Can’t exactly take an in-person German class right now?
No problem! The wide world of online German lessons awaits.
Or maybe you’re already taking a German class, but feel it’s not enough.
Hey, using online German lessons as a self-study tool outside the classroom can really give your language skills a boost.
When I talk to other people who are learning German, I’m always surprised that hardly any of them realize they can take a German online course.
But there are also many online German lessons waiting just for you!
In this article, we’ll explore the best of what’s out there.
Why Learn German 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 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 lessons and resources so you focus on your weakest skills first.
Ultimately, with online study, 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!
Want Online German Lessons? 7 Fab Sites That Are Serving ‘Em Up
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 is an online immersion platform that takes real-world German videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
This means you’ll be learning real German, the way it’s spoken in real life, but you’ll also have all the structure and support you need to build up your base of grammar and vocabulary.
No matter what your level, interests or area of focus in German, you can easily find tons of appropriate material for you here. You can browse videos by difficulty (beginner to native), topic (arts and entertainment, health and lifestyle, etc.) and format (video blog, news, shows, etc.). Here’s just a glimpse at the variety of content:
FluentU isn’t just for watching videos, though. It’s about learning and actively practicing the language you hear in the videos.
While watching your chosen videos, you can tap on any subtitled word to look it up instantly. Every definition has examples that have been written to help you understand how the word is used by modern natives. If you see an interesting word you don’t know, you can simply tap “add” to save it to your vocabulary list.
For example, if you tap the word bereit, this is what you’ll see:
Every video also comes with full transcripts, vocabulary lists and fun quizzes. There are even flashcards that integrate video clips, imagery and audio to create rich, memorable learning experiences and help you retain German vocabulary better than ever.
FluentU keeps track of all the vocabulary you know, which gives you a completely personalized experience and lets you automatically focus on the parts of your German that need the most attention, without even having to think about it!
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 20,000 German grammar and vocabulary exercises that cover all levels of language learners.
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!
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 course.
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. 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!
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 courses to do. 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.
Deutsch-Uni.com has options 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 learning!
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.
Finally, let’s end on a free 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 be starting off on.
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.
The internet is such a fantastic resource for German students and learners everywhere.
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.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn German with real-world videos.