Learning German

Following some of your emails regarding the blog entry: "Is there a life beyond the intermediate level?", I have decided to compile all the information I have about learning German in Munich and this includes: language schools; online resources and learning with the TV


Die Münchner Volkshochschule is probably one of the most economical options in Munich to learn  German. They have a wide range of course options:  from A1 to C2, including: dedicated grammar courses, weekly intensive general courses, specific courses for  the preparation of the C1 certification, for the TestDaF etc. 

I have done a few of their dedicated courses in the C1/C2 level and I would definitely recommend them. The language trainers are old school, which means that they would probably not befriend you in Facebook but they will make you learn German. There is a specific Grammar course for the C1/C2 level that is probably the best course of this type that I have ever done.

University of Munich - The Ludwig-Maximilians Universität München - (LMU) was and is my favorite option IF you need a German certificate to study in a University or Hochschule. They offer the best preparation for the DSH exam (Deutsche Sprachprüfung für den Hochschulzugang) in the whole city of Munich, said by me and by many many other students that I have met over the past two years.

Besides, they are beyond helpful in the information office and the prices are very affordable. 

Sprache SprachbörseI did four private sessions with them in 2012 and I am never going back. I do not want to say that the teacher was bad, it might be that I did not connect with her. But in any case  I suggest that you are careful and meet your teacher before you pay and commit to a whole course there.

Sprachschule AktivTwo Lufthansa flight attendants told me about this school. They learnt English with them (the school also offer German courses) and both recommended it to me. 

Tandem Munich: I must confess that I have not attended a course in Tandem Munich, but I did in their school in Berlin some years ago. Thus I am assuming that they operate in Munich, same as in Berlin (same books, same profile of language trainer and same teaching methods), and if they do, then I can say that they are good, very good, but not cheap. 

Inlingua Munich I did an intensive course with them in summer when I first arrived and my experience in short:
  • I met great people that today are still my friends, but of course that is not merit of the school!
  • I learnt German because the teacher was good but I did not like their material. Until you start with the C1 level, they use their own Inlingua book, which I found it was boring, outdated and not clear sometimes.
  • Their client service: I mean their office where you ask for info, book your classes, arrange a meeting for a language test, etc. is one of the worse I have ever encountered in any business in my life.
AxiomaA good friend of mine attended an intensive course in this school. She recommends it because it is very flexibel: you do not pay for the day you miss, so it is very convenient for people who are looking for a job and have to miss a class due to interviews. Besides, it is a small familiar school, they do not use books but copies that are provided at the beginning of each class, every day starts with grammar and exercises and ends with 45 minutes of conversation. 

Goethe Institut. This is the official Institute for learning German, something like the Instituto Cervantes for Spanish, the British Council for British English and the Institut Francais for French, so as you can imagine a very good option to learn German though it is expensive. 

And finally, I have heard of the following ones: Deutsch Akademie; Dialog Sprachschule and Berlitz but I have not met anyone that took a course with them, therefore I am mentioning them but cannot give my opinion about it.


Leo Dictionary
Leo is likely the best free online dictionary for German to English that I know. Besides the standard features of a dictionary, Leo is outstanding because:
  • most of the words offer the option to hear how they should be pronounced, therefore it is a great resource when having doubts about the German pronunciation;
  • for each entry, you get a list of "relatives", so derived words, sayings or useful expressions that include the entry you are searching for and
  • its online forum is very useful to search for help when you do not find the word in the dictionary (which happens when it is slang or a local saying).
Die Sendung mit der Maus
The program with the mouse has been on in TV for 40 years already and although it is aimed for kids, it is also a very good resource for adults to train listening skills outside the prefabricated listening exercises of the language books.

On TV it is, of course, aiming at kids, because it is on at around 7am on Saturdays. Fortunately at the official site you can watch all the "Sachgeschichten" in streaming any day at anytime. I really enjoy these short stories about common day-to-day facts, science, technique, etc. and other small questions that seem simple like: where the heart shape come from?; how does Internet really works?; how long is a moment of time?; why is the sky blue?; etc.

Deutsche Welle
The online resources of Deutsche Welle include: 
  • listening of tv news, documentaries, interviews, etc. sorted by level (from A1 to C2). I find specially smart that they offer the regular TV news but slow spoken; 
  • their range of online articles is very wide, always sorted by level, and always including a vocabulary guide and assistance for new words (all new words are explained in German);
  • their soap opera "Jojo sucht das Glück" is worth following and
  • finally their free online placement test is very comprehensive and will tell you which level of German you have.
The BBC online German site has some useful resources such as a guide of "cool German", so  slang in German and a list of English/German cognates. Their grammar notes are a bit basic, so this site is challenging and interesting until A2. A B1 might find it a bit too easy. They also have a free online placement test to asses your level of German.


If you are a twitter user, there are a few accounts that I can recommend you follow. They are mainly dedicated to teach the German language and therefore they tweet a new word every day, or links to articles, exercises, etc. 


TV Subtitles
A number of German channels offer subtitles for some of their programs, tv series and films (i.e. ProSieben, 3sat, ARD, ZDF, MDR, etc.). Subtitles can be found in 149, 150, 160, 444 or 777 in the teletext menu. 

Besides it is useful to follow the following Facebook group: "100% Untertitel-Plicht für alle" that aims at getting subtitles in all TV programs in Germany. In Facebook  their section "Fernsehen" lists the German channels with details of whether they offer subtitles or not and where to find those subtitles. 

TV programs
You can read more about Tv in Germany and some of my favorite TV programs in the recent blog entry: