Learn German with our favourite Berlin language school Expath

by James Glazebrook

Expath logo

We know it’s hard to learn German in Berlin. Ours is a city so international that some expats actually ask themselves (and us!) whether it’s worth learning German at all, and the business ventures they start can spark fierce debate when they are criticised for not adequately catering for Germans in their mother tongue. Of course, if you’re only in Berlin to party your summer away, you won’t experience much pressure to speak German and, given most locals’ readiness to speak English to you, you won’t be given much opportunity to.

But if, like us, you plan to be here long term, and you want to be able to communicate with the locals and learn more about them, their culture and their city, you need to learn German. Most jobs outside of the ultra-competitive startup scene call for at least basic German skills, as do meetings at any government building and phone calls to your landlord. The only way to truly integrate into Berlin life is to learn German and, we’ve found, the best way to get a solid foundation in German is with structured classroom learning.

Expath classroom

That’s why we’re happy we discovered Expath. They have been on our radar ever since they wrote some articles for überlin helping expats to look for jobs and accommodation in Berlin, and generally find their feet here – all services that they provide regularly on an individual or group basis. So when we were ready to commit again to learning German – after an extended break from our mixed approach of underwhelming classroom courses, expensive private tuition and pot luck tandem learning – we gave Expath a go.

Expath water coolerWe were happy we did, as Expath’s language courses are the best we’ve experienced. The classes are small (with an average of eight students), conversational, student-centred and taught by the liveliest, loveliest teachers we’ve ever had. We’re quickly picking up the grammar grounding and relevant vocabulary we need to be able to talk about the stuff that matters to us, and, at the same time, meeting like-minded and motivated students we can practice on. Another bonus is Expath’s location – in the Wye complex on Skalitzer Strasse, which is only ten minutes’ bike ride away from us, and convenient for anyone living in Kreuzberg, Friedrichshain or Neukölln… you know, where all the expats live!

So whether you’re an absolute beginner, or an accomplished German speaker looking to polish your skills, why not join us on one of Expath’s language courses?

How to improve your German in Berlin

by Guest Blogger

Written by Natalie Holmes on on behalf of www.be-my-guest.com who offer short stay Berlin Apartments, with an illustration by Jaime Huxtable.

You might think that there’s no better place to learn German than the capital of the world’s most populous German-speaking country. But you’d be wrong. Berlin is an international city where you can, more or less, get by without speaking the language. Whether or not you’d want to–or should–has been hotly debated lately, but for those who do, the fact that so many people speak  English in Berlin can present a very real barrier to learning German.

When I first arrived here almost four years ago, I spent a few months in totally unexpected culture shock. Sure, many people speak English, but that hardly helped me to decipher this new and strange city, with its impossibly long words and curious customs.

As soon as I had time, I enrolled on a beginners course at my local Volkshochschule. It didn’t take long to realise that the more German I learnt, the more comfortable I felt in Berlin–and since I planned to be here long-term, knowing the language became a priority. It seemed essential to my well-being. Trouble was, I’d already begun forming a group of friends for whom English was the lingua franca.

Of the many surprises offered up by Berlin, one of the least predictable was the struggle to speak German. On the long journey to making this city feel like home, here are some ways I’ve found to help master the Muttersprache.

Radio, Films & TV

This one’s kind of obvious, but shouldn’t be overlooked. When I ask Scandinavian friends how their English got to be so perfect, they often say it’s through watching subtitled films. There are some excellent German-language films you can watch holed up at home, all in the name of education. My favourites are epic BBC mini-series Das Boot, Wim Wenders’ classic Der Himmel über Berlin (Wings of Desire), cult favourite Lola Rennt (Run Lola Run) East Berlin spy thriller Das Leben der Anderen (The Lives of Others), jolting social experiment Die Welle and practically anything by Michael Haneke. Most DVDs offer subs in a range of languages, but make sure you check the box if you’re buying from Germany, as the older ones probably won’t. It’s also possible to download subtitle text files and sync them with the film you’re watching.

