Best German classrooms and online courses


Best for live 1-on-1 classes with a tutor

Studying with your own personal tutor is one of the most effective and efficient ways to learn German, because every class is catered to your needs. Preply makes the process of finding a highly qualified German tutor simple and affordable.

Do you want to speak German the way the natives of Salzburg or Zürich do? Rely on Preply to match you with an experienced German tutor who’s a native speaker of Österreichisches Standarddeutsch (Standard Austrian German) or Züritüütsch (Zürich German). If Berlin, Stuttgart, or Bonn are in your plans, you can find the right Preply tutor to prepare you for conversations with the locals from those cities.

No matter what your learning level is, working with your own private tutor will save you time, since you won’t have to slog through lessons about topics you already understand. You can also use the “Vocab” feature between lessons to practice all of the new words your tutor sends you.

Of course, memorizing German words is only the first step to really mastering them. Understanding what those words mean in context will give your fluency a boost. Conversations with your tutor will give you plenty of practice with the nuances of the language — and you won’t have to wait until after class to ask questions!

With hourly rates as low as $5, why wait to give it a try? It’s easy to get started, and you can book a trial lesson to ensure that your new Preply tutor is a good fit for you.

Best for beginners 

If you’re a German novice who’d like some fun with your German lessons, while getting a good grip on the fundamentals of the language, check out The German Project.

Let Jens and his colorful family guide you as you build a foundation for German language learning

In addition to these free lessons, The German Project charms learners with classic fairy tales and fables, such as Henry Hühnchen (Chicken Little)Goldlöckchen und die Drei Bären (Goldilocks and the Three Bears), and Rotkäppchen (Little Red Riding Hood). These are available with German audio, German text, and optional written English translations. 


Best YouTube lessons (all levels)

Enjoy hundreds of free videos about German language and culture on the GermanPod101 YouTube channel. These videos are well-organized into playlists, highlighting learning levels and subjects. You’ll find reading and listening practice, as well as learning tips, topical vocabulary, and pronunciation pointers.

For a more interactive experience, head over to the GermanPod101 website. A variety of lively podcast series teach new German words and concepts through dialogues and casual conversations, so you can easily hear how words and phrases are used in context.

Most of the podcasts pair a native German speaker with someone learning the language. This sets the stage for learning German at a reasonable yet rapid pace, with lots of good explanations along the way.

GermanPod101’s paid plans range from $4 – $23 per month. Each podcast is supplemented with written material, such as a transcript and lesson notes. 

Deutsch am Arbeitsplatz (German in the Workplace)

Best for business German

This free program, developed by the Goethe-Institut, addresses the needs of learners who plan to use German at work.

The Deutsch am Arbeitsplatz general exercises get you comfortable with common business tasks, like exchanging emails, holding phone conversations, or attending meetings. Exercises for specific fields include lessons about social work, science and technology, hospitality, and skilled trades. 

In addition to vocabulary and grammar, you’ll learn cultural information about the standards and expectations for most workers in Germany, so you can take your newfound skills into the real world.

Authentic German Learning

Best for intermediate learners

With hundreds of video lessons categorized into topical playlists, Authentic German Learning is a goldmine of interesting German input. These lessons are presented in slow and careful German, with optional English subtitles. 

One of the most interesting aspects of this channel are its forays into cultural and entertainment topics, such as “Songs to learn German,” “German history,” and “German culture.” There’s also a “Let’s Play and Learn German” series, which uses video games such as Skyrim and Baldur’s Gate to teach everyday German vocabulary and usage. 

Mark Rösler, the native German speaker who runs this YouTube channel, also has an Authentic German Learning website. On the website, you’ll find links to a paid German grammar e-book and the sign-up for premium Authentic German Learning Academy memberships, which start at $26 per month (based on a year-long membership). 

Easy German

Best for learning everyday German

Known mostly for their Straßeninterviews (street interviews), the team at Easy German takes online German classes on the road in Berlin and other cities. All of the Easy German videos are captioned in German, with smaller English subtitles. There are series of videos for absolute beginners, advanced learners, and every level in between.

Topics range from social issues, music, and food to the different standards of German spoken in Europe. Learners can pick up a lot of casual and idiomatic German expressions from the interviews featured in the videos. Lessons about grammar and vocabulary round out the Easy German video collections. 

In addition to its video series, Easy German provides free weekly podcasts, with spirited conversations about daily life.

To get more out of the videos and podcasts, you can consider becoming a Patreon of Easy German. Starting around $7 per month, Patreons get access to extra materials, such as transcripts and interactive exercises.

International Language Institute

Best for group classes

Do solo German lessons feel a bit einsam (lonely) to you? If so, group classes might be your preferred option.

