on a professional level; there are entire websites dedicated to providing learners with their own instructors, either for free or for a certain set price. These tutors may be native or highly advanced German speakers, and many may possess real teaching certification. Services may be a one-time business or can be prolonged for a period of time; in the latter case, tutors may even craft study plans just for you!
This particular ability can contest against the common complaint that online learning doesn’t provide the more personal interactions that in-person classes would. You can, in fact, find plenty of one-on-one help that works specifically to your needs.
How to Learn German Online: 9 Tips for Success
The online platform can give you access to a plethora of incredible authentic German resources that you wouldn’t be able to get elsewhere, but there are several things to keep in mind to make sure you’re properly taking advantage of such a system and really boosting your German skills.
Here are some smart tips on how you can learn German online without a fuss!
Set a study schedule (and be consistent)
One of the most important things when planning to learn any skill is to have an agenda. This is particularly crucial for acquiring foreign language fluency, since there’s an implicit order in how to properly learn a language.
First, figure out how many days of the week you’d like to include German studies. Afterwards, decide how long each study session should be. Note that each session is a focused commitment to learning and practicing German; nothing else should be done during that set-aside time.
The hardest part would be to organize what exactly you should be learning per session, and it’ll depend on your own wants and needs. You may want to dedicate each day of study for a single aspect of the German language, or you may want to diversify your studies and include a little practice of everything. Think carefully on not just your schedule allowances, but also your own learner preferences in order to craft the most functional study regime.
Start at your level
As obvious as this tip sounds, it’s not always easy to correctly gauge your current level of language fluency. You can easily underestimate or overestimate your own skills, finding out late in the game that you need to start with more foundational concepts or you may be proficient enough to begin with more advanced German online.
There are a number of ways you can get a better gauge of your current German proficiency.
Do a “test-run” of German language concepts
Go over different aspects of the language starting with the most basic and steadily progressing in difficulty. This can be done in a number of ways, such as by skimming through a German language textbook or trying out some quick German quizzes or German exercises available online. If you encounter any concept that proves to be a struggle, then it may be a good idea to slot yourself into the level that concept belongs in and start your learning from there.
Take online language placement tests
Several online resources may offer short quizzes or full tests that assess a learner’s language level. If you notice that you’re a bit rough around the edges for any of the material on the assessment, take note of what it is. The tests themselves may determine what level you best sit at, but you should also be aware of the individual concepts that you’re struggling with in order to recognize what you should practice.
Check German language level “checklists”
You can find online certain lists or classification tables that detail the expectations of each German learner level. Keep in mind that different sources may have different standards; for example, one source may state a beginner learner should know a certain concept that another source labels as intermediate in level. For the sake of more accurately pinpointing your level, you can check with a few different checklists to get a more respectable gauge of your skills.
If you’re just starting the language, then you’re in luck—beginners learning German online can easily find a plethora of resources that rigorously go over the absolute basics of the language. Mid-level learners should look for intermediate German resources online that tip closer to what they’re in need of: either a deeper dive into fundamental concepts (early intermediate) or a preparation for more complicated concepts (early advanced). Those seeking advanced German-learning online can take advantage of the content crafted specifically for advanced learners while also possibly dabbling in some of the resources that German natives may use.
Choose an online course
An online course is what it sounds like: a class that’s formatted to work on the digital platform. Because they tend to be more structured and broad in content, they’re valuable resources that you should definitely take advantage of early in your German learning. Any given course can give you a series of online German lessons in a specific format; some courses may be more casual in nature and depend wholly on the learner’s motivation, while more intensive German courses ask for a lot more rigor and dedication.
German online courses can give you a sense of organization that in turn makes it easier to manage your study goals. They can provide you a fantastic chance to learn and practice German online in a manner that’s technically less stressful, but still academically rigorous. Some online courses go beyond and offer supplemental resources, such as downloadable content like German e-books or user-based language forums, that can further boost your skills and engagement with the language.
