Germany is widely recognized as Europe’s economic powerhouse which means being fluent in the German language is a great asset for business or personal endeavors. In fact, German is the second most spoken mother language in the European Union after English.
With over 130 million native and second language German speakers living in countries around the world, learning German can be a great asset to your business and social life.
The following is a thorough review of GermanPod101, a language learning course created and sold by Innovative Language.
GermanPod101 Review Summary
In our opinion, GermanPod101 is one of the better language courses out there for self-study German learners. The lesson library is huge, and the learning pathways are well-thought out to help you get to the next level quickly and efficiently.
With over 10 million registered users, and over 1 billion lessons delivered, across all the languages that they offer, we can understand why GermanPod101 is the go-to platform for most language learners.
GermanPod101 is heavily geared towards Beginners and Intermediate learners, where the lessons are abundant. However, Advanced learners may find that there isn’t quite enough lesson content to be satisfied with at this price level.
All in all, we feel confident recommending this program for beginner and intermediate learners of German.
Signing Up for GermanPod101
By signing up for GermanPod101 you get a free lifetime account and access to a free 7-day premium trial period. This includes an extensive library of video and audio lessons and podcasts to learn German, along with thousands of vocabulary and phrase lists, flashcards and other learning tools.
A diagnostic assessment is available and can give you a good idea of where you should start in your learning. Lessons and assessments can be taken as many times as needed for you to master the concepts. In this sense, GermanPod101 is truly a self-paced learning platform.
The program is available on your desktop computer, tablet or smartphones, which is beneficial for learning on-the-go.
Pros and Cons of GermanPod101
Pro #1: Extensive Lesson Library
There are four levels of expertise within GermanPod101 including Absolute Beginner, Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced.
Each level contains its own lesson library with relevant topics including Before You Travel, Ordering at a Restaurant, and Before Your Flight to Germany. Within these libraries, you will find thousands of audio and video lessons.
All of the lessons are accessible with your monthly subscription, and you can complete them as you see fit. This means that if you choose the guided pathway, you can still break off and do a lesson in ordering food to quickly pick up that skill.
Pro #2: Native Speakers Teach Lessons
Both audio and video lessons are taught by and explained by native German speakers. This means you will learn authentic pronunciations and have a good idea of what to expect from a true conversation in German.
Each lesson is also accompanied with a brief explanation of German culture and etiquette in specific situations, so you can avoid faux pas in real life.
Pro #3: New and Relevant Content
One thing we really like about GermanPod101 is that new lessons are added quite frequently. Meaning you will have the most up-to-date content available, and even some lessons that cover trending topics. They are designed to make sense in today’s culture and lifestyle to keep the student interested.
Whether you want to discuss a killer YouTube video or talk about your upcoming dental appointment, you can find phrases to convey what you need to say.
Pro #4: Cultural Insights
As you’d expect from any professional language program, all the teachers are native German speakers (including your 1-on-on teacher if you have the PremiumPLUS membership). There’s also a wide variety of different speakers which is great for getting exposure to different accents and speaking styles.
Throughout the lessons there’s a strong cultural emphasis at every level which not only keeps the lessons fresh and interesting, but provides a really nice insight into the German culture. Work etiquette, traditional food, historical figures, writers and musicians are just some of the topics that are thoughtfully weaved into each lesson. We found this to be a really nice touch and one of the main benefits of GermanPod101 – after all, why learn a language if not to soak up all the interesting culture and history?
The cultural notes are included alongside each lesson transcript to really hit home the cultural nuances of the language – how it’s used in context and the social and societal norms in Germany.
Con #1: Lessons are Slow for Advanced Learners
One thing we didn’t like: for those who pick up new concepts quickly, the audio and video lessons might seem a bit slow, especially in the beginning. Though most videos are only two to three minutes in length, they often cover only one small phrase or conversation at a time. This allows for extra practice, but it could seem monotonous to those who are used to learning at a faster pace.
Con #2: No Voice Recognition
Currently, there is no voice recognition set up in GermanPod101 to let you accurately practice pronunciation. This means that unless you opt for the premium subscription, there is little feedback about what you are doing. Of course, if you do upgrade to the premium subscription, a native teacher is available to answer all of your questions and practice with you.
