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The Best German Lessons

Where Can You Find the Best German Lessons?

Did you know that German is the second-most spoken language in Europe? Or that around 95 million people worldwide speak German as their primary language and that it is an official language in six countries? Perhaps you have German roots in your family and want to get in touch with your heritage by learning German?

If you study sciences, you may know that German is the most commonly used scientific language. Learning German can provide you with an insight into the German people's way of life and also broaden your horizons. Whatever your personal reason for wanting to learn German, the next step is to find your best way to study the language.

Sunday, January 23rd

2022 German Lesson Reviews

Top Consumer Reviews Best-In-Class Blue Ribbon Award Busuu Review 5 Star Rating

Busuu

5 Star Rating
  • Vocabulary presented in communicative phrases, shown in context
  • Bases their lessons on the CEFR standards
  • Time management planning for achieving specific language goals
  • Prizes and social community for motivation
  • Writing and speaking exercises corrected by native German speakers
Top Consumer Reviews Best-In-Class Blue Ribbon Award

Busuu has a unique, communicative method for learning German. You learn real-life phrases, that aren't just memorization but application. You can apply them in writing and speaking, and then have native German speakers tell you how well you did and if you'd be understood. They might even offer to show you how to reword the phrase to say it more like they do in Germany. You can also offer suggestions to students who are learning your native language!

How will you know where to start?

If you're new to German, you would start at A1. You might be wondering what A1 means, and what's next after A1. Busuu actually uses CEFR: Common European Framework of Reference, which is the official European determination of fluency in a language. It goes from A1 to A2, B1, B2, C1 and then C2. The test you're given isn't the actual test that the European students take, but it's still good. This way, if you already know some German, or continue in Busuu's lessons and end up at a certain level, it's a well-known level and definition. That's a big plus, because some language-learning programs have their own definition of beginner, intermediate, or advanced, and you don't know if that "definition" transfers to anything in real life. And if they call you advanced, are you really advanced? Not with Busuu: it's clear cut, tried, and true. That said, Busuu's German program takes you to B2 at the highest. You can't get to an advanced level with Busuu. You can still get pretty far, and there are more than 250 lessons for you to learn and enjoy.

Determine your goals and available time

Once you take the placement test and determine which level to start at, you'll then be asked a short series of questions so Busuu can tailor a bit to you. What is your purpose for learning German? Is it to travel, for business, to make small talk or ask directions, or carry on meaningful conversations? You then tell them how much time per day or week you want to dedicate to your German lessons. Between the conversational goal you told them and your time allotted, they will tell you how long it will take you to meet your goal. This is refreshing! Rather than plod away at lesson after lesson, not knowing what you'll really be able to do and when, Busuu tells you when your goal can be completed. If you would rather meet your goal sooner, you'll know to adjust your time on task per week. It's all up to you. You can also get notifications to remind you that the day and time you dedicated for studying is coming up.

Costs

  • Basic access: Free
  • Premium: $9.99 per month
  • Premium Plus: $13.99 per month

The Basic plan is good

The Basic plan, which is free, gives you access to vocabulary words and phrases, reading, writing, interactive exams, and goal-setting. The vocabulary offered is good, and it's in words and phrases, which helps to learn German for communicating. The free plan only allows you access to parts of the lessons. You won't be able to complete all of the activities and you won't get grammar lessons. When you complete activities or learn a lesson, you get to win prizes. The prizes are Busuu berries. When you win berries, you can go to the Busuu shop and "purchase" items. You can also invite your friends on Facebook or find new "friends" on Busuu, so you can have healthy competitions to motivate you to complete lessons or reach goals.

The Premium plan offers more

The Premium plan gives you full access to the German lessons, unlike the free Basic plan where you won't get to see the grammar lesson and you won't get to complete all of the activities. With this membership, not only will you have access to the complete German lessons including grammar, you get the AI-powered review, and have access to the program via the website and the Apple or Android app.

The Premium Plus plan really is the best

With Premium Plus, you can learn more than one language. Once you get hooked on one, you may want to start learning more, who knows? There are 12 languages possible with Busuu. When you complete a CEFR level of language study (A1, A2, B1, or B2), you will receive a certificate from a nationally-known education corporation. No, it's not a real certificate from a European school, but we think it's pretty good. On the Premium Plus membership, you can also receive corrections and possibly suggestions on your written and spoken work from actual, native German speakers. You are also invited to help other students with their written or spoken work when they study your native language.

Best German Lessons

Lessons are well planned out

The lessons go in an order designed to achieve CEFR goals. The titles of the lessons are intriguing. Many are conversational topics with underlying grammar and vocabulary. For example, one lesson is "Understanding Directions." Others are, "Asking for directions using the right definite article in the singular" , "Learning to say what your job is" , and "Expressing how a group of people feel with the verb "sein'." They try to let you know what you will be able to do at the end of the lesson.

You can choose what and how much to practice

After each lesson, there are activities to practice what you have learned, using the four skills of listening, reading, writing, and speaking. Your dashboard tells you the activities that are available to you, and you can choose which and how many activities you need. Because time can be of concern, each activity tells you how much time they anticipate it will take you to complete.

Real people to correct your work!

Some of the longer writing or speaking activities will be submitted to a real person to evaluate. They will read or listen to your work and offer feedback. They may tell you how well you did, and they may offer extra tidbits, such as where they're from or if they might use a different word or word order. The people who look at your work are called "friends." You can choose a "friend" to evaluate your work if you like how their feedback has been, and you can also choose to be a "friend" to those learning your native language.

Social networking

Just as Busuu has a community of "friends" to evaluate each other's work, the company also encourages you to invite your friends or Facebook friends to join the platform. When you and a friend both learn from Busuu, you can challenge each other or have a healthy competition for lessons completed or levels reached!

Culture is that added spice

Have you studied hard in high school for years, and when you finally had the opportunity to practice your German in an authentic setting, got a funny look and were told, "That's not what we say. Nobody really says it like that." Boom! Huge confidence killer. You wonder what else you were taught that people don't use, and now you are afraid to speak. No worries, Busuu's got you covered. They tell you the "textbook" way to learn it, and then what people really say and why.

Everything but advanced

It really seems like Busuu has it all - thoughtful, communicative lessons, goal-setting applications, a European determiner of fluency goal-setting, a network of helpers, and little prizes at the end of lessons. But we want more. We want to be advanced. Although Busuu has over 250 German lessons, it only goes up to B2. We would love to see Busuu offer C1 and C2 levels. We also wish it had more practice speaking. We understand that real fluency happens with real-time conversations with native speakers, and online programs and apps without live instructors just can't offer that. But if Busuu offered more practice speaking, you could get a bit more fluent.

All in all, we think Busuu is great

Busuu's placement test based on the European system offers leveling you can be confident in. The lessons may not offer all the bells and whistles, but they offer you a good path to fluency. We love that Busuu has goal-setting technology and the community of "friends" to evaluate work. If it had more lessons at the advanced (C1 and C2) levels, and if there were more speaking opportunities, that would be ideal. If you are dedicated and stick with your goals, using this monthly-subscription German-lesson program is worth the investment. Busuu earns our highest possible rating.

Memrise Review 4.5 Star Rating

Memrise

4.5 Star Rating
  • Quite a bit of content, especially for beginners
  • A large amount of video content
  • Interactive lessons
  • Videos of native speakers talking to you from their country

How is Memrise different? Well, how many times have you heard people say that they've taken four years of language in high school and now they don't remember a thing? The goal of Memrise is not only to be attractive and fun, but also to help you retain the material you've learned.

Clear audio so you can learn to repeat

When you see a visual for the vocabulary word or phrase, you can click to hear a male voice or a female voice. This consistency is helpful for the student to hear the same voice when learning new vocabulary. In hearing the same voice, your mind adjusts to it, and you have an easier time with new words. It's not like each lesson has a different person from a different country or region: this can be quite difficult when learning pronunciation.

