15 Superb Online German Courses in 2022 (Tried and True)
There are tons of tools and resources you can access on the internet to enhance your German, but what about actual lessons?
In this article, you’ll learn exactly which online German lessons are the best out there, including several free options.
We know a great German lesson when we see one—language learning is our forte. In fact, we’ve been using and building language apps for more than ten years now.
When it comes to German lessons, the most important factor would be learner results: are they effective? Aside from this, we’ve also curated the lessons based on ease of use, comprehensiveness of content and popularity.
Read on to explore the inner workings of the most effective and engaging resources for learning German in 2022.
- 1. Best Comprehensive: Lingoda
- 2. Best for Immersion: FluentU
- 3. Best Budget: DeutschAkadamie
- 4. Best Speaking Practice: Michel Thomas Method
- 5. Best Formal: Goethe-Institut
- 6. Best for Private Classes: italki
- 7. Best Podcast-Based: Coffee Break German
- 8. Best Straightforward: Deutsch-Lernen.com
- 9. Best for Pronunciation: Rocket Languages
- 10. Best Practical: Babbel
- 11. Best for Business German: Deutsch-Uni Online
- 12. Best Free Audio: Language Transfer
- 13. Best for Cultural Insights: GermanPod101
- 14. Best for Non-Traditional Learning: SmarterGerman
- 15. Best for All Levels: Deutsche Welle
- Why Learn German Online?
- Would I Benefit From an Online German Lesson?
- What Will an Online German Lesson Teach Me?
- How Much Should I Pay for an Online German Lesson?
1. Best Comprehensive: Lingoda
Summary: Lingoda offers a comprehensive learning experience for German students of all levels, complete with native teacher classes.
This language learning program has a handful of language courses available, including German. While they give online classes, it’s supposed to mimic an in-person learning experience. The course is comprehensive, covering grammar and vocabulary plus all four language skills: speaking, listening, reading and writing.
It follows a curriculum based on subject units, and lessons come with PowerPoint presentations and homework to reinforce what you’ve learned. More importantly, Lingoda also offers flexible access to native teachers! You can choose to take these lessons one-on-one or with a small group of other students.
Lastly, the program offers what they call a “Language Sprint” from time to time—a challenge where they give you a 100% refund in course fees if you’re able to complete 90 lessons in 90 days. Pretty cool!
- Well-rounded curriculum
- Both one-on-one and group classes are available
- Lots of supplementary resources
- Classes can’t be rescheduled
- Lesson formats can be repetitive
- Quality of the class depends on the teacher
2. Best for Immersion: FluentU
Summary: FluentU exposes you to real-life German by combining authentic German videos with interactive subtitles, flashcards, and other tools for language learners.
FluentU is a language learning platform that immerses you in German through native media like music videos, TV show clips and interviews. Compared to watching German videos on your own, FluentU adds interactive subtitles and other study tools to each clip so that you can understand the language and learn from native speakers.
All clips have interactive subtitles that are connected to a video dictionary. When you don’t understand a German word, you can click on it in the subtitles for an instant explanation. All of the subtitles are written by language experts rather than generated by a machine, so you’ll be able to understand slang and cultural expressions too.
To review, you can take a personalized quiz after each video, speaking exercises included. The app also has a flashcard review system for locking in new vocabulary.
FluentU works on both web and mobile (iOS or Android).
- Learning German in context through fun authentic media
- Interactive subtitles with accurate definitions and usage info
- Personalized quizzes and flashcards for review
- Less focus on writing compared to other language skills
- No specific curriculum
3. Best Budget: DeutschAkadamie
Summary: This site has thousands of free exercises and hundreds of hours of free immersive German lessons, with the option to buy reasonably priced courses.
Head over to the fantastic DeutschAkadamie website if you want to try out one of their free German online courses. The site is packed full to the brim with exciting resources—there are around 50,000 German grammar and vocabulary exercises that cover all levels of language learners.
Topics include German sentence structure, the case system, participles and a lot more. There are also interactive lessons specifically for the tricky dative and accusative cases.
Even if you do ultimately decide to go for different online German lessons, it could be good to return to this website every now and then to brush up with one of their many exercises.
There’s also a handy online message forum on the website. Not only can you reach out to fellow learners for support, but there are also professional German teachers online who are ready and willing to help with any niggling problems. It’s usually only the paid courses that give you access to professionals, so bookmark this website. The chance to chat with a teacher for free shouldn’t be passed on!