And it also works the other way round. Despite the dubious German tradition of dubbing films, some cinemas (like many in the Yorck group) show new releases in their original language with German subs (OmU). I find reading along in German as effective–if not more so–than hearing the German and reading in English. Plus those cinemas are beautiful, and their popcorn is the best in town.

A German friend invited me to her local Kneipe one Sunday evening to get involved in the nationwide tradition of watching an episode of TV crime drama Tatort. I accepted, consoling myself that if I didn’t understand, hey, at least I’d be at the pub. But I did understand, mostly. Not every word, of course, but enough of the plot to genuinely react to twists and join in the with audience’s exaggerated shock at just the right moments.

On a more day-to-day level, listening to the radio can be helpful. FluxFM have a feature called Lesen und Lesen Lassen that’s broadcast daily and also available online. Each day, a bite-sized section of a different book is read out, in German. I rarely understand all of the story, but as time goes by I notice that there are now more familiar words than unfamiliar. If it’s still all sounding indecipherable, try Deutsche Welle’s excellent Radio D, which is specially geared towards beginners, with basic vocab at a more leisurely pace.

German gym classes

It’s amazing how much new vocab I’ve learnt from fumbling my way through German Pilates and yoga classes. The good thing about those sort of classes is that you can get away with sneaking glances at your teacher (or classmates if your eyeline happens to be skewed by some awkward contortion) and following the moves without knowing exactly what’s being said. It wasn’t my intention to have learnt so many anatomical words and verbs through going to German gym classes, but a happy side-effect nonetheless. Now, when everyone’s at the pub talking about flexing their pelvic floor (der Beckenboden–in case you’re wondering), I can join in unembarrassed.

Ask to speak German

Another idea that seems simple enough in theory, asking to speak German can be a scary thing to do–not least because if you’re the one requesting it, then you’d better be able to hold a conversation. I’ve sat before in a group of people, all German except me, and everyone’s talking English. It’s silly and a bit embarrassing. But it’s easy. At some point embarrassment turns to shame and I hear myself say “Wir sollten auf Deutsch sprechen, oder?” There’s only so long I can sit there in silence, following the conversation but too slow to construct sentences to make a point before it moves on. In the end, I just have to blurt something out, word order all over the place. Someone replies. They knew what I meant! They didn’t laugh! Next time it’s easier.

Similarly, who’s ever tried their very best to speak German to a local at a party, say, and met with replies in flawless English? Even when I persevere in this situation, replying stubbornly in German while my German counterpart persists with English, I inevitably lose the game, trumped by some complex grammatical structure or another. I get that it might be annoying to speak to someone struggling with a new language, but Germans, please, be patient with us. Humour us. Speak German to us!

Fake it til you make it

Of course, the best way to get better at German is to practice speaking it as much as possible. Predictably, all the best German speakers I know have either spent time immersed in Germany outside of Berlin or live with a German speaking flatmate or partner. But if shacking up with a native is not a feasible option, just fake it til you make it.

Tandems are a popular option, where you meet up with a native speaker and spend half the time talking English and half talking German, and I recommend signing up to a service like Erst Nachhilfe to find the perfect partner. In fact, lots of friends have not only improved their language but also found themselves with a new boyfriend or girlfriend by seeking out a tandem. After all, when else do you spend so much one-on-one time talking about each others’ lives? The only risk is that if one of you is better than the other at their respective second language, you’ll slip into bad habits. Make sure you structure the conversation and stick to half and half, no matter how painful at first.

Finally, treat yourself to a holiday somewhere rural and remote, where you know there’s little chance of people speaking English. The lake district in neighbouring Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, for example, is spectacular. Go off peak and off season and it’s a cheap but worthwhile break, and a chance to explore the beauty of Germany that so often gets buried beneath the bustle of Berlin.

“Wie, bitte?” Ranting back at Exberliner

by Guest Blogger

Lauren Oyler responds to an Exberliner rant about the lack of German fluency among Berlin’s expat community.

