Online German Lessons and Resources
|“Awesome” Resources||Systematic Courses and Grammars|
|Compendiums of Online Exercises||Blogs for learning German|
|Test/Quiz Yourself||Aussprache [=pronunciation]|
|Textbook Websites||“Deutsch” allgemein [=in general]|
Easy German & Super Easy German: Two great series of videos with enthusiastic hosts (the series began as a high school project) introducing German language and culture in clear, simple German. Access both playlists for free via the Easy German home page. All videos include clear subtitles in German and English. Paying for a membership supports the site and gets you access to additional features.
- The Easy German team has also created the Seedlang app. Listen to stories, practice speaking, work with flashcards with fun examples and embedded grammar. Try the free version; if you like it and want more practice, buy the premium version.
HelloTalk Free app (Android and iOS) for finding conversation partners around the world and at home. Enter the language(s) you speak and want to learn, then find partners by language, location etc. Make free calls with trusted partners, send audio or text messages, and use the app’s speech-to-text function to have it transcribe what your partner(s) said. It can also translate messages for you, basically using Google Translate. The app is free, or you can upgrade (cheaply) to the Premium version for unlimited translation, transcription (and transliteration, if you’re learning a language with a non-Roman script), and some other options. Check out this excellent review for much more info! This is a GREAT and flexible way to connect with other motivated learners and native speakers, and to bring your language learning to life!
Duolingo Intentionally and permanently free app (for Android, iOS and even Windows phones) with the explicit goal of making language learning fun and addictive. Ideal as a supplement to what you’re learning in class. Practice vocabulary, grammar, speaking and listening. Constantly being improved.
Italki (“I talk-y”) Find conversation partners: “exchange time teaching your native language for time practicing a foreign language.” Lots of German speakers want to improve their English, so it should be easy to find a partner. You could also look for another German learner to practice with. You can search by location, to meet people nearby.You can also use the site to hire a tutor by the hour, often at affordable rates. To get started, make a profile saying what language(s) you speak and what language(s) you are trying to learn. Scroll down on the home page to the “Language Exchange” section to find a conversation partner.
learnoutlive: German Very diverse collection of ideas and resources, and a great motto: “If it sounds too harsh, you’re trying too hard” 🙂 Posts range from serious and useful (e.g. “5 Free German Textbooks For Beginners” – a great list) to creatively silly (e.g. “The Funny German Animal Names Quiz”).
LearnWithOliver The link takes you directly to the German site, but you can use the site to study many other languages via the language list at the bottom. Create a free account and try it out. The flashcards include audio and example sentences, and an option to make your own notes (e.g. mnemonics for the word). They use a spaced repetition format that allows you to control when you see a card again. The “Text Analyzer” allows you to enter a German text and then hover over words in the text to see a translation and access the flashcard for that word if it’s in the site’s database. You can also create a set of flashcards to study based on the text. You can sign up to receive daily practice emails. Another great feature: “Practice Sentences“: click and you will see a random (useful) sentence, then (after a pause), its translation, then the next sentence, etc.
Nancy Thuleen’s German Grammar pages A huge compilation of clear and informative explanations and exercises compiled by an instructor at the University of Wisconsin.
Systematic Courses and Grammars
- Grenzenlos Deutsch An open-access curriculum for beginning German. Very well done, with a wealth of multimedia resources and activities. Emphasizes the inclusion of diverse voices and perspectives. Curriculum is built around the following topics: Family & Friends; Shopping & Eating; Travel & Transportation; In the City/In the Country; Environment and Sustainability; Social Justice. Note the navigation instructions on the first page.
- Deutsch im Blick Open-access first-year German course from the University of Texas at Austin. Very well done, with a wealth of multimedia resources and activities.
- Deutsche Welle Sprachkurse Click on “Deutsch lernen” in the navigation bar at the top, and then on click
on “Deutschkurse.” You could start by taking the “Einstufungstest” to find out your level, and then click on the “Kursfinder” link to find the right course for you. A few of the many options:
- Jojo sucht das Glück. A language-learning soap opera created by Deutsche Welle, in 3-5 minute episodes with German captions and accompanying exercises. Starts slowly, but gets more entertaining if you stick with it.
