The 10 Best Ways to Learn German for Beginners in 2021

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It’s no secret that learning a second language can bring wonderful benefits.

Below, I have listed what I believe to be the 10 best ways to learn German today. This list is applicable particularly to beginners in German, but most of the below will be useful for intermediate German speakers too.

If you want to make a start in German, but you are unsure where to do so, then the resources below should provide some guidance.

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1. Try a few German courses.

The internet is full of exceptionally good (and bad) German courses.

Furthermore, there are several courses available online that make learning German easy without burning a hole in your pocket.

I have listed some of these below.

NOTE: Every German course provider listed below offers a free trial. So, you do not need to make a financial commitment before you have decided whether or not the course is right for you.

Rocket German

Rocket German is a software focused language learning app that uses audio lessons, interactive exercises and readings to get you to a conversational level in German.

Through its structured and proven successful process, you will begin to understand more about the language quite quickly.

Babbel

Babbel is a subscription based language learning app that is great for beginners in German looking to learn basic German grammar. 

Babbel’s desktop and app format is curriculum-based with pre-recorded content including games, quizzes, tests, games and grammar exercises.

It is a great resource if you are looking to learn German on your own. Babbel’s latest feature, Babbel Live, enables you to connect with German tutors without leaving the platform.

Pimsleur

Pimsleur is one of the most effective and slickest language learning resources of its type, providing a unique way to learn German.

It offers a great way to learn German by yourself, placing a strong emphasis on aural and pronunciation skills, with less detail around grammar, reading or writing than many other language courses.

Whilst you will not have face to face interaction with a tutor like italki, the Pimsleur app and desktop versions are smart, user-friendly and packed with a variety of content that balances vocabulary, daily scenarios and culture in a way that is digestible even for complete beginners.

Pimsleur offers all users a Free 7 Day Trial.

2. Visit Germany

I am a firm believer that no single online resource can beat cultural immersion. The time you spent living, working or studying in the country of your target language can be invaluable. 

Unfortunately, moving abroad is not always a practical option for many of us. However, visiting Germany and speaking with native German speakers is (or will be soon).

Speaking with native German speakers is, undoubtedly, the best way to learn German naturally.

In addition to Germany, the German language is also spoken in Austria, Switzerland and northern Italy. So, you can add these countries to your travel list!

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3. Watch “Learn German” videos on YouTube.

YouTube can be a great way to learn basic German grammar through videos.

As you’d expect, there are German videos available on Youtube for all skill levels – from complete beginner to advanced.

I’ve watched several linguists and polyglots online and some claim that Youtube is the fastest way to learn German if you dedicated enough time to it. I am not sure I agree, but it is an excellent free resource to speed up the process and practice your listening skills.

Learn German with Anja, as seen below, is an incredibly popular way to learn German for many. Watching the videos, I can see why! She is engaging, fun and charismatic.

Whether your aim is to learn vocabulary, phrases or basic German grammar, the variety of content on Youtube means that it is likely to be a suitable resource for learning German!

4. Listen to German podcasts.

Podcasts can be wonderful learning tools and a great way to learn any language. Of course, German is no exception to this rule.

If you do enjoy learning through auditory means then you may enjoy Pimsleur.

Some German podcasts I have tried or checked out include:

Slow German

Slow German is a podcast led by popular German journalist, Larissa Vassilian. It’s an excellent resource to learn German. However, it is best suited to intermediate learners, and Larissa says so herself!

German LingQ

LingQ contains thousands of hours of German audio lessons with matching transcripts. You can sign up for free, although a paid subscription is required for premium content.

Learn German by Podcast

Learn German by Podcast is another excellent resource for German learners. Each lesson is accompanied by a transcript and the content is unique. You will need to pay for content, but you can see an example of a Learn German by Podcast content here.

News in Slow German

News in Slow German is part of the News in Slow series. It is a superb resource but better for intermediate learners.

5. Find a German tutor

Face to face contact with a fluent or native speaker is one of the best ways to learn German. Or any language, for that matter.

Platforms such as italki and Preply provide language learners with the opportunity to book private German lessons online with online language tutors.

I am using italki to learn German with a one hour class each week. italki is a great online resource which enables you to speak German with a native speaker without needing to leave the platform.

It’s feature, italki classroom, means you can exchange vocabulary and documents with your tutor without needing to use Skype or Zoom.

With italki and Preply you can filter your tutor preferences based on region, price, experience etc.

6. Buy a German grammar book

I mentioned German textbooks at the beginning of this post. Whilst I think it’s amazing to have access to so many language tools online now, I do still believe a grammar book can bring you tremendous value.