- Massive collection of free vocabulary and grammar exercises
- Diverse range of courses across all levels
- Lower costs
- No one-on-one classes
- Live courses follow Germany’s timezone
4. Best Speaking Practice: Michel Thomas Method
Summary: For audio lessons that get you speaking German from day one, the Michel Thomas Method is definitely worth checking out.
It’s not very common that language lessons have you speaking from the very beginning, but this is what Michel Thomas will have you do! He looks at the essential aspects of German vocabulary and sentence structure in order to fast-track your learning.
His methods aim to make word retrieval much faster than traditional methods by memorizing vocabulary through active use.
Because the lessons are audio-based, they make for easy listening while you’re commuting to work, cooking dinner or otherwise on the go. And though there are cheaper audio lessons available, the Michel Thomas Method is absolutely worth it for some people.
- Audio-based learning
- Teaches you how to speak right away
- Breaks down grammar logically
- Works best as an introduction to a language
- Doesn’t target reading or writing
- Minimal vocabulary
5. Best Formal: Goethe-Institut
Summary: Though expensive, you’ll get a lot out of these lessons plus access to personal tutors.
There are courses here available for advanced level learners, but the courses for A1 through to B2 levels of German are where you should be looking if you haven’t reached that advanced level yet. The Goethe-Institut’s $744.19 fee might at first seem like a great big whopping price tag, but you’ll be getting an awful lot of bang for your buck.
One feature of their courses makes all that money worthwhile: personal tutors.
As well as being able to pick your personal tutor’s brains, there’s access to many interactive exercises that you can use whenever you want.
Just keep in mind that you’ll have to schedule one-on-one sessions with your tutor. If you have a busy schedule and are unable to commit to the obligatory hours, you might be better off opting for a different online German course.
- One of the most well-recognized German language schools
- Offers comprehensive courses with personal tutors
- Helps you prepare for official language exams
- Pricier than other options
- More time-consuming
6. Best for Private Classes: italki
Summary: italki is a tutor-based language learning platform with hundreds of German teachers to choose from.
This language learning platform allows you to learn over 130 languages with tutors at very competitive rates. There are lots of options regarding teaching styles, dialects and price tiers. You can find your tutor based on qualification, experience, whether they’re a native speaker or not and even their dialect.
Because of the abundance of tutors, you can get some incredibly cheap lessons. Remember to check their ratings, as cheap isn’t always better. The quality of your lesson will ultimately come down to the individual tutor!
Learn at your own pace and book lessons around your schedule, but this must be done at least 24 hours in advance. You can also use the extra features for free, like an exercise section that lets you submit text in your target language and have it revised by native speakers.
Read our full review here.
- Diverse choices of teachers
- Flexible, 24/7 scheduling
- Very customizable
- Limited trial classes
- Quality of teaching can vary
7. Best Podcast-Based: Coffee Break German
Summary: If you’re a podcast lover looking for an entertaining yet comprehensive resource to learn German, you can’t look past Coffee Break German.
These podcast-based lessons are part of the Coffee Break Language podcasts, an award-winning resource that helps you learn a handful of languages. Lucky for us, German is among those!
The host, Mark, presents in a relaxed manner and makes all the episodes enjoyable to listen to—despite the fact that he’s covering potentially tricky grammar concepts. Episodes are only 5-15 minutes long, making them super digestible and easy to listen to on the go.
There are three seasons that are mostly focused on listening and speaking. While they’re free, there’s the option to pay for a course at the end of each season, which includes transcripts and lesson notes.
- Fun podcast-style lessons
- Offers plenty of cultural insights
- Focuses on conversational German
- Mostly involves passive learning
- New content isn’t added regularly
8. Best Straightforward: Deutsch-Lernen.com
Summary: While the interface is rather outdated, the lessons are free, thorough and user-friendly.
Another of the free online options, Deutsch-Lernen.com offers lessons for both beginners and advanced learners. There might not be as much on there as DeutschAkadamie, but the site’s resources are extremely thorough and easy to use.
For beginners, 10 lessons are available as well as word lists and example exercises. You’ll learn about verb tenses and conjugation, different types of verbs, cases and more. Advanced learners have slightly more choice with 24 lessons and seven useful tips for new German orthography.
If you’re not really sure of your level of German or which lessons would be best for you, there’s a convenient online test here for grading your Deutsch (German).
If you fancy venturing out into a career in Germany, Deutsch-Lernen.com also offers a great German resume writing service. This fantastic feature will have you writing a top-notch resume auf Deutsch (in German) in no time!
- Free lessons for different levels
- Thorough grammar exercises
- Resources for applying for jobs in German
- Focused mostly on grammar
- Doesn’t feature a lot of explanations
- Better used for review rather than as a standalone resource
9. Best for Pronunciation: Rocket Languages
Summary: Rocket Languages gives well-structured audio-based lessons with a focus on pronunciation.