- Ticket nach Berlin. A language-learning “reality show” featuring two teams of 3 language learners from around the world traveling around Germany and completing various challenges. Aimed at the B2 level (roughly the third-year German level)
- Deutsch – warum nicht? Podcast series for the A1, A2 and B1 levels following the adventures of Andreas, a German student who works as a doorman. Don’t turn the volume up too high, or the high-pitched voice of the invisible elf may hurt your ears 🙂
- BBC German Page Typically includes links to free courses and other resources
- A Foundation Course in Reading German Free online textbook and course from the University of Wisconsin offering a well-written and detailed overview of all the essentials of German grammar. Includes some review exercises (with answers) at the end, and some “syntax untangler” exercises throughout the book.
- Essential German, by Eugene Moutoux Methodical, thorough, no-frills explanations and examples followed by exercises (with answers available) and also including some cultural notes. The site is divided into 4 “books” and should thus offer something to students at all levels!
- German for English Speakers No exercises, but a great, concise introduction to all the basics of the language, in a clean, minimalist interface with no ads, well worth a browse.
- Äußern: Wikipedia’s German course Very much a work in progress, likely to remain both incomplete and overwhelming, but also likely to improve over time. A great place to browse and click through pages that interest you. Work has also begun on a “Bite-Sized German Course.” There is also a wikitravel German phrasebook.
- Free online course and other materials from Deutsch Akademie Their online courses include more than 50,000 exercises (!)
- ielanguages.com: German This site provides precise summaries of all the basic grammar topics, as well as lists of basic vocabulary arranged by topic, for (as of 2016) 21 Indo-European languages. The link takes you directly to the German page.
- webgerman.com This site has a useful (and colorful) grammar section, and a wide variety of other resources for students and teachers.
- Foreign Languages for Travelers Gives you the rudiments and some links to pursue to learn more. Also a useful site if you’re ever interested in getting the basics of some other language at short notice!
- Toms Deutschseite A tribute to the power of love: the author (who is German) created all the materials on this site to help his foreign girlfriend (now his wife) learn German! The site includes detailed explanations in English of all the basic grammar topics, worksheets with exercises (no answer keys), vocabulary lists and more.
- Interaktives Lernprogramm zur Rechtschreibreform Learn the new German spelling. Designed for native speakers, but this may be harder for them than for you 🙂 The site requires you to register (for free). Simply enter the username and password you want; if you get an error, choose a different username.
Blogs for learning German
deutschlernerblog.de This blog includes listening and reading comprehension exercises, grammar explanations, and the opportunity to communicate with other learners of German.
Compendiums of Online Exercises
- AATG list of Web Exercises Organized by topic.
- LernNetz A large collection of exercises of various types, some with instant feedback. This site is Swedish, and you will occasionally get references to grammar explanations in Swedish, but most exercises and examples are in German only]
- DeutschAkademie online German course Huge database of online exercises organized by topic and level, compiled by a language school in Vienna. If you register (which is free), you will also be able to ask grammar questions in their “Forum,” where they will be answered by the school’s teachers.
- Bookmarks for German grammar web exercises This site provides links to interactive exercises from various sites, some great, some good, some bad.
- Goethe Institut Deutsch-Englisch Tests 100 short tests for vocabulary building. You fill in the missing German word in a series of partial English-German translations. If the drag and drop function does not work on your computer, you can type the words into the appropriate boxes manually.
- Katherine Munro’s Language Teaching Resources Note: Access to the exercises now requires a fee, but many of the other resources are still available for free. The site includes a compilation of more than 3000 online exercises on German language and culture, organised by topic,
difficulty and resources required, as well as a variety of other links ranging from humor sites to reference sources. Compiled by Katherine Munro of West Moreton Anglican College in Australia.
- grammatiktraining.de Here you can find a selection of grammar practice games. Most require both some grammar knowledge for deciding where you want to go, and some simple video game skills in terms of maneuvering the bug or the car or whatever you’re controlling in order to actually get there (e.g. Käfer Karl needs to get to the correct answer through a moving “minefield” of killer spiders). Each game is preceded by a German summary of the grammar being practiced, and a German explanation of how the game works, and is labelled according to the level for which it is intended (A2, B1, B2).
- Via the navigation bar at the top, you can also find links to additional grammar tests, exercises, explanations, and resources.
