I have to move abroad. In a German-speaking country and I want to improve my language. I know there are a lot of apps for smartphones, a lot of courses and also online softwares.

Are they all the same? Where could I start to get some information about the choice I have for learning a foreign language?

The question may appear very large, but the declared main purpose of SE is to spread knowledge. So I've tried to spread my small knowledge in a Q&A style.

  • 1
    The question really seems too broad.
    – Gala
    Commented Apr 24, 2014 at 11:08
  • @GaëlLaurans: I think that on an 'evidence based approach' a 'too broad' question couldn't be answered. But, in my opinion, my answer seem to fit it very well. At least, maybe it would be nice to see effort from the community not to close it but to narrow or improve it. The final objective should be, in my opinion, sharing useful knowledge.
    – Revious
    Commented Apr 24, 2014 at 11:58
  • Indeed but I don't quite see how to approach this particular question. There is a whole literature about language learning that can't possibly be summarized in a short answer (and anecdotes or personal impression seem even less relevant). Something more practical like “Which institutions/courses are available for expats that just moved to this or that region?” or “Which self-learning methods can be used to prepare a move to Germany?” might be more suitable.
    – Gala
    Commented Apr 24, 2014 at 12:03

1 Answer 1


There are 3 different approaches:

  1. focus on dictionary and short sentences
  2. focus on grammar
  3. focus on being able to speak

The approach taken by class german course is usually the second one. To study a few words and, at the same time, a lot of grammar. As well as Duolingo (free) and Babbel.

Mosalingua instead, but also another version of Babbel are more focused on learning words (1st approach) and short sentence. I prefer Mosalingua since it only asks you if you remember the word. It's a simpler app, but it's faster. And allows to repeat a lot of words/sentence every day. After reading 1400 cards I can remember very well more than 800. I can read german, but I can't speak well and understanding the basic grammar is still really really hard.

Pimsleur is taking a completely different approach (the 3rd one). It's made of a lot of short lessons (30 minutes each one) which are completely spoken. The beginner course is made of 30 lessons. As well as the other levels.

Driving home and back I listened about 15 lessons. My spoken german improved as well as the ability to understand. I'm actually mixing the various approach.

After 6 months of using Mosalingua (1400 cards) and after finising to listeni to the beginner course of Pimsleur my German level is A2.2. From a few weeks I've started also a German course. I'm really lacking on the grammar so the course is A1.1 (but it's a bit basic to me).

Unless you need to be able to read or to speak as soon as possible, I personally suggest to mix the various approaches.

Until now my level passed from 0 to A2.2. I spent 64 hours on Mosalingua, 16 hours on Pimsleur, 12 hours on the A1.1 german course. The german course is a bit "slow" but I like what I'm learning. Learning words at the beginning is a bit hard.

I hope this answer can help someone.

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