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Contrary to popular belief, German can be an exceptionally beautiful language. It’s logical, rhythmic and full of quirks! Whether you want to learn German so you can converse with family overseas or you’re planning a move to Germany, you need some resources to learn German.
But where do you start, and what do you do once you know the basics? We know you have heaps of questions, and as luck would have it, we have the answers right here.
Round-up of best resources to learn German
Before we get into the full lists, however, here are some personal recommendations.
Start by downloading the Babbel or Mondly app to get the basics. Rocket Languages and Pimsleur offer comprehensive audio courses to keep your lessons structured (trust me, you need this when you first discover modal verbs!).
With that said, here let’s get down to business. Los geht’s!
Best apps to Learn German
Choosing the right apps to learn German is so important, especially for beginners. Many people choose to start learning German through mobile apps.
Here are six of our favorite German learning apps:
If you’re serious about learning German as a beginner, I’d recommend Babbel. Firstly, the design is straightforward and easy to navigate. Secondly, you have the option of starting at a level that suits you. Finally, I find that the lessons are well organized and interesting.
Every first lesson of each course is free, but I recommend that you upgrade to the paid-for version to get the most out of the app.
Mondly uses a blend of state-of-the-art technology and traditional, effective methods. It’s a great app for beginners to get a taste for the German language and start speaking like a local quickly. It offers you new lessons daily, free.
If English isn’t your first language, Mondly could be your best app for learning German. They offer German lessons in 33 languages (English being just one of them) and their satisfaction score speaks for itself.
Drops is a simple yet effective app to build your German vocabulary through a game. German words and phrases are accompanied by an illustration, and you decide whether you’ve already committed it to memory, or need it repeated again.
You can use drops for free, or upgrade for unlimited playtime.
Spend 10 minutes a day on Busuu to improve your German reading, listening, speaking, and writing skills. Yes, this app tackles it all. Busuu delivers interactive vocabulary and grammar lessons with audio, as well as writing exercises.
Busuu is free, but you can upgrade to get full access, a personalized study plan, and to be corrected by native speakers.
This app is great for people who want to have an intensive beginner’s introduction to German. Word Dive was created by top notch Finnish teachers who know a thing or two about teaching, so the methods are backed up by research.
Learn German with TV shows and movies! As you watch German content, you can click on the interactive subtitles that teach you new vocabulary and pronunciation. You can save words into flashcards that you can access later, and even record your voice to practice your pronunciation. Try Lingopie for free!
Download this when you get bored of “lessons”. This is a word game app that will have you reeling when it comes to spelling German compound nouns!
Best German language programs & online courses
There are almost too many German language programs and online courses to count. But, quality over quantity. Unless of course, you can have both.
Here are our top few German online courses that deliver both!
If you’ve never tried an online language course, you can’t go wrong with Rocket German. Auditory learners, this course is for you.
Lessons are capped to 20 minutes to improve memory retention and increase productivity. The full Rocket German course has over 380 hours of repeatable lessons!
You also access to their mobile app, a forum with fellow learners, and pronunciation tools.
The Pimsleur German course is audio-focused and can be done anywhere and any time. Core lessons are only 30 minutes long and can be supplemented with digital flashcards and reading lessons.
Pimsleur teaches you how to improve your German intuitively, rather than through rote learning. It gets you speaking German from the very start.
Here’s an offer for you: Try Pimsleur German absolutely FREE today!
10. Rosetta Stone
You’ve heard of Rosetta Stone already, haven’t you?
Its German language software is great for complete beginners because it takes you step-by-step. It’s particularly handy for teaching basic grammar and vocabulary, and getting you to intermediate level in German.
Click to take advantage of the ongoing Rosetta Stone promotion.
German courses on Cudoo are designed to help you progress through the lessons at your own pace. Whether you’re a beginner looking to build a solid foundation in the language or you’re already advanced in your studies and just want to brush up on what you know, you can find a suitable course on Cudoo. What’s great is that the courses are available in both German and Swiss German.
Choose from over 100 German courses of varying lengths and specialization. Beginner-friendly courses are popular but there are also ones that focus on grammar, pronunciation, intensive German, and more. Skillshare courses are self-paced and often broken down into digestible videos.
This is the Duolingo of online German courses; it’s free and doesn’t require you to sign up. The website is poorly designed but overall the content is high quality.
Great if you’re a beginner on a tight budget!
Wunderbla is a great option for intermediate or advanced German learners as the lessons are mostly in German. You get interesting and varied lessons for a sum of €21 a month, which I think is reasonable.