- German level tests online Great compilation of German self-tests available online, compiled by the “learn German online” site.
- Goethe Institut: Testen Sie Ihr Deutsch Challenging 30-item quiz. A score of 20/30 would already be very good!
- about.com’s German Games and Quizzes A great compilation of online quizzes on a wide range of topics ranging from grammar and listening to culture and current events.
- Dialang Projekt Created with support from the European commission, this site provides diagnostic self-tests that give you feedback on your strengths and weaknesses in German, or any of the 13 other major European languages. Feedback from a student: the testing format is not necessarily very reliable, but the exercises are “very good and challenging…almost addictive.”
- Games for Language: Quick German Games Simple, repetitive games for practicing everyday vocabulary and simple structures. You’ll either find these annoying, or you’ll like the quick review/lessons they provide. If you like the format, follow the instructions to register for a full course for free.
***When studying pronunciation, pay attention to intonation and “sentence melody” (Satzmelodie) and not just to individual sounds: if anything, the former is more important for comprehensibility!***
**To hear the pronunciation of a particular word, type it into any online dictionary and look for the audio icon. Linguee has especially clear pronunciation models; dict.cc lets you hear multiple pronunciation samples for most words.**
- Fluent Forever Video Summaries: These three brilliant videos are an ideal starting point for familiarizing yourself with the sounds of German: (1) German Consonants [a few highlights: 1:51: L; 4:27: glottal stop; 5:58: R] (2) German Vowels (3) German Spelling [Summarizes word stress, long vs short vowels, and final consonant de-voicing].
- Use the Iowa Phonetics Site (further below) for any sounds you want to work on in more depth.
- The creator of these videos has written a book you may find inspiring: Gabriel Wyner: Fluent Forever: How to Learn Any Language Fast and Never Forget It. If you like his approach, consider buying his German pronunciation trainer here. It currently (2020) costs $12. It’s an Anki flashcard deck; here is a video describing how it works.
- Fröhlich Deutsch: Deutsche Aussprache playlist. These videos concentrate on intonation and “Satzmelodie” [“sentence melody”], not just on individual sounds. The goal is not to sound like the robot who begins the first clip 🙂 The videos are in German, but if you are just starting out, you can still follow along and repeat the examples (in the first video, the examples begin after about 90 seconds of introductory information).
- Fröhlich Deutsch: Aussprache bitte playlist. Each video in this series focuses in-depth on the pronunciation of 10 words requested by learners. Most videos begin with a 45-60-second preamble you could perhaps skip.
- All videos in this series come with captions. If you want to copy and paste these into an online translator, click on the three dots next to “SHARE” and “SAVE” below the video, select “Open transcript.” The captions open in a sidebar, from which you can copy and paste.
- If you like these videos, check out the other videos offered via the fröhlich Deutsch channel on YouTube.
- University of Iowa Phonetics Site A marvelous resource! For each consonant and vowel, you can see an animated articulation diagram, a step-by-step description, and video-audio of the sound spoken in context. The interface is in German, and the sounds are arranged phonetically rather than alphabetically, but you should be able to find your way around easily even if you’re just starting in German 101. Consonants are on the left, vowels on the right. Play around: click on the headings and sub-headings, then click on the sounds. You’ll be clicking on phonetic spellings and may not know what you’re clicking on, but once you click on the sound, you’ll see it spelled in some sample words and you’ll hear its pronunciation. Go through them all systematically, or just find your problem sounds and work through those. Hints on how to get to a few typical problem sounds:
- Finding the vowel sounds is fairly straightforward. Note the phonetic symbol for “ü” is either /y/ or /Y/. Note also the many different pronunciations for the letter “e.”
- The easiest way to get an overview of the consonants is to go to Konsonanten ==> Stimmhaftigkeit and then click on “stimmhaft” [=voiced] or “stimmlos” [=unvoiced]
- The “typical German” rolled “r” that is found before vowels and pronounced less markedly in front of consonants is at Konsonanten ==> Artikulationsort ==> alveolar [here the symbol is /r/] AND Konsonanten ==> Artikulationsort ==> uvular [here the symbol is an upside down capital “R”] AND Konsonanten ==> Artikulationsart ==> Frikative [here the symbol is an upside down capital “R”] AND Konsonanten ==> Stimmhaftigkeit ==> stimmhaft [here the symbol is an upside down capital “R”]
- “r” at the end of words does not make an “r” sound. It is typically represented phonetically by an upside-down lowercase “a”: Vokale ==> Monophtonge ==> zentral (e.g. lieber, Silber).
