Online German Classes: How Does It Compare To Attending German Language School?

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a side by side comparison of online german classes vs german language school written by expats living in germany
Expats compare what it’s like taking online German classes to attending German language school?

What are the differences and similarities between taking online German classes VS a German language school? Expats living in Germany share their personal experiences, as well as the pros and cons of taking an online German course.

Are you learning German in preparation for moving to work or study in Germany? You’re not alone! We relocated to Berlin 3 years ago and were determined to master the German language for this exact reason.

Although we can’t quite say that we’ve ‘mastered’ the language. We definitely get full marks for effort! Over the years, we’ve tried as many ways as humanly possible to learn German.

From attending German courses at language schools, and learning German via YouTube, podcasts, and Netflix, to experimenting with language learning apps like Busuu and Duolingo.

And with the COVID pandemic, we’ve even ventured into the world of online German classes with the hopes of arriving at our final destination – to become fluent in German!

This guide will therefore share our personal experiences of what you can expect when taking an online German course with Lingoda.

So if you’re keen to know what the differences and similarities are between taking a German language course online VS a German language school, the pros and cons of offline vs online learning, and whether it’s worth spending your hard-earned money, keep reading!

Disclosure: This Lingoda review is not sponsored but we did receive free online German classes as part of a free trial. But whether a guide is sponsored or not, we always share our honest opinion.

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The Similarities between Online German Classes vs German Language School

1. CEFR Structured German Language Course

For those who have never heard of Lingoda before. Lingoda is an online language school based in Berlin – our current home city!

Similar to a traditional German language school, Lingoda offers CEFR structured (Common European Framework of Reference) language courses.

The only difference is that all your German classes are done online!

descriptions of online german classes with lingoda for learning german vocabulary reading conversation
Both options offer CEFR structured German language course

Why is CEFR important, do you ask?

CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference) is important because it means that you’ll be following a language curriculum that is valid and recognized in every European country.

This ensures that you’ll have the same language skills for that level whether you learned German in Portugal or learned German in Germany.

Not every online German course follows the CEFR structure. So this is one of the major pros of taking online German classes with Lingoda, which leads us to our next point…

2. Valid Language Certificates Are Issued 

Similar to a traditional German language school, Lingoda will also issue you with an official certificate when you successfully complete a language level.

Not only are these language certificates valid for showing your proficiency level for job applications. But they’re also valid for language learning visa applications too.

a german flag, visa application and passport lying on a wooden table
Lingoda issues valid language certificates for visa applications

So if you’re looking for an online German course that issues valid language certificates, look no further!

Bonus Tip: Not sure which CEFR language level you are? Don’t worry – you can do a free placement test on Lingoda to find out which level is the best for you if you’re not an absolute beginner at learning German.

3. Taught by Certified German Tutors

Similar to in-person German language schools, Lingoda has a strict criteria for picking only certified German tutors to teach you the language. Each teacher also has at least 2 years of teaching experience before they can give online German classes on Lingoda.

That way, Lingoda ensures that students get quality lessons to learn German from anywhere around the world.

screenshot of best german tutors for taking online language course on lingoda platform
All German tutors on Lingoda are certified with at least 2 years’ experience

We had 25 different teachers over 2 months and we can honestly say that Lingoda has some really great German tutors. We never had a single bad lesson due to a teacher not showing up or teaching poorly.

Related Guide: What’s the difference between taking online German classes vs language learning apps like Busuu and Duolingo? Read our Lingoda vs Duolingo and Busuu guide to find out!

4. Interactive ‘Live’ Lessons

Many online German courses don’t offer interactive ‘live’ lessons. They’re either pre-recorded or you get your German lessons sent to you in a PDF file for self-learning. But this is not the case with Lingoda.

You get online face-to-face, ‘live’ German classes with Lingoda. This means that you can engage and ask questions like you would when you physically attend any German language school.

5. Online German Language Classes Follow A Similar Format

Another big pro is the format of the online German course that Lingoda offers. It’s very similar to the format that German language schools follow.

Students are encouraged to read out loud, do exercises, answer questions and speak German as you would at any German language school.

It can be quite intimidating at first. But these exercises really help you learn to speak German fast!

a student taking online german classes with a german tutor via her laptop
The format of online German classes are similar to language school

Similar to traditional language schools, Lingoda’s online German classes focus on vocabulary, grammar, reading, writing, and speaking skills around themes that are relevant to real-life situations.

For example, in the online German A2.1 language course we took. The themes were going for a job interview, having a conversation over the telephone, and questions to ask when moving into a new apartment. All topics that are incredibly useful if you’re planning to move to Germany.

All online German classes with Lingoda are taught in the language that you’re learning. But don’t worry. If you can’t understand it all, you’re very welcome to ask the tutors to explain it to you in English too.

The Differences between Online German Classes vs German Language School

1. Attend Online German Classes Anytime, Anywhere

This is the most obvious pro of taking online German classes with Lingoda vs attending a German language school. You can literally learn German anytime, anywhere! Provided that you have a stable internet connection (and some willpower), of course!

