If you have always wanted to learn German, you’re nowhere near alone; millions of people study the language every day around the world. And it’s no wonder! German is a language that captures a rich culture and history. The German language can take you around the world, with speakers all around Europe and even in parts of Africa, North America and South America!
But you might have a lot of questions about how to learn German or what it takes to get started — or why it’s even worthwhile at all. The good news is you can rest assured that learning the German language is an effort worth undertaking. With the right technology to guide you in your journey, you’ll see your efforts pay off in so many ways.
With Babbel, you’ll be on your way to having real-life conversations in German before you know it — without going to classes, hiring a tutor or investing in expensive software. For an affordable monthly subscription, you can have access to hundreds of hours of interactive courses that get you speaking right from the first lesson.
We add new courses on a regular basis so the opportunities to learn and improve are always growing. And if you own a smartphone, the key to learning German and speaking it with confidence is already in your pocket.
Why Learn German?
Learning any new tongue is a challenge that can open up your mind to new perspectives and help you connect with all types of people across boundaries of land and language. When it comes to learning German, these reasons are especially true. Here are just a few of the reasons why it’s a great idea to learn French:
- build new connections with tens of millions of people across the world
- get a leg up in learning about other related languages, including English
- experience culture and history of the German-speaking world through a linguistic lens
- spruce up your German business skills to help you compete in the global economy
- travel to and even live in German-speaking countries with confidence
- stimulate your brain and keep your mental muscles sharp
Learning German To Join A Global Community
To start, if you know the German language, you open yourself up to a whole world of speakers that span continental borders. There are slightly more than 130 million people on Earth who speak German to some degree, making it the eleventh most spoken language worldwide.
You can find German speakers spread around the planet, not only in Germany but also in many other countries around the world, including populations of tens of millions split between Austria and Switzerland, where German is an official or co-official language. There are smaller populations of speakers spread throughout the rest of Europe, too, in Luxembourg, Belgium, Denmark, Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, France and Italy, among others. (Behind Russian, German is the second-most spoken language on the European continent.)
In South America, Brazil has about 1.5 million German speakers, and Argentina has roughly one-third that number, a result of waves of German emigration during the 19th century and in the aftermath of World War II. You can even find scattered communities of speakers in Uruguay, Paraguay, Ecuador and Chile, too!
If you move to North America, there are roughly a million speakers of German in the United States, also the historical legacy of migration during the 18th and 19th centuries. A dialect of the language, called Pennsylvania Dutch (though, confusingly, it’s not Dutch at all) is the first language of many of the Amish and Mennonite communities of the upper Appalachian region. There are also about 400,000 speakers in Canada, descendants of immigrants generations ago.
One place you might be surprised to find German is in Africa — in Namibia, where Germans had a brief imperial legacy in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, there are a few more than 10,000 German speakers. You can even find speakers in South Africa, too!
Learning German As A Link To Other Languages
If you already speak English — spoiler alert: if you can read this, you already do — you’ve got quite the leg up when it comes to picking up the German language. English borrows a lot of words from the Romance language family (which all stem from the colloquial Latin of antiquity) but, like German, it’s actually a member of the Germanic language family, which means the languages split off from a common ancestor hundreds of years ago.
That makes German easier for a native English speaker to learn than many people realize. Not surprisingly, English and German share thousands of cognates — words that sound the same and have the same meanings. For example, these verbs look and sound similar in both languages: trinken (“to drink”), schwimmen (“to swim”), machen (“to make”), sehen (“to see”), sagen (“to say”) and haben (“to have”).
The German language offers another useful shortcut for learners: many German words are actually compounds of smaller words. Once you have a handle on some simple vocabulary, it’s easy to infer the meaning of longer words. For example, when you know that fahren means “to drive” and das Rad is a “wheel,” it’s not a huge stretch to guess that das Fahrrad (“drive-wheel”) is a bicycle. The sign above the bicycle shop says Fahrradgeschäft. Since you now know the word for bicycle, you can now infer that Geschäft is the German word for “store.”