Their courses come with access to their app, and you get a proficiency certificate at the end.
Best podcasts to learn German
All of the following German podcasts are available on Spotify (or Apple Podcasts), and each adds something to your learning regime. They’re all free.
Give them a listen!
Marc is one of our favorites here at Hey Explorer, and not just because he’s an awesome polyglot.
Coffee Break’s podcasts are as interesting as they are insightful. This podcast covers interesting topics and the content is always refreshing, even when it covers modal verbs. Highly recommend.
Made by Deutsche Welle, Alltagsdeutsch is a German podcast that hones in on fresh topics and teaches you German along the way. It’s part of their Deutsch Lernen course series, and you can learn a lot from these short but sweet episodes.
I love this podcast. If, like me, you really appreciate idioms and learning linguistic nuances, listen to this. The host, Robin, explains German colloquialisms and expressions.
Episodes are two minutes long so you can squeeze them in whenever you have time!
18. Expertly German
Get translations of important topics and grammar advice by listening to this podcast. Tom covers everything from Brexit to German business etiquette, and the lessons are neatly organized and logical (as you’d expect them to be!).
19. Der Anruf
Another one of my favorites. This one is best suited for intermediate to advanced German learners because it contains some complex language. It’s also just so…German.
“Der Anruf” means “the call” and the hosts call up strangers with emotional or interesting stories. It’s fascinating. It covers some heavy (and some funny) topics.
Best live online German classes
Do you prefer live, online German classes with a teacher instead of a pre-packaged, one-size-fits-all German course?
Then one of the German programs below might suit your needs.
20. Fluent City
Specialized lessons, taught by experts – that’s Fluent City. You can either join a group class or get one-on-one tuition, all handily delivered via Zoom.
Tutors are handpicked and well-equipped to help you progress in your German language journey.
Similar to Fluent City, but available on a monthly subscription.
German lessons with native-speaking German teachers on Lingoda are held in video call format, and you can either go it alone or join a class with a couple of other students.
22. Das Akademie
Berlin-based Das Akademie für Deutsche Sprachen offers comprehensive courses for all levels. They swear by the immersion approach, and combine an e-learning platform and virtual classes to get results.
Pricey, but in this instance, you do get what you pay for.
Best websites to find German tutors
German tutors can step up your progress and help you achieve your German goals quicker and more efficiently. But where do you find one?
Luckily, you don’t need to go looking. Here are the best websites to find German tutors!
Make italki your go-to website to find a German tutor. The service is incredible value for money (so much so that you’re in control of how much you want to spend). Money isn’t the biggest factor, though.
Variety, interesting lessons, and meaningful tuition are. And the choice to pick your tutor! And that’s what italki does best. Get lessons on how to speak German, Austrian German, or Swiss German – it’s up to you!
Preply is an incredibly flexible service with great tutors. Whatever branch of German you’re interested in, the time zone you’re in, or other preferences you might have, Preply will have a tutor for you.
They have 650 German tutors to choose from, and the lessons are insightful and informal.
25. Live Lingua
Live Lingua matches you to a native German teacher who will deliver private online German lessons that meet your needs and preferences.
Take a free one-on-one lesson to give it a try; no credit card required!
Need a tutor for that push towards German fluency? Find an online German tutor that matches your time zone and enter a digital classroom.
Wyzant has close to 200 German tutors to choose from. With Wyzant, you pay as you go, so there’s no need to bother with subscriptions or packages.
Best books to learn German
The digital world has endless possibilities when it comes to resources to learn German. Be that as it may, German learning books, textbooks, and grammar books are still a vital component if you want to get loads of written practice and learn German in a structured manner.
Here are just seven of my personal favorites.
- Paul Stocker (Author)
- German (Publication Language)
- 150 Pages – 06/18/2010 (Publication Date) – Trans-Atlantic Publications (Publisher)
A staple for any German learner. If you only buy one book to help you learn German, make it this one. Includes core vocabulary, synonyms, and so much more. A must have.
- Amazon Kindle Edition
- Richter, Jan (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 10/12/2018 (Publication Date)
It won’t take you long to discover that German grammar is insanely complicated. Make life easy for yourself by getting this book. It contains easy, logical explanations that won’t leave you confused.
- Swick, Edward (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 304 Pages – 11/18/2009 (Publication Date) – Everything (Publisher)
Some people swear by textbooks, and if you’re one of them, here’s what I’d recommend to beginners. Each chapter has practice questions, and the content is both useful and contemporary.
