120 Million natives speakers around the world, Germany’s strong economy, great career and high-quality education opportunities in Germany and in German-speaking countries such as Austria and Switzerland make the German language an attractive option for people who are seeking to learn a new language.
Going to a local German language course or joining a language school to learn the language in the native country are the first options that come to mind; however, thanks to ever-developing technology, it is also possible today to learn German at home and with little to no costs. Or, at least, it could be a good start for those who currently cannot afford a language course.
In this article, we have gathered 5 different great websites and apps where you can start learning German or improving your current German skills. Although all these sources are free, there are also pro options where you can learn more with some premium features that still cost way less than a language course does.
Here are the 5 great websites and apps where you can learn German:
Duolingo is free and you can learn German with it anytime and anywhere you want at your own pace. This website is great for learning vocabulary. This is especially important for the German language because the words have three gender markers that mean „the“ in English and repetition is key to be able to memorize them in a short amount of time.
„Stories“ is also a great feature that Duolingo offers. It is quite useful to improve listening and pronunciation skills. There are short story narrations. You listen to one and as you progress through the story, you are expected to answer some questions that check on if you have understood it so far. By hovering over a word, you can see the meaning of that particular word in English as well.
„Discussions“ is another useful feature. However, you can only access this feature when using Duolingo on your desktop. As you go through the exercises, you may get something wrong or you may not comprehend fully why it is the way it is. At that point, you can click on the „Discussion“ for this particular question and it is highly likely that someone asked a similar question before that has already been answered by a native speaker.
If you already have a certain level of German knowledge, the first lessons may seem easy for you. You do not need to repeat everything and you may simply skip to the next subject. You can do this by clicking on the topic and then on the key icon. Duolingo will then give you a short test on the topic, and if you’re able to complete it with less than 3 mistakes then you can skip that level.
Start learning German with Duolingo here: https://www.duolingo.com/enroll/de/en/Learn-German
Duolingo has an app too: https://www.duolingo.com/mobile
Deutsche Welle: German to Go
If you want to start learning German or take your German skills to the next level, Deutsche Welle is a great address for that. It does not matter if you are just a beginner or already more advanced, they appeal to all stages. If you are not sure about your level, they offer a free placement test too.
In order to make learning German fun, the lessons are packed into story format in different courses. From texts to audios and videos, there is a broad range of study material in the courses as well. For example, „Nicos Weg“ is a course for the beginners. It tells the story of Nico, a young Spanish man, in Germany. This course starts from A1 and takes you through A2 and B1 levels.
The language courses are available available in 29 languages and so is the website, where you can find the recent news from Germany and from rest of the world as well as news about culture, economy, sports, environment and science. If you want to follow the news in German but cannot understand it fully yet, there are slow-spoken news podcasts for German-learners that you can download and listen on the go.
There are plenty other resources available on their website that you should check and they have apps, too!
Start learning German with DW here: https://www.dw.com/de/deutsch-lernen/s-2055
You can check out the DW Apps here: https://www.dw.com/de/service/apps-co/s-50833969
What makes German a difficult language to learn is usually its grammar. This is where Deutsch Akademie comes into the play. If you struggle with learning German grammar or if it is important for you to build a strong grammatical fundament to begin with, you can find more than 20.000 online grammar and vocabulary exercises at Deutsch Akademie, along with over 800 hours of interactive course material. On top of that, all exercises are structured according to the European Framework of Reference for Languages.
Another great feature of this website is the online message forum where you can chat with not only other learners to exchange about your learning experience but also with professional German teachers who are willing to help with some of your questions.
For further interactive learning opportunities with native teachers, the website also offers online live courses in small groups. These are ,of course, paid courses. According to the availability, you can sign up for them online as well. Everything else on the website is, as promised, free.
If you want to practice some German grammar topics or just repeat some exercises from your German grammar book, you can download their app on your phone as well!
Start practicing German grammar with Deutsch Akademie here: https://www.deutschakademie.de/online-deutschkurs/english/
Download their app here: https://www.deutschakademie.de/online-deutschkurs/english/learn-german-for-android.php
Busuu offers two different online German language courses: „Complete German“ and „German for Travel“. You can improve your German reading, listening, speaking and writing skills with the „Complete German“ course. But if you’re considering taking a trip to a German-speaking country, you might try the „German for Travel“ course. It does not matter if you’re starting from scratch and are looking to learn basic German for travel, or already know a little German, this course will help you get the basics for your holiday.
Busuu is very well structured and is quite easy to go through. They have this so called „Study Plan“ where you can track your progress in your course. This is especially useful for beginners as it helps you to know what you will learn today, what you are expected to have learned by now, and what you will learn next. Structure also allows you to learn by building on what you already know, rather than doing random topics each time and dealing with unconnected lessons in grammar and vocabulary. You can also get some speaking practice by messaging the community of native speakers and improve with their feedback.
You can start learning German by signing up for free on the Busuu App; however, if you want to make use out of all the features that the app offers, you need to get the premium version.
Start learning German with the Busuu App here: https://www.busuu.com/en/course/learn-german-online
Memrise is also a worth-mentioning app to learn German. It offers a wide range of German lessons for English speakers. But this app is especially great if you want to focus on learning vocabulary. It helps you memorize articles, vocabulary, and phrases. Each lesson usually begins with a couple of new words or phrases. You, then learn what they mean and how they are pronounced. You may also add your own notes or „mem“ so that you can better memorize them. Another great feature of Memrise is that there are plenty of videos where you are exposed to native speakers.
It is free to sign up and the free account gives you access to plentiful content. But you get more ways to learn and additional features, such as offline access, in the Pro membership.
Start learning German with Memrise here: https://www.memrise.com
Finally, here is an advice on how to pick the right source for you: Everyone has their own way of learning a new language. For example, some want to understand throughly the structure behind the language whereas for some learners, it is important to build up vocabulary and they can put everything together as they hear the natives speaking. All these sources are free, so start with trying the most appealing one and feel free to switch to find the right fit for you before upgrading your membership.
Editor of StudyIngram