Speaking German is also useful beyond, well, Germany. Understanding the language makes it easier to start learning other Germanic languages like Dutch, Norwegian, Danish and Swedish. The languages overlap a lot in their vocabularies and grammar structures.
Whether it helps you master other languages faster and more easily or it gives you a new understanding of the English you already speak, there’s no doubt that if you learn German, you’ll have a learning advantage right from the start!
Benefits Of Learning German
Picking up a new skill can help you express your creativity, stimulate your mind, and discover new sides of yourself along the way. Learning a new language like German is no exception! Here are just a few of the many ways you can make a positive impact on your life if you learn German.
Build Your Business German Skills
Today the world is more connected economically than ever before. The sweeping tides of globalization mean that companies and organizations today are operating across international borders and boundaries. If you’re a professional looking for ways to stay competitive and current in the global market, learning a new language — especially German — is a no-brainer for success. The Eurozone is a market full of opportunity for businesses. Chances are you’ve come across a German company in your daily life; have you ever heard of BMW, Volkswagen, Adidas or Aldi (or perhaps Babbel)? Learning the German language is a fantastic way to connect with colleagues in other countries, score new clients, build strong relationships with German-speaking partners and investors, and to show off the multicultural, international, and inclusive nature of your brand.
Learn German For Travel
When the spirit of adventure strikes, don’t let language barriers hold you back. When you have German in your back pocket, you have a passport to a whole new world. Learning German not only means you’ll be able to navigate new cities by reading road signs, menus, and train tickets; it also lets you connect with the new people you meet there. It’s often said that the best way to explore a new place is through the eyes of a local, and learning German lets you branch out of tourist hotspots and into the real world as the native speakers see it.
Live The German Language Abroad
Whether you’re looking to enroll at a foreign university and have a more alternative college experience, find a job at a hostel that lets you hit the ski slopes by day and work at night, or retire in a place with a slower pace of life, living abroad is hands down the best hands-on approach to getting the most immersive language experience possible. By placing yourself in an environment where you’re obligated to speak German, you’ll fast-track your journey to fluency. Your life can take on new twists and turns when you move to an unfamiliar place, and there’s so much of the German-speaking world to explore. When you learn German, you open up a gateway to a robust, colorful, and novel life adventure!
Use Language To Train Your Brain
Learning any new skill is a surefire way to expand your intellectual horizons. Picking up a new language is an especially sound way to keep your brain flexible and nimble, especially as you grow older. Don’t give in to the argument that you’re somehow worse at learning languages after your youth! Picking up a new language is more than just memorizing lists of vocab (though you’ll certainly sharpen your lexical recall along the way). It involves making connections between those words and what they represent, taking apart and putting together grammatical structures, spontaneously speaking and thinking on your feet, sticking with a challenge when it’s frustrating and confusing, and a whole lot of active listening. If you’ve been lacking intellectual stimulation, there are few better ways to exercise your mental muscles than by learning German.
Immerse Yourself In German Culture, Unfiltered
Learning German opens you up not only to a better understanding of the language itself but also of the arts and culture of the world that speaks it. To read the literature of decorated German-speaking authors and academics like Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Friedrich Nietzsche is to engage with the language in some of its most beautiful, profound and poetic expressions. Through the lens of German you get a more active immersion in more contemporary German-language media like podcasts, radio shows, books, and TV shows. The folk fairytales of the Grimm Brothers in their original tongue, the dialogue of famous German films, and the most sweeping currents in German-language journalism all become accessible to you when you learn the German language. And if you’re from a family with German-speaking elders and ancestors but you don’t know the language yourself, learning German is an excellent way to connect with your heritage.
Learning German For Business
A lot of business involves knowing how to crunch numbers, analyze data and make predictions using quantitative trends. But there’s a whole side to business that revolves around effective communication — often considered among professional “soft skills,” but no less important. How well do you interact with business partners? Do you make a good impression when you meet them? Do you feel confident negotiating and striking deals? These aren’t necessarily things we all do well in our own language, let alone in a second language.