I moved to Berlin for myriad reasons, all of which are, seven months later, still difficult to articulate. I had spent two weeks here in May 2011, and while I was certainly technically aware that the city is the capital of Germany, the things I associated it with were tangentially German at best. Instead of sausage and Spätzle, I remembered picnics at an abandoned airport; the first bicycle that didn’t give me flashbacks to the traumatic handlebar accident at age eight; a laid back, noncompetitive atmosphere in which you can live happily on little income and people are generally accepting of whatever weird artsy soul-searching you’re there to do. Obviously not everyone in Berlin does these things, but not everyone in New York wants to be an actor, either. Both are massive cities with many different realities.

I came back in August of last year, and before I did, countless sources — and the existence of several English-language newspapers, blogs and other publications — told me my lack of German skills would be no big deal. This is true and, apparently, infuriating, particularly so for the people who landed here before me.

Julie Colthorpe, who wrote “Sorry, no German!” in this month’s Exberliner, came to Berlin 12 years ago and longs for the days when expats would get kicked out of supermarkets for confusing their datives and accusatives. Calling out an unnamed but obvious brunch-serving Australian restaurant in Neukölln, she argues that all-English businesses and expats with no German skills have no place in the city. Although her complaints weren’t directed towards me — I dutifully brave the umlaut to save myself from accidentally ordering anything pickled — I feel attacked nevertheless. I’m American, I live in Neukölln, and German fluency is almost as fathomable to me as paying more than 1.30€ for a beer. I’ve been to Melbourne Canteen and breathed a sigh of relief when I realized I didn’t have to furrow my eyebrows in despair at the thought of trying to convey a dropped fork.

By contrast, Colthorpe’s clearly proud of her German, so it’s likely she’s unaware that getting a blunt “WIE, BITTE?” in response to a valiant attempt at communication is a cultural tradition alive and well here in the capital city. Add to this the sense that your best accent only comes out when you’re drunk or transforming into your parodic German alter ego, Frau Schadenfreude, and you understand why expats everywhere struggle to learn the languages of the countries they live in. It’s scary and hard. Here, you can avoid that if you want to, but people — usually non-native German speakers — will scold you for it.

Should English speakers take the bait, be ashamed? As Colthorpe says, a German-only restaurant would fail in Melbourne (or New York, or Vancouver)… but not because English speakers are too stupid to grapple with café-level German — or even because they would be unwilling to do so in a reasonable circumstance. But knowing German in Australia will do you about as much good as a first-edition copy of Jane Eyre — nice if you’re into that kind of thing, but otherwise kind of useless. It’s a paradox, sure, that being constantly abused for speaking little to no German can make a potential Berliner less willing to stick around and learn it, but the harsh economic reality is this: it’s just not necessary.

by Josh Bauman

by Josh Bauman

English, on the other hand, kind of is. A series of historical events — uncontrolled by the well-meaning people at Melbourne Canteen, überlin and any given Sameheads party — has made English the lingua franca among the people in Berlin who are here because it’s Berlin, not because it’s Germany. Colthorpe says she spent her New Year’s Eve with a group of people from Italy, France, Spain, Russia, America, and Germany, and instead of appreciating the cosmopolitanism, cooperation and progress that has allowed them to share any common language, she cries “HIPSTER BULLSHIT!” in the face of more than a half-century of diplomacy. If only we could have shown her piece to someone living in 1941. The irony that it’s published in an English-language magazine that caters to the exact audience she risks alienating is apparently completely lost on her; even funnier is that Exberliner suggested going to the Melbourne Canteen in its January 2013 issue (“Where to go in Neukölln,” pg. 50).

The exclusively-English-speaking expat population may indeed be “missing out” on one kind of Berlin experience, but anyone who can read a Wikipedia entry and memorize some definite articles is not some kind of Culture Crusader making the world a better place, one well-pronounced “CH”-sound at a time. The idea that culture consists of an immutable combination of foods, sayings, and historical anecdotes is a perfect definition for those who want to assimilate for the chance to say they have. Expat culture is a part of Berlin’s culture. You can’t praise the city’s international draw in one breath and condemn expatriates as tourist scum the next. If you’re disturbed by the Melbourne Canteen, you’ll have to get over it.