In consideration of the last mentioned tip, remember to pick a course that resonates best with your current level. Luckily, it’s quite easy to search specifically for the right course, as many online course providers will label the preferred learner level for their material. Some even provide a bundle of courses that progress in level so learners may smoothly “graduate” to the next degree of proficiency; beginners may start with the fundamental lessons before taking intermediate German courses and then moving onto more advanced German lessons.
If applicable, you may also search for online German courses that offer school credit. Online courses for college credit can be useful boon to your study and professional endeavors, while courses for high school credit can be a pretty addition to your academic report.
Finally, there’s the matter of price. Many German online courses are available with no financial strings attached, enabling anyone to learn German for free. However, some courses require a fee, particularly those that originate from academic institutions.
For paid online German courses, take the time to fully research them and evaluate if they can fulfill your learning needs. These courses tend to offer a number of additional benefits that validate their prices, such as offering an academic certificate of completion or exclusive learning resources you wouldn’t get anywhere else.
Download German apps
Don’t be fooled by the colorful tiny icons on your device screen: Apps can help you learn German in an engaging, powerful manner that completely belies their outward form.
One of the greatest pros to using apps for learning would be their portability—with apps, you can have on-the-go German learning that can be accessed anywhere. They’re perfect if your daily schedule often allows for pockets of spare time that you can fill with studying.
Moreover, you can amass a diverse army of apps in a single device at little to no cost. If any new app catches your eye, you can get it instantly and start playing with it right away.
One of the best apps for learning German that you should download from the get-go would be a humble German translator-slash-dictionary app, of which many kinds are freely available for Android, Apple and most other mobile OS. Many translation apps do more than just provide definitions, often including alternate meanings, example sentences and pronunciation guides. You’ll always be encountering new or unfamiliar German words and you’ll want to get definitions right on the spot, so have a translation app always at hand.
Many other German learning apps exist. Some that are specifically purposed to teach you the language may offer you sequential lessons and review exercises; others may choose a less structured approach and instead provide learning tools such as flashcards or games. There are also apps that focus predominantly on a certain aspect of the language; for example, German conjugation apps work to improve your understanding of German verbs while German vocabulary apps would work to build up your word bank.
Find a language exchange partner
Real conversation practice is critical for German fluency, but unless you’re in an in-person class, it may be hard to physically find someone to actually chat with in German. However, by online means, you can instantly find a language buddy that can help you review your existing German knowledge and build upon it.
A German language exchange partner lets you practice your German skills online in an interactive and engaging manner, as you’d be using conversation with a real person as your learning experience. You get the proper, genuine feedback you’d need in order to gain true confidence in the language. Your partner may be a German native or a highly advanced speaker, one you could count on for authentic insight.
However, your partner won’t be the only one doing all the work. With language exchange systems, both parties are working to improve in a non-native language; that means that you’ll likely be offering help and assistance to your partner as well. Having such a relationship can be greatly motivating and beneficial on both ends!
Use native content
If you’re going to be learning German, then it’s optimal that you learn with the most authentic material you can get. Frankly speaking, being able to learn within the actual country of Germany would probably be the absolute best option. After all, you’ll constantly be immersed in the German language in its most natural state.
But, practically speaking, we can’t all make the trip, so the next best thing would be something that the online world readily provides: native content.
There were probably countless times when you were reading example conversations from German textbooks or watching scripted dialogues and wondering if that’s really how folks would talk. Well, that worry wouldn’t exist when you’re using the kind of stuff that native speakers consume on the daily. You’ll have the assurance that you’re learning the language as it’s actually used.
Native content can make your German learning more fluid and engaging. If you’re all for it, then you should check out FluentU for a software-based German immersion experience that relies fully on such content.
Each clip comes with interactive captions that immediately teach you the words in great detail. With the diversity of FluentU’s video library, you’ll get exposure to German as it’s spoken in many different contexts, giving you a much fuller picture and appreciation of the language. You can save any new or interesting words you learn and go back to them later at any point.