This is a great advantage for those who have full-time jobs and prefer taking German language classes in the evenings or on the weekends.

It’s equally great for freelancers and digital nomads too since you can schedule online German classes whilst traveling. And let’s not forget that it’s pandemic- and social distance-friendly too.

Lingoda offers online German classes 24/7. So whether you’re an early bird or a night owl, you can easily find classes to suit your schedule.

2. Online German Course Offers Small Group Classes

It’s pretty common to have 20 to 30 students attending a German course at a language school. But don’t worry – this isn’t the case when taking online German classes with Lingoda.

Lingoda limits its group classes to a maximum of 5 students. This way, they ensure that everyone gets a chance to practice reading and speaking as much German as possible within the 60-minute online class.

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There are cons to this, however. It means that you won’t be able to ask questions or speak to the German tutor when class is over.

There will also be lessons where there won’t be enough time for you to finish all the slides. This happens most often when you’re learning more complex grammar topics where students ask lots of questions.

In this case, you can either self-study the remaining learning materials. Or book a private German class if you can’t figure it out on your own.

Bonus Tip: We like the fact that you can easily preview each online German lesson before signing up. Lingoda’s online platform makes it easy to download each lesson’s learning material. So you can decide whether a group or private German lesson is better for you.

3. Easily Take Private German Classes

For those who want to learn to speak German as fast as possible. Private German classes are the way to go!

That’s another advantage that you get with Lingoda. You can easily take private German lessons online instead of group classes!

This means that you can easily access the best German tutors and customize your German language classes to suit you. This comes really handy if there’s a specific topic you want to focus on.

Like business German classes for your profession, focusing on German conversation classes only, or learning technical terminology and phrases you’d need for a specialized job interview.

taking private german language classes online
Easily take private German classes online with certified tutors

Plus, you won’t ever need to worry about being scammed by ‘tutors’ who are not certified to teach, not pitching for your lessons, and running away with your money!

Obviously, these are more expensive than group classes. But if you compared them to how much private German language tutors charge, Lingoda’s private online classes are generally more affordable.

Private German Language Classes: Lingoda Prices

Classes per WeekGermanEnglishFrench/SpanishBusiness English
1 per week
(total 4 per month)
3 per week
(total 12 per month)
5 per week
(total 15 per month)
10 per week
(total 40 per month)
Monthly Prices for Lingoda Private Classes Based on Number of Classes Per Week

These private German lessons are super easy to book too. All you got to do, is specify when you want to do the lesson and describe very specifically what you would like to learn in your customized private lesson.

The only downside is that you won’t be able to pick a private German tutor. But don’t worry – Lingoda follows a strict criteria to select their language teachers. So you’ll always be taught by a certified and quality professional.

Not sure whether online German classes are for you? Try Lingoda for free! They currently offer a free trial where you can take either 3 group classes or 1 private online lesson for FREE. And if you’re sold after trying the free trial. Make sure to use our promo code NOMAD20 to get a discount off your Lingoda language course!

4. Easily Change German Tutors To Suit Your Learning Style

One of the big pros of taking online German classes with Lingoda vs attending language school is that you can easily change your German tutor.

The advantage of this is that you can easily choose a different teacher if you don’t like a particular tutor’s teaching style. But on the same note, it could be a downside if you find a favorite teacher and aren’t able to book private online German classes specifically with him or her.

You will, however, be able to book group classes with your favorite teacher though! But you’ll have to look through the Lingoda calendar and ‘track’ your favorite teacher down.

Related Guide: What’s the quality of Lingoda teachers like and can you really become fluent taking online language classes? We answer these most frequently asked questions and more in our How Does Lingoda Work guide.

5. All The Learning Materials Are Included For Online German Classes

If you take an online German course with Lingoda, they provide you with all the learning materials you’ll need. From the course work for each language level to all the after-class exercises (i.e. homework).

All you need is a computer, internet, earphones, and a webcam (optional), and you’re good to go!

All classes are taught via Zoom. So you don’t need to pay to download any special software. And any additional after-class exercises can be done directly on the Lingoda website.

doing german language exercises online using lingoda learning materials
All German learning materials provided online – including homework!

This is different from a traditional German language school where you’ll have to buy their recommended textbook.

These textbooks cost anywhere between €30 to €40 PER language level. This means that you’ll need to budget to spend €60 to €80 to finish the entire German A1 level alone.

Plus, the other benefit is that you won’t ever have to worry about studying from outdated textbooks or learning German that is no longer relevant for this day and age.

6. Homework Is Optional When Taking Online German Classes

Now, this next point could be a pro or con depending on your personal preferences. But when you take an online German course with Lingoda, homework is optional.

This is great news if you’re looking for evening German classes after work and have a very busy schedule.

But if you’re a nerd (like me) and want lots of exercises to practice your newly acquired German grammar and vocabulary skills. You may be disappointed with not having enough homework to do.

