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Free German courses for intermediate and advanced learners are not hard to find online. But, those who want to move to Germany will most likely need to pass one of the official German language proficiency tests before or shortly after their arrival in Germany. They should, therefore, take standard courses such as those provided by the Goethe Institute. The Goethe Institute has offices in 98 countries around the world where students can attend preparatory classes and take exams. The list of existing examinations is available at the Goethe Institute’s website. Click on any of the individual exams in the table and then follow the links to download exam guidelines, study materials, practice exercises and sample tests, or try them online. The type of free materials you will find will depend on the exam that you have chosen.
Free Online German Lessons
Although preparatory classes at the Goethe Institute are all paid, the Institute also offers some free resources for German learners wishing to take their language proficiency exams. A comprehensive list can be found below.
Free German Language Resources by the Goethe Institute
- Deutsch für Dich is not a course but a learning platform where you can find tutorials, interactive learning games, learning partners and learning tips from other members in the forum. To get access you will need to register but registration is free of charge. Courses and exams provided by the Goethe Institute at their premises are obviously not free of charge.
- Grüße aus Deutschland (Greetings from Germany) is (or rather was) a free German language course for advanced students, so it is only available in German. The course consists of 60 entertaining episodes that can be listened to online or downloaded as a podcast to your mobile phone or laptop from iTunes. This is an excellent way to improve your German language skills on the go. Unfortunately, this course was discontinued and thus the transcripts of the episodes are no longer available for download from the website of the Goethe institute.
- Deutsch am Arbeitsplatz (German at Work) includes free practice exercises for students at proficiency levels of A1-B2. This course is suitable for all those who are planning on working in Germany to improve their work-specific language skills. There are separate courses for various professions like social service workers, scientists, technical professions, etc., while all instructions are in German.
For more free resources from the Goethe Institute please visit other sections of this website.
However, there are many alternatives to German courses provided by the Goethe-Institute. They are especially suitable for learners who do not need to take standard exams while also having certain specific requirements. Additionally, many of them tend to be more entertaining than standard courses. Below you find links to some of the best free German lessons for intermediate and advanced students available online (although many of these courses start from the beginner’s level, they all also contain lessons for more advanced German learners).
The Best Free German Online Courses (Other than Goethe Inst.)
- Easy Online German is a complete German course for beginners and intermediate students with focus on all the most important language learning topics including grammar, basic everyday vocabulary, listening comprehension and pronunciation. Everything is explained in English, so the course is also suitable for an absolute beginner. Unfortunately, this very useful website is not mobile friendly yet and can, therefore, only be viewed on larger screens such as desktops or tablets.
- Deutsch-Lernen.com offers free German lessons and grammar exercises for beginners and more advanced students as well as online tests for assessing a learner’s skill level. For instructions, readers can choose between an English and a German version of the website. Those who also want to improve their writing skills will find many useful tips on correct spelling of German words in the orthography section.
- Deutsche Welle developed a new German-learning platform which offers a whole range of free German courses and tests for all levels of German language skills from absolute beginners up to C1 level. In fact, Deutsche Welle brings you some of the most innovative free German lessons you can find anywhere on the internet. Most of them include a full transcript in PDF format and a downloadable MP3 file. Follow-up exercises will help you exercise your grammar skills and learn new vocabulary. Some examples of German lessons that you can find on learngerman.DW.com include:
- Top-Thema mit Vokabeln (B1) is an unconventional language course from Deutsche Welle for intermediate students. It brings you the top news from around the world to help improve your vocabulary. The news is read slowly and clearly and there is a slow-spoken audio download for each episode. You will be asked to answer a couple of questions after each episode to make sure you understand the main points. The whole course was recently moved to the new mobile platform. The original page with downloadable solutions (as PDFs) can still be found at the archived old DW website. Solutions from episodes released since 2018 are available at the new website.
- Nicos Weg B1 is a continuation of the Nicos Weg A1 and A2 that were mentioned amongst the lessons for beginners and it is the last (third) part of the series, ending with the final knowledge test. This part consists of 18 practical episodes that encompass various aspects of everyday life in Germany (e.g., school, work, relationships, environmental issues, media, politics, migration, history, etc.).
- Jojo sucht das Glück (B1) is a telenovela about a young lady from Brazil who is seeking happiness in Germany while studying there at the university. You can follow her adventures and so learn new vocabulary needed in various day-to-day situations.
- Ticket nach Berlin is another exciting course from Deutsche Welle that is only available in German language because it requires an upper intermediate knowledge of the language (B2). In this course you will accompany six young German learners from different countries on their adventurous journey through Germany. The course includes 19 episodes with interactive tests to examine how well you are coping with German grammar and vocabulary. Downloadable worksheets, transcripts and audios for each episode are available under extras.
- Langsam gesprochene Nachrichten or slowly spoken news in English (B2) is a great way of expanding your vocabulary and training your listening comprehension. You can download the news in MP3 format either from the DW website or from ITunes.
- Video-Thema (B2) brings you interesting reports on various contemporary topics. The short movies are downloadable and subtitles can be turned on and off. Follow-up exercises will help you remember new vocabulary. Downloadable materials for each episode can be found under extras.