Con #3: Poor Quality Videos & Lessons Overlapping
Whilst on the whole the bulk of the content is very well put together and the videos are edited professionally, there are still some videos lurking about with awful audio and background music, though it seems these videos are slowly being filtered out and replaced with updated, higher quality content. I also came across some lessons which I had seen in the previous level (i saw de-ja vu at first!) so the amount of content that appears on the dashboard might not be truly representative of the amount of unique content. Even though the level was higher, some of the topics had been rehashed and repeated. Though to be honest, by the time you’ve progressed past a level, they will have probably brought out some new content anyway. But definitely something to bear in mind.
Features of GermanPod101
Dashboard and Learning Paths
When logging into your GermanPod101 account, you will be taken directly to your dashboard. Here, you can choose your learning path, utilize learning tools, and get the latest news and deals from Innovative Languages. Your dashboard is where you can adjust your experience level, see how many lessons you’ve completed and find the newest vocabulary and phrase lists.
You can begin with one or multiple learning pathways depending on your goals. If you would like to align yourself with what would be taught in the classroom, you can choose the official curated Level 1 pathway. On the other hand, if you need a few basic phrases to use on an upcoming business or leisure trip, simply add that pathway to your dashboard.
GermanPod101 audio lessons open up with some lively German music and quickly delve into conversation. A woman and a man make introductions to each other in German speaking in regular speed and also slowing it down so you can follow along. Then, the conversation is translated in English. You are also given explanations about nuances in the language, for example why one word might be used over another regarding formal and informal meetings.
We also liked the feature “line-by-line” and “vocabulary” features in the audio lessons, which allow you to pinpoint areas of the dialogue you’d like to spend more time on.
GermanPod101 video lessons are similar to audio lessons in that you are generally learning a phrase or two through repetition. The words are visible on screen and scroll as the native speaker talks. Similar to a karaoke machine, this allows you to follow along with the German teacher so you know how to pronounce each part of the word.
Similar to the audio lessons, the videos give you a good explanation of whether to use formal or informal tones as well as some cultural norms.
There are quizzes and other assessments throughout all the lessons to allow you to monitor your progress.
Other Learning Tools
Flashcards and Word Lists
The flashcards are a great way to practice and perfect your vocabulary. An English word and picture pops up on your screen and you are to determine its German translation. Click on the picture and the German word is spoken. You can also hear it used in a sentence.
You can replay these recordings as long as you want to ensure you retain the word. Then, you click whether or not you got the card correct or incorrect.
The Word Lists are great for helping you finding gaps in your German vocabulary, especially in relation to specific topics.
Pronunciation review is available at the end of almost every lesson or learning tool in excess. Often, you can find words used in multiple sentences to see how it sounds in different orders.
Phrase lists, flashcards, and video and audio lessons all offer you the chance to review pronunciation so you can finely tune your German.
Lesson Notes and Transcripts
Accompanying the audio and video lessons are lesson transcripts in both English and German that you can read through as you listen. This helps you to both hear and see the words being spoken.
In addition to the spoken text, the lesson notes include cultural insights and pronunciation guides.
They are also available to download as PDFs so you can keep a hard copy if you choose.
A dictionary is available for you to search any word in either German or English, and you’ll get the translation, the grammatical definition, and an audio sample of the pronunciation. Note that you can even search parts of a word if you don’t know the full spelling and everything that contains those string of letters will show up. So for example ‘plate’ and ‘statement’ will both show up when searching for ‘ate’. Sample sentences that includes the word will show up too.
Core 2000 Words List
Here you’ll find a list of the 2538 most common words that you can browse and add to your wordbank or personalised flashcard deck. Each word has an accompanying image, translation, audio file and examples of it in use. The list can be filtered by topic or narrowed down to the most common 100, 200 words etc.
Some Sample Pathways & Lesson Topics
To give you an idea of what type of pathways & lessons you can expect, we thought you might find it useful to show you a few different lesson pathways at each level to see what kind of content gets covered. Here are some sample lesson topics that are included for the beginner, intermediate and upper intermediate levels:
Pathway: Absolute Beginner German for Every Day
Content: Over four and half hours of video content that covers the 25 most common nouns, verbs, adjectives and phrases. Once the more serious stuff is out the way, there’s a whole string of 3-6 minute well-put-together videos that are light-hearted, bubbly and fun, covering trendy topics ranging from break-up lines to German bands.
