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Saturday, December 2nd
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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:
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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