You may already be aware that 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.
Trust us, 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 (that’s also the same number of languages that our team speaks!).
So, read on to explore the inner workings of the most effective and engaging resources for learning German in 2022.
Let’s get down to it!
- 1. Best Comprehensive: Lingoda
- 2. Best Immersion-Based: 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 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 languages 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 around subject units, and lessons come with PowerPoint presentations and homework reinforce what you’ve learnt. Importantly, Lingoda also offers flexible access to native teachers! You can choose to take these lessons one-to-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!
2. Best Immersion-Based: FluentU
Summary: FluentU aims to get you speaking like a local by exposing you to German as it’s used in real life. It does by turning authentic videos—like movie trailers, commercials and inspiring talks—into immersive language lessons.
If you’re looking for a German online course that’s fun and flexible but also totally has your back, this is the one for you.
FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
3. Best Budget: DeutschAkadamie
Summary: This site has literally 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.de 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 to a teacher for free shouldn’t be passed on!
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.
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-Instutut’s €675 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, so 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.
6. Best for Private Classes: italki
Summary: italki is a tutor-based language learning platform with hundreds of German teachers to choose from. There are lots of options regarding teaching styles, dialects and price tiers.
This language learning platform allows you to learn over 130 languages with tutors at very competitive rates. 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—however 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 which lets you submit text in your target language and have it revised by native speakers.
italki used to have an amazing feature for finding language exchange partners, but they’ve sadly done away with it. Read our full review here.
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 which 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 which are mostly focused on listening and speaking. While they’re free there is the option to pay for a course at the end of each season, which includes transcripts and lesson notes.
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 as on the DeutschAkadamie site, 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.
If any of 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 no time!
9. Best for Pronunciation: Rocket Languages
Summary: Rocket Languages gives well-structured audio-based lessons with a focus on pronunciation. It’s good for beginner and intermediate German learners, but not the best option for advanced.
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, and 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 is on the pricey side, but after you pay the one-time fee for the program you’ll have access for life. Read our full review here.
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.
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. Plus, you have the option of using 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—but, in my opinion, asking for your own tutor would be a very smart move. Nothing can beat some one-on-one guidance when you learn German online!
Another plus point for this course is it puts you in touch with other language learners, so you can air your grievances of the German language together! And you can have all of this starting at a very modest €150.
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, know as the “the thinking method,” was developed by linguist Mihalis Eleftheriou and is based around 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.
13. 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 on 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 to learn old-school style, you can print out the lessons and exercises as handouts and work on them offline. For internet whiz-kids, exactly the same resources are available as interactive exercises and lessons.
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 join in 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 and is something you’ll have to weigh up for yourself.
Another plus is that you can usually tailor your learning to your own needs. If you know the German subjunctive is your Achilles’ heel, for example, then you can always tell your online tutor this. 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.
Ultimately, with online German classes, it will probably be more up to you to balance out your learning so you’re covering 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.
But don’t worry if you don’t know anyone in Germany—some of these courses will link you up with your very own German buddy!
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 are you wanting to specifically master grammar? Is your pronunciation bothering you, or do you need to sharpen your listening comprehension?
There are tons of options out there, so 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, though, 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 long course for basic travel German is pricier than lifetime access to lessons which take you from zero to advanced.
Have a look around to get a good idea of whether you’re paying the right amount for you.
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 you’re dipping in and out of them 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.