Rocket Languages is an audio-based language learning platform that aims to inspire you and make learning more enjoyable.
The lessons are structured like a conversation between a learner and a native speaker. They also come with interactive exercises which use an algorithm to help you retain what you learn. Pronunciation is a big focus of the program, with a virtual voice recognition system that analyzes your speech and identifies where you’re going wrong.
It’s great for on-the-go learning, as lessons can be downloaded and used anywhere, anytime. It’s on the pricey side, but it’s a one-time fee for lifetime access to the program. Read our full review here.
- Teaches you practical German phrases quickly
- Plenty of pronunciation practice
- Interactive exercises like flashcards and quizzes
- Not suitable for advanced learners
- Doesn’t hone reading and writing as much
- A bit pricier than usual
10. Best Practical: Babbel
Summary: If you’re a beginner or intermediate learner, these lessons are reasonably priced and very well structured.
Babbel is a fab range of courses aimed solely at beginner and intermediate learners. You’ll get your first lesson free as a taster—if you want to continue after that, you’ll be required to sign up for a subscription.
Doing so won’t break the bank, as the cheapest option is a reasonable $6.95 per month.
Once you’re all signed up and ready to go, there are six online German courses to complete. The first one is a simple guide showing you the basics. After that, each course consolidates all of your knowledge and builds on it by focusing on specific themes.
For example, in Babbel’s online German grammar course, you’ll learn essential topics, such as present tense verbs and how to construct sentences in German. Other courses cover comprehension skills, business German, cultural information and more.
Read our full review of Babbel here.
- Focuses on useful phrases in context rather than isolated words
- Comfortable lesson progression
- Includes handy language tips
- Limited for high-intermediate learners and above
- Exercises can be repetitive
11. Best for Business German: Deutsch-Uni Online
Summary: This site offers German lessons for all levels while allowing you to interact with other German learners, with an option for a personal tutor.
Deutsch-Uni.com has online German classes for beginners all the way through to advanced students. What’s more, they provide a fantastic business German course. So if you’re preparing to relocate to Germany anytime soon, this is the website for all your business German needs.
Being assigned a personal tutor is optional—in my opinion, asking for your own tutor would be a very smart move. Nothing beats one-on-one guidance when you learn German online!
Another plus point of this course is it puts you in touch with other language learners so you can air your grievances about the German language together! And you can have all of this starting at a very modest price of $160.62.
- Offers online courses with personal tutoring
- Lessons range from A1 to C1
- Has a specialized course on business German
- Some levels have limited options for learning formats
- Group meetings happen less than weekly
12. Best Free Audio: Language Transfer
Summary: If you’re a beginner, these free audio-based language lessons will help you get a great base in German through unconventional methods.
This language learning method, known as the “the thinking method,” was developed by linguist Mihalis Eleftheriou and is based on the concept of transferring English capabilities to other languages—in this case, German. Instead of learning a new language completely from scratch, the idea is to encourage your brain to make connections between the two languages.
It’s entirely listening-based, which means it’s great for listening when you’re doing somewhat mundane activities like driving and want to take advantage of your time.
Another great part about these lessons is that they’re free! You are welcome, however, to make a donation.
- All of the lessons are free
- Breaks down German grammar logically
- Gives you an intuitive understanding of German
- The course is still unfinished
- Doesn’t teach as much vocabulary
- No interactive exercises outside of the audio
13. Best for Cultural Insights: GermanPod101
Summary: GermanPod101 has a huge library of audio and video lessons that also tackle German culture and trending topics.
Culture is a huge part of learning a language, and GermanPod101 is one of the best resources for improving your German skills while finding out about cultural tidbits. GermanPod101 features more than a thousand audio and video lessons that are divided into four categories: absolute beginner, beginner, intermediate, and advanced.
The lessons cover a wide range of topics, from listening practice for job interviews to romantic expressions. Each lesson tends to revolve around a German dialogue, with transcripts and line-by-line breakdowns available. You can download each lesson as an MP3 or a PDF, and you can also slow down the audio to work on your listening.
Since new videos are added regularly to GermanPod101, you can watch a new lesson every day. Lessons also come with related notes about German culture, and it’s common for them to feature topics that are trending at the moment.
For a full review of GermanPod101, click here.
- Tackles diverse topics
- Consistently updated with new lessons
- Clear learning path
- Video quality varies
- Pace can be slower
14. Best for Non-Traditional Learning: SmarterGerman
Summary: SmarterGerman uses unconventional tools like detective stories and songs so you can learn German intuitively, without too much memorizing.