Real people in their own settings

Once you hear the standard voice say the vocabulary word, you can now hear it spoken by real people where they live. You might hear a person from Nuremberg standing in front of the Nuremberg Castle, and of course, their accent might be slightly different than that of a person from Munich, but this person is still easy to understand. How wonderful for subtly getting students interested in travel! (And why not travel to Germany someday to practice your newfound skills?)

Natural gestures

When the person in the video is talking to you, they might naturally use gestures when talking like we might, but gestures in different countries may be different than ours. For example, if you ask someone how many sisters they have, and they reply "one" , they will not use their index finger. Europeans use their thumb for "one" and their thumb and index finger for "two." They are little subtleties that one may encounter when travelling, but with Memrise, you'll have that opportunity here and there with these videos.

Growth is good

When you are in the beginning of a level, you'll see the icon of a seed. When you water the seed with your practice, the seed will grow into a healthy plant. Just as a plant needs consistent watering for it to grow, so do your skills. Keep "watering" them regularly and you will see growth, with your skills and your little icon. This is Memrise's gentle way of encouraging you and rewarding you for keeping up your studies.

Maybe you already know some German

Memrise builds upon its lessons and has healthy repetition to learn the material more deeply. If you are not a beginner, you can choose where you would like to start your lessons. No worries if they include vocabulary that they taught in an earlier lesson that you don't know: it's considered review, and there will be places in the activities to catch you up when you need it.

What about advanced content?

Unfortunately, Memrise is heavy on lessons for beginner and intermediate students. If you'd like to fortify the German you've learned in the past, Memrise can help. If you want to continue in your advanced studies, you'll need to find a different program.

Best German Lessons

How intensely do you want to learn?

Memrise has a setting for you to set notifications for your blocked out time for learning German. How often do you want to make time for a German lesson? Or maybe this is a busy time of year for you and you just can't clear time daily for your lessons. Whatever your situation, Memrise will help you with notifications.

Costs

  • Free basic access
  • Monthly Plan: $8.99 per month
  • Annual Plan: $7.50 per month or $89.99 per year
  • Lifetime Plan: $139.99 one-time fee

Free or paid subscription?

Memrise keeps it simple. You choose the free plan or the paid plan. Here is the difference.

  • The Free Plan
    • Courses for 23 languages
    • Video clips of people where they live in Germany
    • Fun quizzes in the form of games
    • Review plans that are personalized
    • Your program syncs across your devices
  • The Pro Plan
    • All of the above
    • Access to all learning features
    • No advertising
    • Offline learning via the app

Memrise Pro has added benefits

The free plan certainly offers plenty of lessons, practice, and review. The Pro plan offers a few really nice additional features which can enrich the learning process. There's added content, and much was created by Memrise users! You can see statistics of your learning progress. They also have speech-recognition technology. This means that you not only hear the example of the spoken phrase, you can also record yourself and then listen, comparing yourself to the native speaker. Voice recognition hears your voice and lets you know where you veer from the native speaker's example, helping you to know if you might be understood by others. Memrise Pro also offers "mems," or mnemonic devices: ways to help you memorize those words you keep getting wrong. We all have certain words that we just can't seem to commit to memory, no matter how many times we practice those flashcards, right? Memrise knows which words you have difficulty with, and offers their "mems," oftentimes memes, to help you get over the hump.

30-day money-back guarantee

The free plan certainly has plenty of material available, but you'll have to be patient with the ads. You could also bypass the advertising and subscribe. Be sure you try out the program enough within the first 30 days to decide if the Pro Plan is the right fit for you. If not, cancellation must occur within the first 30 days if you choose the annual or lifetime plans. The monthly plan has no option for a refund.

Memrise is addicting and we recommend it

We love the care Memrise took to help its students learn German. There are notifications to remind you it's time for your lesson, they have consistent native speakers for ease of learning pronunciation, native speakers in their own countries on the videos, speech recognition technology, "mems" for the words that are challenging to commit to memory, and we can watch our seed of learning grow. The only thing lacking is a chance to continue using Memrise to a more advanced level of German. All things considered, Memrise easily receives high marks from us.

Babbel Review 4.5 Star Rating

Babbel

4.5 Star Rating
  • Conversational phrases that are meant for real-life use
  • Grammar explained clearly
  • Appropriately-challenging content to learn at a good pace
  • Clear audio
  • Speech-recognition technology
  • Babbel Live has live instruction in classes of 6 or smaller

Babbel is one of the more recognized and praised online language learning programs out there. They start out conversationally, which is refreshing. There's repetition of previously-taught words and phrases, but you don't get bored by the redundancy of the repetition, as can happen in some other programs.

Babbel's method works and is conversational

It's nice to be able to say "The boy plays soccer, The girl plays soccer," for example. Should it really be taught in the first lessons of a language course? Some language programs teach phrases like this first thing, but how long until you would actually use this sentence in context? You probably want to know how to introduce yourself and carry on a small conversation...probably not about the boy or girl who plays soccer. Babbel, however, teaches useful phrases right off the bat. They teach you how to greet people and ask how they are. This is conversational and something you can use right away. Babbel also uses a technique called spaced repetition, or what some language teachers call "recycling" . Spaced repetition is where key words and phrases are periodically repeated to reinforce them and commit them to long-term memory.

Babbel uses English as building blocks to understand German

Babbel knows that we have already learned English and uses that to our advantage. If there are words and phrases that look like English, and should be easy to learn, they don't spend a lot of time on them. The more complicated phrases for English speakers are reinforced more.

If you already know German, there's a placement test

The placement test is convenient as it can tell you where to start so you don't have to start at the beginning and get bored, or just guess. Babbel, like other online learning programs, provides much content for the beginner, but there's gradually less material the more advanced you become.

Babbel's practice activities

As soon as you select your lesson, set up the mic for your speaking practice! The lesson is presented, then you'll do practice activities like fill-in-the-blank, match images with German words, and repeat words and phrases into the microphone. At the bottom of the screen, there's a review bar so you can look over the previously presented material.

Best German Lessons

Speech recognition technology

Not many online language learning programs offer speech recognition technology, but Babbel does have it, and it's a good feature. When you record your voice after hearing the native speaker, Babbel listens to you and lets you know when you were understood and where you should improve. The voices that you are to imitate are native German speakers, so you can listen and try to repeat not only their words, but their pronunciation and accents. Speech recognition is relatively new, and therefore, not a perfect program. Even so, we think it's a good feature and are glad Babbel has it.

Costs

  • Babbel app and online courses:
    • 1 month: $13.95 per month
    • 3 months: $9.95 per month
    • 6 months: $8.45 per month
    • 12 months: $6.95 per month
  • Babbel Live:
    • 1 month: $99 per month
    • 3 months: $69.67 per month
    • 6 months: $59.83 per month
    • 12 months: $49.92 per month

20-day refund policy

Babbel provides a 20-day refund policy, regardless of which plan and payment plan you have selected. This is a good period of time, as some online language learning programs offer a lesser trial period.

Babbel Live

If you would rather learn from a live person and not from a computer program, then Babble Live might be what you're looking for. Babbel Live, you can take an unlimited number of classes per month in live sessions with six or fewer students. The classes range from A1 (Beginner) to C1 (Advanced). The classification system of A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, C2 is the European classification for a person's fluency. It's nice to know that when you know which level you are at, it's a scale that's used throughout Europe, not just a company-invented rating system like some other language programs implement.

Many classes held every day

Once you know your level with a placement test or by progressing through the units, you will see that there are 70-80 live classes held daily. You are welcome to take notes, but it's not required, and there aren't any mandatory tests or quizzes. You can attend as many as you like. When you register for Babbel Live, you must be 16 years of age or older, and you also have access to the lessons and practice through the app and online program.

