The 19 Best Online German Courses in 2023 (Tried and True)
Online German lessons come in all shapes and sizes, alongside the tons of tools and resources found on the web for learning German.
I’ve researched which online German courses and lessons are the best out there.
The most important factor for choosing these courses was the effectiveness of the lessons and the learning method. In short: does it work?
I’ve also chosen the lessons based on ease of use and comprehensiveness of content.
- 1. Most 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 Grammar Reference: Lingolia
- 15. Best for Non-Traditional Learning: SmarterGerman
- 16. Best for All Levels: Deutsche Welle
- 17. Best for Beginners: Loecsen
- 18. Best for Staying on Track: Busuu
- 19. Best Before a Trip: Rosetta Stone
- Benefits of Learning German Online
1. Most Comprehensive: Lingoda
Summary: Lingoda offers a comprehensive learning experience for German students of all levels, complete with lessons from native speaking teachers.
While Lingoda provides 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.
Lingoda follows a curriculum based on subject units and lessons come with PowerPoint presentations and homework to reinforce what you’ve learned.
More importantly, Lingoda offers flexible access to native teachers! You can choose to take these lessons one-on-one or with a small group of other students.
The program even 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 German by combining authentic German videos with interactive subtitles, flashcards and other tools for language learners.
FluentU is one of the best websites and apps for learning German the way native speakers really use it. FluentU takes real-world videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
Watch authentic media to simultaneously immerse yourself in the German language and build an understanding of the German culture.
By using real-life videos, the content is kept fresh and current. Topics cover a lot of ground as you can see here:
Vocabulary and phrases are learned with the help of interactive subtitles and full transcripts.
Hovering over or tapping on any word in the subtitles will automatically pause the video and instantly display its meaning. Interesting words you don’t know yet can be added to a to-learn list for later.
For every lesson, a list of vocabulary is provided for easy reference and bolstered with plenty of examples of how each word is used in a sentence.
Your existing knowledge is tested with the help of adaptive quizzes in which words are learned in context.
To keep things fresh, FluentU keeps track of the words you’re learning and recommends further lessons and videos based on what you've already studied.
This way, you have a truly personalized learning experience.
Start using the FluentU website on your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes or Google Play store. Click here to take advantage of our current sale! (Expires at the end of this month.)
- 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.
DeutschAkadamie is packed 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 problems.
It’s usually only the paid courses that give you access to professionals. But the chance to chat with a teacher for free shouldn’t be passed up!
- 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 time zone
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.
These lessons look at the essential aspects of German vocabulary and sentence structure in order to fast-track your learning.
These 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.
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 learners, but the courses for A1 to B2 levels of German are where you should be looking if you haven’t reached that advanced level yet.
The Goethe-Institut’s courses might seem pricey, 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 also find your tutor based on qualification, experience and whether or not they’re a native speaker.
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 of italki to learn more.
- 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 for language learning.
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. 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 conjugations, 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 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.
Rocket languages is 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 others
10. Best Practical: Babbel
Summary: If you’re a beginner or intermediate learner, these lessons are reasonably priced and very well structured.
Babbel has 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.
There are many different options, so you can find a subscription that’s right for you.
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 upper 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 of this course is that it puts you in touch with other language learners so you can share your frustrations with the German language with each other!
- 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 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 levels: 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 slow
14. Best for Grammar Reference: Lingolia
Summary: Lingolia serves as a useful grammar reference with comprehensive explanations and accompanying exercises. It also covers basic vocabulary and offers reading/listening exercises and writing instruction.
While it’s not a structured course, Lingolia offers grammar guides and a verb conjugator tool that can be a useful addition to your German toolkit. Each lesson comes with exercises to test your comprehension.
With all the irregular German verbs, this tool is very helpful for beginners and low-intermediate learners who haven’t fully grasped the verbal system yet.
They also have several in-depth articles about word order, which is often under taught in foreign language classes. And there are extensive vocabulary sections right on the main site, which are organized by theme and simple texts and audio to practice.
Lastly, they’ve got a neat trick that keeps you thinking more in German and less in English as you browse the site. Each German sentence requires you to mouse over it before you can see the English translation. This forces you to try to understand the German before jumping to the English translation.
- Detailed, comprehensive grammar explanations
- Lots of materials available in the free version
- English translations not immediately visible
- Limited audio content
- Lacks speaking instruction/practice
15. 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 is non-traditional because it minimizes memorization, letting you naturally absorb new words in context. The goal of the program 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
16. Best for All Levels: Deutsche Welle
Summary: For straightforward, interactive lessons for all levels, this free website is a great resource. Deutsche Welle is a fabulous source of free lessons, 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 with in 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
17. Best for Beginners: Loecsen
Summary: Loecsen teaches basic vocabulary and can boost your listening comprehension with its read-aloud feature.
Though it’s not the most elaborate of resources, Loecsen does offer some really cool features. You’ll find a ton of vocabulary lessons to boost your memory of German words.
It’s an especially beginner-friendly resource—the focus is on basic topics like greetings, numbers, food, family and more. These German lessons include images to help you associate words with meanings.
The best thing about Loecsen is the feature that reads aloud to you. Hearing German is a crucial part of the language-learning process, so if you can read along with the spoken words, you’ll have an easier time recalling words and phrases later.
- Lets you read along with spoken German
- Lots of relevant vocabulary
- Great for beginners
- Somewhat dated and basic interface
- Not much material beyond the beginner level
18. Best for Staying on Track: Busuu
Summary: Busuu focuses mostly on listening and speaking, and has a speech recognition tool to evaluate your spoken German.
With more than 80 lesson units, Busuu offers a comprehensive foundation for getting started with the German language. It provides a means to track your progress by using a vocabulary trainer and giving you a periodical fluency score.
What makes this site unique: It monitors your study plan. Busuu asks you to develop a study plan and checks in with updates as to how well you’re sticking to it. So if you’re someone who needs the occasional nudge to keep you on track, this feature could be key for you.
While the free version is fun, it’s also very limited. So if you really want to improve your German, you may want to invest in the Busuu premium plan.
Read our full review of Busuu here.
- Set personalized goals to stay motivated
- Covers useful topics like culture
- Native speakers give you feedback
- Not as entertaining as other courses
- Limited speaking practice
19. Best Before a Trip: Rosetta Stone
Summary: Achieving success and popularity since the 1990s, Rosetta Stone provides streamlined instruction useful for everyday situations and getting around a German-speaking country.
Rosetta Stone hits the sweet spot for beginners and intermediates, though it tends to fall short when you start becoming an advanced learner. It provides a good introduction to the language and can be useful for informal study or traveling.
The guides in this program focus on exploration, clarity and connection, with online lessons for tasks like making phone calls, discussing your well being and more.
If you need extra structure, this might be worth your investment. We all know this sharp yellow box doesn’t come cheap, but you can start with the free trial and see how things go.
Read our full review of Rosetta Stone here.
- Teaches basic vocabulary and common phrases
- Provides practice of all skills including speaking
- Teaches through association instead of translation
- Not suitable above intermediate level
- Repetitive exercises can get tedious
Benefits of Learning German Online
Lots of free options
One of the many benefits of learning German online 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.
Whether you choose to pay or not 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 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 they 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.
Access to native speakers
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.
There are also lots of options for connecting to German speakers across the world through online language exchange programs and tutoring services.
For an even more casual option, you could try talking to German speakers on a chat app like HelloTalk or HiNative.
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.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn German with real-world videos.