If you want to branch out beyond textbooks and grammar tables, then SmarterGerman’s courses can be interesting to explore. SmarterGerman’s approach takes a non-traditional approach because it minimizes memorization, letting you naturally absorb new words in context. The goal of SmarterGerman is to make the language intuitive for you.
SmarterGerman has courses from A1 to C1, with additional courses on German grammar and motivation training. The courses are made up mostly of videos, combined with exercises on listening and writing.
Most of the courses are based on a detective story. There are even piano songs to help you remember key grammar concepts, such as German articles.
There’s also the option to get quick feedback on writing exercises, where native speakers point out where you made mistakes.
For a full review of SmarterGerman, click here.
- Creative approach
- Minimal memorization
- Learning German in context
- Exercises don’t vary that much
- Can be intense for beginners
15. Best for All Levels: Deutsche Welle
Summary: For straightforward, interactive lessons for all levels, this free website is a great resource.
Finally, let’s end with a free online German course, shall we? Deutsche Welle is fabulous, whether you’re at the very beginning of your German adventure or have been fine-tuning your grammar and vocabulary for some years. A quick placement test will tell you what level you should start on with their online German lessons.
One of the best things about Deutsche Welle is that it’s super easy to use, especially if you’re something of a technophobe! For those who prefer the old-school learning method, you can print out the lessons and exercises and work on them offline. For internet whiz-kids, exactly the same resources are available as interactive exercises and lessons.
- Courses are free
- Uses fun videos and animations
- Varied material for each level
- Not very interactive
- Completely self-paced
Why Learn German Online?
There are many benefits to learning any language online.
One of the major ones is that there are lots of free courses and resources, so you can learn no matter what your budget looks like.
The free options tend to not go into as much depth as a paid course, but they can provide a great supplement to your offline German lessons.
And as you may imagine, there are many advantages to coughing up for a paid German online course.
Whether you choose to pay or go free will depend on a number of things. It’s also something you’ll have to weigh up for yourself.
Another plus is that you can usually tailor your learning to your own needs. If the German subjunctive is your Achilles’ heel, for example, then you can always let your online tutor know. Or if you choose a course that doesn’t offer a personal tutor, you can still organize your online German lessons and resources so you focus on your weakest skills first.
With online German classes, it will probably be more up to you to cover all the major grammar points (don’t just stick to learning genders if you’re already a pro!). But this affords you more freedom and a chance to customize your studies.
Another excellent advantage of learning online is the possibility of coming into contact with native speakers. Thanks to awesome inventions like Skype, we’re now just a click away from speaking to people in other countries.
Would I Benefit From an Online German Lesson?
Short answer: yes!
If you’re learning German, then you’ll most likely benefit from an online lesson. There are a few of us who need the structured environment of a classroom to learn. But even then, many online lessons are able to emanate that.
How much you get out of it will depend on what you’re after and if the lesson aligns with that. Do you want to learn basic German for a vacation or do you want to master grammar? Is your pronunciation bothering you or do you need to sharpen your listening comprehension?
There are tons of options out there. You need to find one that’s right for you.
What Will an Online German Lesson Teach Me?
Languages are complex, and it seems like there’s a never-ending list of skills to master. Because of that, what you learn in one German lesson may differ wildly from another.
Some are super specific, dialing in on one skill or topic, while others give a broad overview. Similarly, some are hours and hours long, while others are bite-sized.
In general, you can expect German lessons to cover things like pronunciation, vocabulary words and phrases, grammar and listening skills.
How Much Should I Pay for an Online German Lesson?
By now, you may have picked up that there’s no one-size-fits-all answer! Essentially, how much you pay for a lesson will be determined by what you get out of it.
It may be intuitive to think that the longer the lesson—or the more it covers—the more you’ll pay for it. While this can be true, lessons are often priced on how much the result is worth to someone.
For example, a super-specific German business lesson could charge much more than a broad, comprehensive German app. You may also find that an intensive two-week course for basic travel German is pricier than lifetime access to lessons that take you from zero to advanced.
Have a look around to get a good idea of whether you’re paying the right amount for your needs.
The internet is such a fantastic resource for German students and learners everywhere. Now you have the resources you need to effectively learn German online.
Whether you want to use one of these online German lessons as a standalone way to reach fluency or as an accompaniment to school work, there’s no doubt that they’ll enrich and advance your language skills.
After studying German and Philosophy at The University of Nottingham, Laura Harker relocated to Berlin in 2012. She now works as a freelance writer and is also assistant editor at Slow Travel Berlin.