Want to learn German, but don’t know where to start? Well, Los Angeles is the perfect city to learn the West Germanic language. Being in Southern California, one might think that there are no German communities or that Californians are far removed from any Germanic activity. Yet, the city of Anaheim, derived from the German words Anna’s heim (Anna’s home), was founded in the mid-1800s by a group of approximately 50 winemaker families who set their homes along the Santa Ana River.

Nowadays Anaheim is home to one of the largest Oktoberfest gatherings in Southern California and Los Angeles boasts more than 20+ German eateries to get your fix on all the beer, spätzle, and house-made sausages. Plus, since 1967 Berlin became the sixth city inducted as one of Los Angeles' sister cities, a list of only twenty-four other cities in the world. On October 6th, 1990, the city of Los Angeles dedicated a southern portion of Griffith Park as the Berlin Forest, in the presence of the Los Angeles mayor, Tom Bradley, and Governing Mayor of Berlin, Walter Momper. So, if you feel that once you learn German you might not use it in Los Angeles, think again. Los Angeles is buzzing with German communities and enclaves from Griffith Park to Long Beach.

With Los Angeles being a very large city, you will certainly find German lessons being offered
Griffith Park's Berlin Forest was named after the German city in 1990. (Photo by Patrick T'Kindt Unsplash)

Now that you have made up your mind to start learning the ins and out of German, the next step is finding the right class setting that fits your time, schedule, and needs. Finding the right setting to learn something new is crucial, especially if it’s learning a daunting new language. But, because of the nature of modern technology and the scope of Los Angeles’ various colleges, universities, and schools the options are vast.

Learning German in a Classroom Setting

Even with the tremendous advancements in technology, when it comes to education the essence of the classroom has still persevered as the best setting and standard way to learn and teach. Although at times we fail to see the materialized benefits of the classroom setting, multiple studies have shown that students in an ‘active learning’ classroom learn 10 times more material. Additionally, 78% of more than 1,000 students surveyed believe it is easier to learn in a classroom than in a virtual one.

Having these studies in mind will probably have you consider which schools in Los Angeles offer the best German courses. Below are just a few options around Los Angeles to consider.

You may be interested in enrolling in a college/university level German course. Even if you are a recent high school graduate or have just been thinking of adding German to your already impressive resume, college courses are always a great way to learn a new language. Most college language courses are offered through semester terms (i.e. fall, spring, and summer), allowing students to work at an intensive yet moderate pace while having access to the campus facilities that make learning German easier. Universities and colleges offer a wide variety of German lessons in Los Angeles from intensive beginner to vast topics in German culture and literature.

Another great classroom option is learning German at a small private language school. Private language schools offer a wider range of courses and also have classes with weekly start dates, which means that you do not have to wait until the start of a new semester to start learning. Plus, courses in universities and colleges sometimes have higher tuition costs compared to smaller private language schools. Schools like the Santa Monica Language Academy (SMLA) in the heart of Santa Monica, even offer an evaluation exam that finds the best course placement for every incoming student. SMLA’s course structure is divided into three levels: beginner, intermediate, and advance; and each level is also divided into four sub-levels: A, B, C, and D. The structure is set to be bullet-proof with students reaching basic Germanic expressions in as little as one month.

A Guide to Finding a German Private Tutor

Although a classroom setting might allow for more interactive German lessons and the ability to socialize with classmates, it also might not work with everyone’s already busy schedule. But just because a classroom setting does not work with your timeframe does not mean you should not still pursue German classes.

Another great option to learn to speak German is finding a private tutor. Hiring a private tutor comes with its advantages like the ability to meet during your open schedule and having extra one-on-time to correct and work in areas you might be struggling with. Private tutors range anywhere from $15/hour to $150/hour depending on frequency, location, and level. But, don’t let the costs discourage you because when taking private lessons, you are guaranteed to learn faster and a more polished accent. Other reasons to hire a private tutor are:

  • Private tutors might lower their cost depending on lesson frequency.
  • Adaptive teaching is usually easier with one-on-one lessons and allows students and teachers to work on areas that need more attention.
  • Pay as you go, which means each lesson can be paid at any frequency you choose without having to put down a large initial payment.
Working with a German tutor can make it quicker to learn a new language
Learning German with a private tutor can be easier for anyone as you have a one-to-one interaction and no distractions. (Photo by Gabrielle Henderson on Unsplash)

Now you might be wondering, what is the easiest way to find a German tutor? Well, online communities have made it that much easier to find tutors for just about anything - German tutors included. Superprof allows you to search through thousands of private tutors in seconds all throughout the US in cities like Boston and Houston, and around the world. The online resource even allows you to test-run a lesson before committing. Pricing is set per hour and starts at $17/hour to $80/hour with tutor qualifications being a factor for the change in pricing. Yet, with Superprof’s large tutor database you are guaranteed to find a German teacher that works perfectly for you by just searching German lessons near me in their reliable built-in search engine.

Self-Guided: Learning to Speak German Through Books, Websites & Applications

Now that a few options for learning German have been laid out, you might reach the consensus that neither works for you. Another option that might suit you best is self-directed study, founded upon the idea of learner autonomy and access to an assortment of resources for learning the subject. There are various resources to aid your self-guided learning from books to mobile applications.

Learning to speak German through textbooks helps you learn and reinforce words while also letting you learn each word’s context. Books also expose you to the natural German language used while improving your grammar. What is also beneficial is that most books come with an audio companion, which allows students to know the exact pronunciation and how every word needs to sound phonetical. A few books that are widely used for self-guided study and in German lessons are:

  • Living German by Ed Swick
  • Learn German with Stories: Café in Berlin by André Klein
  • German by Living Language
  • Berlitz German Phrase Book & CD by Berlitz Publishing
  • Mastering German Vocabulary: A Thematic Approach by Veronika Schnorr

Online courses are another way to get you to learn German in no time! A major benefit of learning German online is that there are lots of free online courses and language learning resources, yet many of the free options do not go into too much depth. But none the less online courses like DeutschAkadamie offer more than 20K German grammar and vocabulary exercises that cover all levels with interactive flashcards.

Learning how to speak German through mobile applications is also another option. Mobile apps allow for an interactive gamified experience that is equally enjoyable and productive. Successful applications like Duolingo, Rosetta Stone, and Busuu feature practice lessons with native speakers in their social network, regular feedback, and relevancy. The advantages of learning through a mobile application are that you can learn at your own pace, you start speaking from the start, save time and money.

Yet, learning a new language in a self-guided environment can come with its disadvantages like burn-out and confusion. Which is why self-guided learning is best when supplemented with other modes of learning such as with a private tutor and or lessons in a classroom setting.

Looking for German lessons in your city? Check out our other German learning city guides in New York, Chicago, Houston, and around the US.

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A California desert-native who has a passion for baking from scratch, reading 1950-era novels, listening to soul/jazz, and global trotting.