Great choice

Babbel provides a great package when it comes to german lessons. It covers all the bases - reading, writing, speaking, and listening. It's effective and affordable, and thousands of students around the world recommend it. For all these reasons, it's easy to see why Babbel earns high marks when it comes to learning german.

italki Review 4.5 Star Rating

italki

4.5 Star Rating
  • One-on-one live lessons
  • Affordable fee rate
  • You choose the instructor
  • 15,000 teachers available
  • Skilled teachers, even at the lower fee rate
  • Flexible scheduling

German is the second-most spoken language in Europe, and approximately 200 million people speak it worldwide. Your trial lesson can cost just $1, and your instructor can be a person who knows German well, a native speaker of German, or a professional teacher. (For reference, Italki considers a professional to have an advanced degree or be a teacher. There are 15,000 highly qualified people that italki has chosen to be German instructors.)

First, choose a German teacher

If there are 15,000 teachers, how do you decide which one to choose? Italki has a list of teachers. Each person has a photo, their name, what country they are from, which languages they speak, and their hourly rate. Click on their name to learn more. They give you a video introduction of themselves and what it's like to learn from them and a written bio as well. You can see how many students they have had, what their native language is, if they speak English, how many italki lessons given, what materials they may use, if they assign homework, their work experience, italki ratings, and reviews by italki German students. The reviews are helpful not only for the obvious reasons, but also so that you can see if they are a good match for you specifically. When you read the reviews, which often talk about their style, is this an approach that you would like to have in a German instructor, or should you move on to the next bio?

Next, pick a date and time for your lesson

Click to schedule. The italki calendar adjusts to the timezone on your device, and tells you the available time slots on the instructor's calendar. You are also welcome to message the instructor to ask for a specific time that's not marked as available.

Connect for your lesson!

Visit your Student Dashboard, find today's lesson, and click "Enter Classroom," share your screen, and that's it! You can take notes on the screen that only you can see, and they will be saved automatically. At the end of the lesson, click END, and submit a review. That's it! If you're wondering if your internet connection isn't strong enough, they have a Pre-Lesson check in the classroom so that the student and/or the teacher can see if their device is running well enough.

Best German Lessons

Keep your teacher, or switch next time!

The beauty of italki over in-person language classes is that you can change the instructor at any time. In a traditional classroom, your teacher is your teacher for the whole semester or year, like it or not - though hopefully you do like it! With italki, you can keep the same instructor or change at any time. Maybe you would like to have different teaching methods or hear different accents, or what if your favorite teacher didn't have a class available at the times that worked for you? No problem! There are 15,000 teachers to choose from!

Costs

  • Starting at $9 per hour
  • You can choose $40 per hour or more

You get what you pay for?

Instructors with actual teaching experience, teaching certificates, or a university degree in education are referred to as Professional Teachers and allowed to charge more, which can be $40 or more. Those who are either native German speakers or have an advanced degree in German can also be italki teachers, are referred to as Community Tutors, and aren't allowed to charge as much. They might start at $6 per hour. One might think that the higher the fee and the degree the better the instructor, and that the opposite would be true as well. And yet, some reviewers have had great lessons from the less expensive instructors, and sometimes lesser learning experiences with the more costly instructors. So, just like anything else, try it out, and see what or who works best for you.

Help with your writing skills

There is a section where you can write about any topic you'd like to write about in German. Be aware that your work will be public! A person who is proficient in German will read and make corrections and suggestions to your work. If you like this feature and use it, it would be nice to do the same for someone wanting an English speaker to give advice on their writing.

Italki is fabulous, but it's a lot of pressure if you're camera-shy

We love italki, don't get us wrong. How wonderful to choose among 15,000 instructors, have live classes, and choose your schedule! How convenient to change teachers at any time you like! The teaching quality can vary from teacher to teacher, so it may take a few lessons until you find one or a few that are right for you. It's wonderful to have live lessons, of course. However, some people are camera shy, not wanting to be in the spotlight, or don't feel comfortable with a live lesson, just you and the teacher face to face. Some people prefer to learn passively, via video instead of having to interact with someone. Or sometimes you might want to have some fun practicing German, but not be in a live tutoring session. For passive practice, a traditional online language program will have games and activities, prizes and leaderboards to keep you excited and motivated.

Ideal German lessons for developing native-like fluency

Italki is original, has thousands of excellent German teachers, and has inexpensive one-on-one lessons. For those looking for passive lessons or practice, italki falls short. Still, on the whole, there's almost no better method (short of moving to a German-speaking country) of getting your spoken fluency up to speed in such a fun and affordable way. Italki continues to be one of our favorite language-learning resources.

Rosetta Stone Review 4 Star Rating

Rosetta Stone

4 Star Rating
  • 3-day free trial period
  • Option for short-term or lifetime subscription
  • Most recognized language-learning program
  • Fun and interactive

Rosetta Stone is one of the biggest trademarks in language learning. In fact, when other language courses are mentioned, people often wonder if it's as good as Rosetta Stone, whether or not they have actually tried it! Rosetta Stone has longevity and reputation on its side. But Rosetta Stone is more than that. Right away, you will begin to read, write, listen and speak German, and you can work on your pronunciation so you can be sure people will understand you.

Rosetta Stone caters to you

There are lessons for 43 languages, including German. They have lessons for beginners, intermediate learners, and those who want to hone their skills. First, you'll select the level at which you want to begin, and then you choose a subject area: German for work, travel, communication with family, or just German lessons in general? Rosetta Stone has courses for individuals, businesses, and schools.

The brief history of Rosetta Stone

Allen Stoltzfus, the founder, had a tough time learning Russian through traditional methods. He knew he had already learned his native language, so why couldn't he learn another? It was the methodology! His thought: we have all learned at least one language, how did we do that? We learned with sounds and images in their context, and there was no word-for-word translation in the process. Allen and his brother then created the Rosetta Stone language-learning method, named after the artifact that broke the code for understanding the ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics. Allen felt he, too, had broken the language code, so to say.

The natural approach

Just as we learned our first language the natural way, by associating sounds with images to create meaning, that's the tried and true method of Rosetta Stone. If you have been frustrated with traditional language learning methods and are not a fan of direct translation, give Rosetta Stone a try! Fans celebrate learning to speak right away and with a good accent since the technology offers native speaker voice recordings and immediate feedback on students' practice with speech.

Speak German right off the bat!

Even in your first lesson with Rosetta Stone, you'll get to speak German! You'll hear a German word associated with a picture representing that word: the natural method all the way. If the picture-sound meaning is confusing to you, you can click on an arrow that shows the English translation of the word. You can hear the German word as many times as you like, and you can repeat it back. You speak German right out of the gate.

If you like translation, you may want to shop around

Rosetta Stone might be fine for you in the beginning. Since you may not be accustomed to the natural method, there are helps with translation as you first start. As the lessons progress, and vocabulary words advance to vocabulary phrases, there isn't the option to get the translation. The company has heard this frustration, and they offer the suggestion to look at context cues in the photo, use the words you do understand to figure out the words you don't understand, and don't feel you have to understand every word to understand the concept: basically, don't lose the forest for the trees. When we don't understand something in real life, we often look at the cues around us, just like Rosetta Stone is asking us to do with their program.

Best German Lessons

Depends on your comfort level

The problem with the natural method is that when we learned our first language, we had nothing to base it on. Now that we have our first language, many of us have a hard time giving up translation, and we want to know all the words in the paragraph, and not figure only some of them out. Neither the natural method or translation is right or wrong. You just have to do what you feel comfortable with. If you can live without translation and can trust this tried and true method, you'll join the many fans of Rosetta Stone. If you rely on translation as part of your learning style, you might want to check out some of our other highly recommended German language programs.