Every lesson comes with its accompanying vocab list, grammar section (if applicable), cultural insights, full transcript and comment section. After each lesson or two there is a short quiz to test comprehension and understanding. The videos are certainly very bingewatchy and engaging with lost of different actors and interesting topics (think netflix for language learning…)
Who Would Benefit From GermanPod101?
GermanPod101 is an extensive, ongoing course that can lead you to German fluency quickly. You can also find great information and resources if you only want to learn quick, conversational German. People who will benefit from purchasing GermanPod101 include those who:
Who Would NOT Benefit From GermanPod101?
We will be the first to say that language learning programs do not conform to all learners’ needs. Therefore, people who may not benefit from GermanPod101 include those who:
GermanPod101 vs. Competitors
Many programs promise to teach you how to learn German, but they do not fully immerse you into the grammar and culture to give you a well-rounded education. Our GermanPod101 review would be remiss without comparing and contrasting some competitors’ programs.
GermanPod101 vs. Babbel
Before you are able to see what Babbel is all about, you must first answer some questions about why you’re learning German, how much time you can commit to it, how old you are, and enter your email address. Then, you are given prices which varies with the number of months you choose to subscribe to. You’ll pay $8.95 per month when you pay for three months in advance.
Babbel is similar to GermanPod101 in that it relies heavily on spaced repetition. You will learn words and common expressions as well as basic vocabulary and basic grammar points.
The amount of content seems to be lacking in comparison to GermanPod101, and it is best used as a beginner tool for enhancing vocabulary.
GermanPod101 vs. Pimsleur
The Pimsleur Method does not focus on German grammar in its course. Instead, it uses graduated interval repetition and podcasts to learn German. This method is compared to a child learning to speak for the first time. They do so by listening to others. Pimsleur promises to get you speaking at an intermediate level in only 30 days at a price of $14.95 per month.
With no video or transcripts, the Pimsleur method can isolate individuals who do not excel in audio learning. There is also no structured pathway, and recommended study time is 30 minutes per day.
With little emphasis on grammar, Pimsleur seems to be better suited to people wanting to learn some basic German for their next trip.
$4/month $2.80/month (using this link)
- Access to the complete audio archive
- Access on iPhone, Android and tablets
- Printable lesson downloads
$10/month $7/month (using this link)
The Premium Subscription includes all the Basic Subscription features plus:
- Interactive lesson quizzes
- Bonus content
- Spaced repetition flashcards
- Comprehensive word lists and word bank
- iTunes feed
- Audio transcripts
Premium PLUS Subscription
$23/month $16/month (using this link)
The Premium PLUS Subscription includes all the Basic and Premium Subscription features plus:
- Professional assessments
- Personalized learning pathway
- One-on-one instruction with a native speaker
$1 for One Month Premium
If you sign up here for your free account, you’ll see a one-time offer for the Premium level for only $1 for the first month. This is a pretty good deal and a great way to find out if the subscription would be worthwhile for you.
Click here to sign up for a free lifetime account and get access to the $1 monthly trial.
GermanPod101 Review: Conclusion
In summary, GermanPod101 is one of the top contenders for learning German. Unlike other programs by Innovative Language, the quality and breadth of content doesn’t drop off at the higher levels. We were, in fact, pleasantly surprised to see just how much content there was for each level. The official level pathways alone include:
- 17 hours of video and audio content for level 1 (Absolute Beginner)
- 20+ hours for level 2 (Beginner)
- 15 hours for level 3 (Intermediate)
- 19+ hours for level 4 (Upper Intermediate)
- 4+ hours for level 5 (Advanced).
The videos are very well put together with great editing and native speakers who are rather engaging and interesting to listen to. A lot of effort has gone into the selection of some very compelling topics, which really helps to boost motivation and keep you wanting for more.
GermanPod101 provides an extensive library of lessons at relatively affordable pricing, even for one-on-one help. In our opinion, this makes it one of the most effective German study programs on the market.
We feel confident in recommending at least testing it for a week with the 7-day free trial to see if it gels with your learning style.
If you would like to try GermanPod101 for free, use the link below:
Michael has been an avid language learner and traveler for many years. His goal with LanguageTsar is to discover the most fun and effective ways to learn a language. He is currently learning Japanese, French and Indonesian.