If you're looking for a rock-solid German course that ticks all the boxes but doesn't cost the earth, then it's hard to go past Rocket German. There is a huge amount of learning material packed into each level, for a pretty darn reasonable price.
In the first level alone you get 29 podcast-like audio lessons, 30 "language and culture" (a.k.a grammar) lessons, and a bunch of interactive exercises to help you build your listening, writing, recall and pronunciation.
If you're heading overseas and you need a quick introduction to German basics, the Interactive Audio Course teaches you a surprising amount in a short space of time. The lessons are around 20 minutes long, and perfect for listening to on the way to work or at the gym.
If you're only going to get one German language course, this is my top pick.
Visit the Rocket German website or read my full Rocket German review
Ouino German is an extremely well-structured grammar course, with a lot of extras that will keep you coming back for more.
Ouino helps you understand German grammar without overwhelming you with too much detail. Their goal seems to be to give you the most essential information first so you can start using the language sooner. (And there's time to learn the finer details later.)
Along with the main "building blocks" section, there's a whole section of the software devoted to teaching you verbs and helping you practice conjugation with a bunch of nifty tools. There are also bonus sections on vocabulary, conversation examples, pronunciation practice, writing/listening practice, and more.
Ouino would be quite suitable for older kids and teens, as well as us adults. There's enough interaction to keep things fun and challenging for all ages. It's available as either a monthly subscription, or a one-time purchase (which is extremely good value).
Click here to visit Ouino »
For years I've been a big fan of the French equivalent of this course, So it's hugely exciting to have a German version.
Wunderbla is probably pretty different to anything you've tried before.
Firstly, the lessons are drip-fed to you by email, up to 5 days a week. Each lesson includes grammar, vocabulary and comprehension activities, and takes 10 - 15 minutes. Once you finish your lesson you "submit" it to receive your "correction" (again, via email).
The "corrections" are where most of your learning will happen. Whenever you get something wrong there will be an entertaining explanation. The corrections are often as much fun as the lesson itself.
Then there is the AI: It "learns" your strengths and weaknesses, and customizes each lesson for you. All lessons will follow the general plot of a story, but the activities you're given will adapt to your skill level.
Highly recommended if your sense of humor is a little bent like mine. This course will only give you a maximum of 5 lessons per week, so it's not recommended if you're impatient and wanting to binge. (But you could use it as a reinforcement tool in conjunction with another course or textbook.)
Click here to visit Wunderbla and get a 30 day free trial »
Note that the first 7 lessons are essentially a placement test, so don't worry if you find them too hard or too easy. At the end of 7 lessons you'll receive an assessment, and you'll start receiving customised lesson plans.
If you're interested in learning German in the car, at the gym, or you're just a particularly big fan of podcasts... GermanPod101 is unquestionably the largest source of German-teaching audio lessons.
Lessons cover all levels from beginner through to advanced, and are available on a huge variety of topics — so you can pick something that takes your interest.
It's a monthly subscription service with different pricing levels depending on whether you want all the bells and whistles (line-by-line audio, additional exercises, flash cards) or just the podcasts themselves. If you choose the audio-only membership, it's around the price of a cappuccino each month — very reasonable.
Duolingo is everyone's favorite free German course. It's essentially a really big language-learning game, where you complete exercises (fill in the gaps, translate the sentence) to complete levels.
It's not particularly useful as a crash-course in German if you're heading overseas. For instance, it's quite a few lessons before you learn the basics of "my name is..." But if you're in this for the long haul, you won't mind starting off learning sentences like "The boy is a child".
The grammar points at the beginning of each level are a welcome addition and help you understand a bit of what you're learning, but you might want to pick up a textbook or another language course if you want a deeper understanding of the language.
You can use Duolingo both on your computer and through an app. It also has a really nice community forum.
Ultimately the best language course is the one that you enjoy and stick with. If you get bored and give up, it's all over. So find the one that best suits your learning habits.
If you’re going to buy just one course, I recommend Rocket German. It really does pack the most value in. You get an audio course for the car, a full grammar course, and all that interactive material as well. You can discover which method works best for you without needing to purchase other courses.