I don’t think learning German is pointless, and as I improve, however slowly, I feel better about whatever it is I’m doing here. More than once I’ve been embarrassed when an American or British friend forgoes even the barest minimum of effort, skipping the regretful-but-polite, “Sprechen Sie Englisch, bitte?” in favor of an unfathomably lazy, “Can I get a Berliner?” That sucks. It’s rude to go into a German restaurant, bar, café or terrifying governmental bureau and speak English to the people there because, despite the way Colthorpe writes about it, the vast majority of cafes, bars, restaurants, and performance/coworking/women’s-only gym spaces in Berlin function fully in Deutsch.

No one’s forcing anyone to go to The Bird, and we all know too well how interchangeable the bars in Neukölln are; if you find one unpleasantly Anglophonic, go to the one next door. Enclaves of English — and French, and German and etc. — exist in any semi-significant city; that’s called globalisation. It’s not going away, and a misguided rant about one of its fairly harmless symptoms accomplishes nothing but animosity. Explicitly English businesses hurt no one, and Colthorpe’s piece is as unthinking, boring, and selfish as an American who lives in Germany for six months without bothering to learn how to order a multi-grain roll. You’d think the constipation would eventually drive her to Google Translate, but that’s her Kreuz to Berg.

For more from Lauren, check out her website laurenoyler.com or follow her on Twitter: @laurenoyler. For tips on learning German, read “Ask überlin – Do I need to learn German?”

Ask überlin: Do I need to learn German?

by James Glazebrook

Of all the questions to pop up in response to our recent Ask überlin… ANYTHING! post, the one that really jumped out was Nana’s:

Is it possible to live in Berlin without knowing a word in German?

The scary thing is that the short answer is “Yes, quite possible”. We know people here who survive on very little German: they work at international companies where the official language is English, only hang out with other expats, and do the whole nod-and-smile thing at supermarket checkouts. Some of them just haven’t got round to learning the language yet, but some don’t ever plan to.

The problem with this is, like Patrick comments, “your ability to work and interact with people is going to be much more limited.” What happens if you lose your startup job and can’t find another? Or need to get your sink fixed? Or get sick of socialising with douchebags like me?

Our advice would be: don’t worry about the language thing before you move to Berlin, and don’t let it put you off coming. But when you’re settled, make steps to learn German. Like Expath’s Tia Robinson writes in this great post for VentureVillage, “you can be one of the thousands of Berlin expats bumbling around… But why not take advantage of being immersed in German language and culture?”

Scroll down for some top tips to avoid becoming this guy:

Language schools

We’ve sampled a few different language schools, and some private tutors, and our favourite is Sprachsalon Berlin in Neukölln. The teachers are great, engaging in German and resorting to English to explain the most difficult concepts, the classes are small (we learned first with a total of four students, then just the two of us) and, above all, the fees are very reasonable.

If you want some other options, check out this Exberliner article or wait for someone more experienced than us to comment below!

Online learning tools

Again, we checked out a bunch of online learning tools and stopped at one that works for us: Duolingo. Read what we wrote about Duolingo when it was still in private beta here, and sign up here.

VentureVillage included Duolingo in their 7 cool new ways to learn German, along with some other interesting resources worth checking out – including our Daily Deutsch tweets and illustrations! The list also mentions Meetup.com as a way to meet and speak to “real Germans in the real world”, which could be useful for Alex, who asked us:

any suggestions on how to “fit in” (ie not seem like a typical American/Brit/whatever living in Berlin)? I have a good comprehension of the language, but really want to try to assimilate as much as possible.

by Josh Bauman

by Josh Bauman

Other resources

We’ve heard great things about tandem learning, one-on-one language exchange with a German who wants to learn English (or another language), but we’ve both been playing email tag with our partners, so we can’t yet recommend the institution that’s connected us. And we’ve only just discovered the following:

Zattoo – live stream German TV and radio, and watch Spiegel TV on demand, for free.
Deutsche Welle media centre – get the news and other current affairs programmes as audio and video.
Learn German for Freekostenlos audio lessons on the Open Culture website.
Radiant-Flux – Patrick Wilken’s own blog tackles the issue of “Deutsch lernen”. This epic post is well worth reading for a different approach to language learning and the tactics to go with it.

