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What are the best websites and apps to learn German?

Whether you're a beginner in German or looking to gain some fluency, we've compiled some handy resources to take your language skills to the next level.

Learning German online.
Get ready to improve your German. Photo by Nick Morrison on Unsplash

The proliferation of language learning apps and websites has made learning German online easier than ever. But the vast range of options can make it difficult to determine which service is right for your needs. 

Here’s a guide to the best sites and apps to learn German (including Swiss German), whether you’re just looking to get your feet wet or want to make significant strides in your ability.  

Getting started: 

If you’re a beginner in German, there are many online resources available to improve your vocabulary and grammar skills. 

Leo is an online translation dictionary which includes an English to German dictionary. It is a great resource to expand your vocabulary, especially if you’re just starting out and encountering a lot of unfamiliar words. In addition to providing accurate translations of English words to German or vice versa, it also provides grammar information on these words, such as verb conjugations or noun cases. You can access the service for free via the app or online via the website. 


Duolingo and its ubiquitous green owl are famous worldwide, and the app is known for turning language learning into a playful challenge. Completing the site’s quick exercises, which include multiple choice questions, fill in the blank scenarios, and listening exercises, earns you points, and the challenge of maintaining your streak encourages you to “play” every day.

The free-to-use app or website can be a helpful and fun way for beginners to get a feel for the German language and master basic vocabulary and phrases, but it becomes less useful for those trying to reach an intermediate or advanced level of German, especially as it lacks an emphasis on grammar instruction. 

READ ALSO: Six ways to fall in love with German again

Learning German

There are plenty of ways to improve your German. Photo by Annika Gordon on Unsplash


Babbel is similar to Duolingo in that it’s a site which encourages you to commit at least 10 to 15 minutes each day to practice your German. But it offers a more conventional, less gamified approach, as it is structured by modules and lessons that put more focus on grammar rules. 

It also costs money, at around €60 for six months. But it does offer certain special features like live one-hour lessons every week at different skill levels. It also has a speech recognition feature that allows you to test your pronunciation skills. Like Duolinguo, Babbel will be most helpful for beginners.

Taking the next step: 

To make significant strides in your German skills, check out the resources below:

Deutsch Akademie: 

If you’re looking for a more comprehensive language learning service that is still free, try Deutsch Akademie. It offers over 25,000 grammar and vocabulary exercises, and also offers practice tests designed to prepare you for various German exams. If you’re self-disciplined, these exercises can be a great way to improve your German. Deutsch Akademie also offers a variety of online German courses, with prices ranging from between  €100 to €300.

Deutsch Online: 

Speaking of German classes, the Goethe Institut’s Deutsch Online courses are another great option to move through the levels of German. You start by taking a placement test which determines your current German level (between A1 and C1) and the structure of your course.

You can then choose to enrol in a group or individual course, both of which are designed to prepare you for the Goethe certificate exam to demonstrate you’ve completed the selected level. These courses are more pricey than those at Deutsch Akademie: the group course costs €439 while the individual course (which includes two live sessions with a teacher) goes for €695.


Perhaps the best way to take your German to the next level is by speaking regularly with native speakers, and Tandem helps you do exactly that. Through the free to use app, you can pair with a native German speaker whose English is around the same level as your German.

You can meet with your partner online over video, or in person, to work on each of your language skills. Tandem is a great option if you are an intermediate or advanced speaker and want to become more comfortable speaking German in everyday situations.

If you can’t find a tandem partner then try a language meet up. You can use sites like to find them, or even social media. You may be able to find Sprachcafés – informal meetings for people who like to speak languages and get to know other cultures and try out their language skills. 

People at a cafe

See if there’s a Sprachcafe in your area. Photo by Robert Bye on Unsplash

Swiss German: 

Learning Swiss German online is a bit more difficult. For free practice, your best bet is YouTube videos, such as the Speaksli channel, which features some videos about basic Swiss German phrases. Meanwhile, the uTalk app offers a paid service for learning Swiss German.

For a more interactive experience, you could try UNOmondo’s Swiss German course if you’re living in Basel, Bern, or Zürich. This service, which costs 1,200 CHF for 10 lessons, pairs you with an in-person tutor to learn Swiss German one-on-one.

READ ALSO: Seven things to know if you’re learning Swiss German


The Local 

Keep an eye on The Local’s language stories and words of the day to boost your vocabulary, perfect your grammar and learn more about the culture in German-speaking countries like Germany, Austria and Switzerland. 


TV shows

Check out the TV offering in your region to improve your German language skills. Netflix shows like Dark 

READ ALSO: The best TV comedies to improve your German while making you laugh

Podcasts and YouTube

Podcasts such as Easy German are a good way to improve your language skills, especially at an intermediate level. Lage der Nation (State of the Nation) has also been recommended as a good podcast for language learners and those who want to understand German politics on a more in-depth level, though you may struggle a little with the complicated vocabulary if you’re a beginner. 

There are countless YouTube videos that you can use to learn German too – including channels like Deutsch mit Marija and Hallo Deutschschule. and Learn Swiss German. and Dialekt Academy. Simply type in “Deutsch lernen” and your approximate level or the name of a topic you’d like to learn and see what comes up.

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German phrase of the day: Auf dem Schlauch stehen

Mastering this German idiom could give you clarity amidst confusion.

German phrase of the day: Auf dem Schlauch stehen

Why do I need to know it?

This idiom is the ideal expression to use when you find yourself entangled in confusion.

Mastering idioms such as this one not only showcases your language proficiency, but also gives your speech a touch of sophistication and charm to native speakers. 

READ ALSO: 12 colourful German expressions that’ll add swagger to your language skills

What does it mean?

Auf dem Schlauch stehen literally means ‘to stand on the hose’, and unlike many idioms, it retains a clear connection to its literal meaning. Just as standing on a hose blocks the flow of water, this phrase serves as a metaphor for those moments when your mental processes stall, leaving you momentarily unable to think clearly.

In English, a comparable expression might be ‘to be at a loss’.

There are no exact origins to this expression, but idioms often develop over time as part of a language’s natural evolution – regardless, this is still a commonly used expression that you should strive to use.

If looking for another German phrase that means something similar, you may hear ‘ein Brett vor dem Kopf haben’ – to have a plank/board in front of your head. 


Der Professor hat so kompliziert erklärt, dass die meisten Studenten auf dem Schlauch standen. 

The professor explained things so intricately that most of the students were at a loss.

Als der Chef mir die Aufgabe erklärte, stand ich auf dem Schlauch und musste ihn um weitere Anweisungen bitten. 

When the boss explained the task to me, I was confused and had to ask for further instructions.

Du siehst aus, als ob du auf dem Schlauch stehst. Kann ich dir helfen?

You look like you’re at a loss. Can I help you? 

Nach dem langen Flug und der Zeitumstellung, stand ich auf dem Schlauch und wusste nicht einmal, welcher Tag es war. 

After the long flight and jet lag, I was feeling so disoriented that I didn’t even know what day it was. 

Don’t miss any of our German words and expressions of the day by downloading our new app (available on Apple and Android) and then selecting the German Word of the Day in your Notification options via the User button.