Learning a few words of a language in any country you visit for business can carry a very significant professional value, and German is by no means an exception. Whether you’re giving a presentation to coworkers in an international office or selling your product in European markets, you’ll find there are plenty of great opportunities to apply business German to accelerate your career. German for business can cover a very wide range of skills in the language, from simply getting a meeting off to a good start by introducing yourself in a client’s native language, to combing through the finer details of a contract.
Pursuing a second language is proof of your willingness to engage with the world. It’s proof of an open mind and an ability to learn new things and see things from different perspectives. So when it comes to finding a job, knowing a second (or third) language will give you a leg up and set you apart from the rest of the field.
Not only will adding German to your résumé — and being able to back it up with actual language skills — go a long way to convincing potential employers of your open-mindedness and passion for learning, but it will also give you the confidence to take on new challenges in the future and might even present you with some business opportunities you never would have imagined.
Ways To Learn German
There is no right answer when it comes to how to learn a new language. With so many options for your language journey, it’s no surprise that choosing a learning style or method can be overwhelming!
Of the tens of millions people who speak and study German as a non-native language, you’ll find folks who have used all sorts of resources to learn the language, some free, some fairly cheap, and some more of a financial investment. There’s no right combination, and it’s up to you to decide which methods work best for you.
Learning German In The Classroom
German is among some of the most studied languages in school systems and universities around the world. Classroom learning is the most popular option for learners in grade school or university settings. It allows more intensive, regular study with feedback from teachers who know the language and can correct mistakes as they happen and teach content in an interactive way. Depending on how large a class is and how engaged the teacher is, learning in a classroom might be a less personalized experience, but having other students to talk to and practice with is a valuable resource for a learner of any language.
Though students make up a large proportion of classroom learners, plenty of adults enroll in language classes, too. Many cities and communities offer free or fairly cheap language classes, and you’ll be very likely to find them in popular languages like German. Though a full-time job might limit your schedule, a commitment to a once- or twice-weekly class after work or on the weekends can really improve your language skills in a measurable way.
Learning German With A Private Tutor
Private tutoring offers a more tailored learning experience than traditional classroom learning with many of the advantages. Having a skilled tutor at hand who can help you perfect your pronunciation and work with you closely on the aspects of German that cause you trouble is a great way to improve your skills fast — without a teacher needing to split time and attention among multiple students. And tutoring doesn’t have to be inconvenient at all; many sessions can and do take place over video call instead of in person.
But the often steep costs of such individualized instruction can be a barrier to many learners. Well trained master tutors often charge high hourly rates for their lessons, so finding a top-quality, budget-friendly option can be challenging.
Software And Online Courses In German
There are many top-notch, expert-designed online courses and programs that run from reasonably priced to very expensive. They allow you to learn on your own time and are often more interactive and engaging than many free courses and resources. Plus, many of the best products out there are constantly updated with new, fresh material, so you can get the most relevant learning experience available.
Can You Learn German For Free?
All of the above options have one thing in common: they cost money. For those learners who want to be more conscious of their budgets or are okay to spend more time finding and working with more cost-effective content, there are still plenty of options!
Learning German With Tandem Partners
Tandem learning is a technique where two people who speak different native languages meet up to help each other learn, swapping roles as teacher and student. For example, if you spend one hour teaching a German-speaking friend something about English, he or she would then spend the next hour teaching German to you. This is an effective method when both people are able to commit significant time and thought to the partnership, but keep in mind that not everyone is a good teacher. Explaining why your native language works the way it does is often easier said than done; you might understand English grammar subconsciously and use it flawlessly all the time but not be able to explain to a non-native speaker the rules that govern how you’re supposed to use that grammar.
Immersion German Learning
This technique is definitely the most extreme and intensive, and it’s not for everyone. (It’s also not technically free if you count airfare to a new place and all the costs of living associated with wherever you go.) But without a doubt, immersing yourself in a new culture and a place that doesn’t speak your language will force you to make rapid progress in your target language as you struggle to communicate and understand those around you.