Short stories that include culture

Once you've got a little German under your belt, enjoy putting it all together by reading a short story. You can listen to a native speaker read the story to you or read the story on your own. If you choose to read aloud, the speech-recognition software will let you know what it heard you say correctly, and what it didn't understand. The bonus is that these stories include culture, which is a fun way to learn it.

Costs

  • 3 months: $11.99 per month, $35.97 total
  • 12 months: $7.99 per month, $143.88 total; on sale for $95.88 (save 33%)
  • Lifetime, unlimited languages: $299, on sale for $179 total (best value)

Take the 3-day free trial

You can easily have a three-day free trial by just giving them an email address. Choose your current level of German and your reason for taking German: family, travel, work, or "basics and beyond." You are then given a plan of study and ready to jump in. Give it a good try to see if the Rosetta Stone method is right for you. There is something important to keep in mind if you feel you need translation and get frustrated with Rosetta Stone. Translation takes time and it takes mental energy. When a language learner talks to a native speaker and needs to translate, it takes too much time. For example, a native speaker asks you how your day was. You quietly translate that to English, then come up with an answer in English that you now have to put into German. The long pause takes a lot of mental energy for you, and a lot of patience on the part of the native speaker who is waiting and waiting for a reply. If, instead, you choose to go from image/thought/idea to German, it doesn't take as much mental energy, not as much time, and the person you're talking to may not have the urge to exit the conversation with you and move on.

We believe in Rosetta Stone and highly recommend it

Translation is often desired, as that's what we're accustomed to in our traditional classrooms. When the student can change paradigms from the translation method to the natural method, they can start thinking in German much sooner and with ease. There are huge fans of Rosetta Stone and tout that they can think in their new language! All of that said, we do wish there was a bit more opportunity for some translation. When a student cannot understand the image in the photo in relation to a foreign language sentence, it can stick in your head and be difficult to move past. Just a bit more English, Rosetta Stone, just a bit more. We also wish Rosetta Stone had more to offer the advanced student. Rosetta Stone has been around since the 1990s, and yet the lessons are focused on the beginner, offer limited work for the intermediate student, but are lacking for the advanced student. We would recommend they develop the lessons to include all learners.

Ouino Review 4 Star Rating

Ouino

4 Star Rating
  • Fluency is the focus
  • Allows for differentiating in order to meet your own goals
  • Simple to use
  • Interactive games and quizzes
  • Ability to track your progress
  • Earn trophies for completing units

Ouino is a good program for those who like to go in a suggested lesson order. It also offers for you to take the lessons in a different order. If today you want to learn restaurant vocabulary and the next day you want to learn travel vocabulary, you can do that, too, if that's where your mood leads you. Ouino realizes that you don't have to be in an advanced German class to learn about what you did yesterday or last week, or what you will do in the future. Each lesson is presented for whatever learning stage you're in. If you've ever wondered why traditional language teaching methods spend so much time on the present and make students wait until the next year or more to talk about the future or the past, you can certainly break out of that box with Ouino!

Subscription choices

You can subscribe to Ouino's German lessons for 3 months ($38.97), 6 months ($59.94) or 12 months ($83.88), or sign up for lifetime lessons ($95.76). If you plan on taking lessons for more than a year, the lifetime subscription doesn't cost much more than the yearly subscription. The limited and the lifetime subscriptions include different features.

The limited subscription includes:

  • 30-day satisfaction guarantee
  • 440+ lessons
  • 1,200+ exercises
  • Allows for multiple users and devices

The lifetime subscription ($95.76):

  • Has a 60-day satisfaction guarantee
  • Adds personal language mentoring
  • Includes lifetime upgrades

60-day money-back guarantee

If you are not happy with Ouino for any reason, contact Ouino within 30 days of subscribing with the limited subscription or 60 days with the lifetime subscription, and Ouino will refund your money, no questions asked.

Interesting dialogs

You will hear dialogs with native speakers. This isn't necessarily unusual for a language-learning program. Courses that "require" you to take the lessons in a specific order can have dialogs that are dry, as the script is locked into that lesson's vocabulary and grammar, and may regurgitate some of the previous lessons' material. The conversation feels forced and not authentic. Because Ouino knows you may not have taken their lessons in order, they take more freedom in their dialogs. They use the current lesson's vocabulary and grammar as a guideline and go from there. There may be some words and phrases you don't understand, but don't fret: after all, in real life, the speakers may use words you don't understand. Get adjusted to using context clues and you'll be fine - in the lesson and in real life.

The Building Block concept

Building Blocks are the grammatical concepts taught in the lesson. Since you don't have to take your lessons in a particular order, they don't assume you remember certain concepts from "previous" lessons. Therefore, each lesson has a building block, neither is considered more advanced than another, and they don't assume you have mastered something in order to understand this Building Block. It's a refreshing concept, especially for those language students who have had difficulty mastering material before moving on to the next lesson. You can also repeat lessons without feeling like you're back at the starting line.

All about fluency

The idea is to put it all together and become a fluent speaker of German. First, Ouino wants you to learn what they call the core material. It's the nuts and bolts of the language: basic grammar and vocabulary. This is where a lot of us dropped out of languages in high school: we were tired of those nuts and bolts at the end of our first or second year and dropped out of language classes. Ouino keeps you hooked with external sources. They offer readings and videos, and with the lifetime subscription (it doesn't cost much more than the yearly subscription), you can talk with native speakers! Use all four skills (listening, reading, writing, and speaking) to put all your learned material to use. Because the lessons don't have to go in order, the material presented in the readings and videos aren't strictly glued to a certain lesson's material. This makes your application of the material feel more real life and not artificially created.

Best German Lessons

Did someone say prizes?

Ouino tracks your progress with quizzes at the end of each lesson. Their dashboard lets you know which lessons you've completed and how well you might have mastered the material. Which lessons were harder for you and maybe you'll want to repeat them? Ouino knows. Did a lesson take longer than you would have liked because it was pretty hard? Ouino knows. Which lessons were easy for you? Ouino knows that, too. At the end of each exercise, you receive a score, and if you earned a 70% or higher, you'll receive a shiny bronze, silver, or gold medal. You'll also receive a medal for completing more than 55 exercises. These medals are displayed on a calendar. You can see when you practiced German and how well you did. Oops, did you skip a week or two, and not think it was that long? Yup, Ouino knows, and it's on the calendar to help you budget your time. You can also see how many reading exercises and how many writing exercises you've completed. Are you getting good at speaking but need to practice more reading? It's on the calendar.

Speaking of speaking

Ouino has technology to record your voice when you do the speaking exercises. You can listen back and judge yourself against the native speaker's voice. There isn't any automated speech recognition available with Ouino. The company says that there are speech recognition programs out there, but none are developed enough to be used by them. Ouino recommends you be the judge of your speaking when you listen to yourself: if you work on your pronunciation, it will improve over time. Certified language teachers would profess that there's a window of time to work on pronunciation before how you speak is ingrained. In the beginning lessons, students work on mouth movements and this movement eventually becomes the speaker's norm. Improving pronunciation after a certain period of time is like learning to break a long-term habit: it can be done, but with a great deal of work and concentration. Most people's accent improves in the beginning and when they are immersed in the language, such as living in another country. Can you achieve a near-native accent when using Ouino? That probably depends on how strict you are with yourself in trying to match your pronunciation to the speaker's voice clips, to be honest.

The activities are repetitive...but wait

As with some other language learning programs, the practice exercises don't vary in format and are repetitive. This is a common complaint of some programs, Ouino included. But Ouino adds a feature for those who like a challenge...or need a break. Each activity has a timer for each question. Do you know the material well? Give yourself less time to answer the questions, and start to think in the language when you have less time to process in English. Was the material challenging, and you're not sure you understand yet? Allow yourself more time per question so you can fully process and give yourself that fighting chance. As you improve, do the exercise again, this time with less time allotted.