We reckon that one of the easiest ways to “open your ears” to the language is to listen to local music (with vocals; German hip hop is actually pretty decent) and watch German TV and films, or English-language stuff dubbed into German.

On that note, does anyone have an answer for Paula?

Does anyone know a good website where you can stream German movies with English subtitles? Trying to show my boyfriends some German movies in prep of our big move but it’s hard to find sites that host movies with voiceover / subtitles. Any recommendations?

Help a Berliner out. Do you have any top tips for ways in which to learn German, or places to do so?

The Guardian interviews überlin

by James and Zoe

One of our proudest moments was when the Guardian Travel Network chose us as one of just two Berlin sites to contribute to their website. Guardian readers loved our 5 Apps Berlin Really Needs and Zo’s photos from the miniature Berlin at Loxx, which made it onto the site’s front page. We’ve answered a few of their questions as a quick introduction to überlin, and thought even regular readers might get something out of it. For a more personal look at our life in Berlin, read the illy interview “Berlin, Expat Life and Happiness”.     

Why did you start überlin?

We started überlin to record our move from London to Berlin – in fact, I wrote our first post on the flight over! But what began as an online diary about two expats’ exploration of a new city has since grown into a celebration of all that is awesome about Berlin, and a valuable resource for people who want to follow our example and move here.

überlin up in the air

Our first post: Up in the Air

What are you most proud of about überlin?

Being able to help others who want to move to, or just visit, Berlin. When we arrived here, complete strangers lent us help, support and friendship when we needed it most, and we are now in the position to do the same for others. For example, we came up with the #dailydeutsch Twitter hashtag to share one German word a day, and now it’s buzzing with contributions from people we’ve never heard of. Even our schlechtes Deutsch is improving!

Herrchen: a Daily Deutsch classic

Herrchen: a Daily Deutsch classic

What one piece of editorial / content would you point to if you were trying to sum up überlin?

We’re going to have to pick two! “5 Apps Berlin Really Needs” is a sideways glance at the city’s much-hyped tech scene, with witty suggestions for apps like “Buskamatic”, accompanied by vivid, hilarious photos. And our contributor Liv Hambrett nailed the überlin tone with her epic list “What I Know About Germans“, a tongue-in-cheek celebration of the quirks and qualities of our adopted countrymen. That post really struck a note with Germans, who shared it on blogs and even the social media profiles of national newspapers.

Angry Berliners: one of Five Apps Berlin Really Needs

Angry Berliners: one of Five Apps Berlin Really Needs

What’s next for überlin?

First, we’re refreshing the design of überlin. We plan to keep the clean, minimal aesthetic that our readers love, but make it easier for them to find the content they want, whether it’s about music, fashion, food and drink or expat life. We also have loads of plans to take überlin offline, and create books, merchandise and other “experiences”, but you’re just going to have to follow us to find out more!

What's next for überlin?

What’s next for überlin? Follow us on Facebook to find out!

This interview originally appeared on Guardian Select.

The Hilarity of Compounds

by James Glazebrook

Liv of A Big Life has already introduced us to what she has learned about Germans, and now turns her attention to the German language. With the help of illustrator Josh Bauman (Mr Caffeinated Toothpaste), she has some fun with German’s “endlessly wonderful compounds”.  

der Radschläger

The German language is many things. A black hole of grammatical fun. Stubborn. Occasionally unyielding. Full of barbed traps lying under piles of dry leaves waiting to snap your juicy little leg between its genitive teeth. Possessed of absolutely no logic when it comes to assigning any of its three genders to nouns. The subject of one of Mark Twain’s most glorious ruminations.