Related Guide: Looking for free resources for learning German online? Read our 22 Free Ways To Learn German Online! It includes a list of Youtube channels, podcasts, e-books and apps to make learning German fun.

7. No Final Exam To Get Valid CEFR Language Certificate with Lingoda

Unlike with traditional German language schools, you won’t need to write a final exam to complete your online German course AND be issued a valid language certificate with Lingoda.

All you need to be eligible to receive a valid CEFR language certificate is to attend at least 90% of the online German classes for your language level. That’s it!

a student taking a language exam at a german language school in berlin
No need to write a final exam when taking a online German course with Lingoda

This is another reason why Lingoda is one of the best online German language courses for people who have full-time jobs.

Related Guide: Want to know our personal experiences learning German on Lingoda for 2 months? Read our Lingoda Review guide. We share 24 honest pros and cons you should know before starting.

8. Start Learning German Instantly Upon Sign-up

Another advantage of taking online German classes with Lingoda is that you can start learning German immediately after sign-up.

This is often not the case with German language schools where you have to wait until the next language course starts.

This waiting period could vary anywhere from a few weeks, to a few months. So if you want to stop procrastinating and just get on with learning German, it’s something worth considering.

Plus, you won’t have to pay any registration fees either when taking an online German course. Now that’s what we call a win-win situation!

9. Prices of Online German Classes vs Language School

If you’ve read this far, you’re probably wondering how much is Lingoda a month and how it compares to in-person German language school.

Surprisingly, we found the prices to take online German classes with Lingoda very similar to what you’d pay at a popular German language school in Berlin. But this is only the case if you opt for Lingoda’s 10 classes per week option.


Get 30% discount off the first month of your Lingoda monthly subscription (not valid for 4 classes per month option)! Use the promo code: WIN2023 (only valid from 27 December 2022 to 31 January 2023) so don’t miss out!

How Much is a Lingoda Class?

The price to take Lingoda for a month costs €399 if you pick the 10 group online German classes per week option. This equates to paying €10 per Lingoda class.

This is very comparable to what you’d pay to attend an intensive German language course in Berlin for 2 hours, 4 days of the week (i.e. 8 hours per week) which costs €325 or €10.15 per class.

Classes per WeekGermanEnglishFrench/SpanishBusiness English
1 class per week
(total 4 per month)
3 classes per week
(total 12 per month)
5 classes per week
(total 15 per month)
10 classes per week
(total 40 per month)
Monthly Prices for Lingoda Group Classes Based on Number of Classes Per Week

The only con with Lingoda is that it will take 5 weeks of taking 10 group classes per week (a total of 50 hours of online German classes) to complete one language level. Whereas it would take only 4 weeks to complete one language level at a traditional German language school.

So if you compared the price to complete an entire language level with Lingoda vs a German language school, it would seem like Lingoda is more expensive.

But the pros of online German classes are that the group classes are much smaller (max 5 students) and the fact that you can move them around to fit your schedule.

Plus, Lingoda offers a flexible pricing structure. So if €399 per month is too much for your budget, you can easily pay less per month by signing up for fewer classes per week.

The cheapest online German course that Lingoda offers, costs only €60 per month. So money should no longer be the excuse when it comes to learning German!

10. Running Into IT-Related Problems

The cons of taking online German classes is that it’s really important that you have a reliable and stable internet connection. A 4G mobile data connection is not enough – trust us, we tried!

Another con is that you need to know how to use Zoom and have some basic computer skills to do the online German course.

If you’re a millennial or younger, this shouldn’t be a problem for you. But our parent’s generation might struggle a little with this part without some prior ‘training’.

a man having computer problems holding a laptop and a red help sign over his head
Technological problems are one of the cons of online German classes

11. Social Aspect Of Attending German Language Schools

The other disadvantage of taking an online German course is that you miss the socializing that happens when you attend an in-person German language school. There’s no meeting fellow expats or having a couple of beers after class. It’s just straight-up language learning from the get-go.

This is not a serious problem (at all)! But we thought we’d just put it out there or this pros and cons list wouldn’t be complete.

Are Online German Classes As Effective As German Language School?

We’ve personally experienced learning German at a language school in Berlin for 2 months. And now also had the experience of taking online German classes with Lingoda for 2 months too. Here is what we honestly think.

If your goal is to learn to speak and become fluent in German fast, you can achieve this by taking online German classes too. But this is only true if the online German course you’re taking has reading out loud and conversation exercises.

If it’s a self-studying online German course, you may only improve your vocabulary and grammar skills. But you’ll still struggle to improve your German listening and speaking skills.

Whether attending a German language school or taking online classes is better, will depend on your learning style and your lifestyle. There are pros and cons to both these methods for learning German.

Our best advice to you is to know these pros and cons and pick the best one to suit you. Consistency is key – make sure you pick the one you will enjoy so it never feels like a chore.

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