Of course, you’ll want to start with at least a little foundation in a new language before picking up your life and plunging yourself into a completely foreign locale. Using resources like Babbel, language textbooks and classes, and practice with native speakers can all help you prepare before you make a big transition.
Learning German With Audio Resources
Podcasts and audiobooks are a great way to learn passively while you trudge through your daily commute, cook dinner, or take a walk in your neighborhood. It’s easy to fit learning into your busy schedule when you’re doing it in the background of another activity. Luckily, there are lots of audio resources to pick from, and many of them are free. But keep in mind that to really master a language, you’ve got to do more than just listening to it; you’ll probably want to supplement audio with ways to practice writing, reading, and speaking French, too.
Free Online Courses And Apps For Learning German
There’s no shortage of free German content you can find on the web and on your phone. From German grammar wikis to online forums and classes, you’re sure to find hundreds of options that might do the trick. Some of it is better than others in the ways it’s organized and how thoroughly it explains new concepts, so take it with a grain of salt.
Be aware that the tradeoff of a free product is that it usually sacrifices quality. Much of the content that’s in apps like Duolingo and Memrise or that’s scattered around the web comes from user-generated translations that are rarely verified and are often inconsistent or riddled with errors. These lessons often focus on writing and reading without much of a way to improve listening and speaking skills. And be wary that free interactive lessons like these can often be basic, poorly designed, messy, rigid, and just downright boring — not to mention littered with ads.
That’s not to say these resources can’t be helpful! But it’s important to know how and where to fill in the gaps in your language learning journey when certain content isn’t enough.
Learning German With Babbel
The goal of learning any language is to have real-life conversations with native speakers. So a language learning app should be designed to get you to that goal in the best way possible. It’s important to dedicate the time and effort to practicing with discipline, but outside of your own personal commitment, you’ve got to have technology that knows how to help you most effectively along the way.
Luckily, German is designed by a team of language experts, educators, and designers who know all about what it takes to get the most out of learning a new language — so you are guaranteed a top-quality German learning journey that’s capable, engaging, and yes, even fun.
Here are the key ways Babbel is crafted to get you having real-life conversations in German with confidence, and all for less cost per month than your morning coffee.
The Full Spectrum Of Language Learning
Learning a new language is an endeavor of many dimensions. It takes a lot of skills and patience to learn how to start speaking on the spot, to write a text to a friend, or to translate dialogue you hear from a TV show in your target language.
We know how to make these elements work together to your advantage. Babbel’s lessons are interactive and cover all the aspects of learning German — reading, writing, listening, and speaking — with multimedia content to train your ears and eyes. Our speech recognition feature even helps you hone your pronunciation, too.
German Learning On Your Terms
One of the best parts of learning with Babbel is being able to fit lessons in seamlessly when you want them and where you want them. Our bite-size lessons take roughly between 10 and 20 minutes to complete and can be squeezed into your already busy schedule, whether you’re on your commute or waiting for a pot of water to boil as you cook dinner.
With Babbel, you can pick and choose the topics and themes that are most relevant to you. Taking a trip soon? Brush up on the German you’ll need for travel and navigating new places. Need to sharpen your German French for an upcoming business meeting? Our courses have you covered.
The iOS and Android apps are fully integrated with the web application. And your progress is saved in the cloud and synced across all devices — so you can learn German anytime, anywhere.
Learn German — And Make Sure It Sticks
What good is committing to learning a new language if you’ll forget it before you even have a chance to use it? That’s why your personalized Babbel Review feature is optimized to help you retain the information you’re learning.
It takes advantage of the concept of microlearning, or bringing back information in short bursts to help you hold on to it better. You can practice writing, listening to, and speaking the terms and expressions you’ve learned in your earlier lessons to lock them into your brain.
For German Learning, Try Babbel
We’re committed to making sure you get the most out of learning German. We offer a free first lesson in every language so you can get a feel for if Babbel works for you. And if you don’t like it, we have a 20-day money-back guarantee — no questions asked.
Try a free German lesson with Babbel and see for yourself how quickly you’ll be on your way to speaking German with confidence — like you’ve always wanted to!