- Wehage, Franz-Joseph (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 322 Pages – 02/24/2017 (Publication Date) – Focus (Publisher)
Intermediate to advanced learners, this one’s for you. It contains enough variety of lessons and practice exercises to keep you interested, and doesn’t skimp on details. Highly recommend.
- Amazon Kindle Edition
- Noble, Patrick (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 44 Pages – 02/26/2019 (Publication Date)
Don’t despair, auditory learners. This audiobook introduces vocabulary, German grammar principles and assists you along the way. Great for self-learners.
- Amazon Kindle Edition
- Richards, Olly (Author)
- German (Publication Language)
- 256 Pages – 10/04/2018 (Publication Date) – Teach Yourself (Publisher)
It’s always helpful to see what you’ve learned in context. These short stories give examples of German sentence structures, and help increase your vocabulary.
Beginners, don’t hesitate to reach for this once you’ve got the basics. You’ve got this!
- Audible Audiobook
- Brüder Grimm (Author) – Marie Bierstedt, Gabriele Blum, Wolf Frass (Narrators)
- German (Publication Language)
- 09/01/2016 (Publication Date) – Oetinger Media (Publisher)
As far as German storybooks for beginners go, this one’s my favorite. Who didn’t love reading fairy tales as a kid? Enjoy them even more as an adult as you delve into these beautiful stories.
Best websites to learn German
As we all know, the hardest part about finding online resources to learn a language is sorting the diamonds from the garbage. Don’t worry, I’ve done the dirty work for you!
Here are some genuinely useful and fun websites to help you get the full German immersion online:
LingQ encourages you to learn German naturally, at your own pace. LingQ’s curated audio library has everything from news transcripts to book extracts. From the moment you sign up, you’re in charge of what you want to learn from.
Everything is personalized, from lessons to resources. Highly recommended!
MosaLingua’s a fantastic German learning tool. It exposes you to German words and phrases, with the option to create personalized flashcards for memorization. You can also read and listen to articles based on your German skill level.
MosaLingua claims to have helped 11 million people around the world through its learning method; so join the ranks and see what it’s about.
Love learning with videos? Then FluentU is right up your alley.
On FluentU, you can level up your German with all kinds of video content, from news to movie trailers and music videos. Follow along with the interactive captions that are subtitled and translated.
Sporcle has a number of German language quizzes to test you in a fun way. Time yourself and see how quickly you improve over time!
There’s also a fun Geography quiz in German, if you fancy it.
38. German news publications
Reading German news, or news written in German, is a great source for expanding your reading comprehension.
If you’re interested in a particular city or area, a quick google search plus “nachrichten” (news) will point you in the right direction.
To learn German is to fall in love with the language itself.
This blog is dedicated to obscure, interesting, and sometimes downright bizarre German words. Some will stick in your head, others will remind you why German is a great language to learn. It’s full of the unexpected!
The website is just as good as their corresponding app. This German learning website is full of trivia quizzes, lessons, and videos. It’s also pretty funny.
A question I got was: Welches Zimmer ist nicht in meiner Wohnung? Answer: Hans Zimmer. If you know, you know.
(Psst: It’s also run by the same people behind Easy German on YouTube, more on them next!).
Best YouTube channels to learn German
Hands up if you’re addicted to YouTube. That’s fine, because YouTube is among the most enjoyable German learning resources.
Plus, of course, it’s entirely free. Danke, YouTube!
41. Easy German
Fun videos covering language tips, humorous exchanges, and what absolutely not to do in Germany. Great content, easily accessible, and has English subtitles so beginners can keep up.
I also love their Q&A live sessions which are also uploaded to the same channel.
For videos full of energy, pronunciation help and practical demonstrations, there can only be Anja.
Her videos cover modal verbs, pronunciation, and German cultural references. She also has a video that teaches you to embody your inner cat hiss for the German “ch” sound.
YouTubers Luzi and Johannes guide you on all things German. They upload tutorial-based videos on grammar, vocabulary, and German cultural references.
Their thumbnails also have a handy sticker system so you know if the video is suited to your proficiency level.
Unleash your inner nerd and learn something new with Kurzgesagt. Curious minds will love this channel, since they discuss topics such as the universe, philosophy and ethics, and politics.
All videos are in German but have English subtitles.
45. Made My Day
If you’re into trashy YouTube videos, add this channel to your guilty pleasures playlist. Life hacks, pranks random facts, it’s all here. Take it with a pinch of salt, and see the more lighthearted side of German culture.