- In words such as “sehr,” “mehr,” “wer,” this sound is preceded by the /e/ sound, so the phonetic spelling is e.g. “me:” [the colon indicates that this is a long vowel] followed by the upside down “a.” Unfortunately, there are no examples of this sound combination on the site ==> ask your instructor to model the difference between e.g. “immer” and “mehr” if you have questions!
- l: [Rarely emphasized in class, but there is actually a significant difference between an English “l” and a German “l”]: Konsonanten ==> Artikulationsort ==> alveolar AND Konsonanten ==> Artikulationsart ==> Laterale
- the various s/ch/sch sounds [note [x] and /z/ are among these!]: Konsonanten ==> Artikulationsart ==> Frikative. The two “s” [/s/ and /z/] sounds are also contrasted at Konsonanten ==> Artikulationsort ==> alveolar. “sch” as in “Schule” or “Stunde” is at Konsonanten ==> Artikulationsort ==> post-alveolar. The “soft” “ch” as in “Chemie” or “Licht” or “ich” is at Konsonanten ==> Artikulationsort ==> palatal. The “hard” or “typically German” “ch” as in “Buch” or “Woche” is at Konsonanten ==> Artikulationsort ==> velar.
- f vs v: Konsonanten ==> Artikulationsart ==> Frikative AND Konsonanten ==> Artikulationsart ==> labio-dentale
- h [easy for English speakers, but not e.g. for Spanish speakers] is at Konsonanten ==> Artikulationsart ==> Frikative AND Konsonanten ==> Artikulationsart ==> glottal
- Phonetik Simsalabim Online: Systematic, interactive pronunciation trainer. Easiest to work through this with a tutor, but once you’ve figured out how the site works, you could work through it on your own. Lots of great models, and interactive exercises!
- A Guide to German Pronunciation by Paul Joyce- University of Portsmouth Extensive explanations and sets of examples for each sound. Note also the helpful exercises at the end of the page.
- To find more sites, just do a search for “German Pronunciation.”
In addition, you can help your pronunciation by
- speaking more in class, and seeking out other conversation opportunities such as Schokoladenstunde in the LRC, or Kaffeestunde & Deutschtisch at the Max Kade House
- using the HelloTalk app (see the description near the top of this page!)
- watching German movies to train your ear. Click here or here for ideas
- finding German videos, radio etc. to listen to online. Click here for a list of links.
These sites accompanying various introductory textbooks usually include some grammar summaries and/or practice, some web activities, and self-tests of various sorts, and can be used even if you are not using the textbook, though often this means the vocabulary and context of the exercises
may be unfamiliar.
- Treffpunkt Deutsch Website Use the pull-down menu to navigate to the chapter you want; then click on “Practice” for access to vocab exercises and flashcards, and grammar practice [“Strukturen”]. You can also access audio files and web resources.
- Vorsprung Website Use the pull-down menu to navigate to the chapter you want; then click on “ACE the Test” for vocab and grammar practice, or on “Improve your grade” for access to audio files, web links and web activities.
- Deutsch Na Klar! Website Use the pull-down menu to navigate to the chapter you want; then choose from vocab and grammar exercises, or access audio files and web resources.
- Neue Horizonte Website Excellent website. Includes a web search activity, a self-test and electronic vocabulary flashcards for each chapter. Even if you are not using this book, these exercises are helpful.
- Deutsch Heute Website Includes a web search activity, link list and self-test for each chapter.
- Fremde Sprache Deutsch Includes grammar and vocabulary exercises with answers (hold the mouse on the traffic light to see the right answer; click at the bottom to get an overall idea of how you’re doing), web exercises and supplementary worksheets to print out.
“Deutsch” allgemein [=in general]
- Transparent Language Site Here, you can sign up for a free monthly dual-language newsletter, and/or for a free German-word-of-the-day email.
- Deutsch im Netz Web resources and exercises compiled at the University of South Florida (older site)