A German grammar book will help you to establish a foundation in German, putting you on the path to advanced learning.

Furthermore, a textbook or grammar book is also a great way to go through what you’ve learned elsewhere.

Some books I recommend:

Short Stories in German for Beginners:

This is not a grammar book, per se, but it is still a great way to learn German. It contains rich linguistic content in a number of different genres, the 1,000 most common words in German, summaries, learning aids and comprehension questions.

Personally,  I feel a resource such as this is the best way to learn German away from a screen. In some ways, it is also a form of cultural immersion.

Living Language German, Complete Edition

This is a more expensive, yet more comprehensive option. Living Language German is not just a book for beginners. In fact, it contains enough content to take you from beginner level through to advanced level.

German Quickly: A Grammar for Reading German

German Quickly: A Grammar for Reading German is an academic resource. It teaches the fundamentals for reading German literary and can serve as a reference text for students wishing to review their German.

7. Join “Learn German” Facebook groups.

Facebook is a very popular social media platform, and most people are quite familiar with its features.

If you type “Learn German” into Facebook search feature you will find dozens of public groups.

This is a great way to start conversations with German speakers, to ask questions and to help fellow German learners.

If you are learning any other languages in addition to German then you can, of course, follow the same process.

8. Learn German with apps

There are several apps, some even free, that you can use to learn German. Using an app on your smartphone is usually the best way to learn German whilst on the go.

Indeed, the Pimsleur app presents an opportunity to learn German whilst driving with its 30 minute audio lessons.

Apps like Duolingo and Memrise also provide a visual platform from which to practice German phrases, sentences and grammar.

Bear in mind that German grammar can become complex once you develop from beginner stage. We all learn differently, but I would only recommend a German app to learn basic German grammar, rather than anything beyond this.

Apps are a great way to get an ear for a language and make learning a language fun. German is no exception.

The apps mentioned above are available both on Google Playstore and iPhone App Store.

9. Practice with a German friend

Practicing your German language skills with a native German-speaking friend can help you speed up learning.

As previously mentioned, online spaces like Preply and italki are some of the fastest ways to learn German at conversational level. Furthermore, they are also great places to make friends, even though this is not their sole purpose!

I have used italki to teach and to learn. In several cases, I have kept in touch with teachers/students and we chat regularly in our target languages.

If you are not able to use services like italki, then Facebook groups are also great places to make new contacts.

I mentioned earlier that the best way to learn German is likely through human interaction. If you can practice German with a friend then take full advantage of this! If you don’t have any German friends then make some!

10. Watch movies in German

Believe it or not, watching movies in German can be an entertaining way to learn the language.

Initially, you will need English subtitles in order to understand, but as you progress this will not be the case.

There are several very German films, and series, on Netflix. I recommend watching Criminal: Germany. This Netflix drama was filmed with four separate casts in four different languages – English, German, French and Spanish!

We all learn differently, but immersing yourself in the German language will be the fastest way to becoming fluent in it. How you choose to do this is entirely up to you.

Once you start to understand basic German grammar, phrases and words, you will see greater rewards from your efforts. Learning German is only hard if you do not use the right resources. Find what works best for you and enjoy the journey!

The Best Ways to Learn German Online

italki

italki is a global language learning community that connects students and teachers for 1-on-1 online language lessons. Today, more than 10,000 teachers are teaching more than 5 million students over 130 languages on the italki platform.

It is described as the most affordable place to learn a language online with a native tutor, with lessons starting as low as $4 p/hour.

You will receive $10 in italki credits by signing up here.

Preply

If you are looking for a tutor rather than a language learning app then consider Preply. Preply is a marketplace where students from all over the world can find one-on-one online tutors for personalised learning programs.

It is very similar to italki, with the same common goals and the same main features. Preply also contains an in-built classroom which enhances the quality and efficiency of lessons for both tutors and students.

Preply logo

Rocket Languages

Rocket Languages is a software focused language learning app that uses audio lessons, interactive exercises and readings to get you to a conversational level in a foreign language.

Through its structured and proven successful process, you will begin to understand more about the language you are learning quite quickly.

image of rocket languages logo

Babbel

Babbel is a subscription based language learning app that to help you learn a new language. It currently offers 14 languages on its unique, user friendly platform. You can use Babbel on desktop and mobile. 

Babbel’s desktop and app format is curriculum-based with pre-recorded content including games, quizzes, tests, games and grammar exercises.

It is a great resource if you are looking to learn a language on your own. Babbel’s latest feature, Babbel Live, enables you to connect with tutors without leaving the platform.

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