Costs

  • 3 months: $12.99 per month
  • 6 months: $9.99 per month
  • 12 months: $6.99 per month
  • Lifetime: $95.76

A hindrance to thinking in German

At the end of each lesson, one of the common exercises is to listen to a German sentence and then pick the same sentence in English from a selection of four. This is too taxing on the brain, especially for the amount of time given. If one wants to think in a language, they shouldn't use English to process the thought or sentence. This exercise does the opposite. Not only that, but they give you a ridiculous amount of time to do so. Even those of us fluent in German couldn't choose the correct English phrase in the amount of time given. This was even on the "easy" level of the exercise. It's not good for learning German, and it can beat the person down.

We like the freedom of choice but wish it had more variety

Ouino's unique method of allowing the student to take lessons in the order they choose is unique and refreshing. This method also allows for the supplementary readings and videos to venture out of the proverbial box of that specific lesson, which is freeing. Although the types of exercises aren't varied, and there isn't speech-recognition for working on pronunciation, we still give Ouino a good score for its unique curricular method, ease of learning, and focus on fluency.

Rocket Languages Review 3.5 Star Rating

Rocket Languages

3.5 Star Rating
  • Plenty of audio for listening
  • Unique and accurate speech-recognition and assessment program
  • Survival Kit: added list of helpful words and phrases
  • Complete, understandable lessons
  • Earn points and compete on the leaderboard

When we think of learning a language, oftentimes it's because we want to have a conversation with someone. Rocket Languages has plenty of audio for you to get used to hearing and understanding German speakers. It also has a speech-recognition program to help you be understood when speaking German. Focusing on listening and speaking gets you ready to converse. These lessons also have reading and writing lessons and practice. A unique feature is Rocket's Survival Kit, which is a section with additional vocab and phrases useful for conversation. Rocket German does focus on communication and culture, and their videos offer a little humor as well.

The nuts and bolts

First you'll choose your level, from 1 to 3. The lowest level, for example, has 128 hours of lesson time, 33 interactive audio lessons, 2051 voice-recognition phases, 31 language and culture lessons, and 10 Survival Kits. Once you choose your level, select whether you want the Interactive Audio, Grammar and Culture, or the Survival Kit. Pretty simple.

Each lesson is themed

Since they are focused on communication, their units are, too. You can choose any lesson you want within your level, such as relationships, business, sports, literature, politics, German culture and more, to make it interesting to the many interests of learners. The scenarios they have are just like you'd find in local Germany.

Culture is the reward for learning the grammar

There's a Language and Culture tab where you first learn the grammar associated with the lesson. The grammar is presented, you practice throughout, and at the end of the lesson there's a cultural component.

Lots of grammar or none: your choice

You don't have to click on the Language and Culture tab and take the grammar lessons. If you are the kind of learner to listen to a conversation and catch on enough to how the sentences work and don't want the grammar, don't click on the Language and Culture tab. Or, just go to that tab for culture notes.

Helpful feedback on your pronunciation

Rocket Languages offers Play It!, an interactive listening and speaking activity. You listen to the word and repeat it. Their speech-recognition software will analyze your speech, give you a percentage score, and with the transcript of what they heard, mark both your accuracies and inaccuracies, in green and red fonts. We found this feature to be quite accurate and enjoyed using it. We all want to know if people will be able to understand us when we speak another language, and Play It! is a good indicator. Speech-recognition technology is fairly new in language learning, and with most technology, there can be imperfections. Sometimes the program thinks you're done with your sentence, and it stops listening. It's not the worst thing, but it can be frustrating.

Best German Lessons

Are you a bit competitive?

You can earn points for completing lessons, and there's a leaderboard so you can compete with other learners as you progress. If you want to keep up your motivation, or if you're losing motivation, this healthy competition might be the trick.

Costs

  • Free trial when you give them an email address
  • Free 60-day trial, but only with a paid subscription
  • Lifetime access to Level 1 for $149.95, sale priced at $99.95 with coupon code
  • Lifetime access to Levels 1, 2 for $299.90, sale priced at $249.90 with coupon code
  • Lifetime access to Levels 1, 2, 3 for $449.85, sale priced at $259.90 with coupon code

Which package should I choose?

In Rocket Languages' pricing, all packages include Level 1. If you're not a beginner and don't want to pay for Level 1, you can contact the company to purchase the levels individually. No matter which you choose, your cost can range from $100-$450, which can be pricey. The advantage of Rocket Languages is that there is no auto-continuation of monthly subscriptions like you'll find with some of the rival German providers we evaluated: with membership based-lessons, if you don't know how long you want to take German, your costs can keep going up as your subscription renews every month. With Rocket Languages, you will always have access with a one-time fee.

No cost trial

You can have a no-cost trial when you give them an email, but you'll get quite a few emails filling up your inbox. You can try their sample lessons at all levels, and there is no time limit on the free period.

60-day refund policy

Rocket Languages offers a full refund when you email them within 60 days of making your payment and creating your Rocket German account. That's much more generous than most German lesson platforms we've found.

We like Rocket Languages, but there's room for improvement

Rocket Languages has some great features: there are plenty of lessons; the speech-recognition software is better than other programs have to offer; and there are plenty of listening and speaking activities. Where Rocket German could improve is less repetition of format for all lessons. While we give this platform a good rating overall, there's still room for improvement.

Mondly Review 3.5 Star Rating

Mondly

3.5 Star Rating
  • Reasonably priced, especially for the lifetime membership
  • Access to learn 41 languages
  • AR and VR apps are innovative and motivating
  • Speech-recognition technology
  • Focus on lower-level learning

Have you wanted to learn German and have fun while doing it? Would you like to learn online or via an app - and even have a virtual reality experience in a German setting? Mondly is fun and innovative that way. You can design a chatbot that will give you the lessons, and the "teacher" is technologically advanced. They can guide you to a correct written answer, and can also recognize your speech to determine if you might be understood while talking to a real German-speaking person.

Lifetime is the best bang for the buck

The lifetime subscription price is quite reasonable, and gives you access to learn 41 languages. If you choose the monthly subscription instead, there is automatic monthly renewal, and if you need to take a break, they do keep charging. If you need to stop the monthly subscription, users have found it challenging to get that taken care of when they contact Mondly to do so. There is an additional choice: limited, free access. It sounds like a good idea, but not with Mondly. You can get a peek into what Mondly has to offer, but you won't have enough access to learn German this way. If you're only interested in a free language-learning program, you'll want to check out other brands we've rated.

Costs

  • Monthly: $9.99, one language
  • Yearly: $47.99, one language
  • Lifetime access: $89.99, all 41 languages

Use the free trial before you invest in the monthly subscription

If you're interested in the monthly subscription, it can be a challenge to unsubscribe. It's best to use the limited, free version to get a feel for Mondly to see if it's a good fit. If so, get the monthly and be aware of possible cancellation challenges, or go for the lifetime, which is our suggestion.

What if you already know some German?

The lessons for German are mostly for the beginner, and there are quite a few. If you already know some German and don't want to start at the beginning, their intermediate and advanced levels aren't very advanced. You'll get a lot of repetition at the lower levels, which isn't all bad, so you can reinforce what you already know, but if you want to really progress, it may not happen with Mondly.

Best German Lessons

Super motivating

The short, daily German lessons are fun. Take a break from your busy world and enjoy learning with Mondly. The lessons are game-like, and there are rewards for hitting a higher level. It's motivating for the self-competitive learner to see if they can't get to...one more level...before they end for the day. Some critics note that Mondly's game-like, motivational method is not unique, and they see it as a possible turn off. Not only that, but the other brands have free access to this type of learning. Ah, but Mondly has so much more in the technology arena, and is worth the cost of subscription!