Best FREE resources to learn German
Don’t let money be the reason you shy away from learning German.
Certainly, you’ll find these useful if you combine them with paid-for services, but they’re great substitutes if money’s tight.
While many of the points listed above provide content for free, here are even more free German learning resources.
Free apps to learn German
Personally, I think Duolingo is a great (free!) option for beginners to get the very basics. Beyond a certain point, though, you might get the itch to upgrade to get rid of the ads, or find your progress is slowed down by repetitive lessons.
Reddit’s /r/German is a great resource if you’re struggling or need some advice from fellow learners. It also has tons of great resources for German learners.
Also, learn more about Germany from Germans by visiting the forum r/Germany, and soak up some classic German humor.
Both are frequently updated and easy to navigate.
HelloTalk is an awesome platform that allows you to practice German with fellow learners and speakers. It connects you to other online German learners.
It’s basically a language exchange program, and as an added bonus, it corrects any mistakes you make in your written responses.
Free German classes
49. Deutsche Welle
Media moguls Deutsche Welle don’t just deliver news. They have free German courses available on their website, either in German (for intermediate to advanced learners) or English for beginners.
Learn German with Deutsche Welle has many advantages. Most importantly, it’s free and written by fluent German speakers, so accuracy is guaranteed.
Otherwise, The German Project takes an easygoing approach to deliver you high-quality lessons. There are loads of lessons available, ranging from correct umlaut pronunciation to incorporating German slang. Highly recommend for beginners.
Free German books
51. Local libraries
Before you invest in your own copy, remember to check out your local library. Many offer PDFs and language learning books.
Also, don’t forget to ask if they have a foreign languages section; you may be able to pick up German texts to practice your reading skills.
Another option is to give the 30-day free trial on Audible a chance. Many of the audiobooks we mentioned in our best books to learn German article have PDFs attached, so it’s worth giving it a shot before you commit yourself.
Best Netflix TV shows & movies to learn German
When you don’t feel like taking a lesson, alleviate your guilty feelings by curling up in front of Netflix.
You can’t Learn German exclusively by binge-watching German movies and TV shows, but you can pick up new words and practice your listening skills.
Here are my favorite Netflix shows to learn German:
Fans of Stranger Things, here is the German equivalent. The storylines are unpredictable, it’s mysterious and will leave you feeling confused in the best possible way.
I couldn’t resist putting this on the list. It’s a period drama set in ‘80s Berlin, and you know what that means: Berlin Wall, DDR and GDR, etc. It follows two families separated by the wall and highlights the differences beyond the boundary line.
3 Türken & ein Baby
Germany has a large Turkish-German population, and this is a comedy that comes from the perspective of three such brothers who are left to look after a baby together. It’s funny, and gives an often neglected side of German culture much-needed attention.
All is Well
Just so you know, this movie is harrowing and comes with trigger warnings. It won The Stockholm Film Festival prize and has 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, and the storyline is gripping. It tells the story of a young woman battling with a traumatic life event. Moving and powerful.
The best way to learn German online
You know what’s coming, don’t you? I can’t tell you how you learn best, but I can point you in the right direction. If you do the following things, you’ll definitely see some improvement. The rest is on you!
Consume German culture
I cannot emphasize strongly enough how important this is. Radio, TV, movies, all have something to offer you in the way of learning German. Especially if you want to sound like a natural German speaker.
Speak German daily
Even if it’s just to yourself. But it’s better to speak to another person if you can. Most Germans don’t mind interrupting you mid-sentence to correct you – use it to your advantage. Don’t take criticism as an indicator of your competency.
Be prepared to mess up
On that note, however…being corrected is helpful. Not knowing why you used the wrong word/preposition/word ending/case/tense isn’t. Find out why you made a mistake, and try to repeat the sentence until it’s correct. Banal, but useful.
Try everything once
Don’t be one of those people who claim they can’t learn another language. Everyone can. The only way to find out which method is best for you is to try all kinds of tools to learn German.
Courses, books, audiobooks, podcasts, YouTube, apps…leave no resource behind!
If you’re struggling, it might be that your course, book, or German learning resource is too advanced for you. Learning German shouldn’t feel like a slog. Set achievable goals and celebrate when you reach them!
And that just about concludes our list of the best resources to learn German. If you know of something we don’t know about yet, tell us in the comments below! Now all that’s left is to wish you viel Glück, und bis später!