FluentU also has a formidable, personalized review system. You can test your knowledge with adaptive quizzes, craft your own multimedia flashcards or make vocabulary lists. Your progress is always tracked so you’ll know just how much you’ve improved with every use of the program.
If you’re interested, check out the free trial to try out the full experience!
Browse German learning websites
You’ve probably considered this as your first option; learning websites are, after all, the most blatantly obvious in their purpose. But there’s a lot to be said about the nature of websites that aim to teach you a language.
Firstly, there isn’t just one catch-all format for language learning websites. They come in all shapes and sizes, each offering to teach you the German language in varying detail and depth. Some may essentially work as an online German tutorial that beefs up a subset of skills in a succinct manner; others may go full-out to make sure you’re learning most, if not all, aspects of the language.
Secondly, the style in which information is presented can differ vastly, and you may find that some websites scratch your learner’s itch better than others. While some websites would teach a German language topic with blocks of detailed text, others may choose to appeal to more visual-based learners with more pictures or tables. Some may even be more creative in their teaching; you can even find websites that help you learn German with online games!
The best German learning websites are, ultimately, the ones that have accurate info and align with your wants and needs. It’s therefore suggested that you do take your time in scouring through and finding the websites that appeal to you most, so don’t be disappointed if the first couple of German learning websites don’t work for you. The internet is a vast and giving sea, so you’re bound to haul in a number of good catches!
Read German language blogs
Blogs aren’t just a place for people to yap about their thoughts and opinions, as proven by your viewing of this post!
You can actually do some great learning with German blogs. There are plenty of blog websites that discuss and teach different aspects of the German language, often in a way that’s tailored for learners such as yourself! FluentU’s German Language and Culture blog is one great example; we provide dozens of articles that help you learn bits and pieces of the language while also offering some cultural context to enrich your understanding.
For a real challenge, you can read actual blogs written in German. However, if you’re checking out more casual blogs, be aware that you’re likely to encounter more slang-y or “internet speak” German.
If your find a particular blog that you love, then you should certainly take up on any subscription it offers so that you can get consistent German language newsletters.
Check out German social media
Social media is an incredibly accessible way to get exposure to a foreign language. Whether you’re browsing German Facebook pages or scrolling through German Twitter, you can consider each comment and post as a mini exercise to test your language skills.
You’ll have to be careful that the German you read isn’t laden with typos or unhelpful terminology. If you’re ever in doubt about a certain word, a quick search on Google (or your dictionary app!) can probably provide you its definition and common usage. If you’re extra confident, you can try and interact with German-speaking users by providing your own responses in the language (but don’t engage in trolling tactics or flame wars).
Of course, if you’re on German social media, you’ll face a bombardment of German memes as well. However, even goofy captioned pictures can have some educational use! You can work to build your fluency so that you can properly grasp the humor behind the memes you see; you’ll probably be quick to appreciate the unique intricacies of German humor.
How Long Does It Take to Learn German?
With all this nifty info, you’ve hopefully come to the agreement that learning German online can lead to some stellar results. But you may be wondering: will it be even faster to learn German online than by other means?
The length of time it takes to learn a language is, of course, very subjective and dependent on the learner’s needs and available resources. That being said, the German language has the benefit of sharing several similarities with the English language, which makes it easier to pick up for native speakers of English. According to the Foreign Service Institute, German proficiency can be achieved in approximately 36 weeks (900 class hours).
If one’s education is mostly carried out via online learning, the time length for gaining sufficient German fluency may differ. In truth, there currently isn’t enough rigorous scientific information to determine if online learning is consistently better than other methods of learning, although learners themselves may be more attracted to it for personal reasons.
So how long does it take to learn German? In the end, much of it matters on your own input, and so long as you’re using the right resources consistently, then you’re bound to see gradual progress. What e-learning provides is a plethora of conveniences that make it easier for most to pick up and get going in their studies, and this is turn can potentially speed up the learning process.
Hopefully these tips have bolstered your confidence in catching the e-learning wave! With effort and diligence, you’ll be reaching the crest of your German skills in no time!
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