- Alltagsdeutsch (C1-C2) is the course for the most advanced students of the German language. As its title suggests, its aim is to teach you the language that natives use in everyday communication among themselves. It consists of audio-reports on everyday life in Germany, that is, the themes related to work, leisure, society, traditions, etc. In this course you will also learn a little bit of colloquial language used in common situations.
- Sprachbar (momentarily only available from web archive) is a course for advanced students of German (C1-C2). By analysing latest headlines, idioms and specifics of German grammar, learners become familiar with the intricacies of the German language. For each video there is a full transcript in PDF format and an MP3 file that you can download.
- German courses at the VHS Lernportal are part of a free educational platform of the German Adult Education Association established with the aim to support the integration of immigrants. However, this great educational portal can also be used by non-residents. All German lessons (including more than 11,000 exercises) are free but you will need to register at their website to gain full access. Before you do so, preview the courses as a guest to see how you like them. The courses are suitable for beginners and intermediate students (levels A1-B2).
- GCSE School German from BBC is a course for intermediate students of German to train their reading and listening comprehension, writing and grammar skills as well as their exam skills.
- Deutsch.info is a platform that not only offers free German courses for beginners and intermediates (levels A1 to B1) but it also provides useful tips on living in Germany and Austria. In addition to that you will find there dictionaries, media library, detailed grammar explanations and a community forum. Registration is necessary but it is free. This portal is available in 19 language versions.
- Alison is a platform where you can find all sorts of 100% free online courses. At the end of each course there is a free exam and, if you pass it, you can decide on whether you wish to become an Alison graduate. To do so you will need to pay for a certificate or diploma as these are not free. Just search for keywords such as “German language” and you will find dozens of courses for all levels of German learners including, for example, “Intermediate German 201”.
- OpenLearn is a language project of the Open University in the UK, one of the leading providers of online education. At the time of writing this paragraph there were nine free German language courses available there, while two of them were intermediate and two were advanced. All these online courses are also downloadable as PDFs (videos as MP4s) for off-line learning. Each chapter in every course contains lots of interactive exercises for practicing grammar and vocabulary. However, you will need to register for a free account in order to be able to use the interactive functionality of exercises. For those who decide to use PDFs instead of studying online, please keep in mind that PDFs do not contain solutions to the exercises.
- Nthuleen.com is a great collection of German teaching materials compiled by an American university lecturer. Although the site has not been updated since 2004, it still offers many useful resources for German learners. You will find there loads of grammar exercises and vocabulary building exercises but also texts about German culture and German lyrics.
- Langmaster.com – German is one of many languages taught on this website. Unfortunately, the website works only in old web browsers that still support adobe flash and in Opera among modern browsers. You must have adobe flash player installed to play the videos. There are two hundred lessons including nearly two thousand exercises with English instructions for beginners, intermediate and advanced students. However, you will need to login (registration is free) to make use of some of the site’s features (e.g. audio functions).
- Klett Sprachen is one of the greatest online resources for anybody learning German, whether beginner, intermediate or advanced German speaker. Unfortunately, the language of the website is German (only), so beginners may not be able to find all of its goodies. The platform offers free online placement tests (many of them are also available for download in PDF format with solutions at the end), examples of actual tests in PDF format for relevant German language proficiency examinations as well as online exercises.
Alternative Learning Materials for Intermediate and Advanced Students of German
But, as you may expect this is not all there is for German learners. You can find additional German lessons for intermediate and advanced learners on YouTube or as mobile language apps. If you are looking for employment in a German-speaking country you may be interested in business German lessons that are available online for free. As they say, practice makes perfect, so visit also other sections of this website for interactive online exercises and tests to practice grammar and exam skills. There is so much there that you will never get bored. But remember that for maximum learning efficiency you need to stay motivated, so choose your lessons carefully.
Intermediate & Advanced German FAQs
Is B1 German advanced or intermediate?
B1 level is described as intermediate. At this level your German will be just good enough for a simple conversation with the locals. Nonetheless, the German B1 level happens to be enough to be allowed to study at most secondary schools in Germany.
Is B2 German advanced?
No, B2 is an upper intermediate level. The advanced level is one level up, that is, C1. In fact, the German B2 level is the minimum language proficiency requirement for the admission to most university study programmes in Germany.
What is the advanced German level?
C1 is the advanced German level. At this level you should be able to understand most topics and be in a position to communicate spontaneously, expressing nearly all your thoughts with ease without having to visibly search for words.
Is B2 German enough for university?
Yes, it is just enough for most study programmes at most universities. There are several different language certificates accepted by universities in Germany and their difficulty levels range between B2 and C1. The choice of a certificate is usually yours.
Is B2 enough to work in Germany?
For many jobs the German B2 level is good enough. However, in certain professions, e.g., in customer services or as a lecturer, you will need C1 or even C2.
Is C1 German fluent?
Yes, at C1 level you will be regarded as fluent in German and only one step from mastering the German language completely, that is, from the ultimate C2 level.
How long does it take to get to German C1 level?
Under the most optimistic scenario, it takes about 150 full hours of study or 180 (50min) lessons to manage each level from A1-C1. Multiply that by five and you get 750 hours of study or 900 lessons. This translates into at least 30 weeks of intensive study. However, most people cannot afford to do 30 lessons a week for 30 weeks in a row. Hence, most learners may need about two years to reach the German C1 level.