Based in Washington, D.C., the International Language Institute has real-time group classes for German learners at all proficiency levels. Some courses are taught in person, at the ILI facility in Washington. Others are virtual courses. A few of the courses use a hybrid classroom approach to bring online and in-person students learn together.

With over 50 years’ teaching experience, the ILI program emphasizes all four of the major language skills (listening, speaking, reading, and writing). Small class sizes — no more than a dozen students — mean that every student has the opportunity to get individual attention, as well as interaction with other students. 

Tuition for a 10-week term of one to two weekly classes starts at $380, with a separate fee for the textbook. 

German to go

Best for learning on a budget

German to go is the free online German course from broadcast company Deutsche Welle. Through a series of videos and interactive exercises, learners progress all the way from absolute beginner through to intermediate German speaker. 

Not sure where to begin? Try the placement test, which will give you a better idea of your current level of German learning.

Each unit has a different focus, such as traveling or work. If you like a story-based approach, try the telenovela unit, Jojo such das Glück (Jojo is looking for happiness). Take a musical journey through German class with das Bandtagebuch (the band diary) of real-life musicians EINSHOCH6.

In addition to the virtual lessons and exercises, you’ll find a wealth of tips for learning German grammar and vocabulary.


Best for vocab recall

With Lingvist, you recall your German vocabulary words from memory, rather than through multiple choice or matching. The vocabulary exercises are presented like flashcards, with fill-in-the-blank sentences.

Lingvist is adaptive, so it will quiz you more often on words you tend to forget. When you’ve demonstrated that you’ve mastered a set of words, you’ll start to see some new words mixed in with words you’ve already learned. 

Flashcard decks cover German bureaucracy, food, and football, among other topics. You can add or remove decks from the rotation at any time.

Is there a topic you can’t find among the existing decks? Just feed a German text into the Custom deck wizard, and watch in amazement as Lingvist creates a new, bespoke deck for you. 

In addition to German vocabulary, Lingvist also offers grammar tips and “challenges” (exercises).

Best for reading comprehension 

One way to make sure you’re grasping all the meaning of your newly acquired German vocabulary is through reading comprehension exercises. lets you test your understanding of written German through interactive exercises. Many texts are available for free, and you can access more for a modest monthly price. 

The budget-friendly Premium tier of $11.90 annually also opens up dictations, listening exercises, and vocabulary drills. Combined with more traditional online German classes, the lessons on can give you a well-rounded learning experience featuring many interesting topics. 

Finding the right course for you

The list we’ve presented here can be like a Speisekarte (menu), giving you an idea of the many flavors of German courses.

To choose the course that will suit you best, consider

  • Your goals: Why you want to learn German, and what level of fluency you hope to achieve
  • Your time frame and schedule: When you need to reach your goals and how much time you have for study
  • Your learning preferences: How you like to learn — on your own or with others; using apps, audio, or video
  • Your budget: How much money you want to invest in online German classes

Together, these factors will help you decide which online German course works best for you.

Frequently asked questions

Can you learn German online?

With an astounding number of online German classes, reading material, videos, and other resources, you can definitely learn German online. Although online German courses are a different experience than a traditional classroom, they provide certain advantages over regular schooling. They are often self-paced, and many of them are accessible around the clock via apps, so you can learn from anywhere — whenever you have time to learn. In fact, a recent study from MIT showed that online classes can be just as useful as an old-fashioned classroom for millions of learners.

Is German hard to learn?

Admittedly, German has a bit of a reputation as a harder language to learn — although this reputation is not completely deserved. Yes, there are some grammar differences that can be challenging, such as German cases and prepositions. For English speakers, there are actually many similarities, since both languages belong to the same West Germanic family. For example, many words for family members share the same roots in German and English: Mutter means mother, Vater means father, Bruder means brother, and so on.  Plus, English and German have almost the same alphabet. Even though some of the letters are pronounced differently, German doesn’t have many silent letters. You’ll find there are a lot of compound words you can easily figure out, once you’ve learned some basic vocabulary. For instance, Fingerhandschuh (literally, “finger hand shoe”) means “glove” in English.

What is the best online German course?

The best online German course is the one that keeps you engaged and most effectively teaches you the material you need to know. Let your own goals, learning style, and preferences be your guide to choosing the perfect German course for you. With the numerous options we’ve explored in this post, you’re bound to find a good starting point for your German learning journey.  The beauty of online learning is that you can mix and match different approaches. As you become more fluent in German, you will always have the opportunity to try a new online German class that suits your ever-changing needs. Take advantage of free classes and free trials. Look for cost-effective resources like Preply, which can always be customized to your learning level, goals, and areas of interest.


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