AR, VR, and chatbots, oh, my!

Mondly's augmented reality is an appealing feature for its learners! Create an avatar-based teacher and design their surroundings. It's this "teacher" that presents your German lessons. The "teacher" also uses their speech-recognition system to give you feedback on your pronunciation! You want people to understand you, right? The virtual reality app complements the main Mondly app, so that you can have conversations with virtual German-speaking people. Wouldn't it be great to go shopping in German and interact with the cashier? Or you could virtually dine in a German restaurant, order food, pay the bill, etc., and feel successful? All of this can happen at the convenience (and cheaper price tag) of staying in your own home.

User-friendly corrections

When you have virtual conversations via the app, you can type in your next line of conversation. A prompt will guide you to the correct answer, and can also accept other replies besides the "right answer." This is an amazing and rare feature with language-learning programs. Many programs can only tell you if you are exactly right or wrong. Exactly, meaning, if you misspelled a word or made some small mistake, or didn't put letter-for-letter what they deemed the "right" answer, you can be marked "wrong:" no hints, no knowing if you are way off, a little off, where the error might be, and that can be an enormous turn-off. Not with Mondly. They don't just give you the big, red X and beat down your self-esteem. Mondly's method of correcting written work is user-friendly and reinforces the fact that there's more than one way to get your idea across.

Specific options for kids and for businesses

Mondly has an app for that. MondlyKIDS is similar to the traditional app, but it is more entertaining and kid friendly. Mondly WORKS is available to businesses who order bulk subscriptions. The employer can provide this app for their employees and also track their scholarly progress.

Definitely a good product

With the advanced technology of augmented reality, virtual reality, and chatbots coupled with game-like fun and motivating level-reaching awards, Mondly is unique, technologically advanced, and best of all, motivating. We wish it offered more curriculum for the intermediate and advanced students, but until it does, you can reinforce your German by practicing the lessons it currently provides. We bet you still may learn something. We also like that there are 40 languages in addition to German, so for German learners and wanna-be polyglots alike, Mondly gets our recommendation.

Fluenz Review 3 Star Rating

Fluenz

3 Star Rating
  • Thorough explanations via video
  • Great for beginners
  • Simplified payment, not a subscription program
  • Necessary repetition, but can be monotonous

In the comfort of your own home, and at a time that's convenient for you, you can learn German from a real person. Having a real person teach you German knowing how English speakers process languages is much more personal and relatable than learning language from matching sounds to photos or images, or learning from a written textbook-like page of instructions. We like that the pricing is straightforward, you don't pay for levels of language you don't want, and you buy what you buy with no time-limit subscriptions.

Pay only for what you want, and there's a money-back guarantee

Other language learning programs may offer ongoing monthly subscriptions, so you pay the same amount for the months you use the program regularly as well as those months you didn't get to use it. With Fluenz, you always have access, even if you have to take a break. And Fluenz has you only pay for the levels you want to learn. If you only want to stick to the beginning levels, pay only for that. If you already know German and want to use the more advanced levels, pay only for that. And once you decide your package, you have a 30-day money-back option if the program isn't what you were looking for. We suggest you use the program sufficiently within the 30 days, as this is your only "free trial."

A real person teaches you

Sometimes it's nice to learn a language from a real person. This person is on a prerecorded video, but that's not bad, as you can watch whenever you want, you can pause as much as you want, and skip to new information if you're reviewing material. The classes are taught from the perspective of an English speaker - someone who already knows how one language works, and applies that to learning German. This is helpful for learning how German works, and also for vocabulary and German phrases. A huge benefit to having the video is for pronunciation. Not only can you hear a native German's pronunciation, you can see their mouth move. Both hearing and seeing for better pronunciation is a really nice feature.

Practice activities are called Workouts

The exercises after the lessons are called Workouts. They give you dialogs that you listen to with or without English subtitles. Best to start out with subtitles when the material is newer to you, and with practice, gradually eliminate using them. They create the dialogs focusing on certain words and phrases that later you will practice using your listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills. In between each activity, a video will pop up to explain these phrases. They will be used again and again so you can commit them to long-term memory.

You might need a hint

The technology for grading your written work is a bit antiquated. When writing a sentence, you will find out that your work is either perfect or wrong. If you have a letter out of place or any small error, your answer is just wrong. You don't know if you have one mistake or several mistakes, and there's no hint as to where that error or many errors might be. You just know you are wrong. This is really frustrating. It would be great if Fluenz would update their software here.

Best German Lessons

Workouts require repetition

One of the complaints about Fluenz is that there is a lot of repetition with their Workouts. They repeat their vocabulary several times and some people find it a turn off or insulting. We disagree. Research says that a person needs 17 exposures to a word or phrase to remember it. The more you hear, see, speak, and write the word, the more likely you will remember it.

How are you doing?

There's a section called My Data where you can see how well you're doing: how much time you have spent on each lesson, how many tries per answer, and more. It might help to know if you needed many tries to get to the correct answer, so you might decide to repeat either the video, the Workout, or both.

Costs

  • Level 1: $187
  • Level 2: $187
  • Levels 1 and 2: $258
  • Levels 1, 2, and 3: $308
  • Levels 3, 4, and 5: $320

Great for beginners

Beginning German students know where to start - the beginning - and they know to purchase Level 1 lessons. On the other hand, if you know some German already, there's no placement test. You will need to look at the curriculum for each level, decide where to start, and pay for that level. You should decide if this is the right program and level for you within 30 days so you can get your money back if needed.

Fluenz has the right idea

Fluenz is unique in that you learn from a real person on video. You choose your class time - and your instructor is right there, waiting for you, so to say. You can skip, pause, repeat as much as you like. The lessons are straightforward and have clear explanations of grammar and vocabulary. They know you already know English, so their instructions use that to your advantage. Some critics complain that the repetition of new material is boring, but research would say that it's necessary for language acquisition regardless of level of excitement. Our suggestions would be the improved technology on assessing written work, a creative way to make necessary repetition a little less boring, and a placement test so you know for sure which level to start at if you already know some German. Still, all shortcomings aside, Fluenz provides a solid choice for German lessons, especially if you feel more comfortable leaning on what you already know in English throughout the process.

Lingoda Review 3 Star Rating

Lingoda

3 Star Rating
  • Live instruction
  • Instructor is a native German speaker
  • Classes almost solely in German
  • Small class size: 3-5 students
  • Classes available 24/7
  • Test provided indicating your fluency and placement level

Online games are fun, but are they what you want for learning German? What happened to the good, old-fashioned, real, live person teaching languages? Lingoda is going back to the basics, and it's not a bad idea. They even work with your schedule. You choose a time of day, choose a class, and then join the class live; it's that simple.

Beginner, Intermediate, or Advanced?

If you don't know any German, you'll choose the beginner level. If you know some German, you may not want to start at the beginning. So, where to start? Lingoda uses the European method for class placement by assessing your level of fluency. The CEFR, or the Common European Reference for Languages is the international standard for determining language fluency, and Lingoda offers a 15-minute placement test to know where you stand. The levels are A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, and C2. With Lingoda, you can reach up to B2. B2 doesn't sound like you'll get very fluent, but you'd be surprised. It's advanced intermediate, and at that level you should be able to communicate quite well in writing or speaking on a variety of topics. Using the CEFR to determine your level of fluency, whether starting the program or while learning German, is quite helpful. In comparison, other language programs may have you guess where you are: you kind of blindly choose beginner, intermediate, or advanced, but don't know the definition and standards of each level. Having the CEFR as reference is internationally known and offers the peace of mind that you're achieving a standardized level of German fluency.

