Is it possible to learn German for free? In my opinion, yes it’s entirely possible. Yes, some paid for resources can help speed up the process, but if know where to look you can make loads of progress just using free stuff.
We are living in an incredible time to be learning languages. The internet is a goldmine of free learning materials, sometimes to our detriment. There is just so much out there, you can lose a lot of time just sifting through Google and YouTube. Time which can be better spent actually studying your target language.
Here are my best recommendations for free German resources on the internet.
There are an incredible 37 million channels on YouTube, many of which focus on teaching languages. If you want to learn German for free, this is the first place to look. The choice of who to learn from can be mind blowing! There are a number of YouTubers who have helped my German. Of course, I’ve not checked out every single German teacher on YouTube, so if you recommend anyone, leave a comment below. I’d love to check them out. For now, here are my favourites:
Learn German with Anja – Wow what a teacher! Anja is so friendly and charismatic, it feels like she’s in the room with you, teaching German just to you. Anja speaks both English and German in her videos so it’s great for beginners. The best thing about her channel is that she has an enormous video archive. Starting from the very basics, she also teaches grammar, vocabulary, how to use German in everyday situations. I could go on and on, but check her out yourself and start learning loads!
Easy German – These guys are also incredible and have a massive video archive. They do something quite different, which is they interview people on the streets of Berlin about a variety of subjects. There are English and German subtitles on the videos, which is really helpful. The videos themselves are entirely in German. The best thing is you can pick up everyday phrases and speech.
DeutschLera – I recently discovered this channel, and I’m so glad I did! Lera is a fantastic teacher and explains things beautifully. She is more advanced that the previous two channels, and speaks only in German, so would be more beneficial for B1 level. She covers grammar and colloquial language, Umgangssprache, among other topics.
Peppa Wutz – This list would be incomplete if I didn’t give a special mention to Peppa Pig (or Peppa Wutz as she is known in German). A great way to develop understanding of basic German. It’s very visual which makes it easy to understand a lot through context. Even though it’s obviously for children, the stories are quite interesting and Peppa acts quite ‘grown up’ so you’ll learn a lot from her and the adults in the show.
However the best thing about DW is the free online course they provide. I’ve not done it myself, but I’d had a look around. It looks incredibly thorough, which is fantastic considering you can actually learn German for free! It follows the story on newcomer Nico, finding his feet in Germany and learning to speak German. The course covers A1-B2 levels.
Websites & Blogs
There are an endless number of websites on the internet that can help you to learn German for free. Right here at EmmaLovesGerman.com I write about language learning tips, my experiences in learning German and how to say common phrases.
My first experience of German TV, was funnily enough, in a hotel in Germany. At the time I couldn’t understand much, so watched a few children’s programmes. On my return home, I realised that all the major German TV channels have their own archive, Mediathek, with countless hours of TV shows. There is literally something for everyone.
My favourite is the ARD Mediathek. This a massive archive of TV shows from the major German TV stations, and it’s all online and for free. You shouldn’t even need to use a VPN to access it. There are countless hours of documentaries, new programmes, history, drama, nature, and crime shows. If you enjoy watching TV and learning German, this is the perfect solution for you. I’ve even written a whole post on watching German TV shows online.
Another Mediathek is from another major German TV station, ZDF. You may need to install a VPN to access some channels. Again, there are countless hours of shows on here and they often have a subtitles, Untertitel, option, which I strongly recommend.
One of my favourites! Depending on your choice of channel, there could be 80% music and 20% speech, but I really enjoy having German radio on in the car and in the house. Not only will you come across some fantastic German songs, every hour the news, die Nachrichten, is read, plus the weather forecast. These can be difficult to understand at first, but the sheer repetition of having this things come up time and time again will help. I know all sorts of weather vocab because of this.
Another slightly strange bonus, and I say strange because on English radio they drive me crazy, is the adverts. Radio stations tend to have a limited number of adverts, and they tend to talk about the same things. Selling, offers, products. It’s all similar speech. I learned a lot of sales phrases because of the repetition. Believe me when I say, learning German actually makes adverts interesting! Who’d have thought it!
There are countless radio apps out there, but DE Radio (available on Google Play) provides a seemingly endless list of German stations. There’s something out the for everyone. My personal favourite is Schwarzwald Radio.
This is without a doubt, one of the best free language apps I have discovered. I could write an entire post about Tandem. Basically, it offers a way to connect with people who want to do a language exchange. In my case, I meet German natives who want to practice speaking English. Everyone creates a profile showing their interests, topics they like to talk about, their language ability and goals.
Being an English speaker, I find I have an endless supply of people to practice with. The usual method is we spend 30 minutes in German and 30 minutes in English. Sometimes we speak a mix of German and English, it just depends on what works. I have met the most fantastic people because of this app, many of whom I now consider friends and have spoken to for almost a year.
It is available on both Google Play and the App Store. If you’re nervous to speak, don’t worry. You can begin by just texting people, then sending audio messages, then move on to video or voice calls. This proved to be a huge turning point for my German, without it I would hardly have any speaking practice at all. It seriously changed the game for me.
There’s a lot there to get started learning German for free. Have I missed anything? Leave a comment below. If you’re ready to spend a small amount to move your learning experience forward, have a look at my 5 Best Books for Learning German post.