Is this an immersion class?

The classes are taught mostly in German. Lingoda realizes that the more German you hear, the better. They also realize that sometimes students (and the teacher!) can get frustrated if they really don't understand something but still only get it explained in German. Lingoda breaks into English when needed.

The classes have a syllabus, but teacher uses common sense

Each class has a PDF of the objectives and materials. Whether online or in print, you can look at the PDF after class as a review, and keep it in your files for reference. The instructor determines if the class has trouble on one item and may spend more time on it, and for the items that the class catches on to quickly, less time may be spent on them in class. With the personalized instruction daily, class will seem to fly by, and at the end, you'll see you still covered all of the objectives of the day.

The teachers are native speakers of German

All of the German teachers are native speakers of German, no exceptions. They are highly qualified with years of teaching experience. They are also trained in the Lingoda method and standards, so your classes will flow smoothly from one to the next, from one teacher to the next.

Speak up as you feel ready - but be brave!

You can choose to interact with the teacher and other students, but there is no pressure to do so if you don't feel comfortable. Remember, that in order to speak German, you may want to, ahem, speak German. Try to get more comfortable speaking with the class so you can participate when given the opportunity.

When is the test?

There are no major tests. You are offered a quick, multiple-choice quiz that you can choose to take to see if you mastered the day's material, and that's optional. There are no grades.

Best German Lessons

Sprint or Super Sprint?

Lingoda offers two different tracks: Sprint and Super Sprint. With Sprint, you'll commit to taking 15 classes per month, and in Super Sprint, you'll commit to taking 30 classes per month. Committing to 30 classes per month takes dedication, but you'll reach the proverbial finish line to fluency much faster.

Costs

  • Three months of the Sprint program: $650
  • Three months of the Super Sprint program: $1,100

Brief free trial period

You are welcome to try Lingoda for free for 7 days, but you should know that after those 7 days, your Sprint or Super Sprint plan will start right away, and you will be billed as such.

The plans are expensive, but not per class

For three months, the Sprint plan is $650, and the Super Sprint is $1,100. These three months are more costly than subscriptions to other online German lessons. Yet, we're not comparing apples to apples, as Lingoda is live and has the motivation factor of meeting classmates and the teacher almost every day or every other day. Per class period, when you figure that Sprint is $14 per class with the allotted 45 classes per month, you'd be hard pressed to find any other live German instruction or tutoring that's more affordable! The key is dedication, to take all of the classes that month.

You snooze, you lose

In order to make it worth the money, you actually have to take the classes and hopefully, the max number of classes that month. If not, the cost per class session goes up, of course. In addition, the more classes you "skip," you may not make your fluency goal, and you will need to sign up for an additional three month's worth of classes. No pressure... And be sure you know how much time you can dedicate to your classes, so you choose wisely between Sprint and Super Sprint.

Need to take a class at odd hours of the day? No problem!

Classes are offered 24/7, so no matter your time zone, work schedule, or sleep schedule, there are classes available. Once you create an account, you can flip through the availability of classes offered at your level. The calendar can be adjusted no matter the time zone you are in, and you can change that as you travel.

Classes can book up quickly

Once you know your schedule, sign up for the next class you need. Sometimes classes get booked up, as there are only 3-5 students in each class, so signing up as soon as possible ensures your entrance into the class.

Cancelling the subscription can be tricky

You have 14 days from signing up for the Sprint program to cancel. The rest of the cancellation policy is complicated. They direct you to their lengthy terms and conditions section, where finding how to cancel is vague, and still tricky.

Only live classes

If you want to take a break from the live classes and instead choose online classes where you match vocabulary words to images, this option is not available. Lingoda is live classes only, via Zoom. That doesn't offer as much variety and flexibility as some learners might prefer: there's no handy on-the-go app that lets you sneak in some studying while you commute, no games to help you learn while you compete against other language learners. You get the idea.

We like Lingoda - if you're dedicated

Sometimes it's just nice to learn something from a real person in a live setting, with a classroom, albeit virtual, of only 3-5 students. It's quite motivating to know that if you snooze and skip class, you lose out. If you have fluency goals you've wanted to meet, snoozing won't get you to the finish line. If you are motivated to attend each class you've signed up for, enjoy the Sprint - or Super Sprint - to fluency. We like that classes are available 24/7 to meet your schedule and time zone. If you're not dedicated to taking the classes as often as your Sprint or Super Sprint allows, you might choose another German program that offers online classes with matching images with German phrases, or choose one that offers classes via recorded video, so you can attend when you want without ditching a live class and feeling like you're losing out on the money for doing so. The key to Lingoda is dedication.

German Pod 101 Review 3 Star Rating

German Pod 101

3 Star Rating
  • Lots of material, especially for beginners
  • Option to slow down the audio
  • Compare their audio with your recorded speech
  • Variety of vocabulary topics
  • Humor-infused
  • Limited lifetime free access

Do you remember learning a language in your high school classroom? It was probably more engaging when the teacher added a little fun and humor, or when you got to learn and use vocabulary that was useful to you. Those units with vocabulary you didn't care about seemed to last forever. GermanPod101 recognizes that we want to learn what interests us, so they've designed their curriculum so that you can choose to learn vocabulary and phrases that you think you'll use. You can go in any order of lessons to make that happen. And when you listen to people speak another language, doesn't it seem that they talk quickly, and you wish you could slow them down? GermanPod101 has technology to let you slow down the audio to a pace that's good for you.

Take a quick quiz to determine your level

After a quick quiz, GermanPod101 suggests the level at which you should start. It also offers to replay the questions for you, showing your answers alongside the correct ones, so you can learn from your mistakes.

Hooray for non-boring flashcards!

If you learned a language well in high school by studying those flashcards, you'll like GermanPod101. The flashcards will feel warm like an old blanket, but with newfangled technology. The entire vocabulary list offered by GermanPod101 is over 800 words, but they break it down into workable lists. Whenever there's a word presented that you already know or can easily memorize, just skip it. If you need help pronouncing it, play the short video where a native speaker says it for you, repeats it, and says it slowly so you can both hear and see the details of the word by watching them pronounce.

Easy-to-follow lesson structure

First you will see a written dialog, and you have the option to click on the speaker icon to hear each sentence. You can record yourself saying the same line and listen back to yourself next to the actual audio. You can judge yourself to see how well you did or if there are words you want to work on pronouncing better. GermanPod101 doesn't have speech-recognition technology, where the program analyzes your speech, letting you know what it understood and what you said that was off. (That's a nice feature, but not strictly necessary for effective German lessons.)

Listen and record

After you decide what to work on, you can re-record yourself, again, comparing yourself to the native speaker. After you work with the dialog for as long or short as you'd like, there's a list of vocabulary. You can see the word in both German and English, and also hear the word in German. What's nice, as well as unique, is that you can slow down the audio to half speed to really catch what they say and how. There's also a slide show of the vocabulary words. It's nothing fancy or animated, not much different than the pen/index card method. At the end, there's a quiz, such as true-false questions, to see if you mastered the material. In addition, there are grammar notes and oftentimes a brief cultural or idiomatic lesson.

Learning paths

GermanPod 101 has a suggested curriculum called a learning path. You can start where they suggest and continue along that path. If you prefer to make your own path so to say, that's fine, too. Their suggested learning path doesn't go from basic to slightly more challenging in each lesson, as they know you might choose your own path instead, and they need to make the lessons so you can jump around. It's not a problem, it just might not be what you expect.

Not lacking in the intermediate and advanced lessons

Many online language programs have a mountain of content at the beginner level, and wane as you get into the intermediate, and especially the advanced levels. Not so with GermanPod 101. They have a good quantity at all levels.

Best German Lessons

Light humor

You can have the dialogs via video or audio. The audio dialog is set up like a podcast. Judith and Chuck present the dialog, and they also banter. Banter in a second language is refreshing. So often, language-learning dialogs are dry and include forced vocabulary and grammar, so they lose the sense of real-life conversation. In real life, people banter, they have fun, and GermanPod 101's dialogs include that.

They gradually reduce your English helps

In the beginning lessons, there is more English to help you. As you get into the intermediate and advanced levels, they use less English to help you along. Don't worry, you should know enough German at that point to not rely heavily on English as a crutch. Remember that if your goal is to have a German conversation with someone, they won't be using a bunch of English to help you, so it's good to have your instruction mostly in German.

Pricing and membership options

With GermanPod 101, you have four membership options:

  • Monthly membership: full access to all of the material online at German Pod 101 as well as the Camino app, the vocabulary lessons and podcasts; ability to record grades and monitor progress. When you sign up with the monthly membership, they offer a 7-day trial to give you a taste.
  • Lifetime membership: Lifetime access to all of the above in the monthly membership.
  • Premium: You'll get over 400 hours of lessons, in-depth explanations for each lesson, dialogs with breakdowns, a list of the top 2,000 German words, an audio dictionary, access to additional apps, quizzes, and study tools, and daily, motivational mini-lessons via the Daily Dose of German, for $10 per month, with a 24-month subscription.
  • Premium-plus: includes all of the Premium features, plus a one-on-one instructor, for $23 per month, with a 24-month subscription.

If you're not into buying a membership and would rather have a free option, you can get new audio and video lessons every week, the first three lessons of every pathway or learning track, the German word of the day, the top 100 core German word list, some vocabulary and phrase lists, and access to some of the material on the Camino app.

Membership structure is confusing

The fee structure is one of the complaints we have about GermanPod 101. They mix plans like basic, premium, and premium-plus with monthly and lifetime options. It can be confusing to figure out which program plan couples with which payment plan. Other reviewers have had the same critique about their pricing. The pricing description above is the best we could do at deciphering.

60-day satisfaction guarantee

The free program has many lessons available for you to enjoy. If you choose to purchase a subscription, more content is offered. If you decide that GermanPod 101 isn't what you're looking for, you have 60 days to decide and get your money back.

Downloadable MP3s and PDFs

The MP3s and the PDFs are downloadable so you can learn at any time, not just when you have an internet connection. The written grammar instruction included in the PDFs are super clear and thorough. All this material can be downloaded, and one reviewer suggests that you download whatever you can during the free trial period so you can have perennial access to it.

Level 101 - and not the best conversationally

GermanPod 101 is best at the beginner level. It does progress to the intermediate and advanced levels, but it isn't the best program out there if you want to end up feeling comfortable in a German conversation. It is a traditional course, similar to one you may have had in school, and it's fun. We do like that you can slow down the audio so you can understand and speak German better. If you are looking for something a little different and with newer technology to have fun learning, check out our more highly-rated online German programs.

Compare the Best Reviews

Continued from above...

So much of our life now is digital, so it's natural to consider learning German online. There are many programs to learn languages: live, one-to-one tutoring; a real person teaching you through recorded video lessons; video-game-like lessons and practice; recording your voice and getting computer-generated specific feedback; getting feedback on written work by real people; or playing games and letting the time fly by while earning prizes and getting on a leaderboard. With so many different methods of learning and practice, we can help you narrow down what is best for you and your learning style.

The first thing to consider is how much German you may know. Have you had German classes in high school and want to brush up and continue to proficiency? Or is Gesundheit! when someone sneezes the extent of your German? If you are a beginner, choosing an online program will be easier, as most focus at least on the beginning German student. If you already know some German, some programs offer a placement test and others have you look at their curriculum and you select your own placement. If you are pretty advanced or your goal is to get there, only a few online German programs can help you get to advanced proficiency, while others fall short past the beginning German level.

How would you like to learn German? Would you like live one-on-one lessons with a tutor or in a small-class setting? Would you like to learn from a person, but via video so you can pause or review? Would you like to learn interactively with a computer program where you match phrases you heard with images, then record your voice speaking, and then have game-like practice exercises with awards and a leaderboard with a little healthy competition? It's all out there, and you get to decide which is for you!

Once you know your current level of German and how you might want to learn it, there are a few more aspects to consider:

  • Value. Does the program offer a free subscription that will offer enough to meet your goals? Is there a free trial period before buying a membership so you can really get a feel for it before you commit? Many German learning programs can give you a lot of features with a relatively low cost or at no cost.
  • The right fit. If you take advantage of the free trial period, you can get a good idea if that program is right for you. It might be fun for the first lesson, but does it get boring and repetitive after that, so that you won't be motivated to continue? Does it offer enough features that you feel you need? If you want feedback on your speaking, is their speech-recognition technology advanced enough to make you feel satisfied with their evaluation? Do you gravitate to how you learned a language or other subjects in school? They have traditional-type programs for you to try. Or do you stay motivated with all the bells and whistles of a game-like learning atmosphere to make the time pass quickly and stay motivated?
  • Refund policy. Before you commit to a membership or monthly or yearly subscription, check out their refund policy. Most offer between 7 and 60 days to cancel. With some you can cancel with a simple email, and with others you'll have to read pages of fine print to find out how to cancel. It's best to check out the refund policy before committing with a payment.

TopConsumerReviews.com has reviewed, evaluated, rated, and recommended the best choices for learning German online or via an app. We're sure that with the information we have for you, you'll be able to make your best decision for learning German and becoming more proficient and fluent in this common and popular language!

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German Lesson FAQ

You might be surprised to learn that about 130 million people speak German as a first or second language! It's the most widely used "mother tongue" in the EU and is an official language in seven countries (not just Germany!).
Yes, but fortunately they are all mutually understood (for the most part). Standard German is taught throughout Germany, but there are regional dialects that might be harder to grasp as a non-native speaker. Think about how a non-native speaker of English would experience moving from the accent used in the Midwest to the one used by people in Boston! You'll also find vocabulary and accent differences when you visit other German-speaking countries like Austria, Switzerland or Belgium.
English borrows a lot of words from German (e.g. kindergarten, bagel, iceberg), so learners often find it more familiar than they expected. But, because there are some big grammatical and pronunciation differences from English, German is ranked as a Category II language in terms of difficulty: not as easy as French or Spanish, for example, but easier than Greek or Japanese.
Experts recommend that you start with basic vocabulary. If you plan to use German in a specific way, like during an upcoming trip or to study documents from your ancestry, choose words and phrases that apply. You can also use the language settings on your favorite movies and TV shows to begin watching in German: it's a great way to pick it up naturally!
Studying any language online is going to be more affordable and accessible than trying to find an in-person class. While German used to be taught in most secondary schools throughout the US, it has dropped in popularity with the rise of other languages like Chinese and even ASL. Fortunately, there are many online German lessons that are effective and fun, and you can study at your convenience.
German is easier to learn than some languages because it mostly uses the same alphabet as English. There are a few characters and accented vowels that are particular to German. The good news is that, on a smartphone, you can usually hold down the base letter (like "b" or "u" ) and accented options will be displayed, while on a keyboard there are shortcuts you can use.
Not at all. You can choose between a one-time fee for a defined package of lessons or a monthly subscription for ongoing access. You could pay under $100 for a whole level of German coursework, or under $20/month for unlimited lessons. Either way you choose, it will be much less money than paying for an in-person German class.
Most German courses have a way to preview the materials, either through a free trial period or through full sample lessons on the website. We encourage you to use every complimentary resource provided by the German lessons platform you're considering before committing to a paid program, because not all of them come with a satisfaction guarantee. You may only get your money back if you cancel within 30 or 60 days of purchase, or you might be able to cancel future monthly payments without getting a refund for what you've already invested.
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