Surely there is not another language that is so slipshod and systemless, and so slippery and elusive to the grasp. One is washed about in it, hither and thither, in the most helpless way; and when at last he thinks he has captured a rule which offers firm ground to take a rest on amid the general rage and turmoil of the ten parts of speech, he turns over the page and reads, “Let the pupil make careful note of the following exceptions.” He runs his eye down and finds that there are more exceptions to the rule than instances of it. So overboard he goes again, to hunt for another Ararat and find another quicksand.

Perhaps because learning German is such a trial, indeed a lifetime commitment for the poor Germans, many of whom get their die/der/das wrong well into adulthood and presumably for evermore, it has a few elements that prevent it from being entirely torturous, that, in fact make it rather fun. German has excellent words. Words that are gratifyingly onomatopoeic, words that are so cute you want to put them in your pocket and pull them out every now and then to sigh at.

I personally derive a great deal of pleasure from the ‘S’ section of the dictionary. Almost all my favourite German words start with ‘sch’, Schnabel (beak) being the most notable. And Schnuller (a baby’s dummy), schnuller is amazing. And schmusen (to snuggle and cuddle).

ein Unsichtbarkeitschein

But the subset of words that probably receive the greatest amount of my attention (when I should be focusing on sentence structure and plurals and articles) would have to be the endlessly wonderful compounds. No one compounds like the Germans. Oh yeah, sure, English is full of them but they aren’t particularly special. They are run of the mill compounds that pale in comparison to the ones the Germans have come up with. And I am not talking about the annoyingly long words like the one they have for ‘the hat a captain wears on a special type of boat when it is Monday and raining and he feels like eating calamari.’ I am talking about the unassuming cases when the economy of the German mentality has stretched to include simply sticking two words together to create a new one and in doing so creating a splendid (or quite horrible) visual effect.

Some words are completely logical; someone has quite literally looked at the main components of an object and stuck the two words for those components together. Oh, look, an animal (tier) that’s main feature is its bad smell (stink). Let’s call it a Stinktier (skunk). Other words are slightly less appealing, or indeed transparent, like the word for nipple – Brustwarze – which literally translates to breast wart. Why give that mother’s-milk giving teat a new name when you can simply liken it to a wart on one’s boob?

Most of my favourite compounds involve animal names which are as cute as they are funny. In fact, apart from their occasional foray into breast wart territory and unfortunate mishaps like Dudelsack (bagpipes) Germans have cornered the market on cute words. This is the language that produced Morgenmuffel to describe someone who is always rumpled and sleepy in the morning. Hell, they gave us a garden of children as the place where school life begins. Germans do cute like they do literal – with utmost ease.

der Krankenschwestertherapeut

So without further ado, here are my favourite German compounds with direct English translations. Admittedly giving them direct English translations is probably unfair but it’s also where 100% of the fun lies. Enjoy. And please, give me more.


  • Aardvark = Erdferkel = Earth Piglet
  • Ape = Menschenaffe = Human Monkey
  • Guinea Pig = Meerschweinchen = Little Ocean Pig
  • Newt = Wassermolch = Water Salamander
  • Porcupine = Stachelschwein = Sting Pig
  • Platypus = Schnabeltier = Beak Animal
  • Racoon = Waschbär = Wash Bear
  • Seal = Seehund = Sea/Lake Dog
  • Squid = Tintenfisch = Ink Fish
  • Tortoise = Schildkröte = Shield/Sign Toad

Other Classics

  • When something is wrapped in bacon, then it is wearing a Speckmantel = bacon coat. Obviously.
  • The fat on your hips is Hüftgold = hip gold.
  • A light bulb? It glows and it is shaped like a pear, so why not Glühbirne?
  • Are you a treat lover? What about a Naschkatze … a treat cat?
  • Happy about something? Why not perform a little dance of joy, or a Freudentanz?
  • It’s NYE, perhaps you have cracked out the sparklers, but in Deutschland you’ll be lighting up a Wunderkerze, a wonder candle.
  • Regularly unlucky? Then you are a Pechvogel, or a bad luck bird. If, on the other hand, you’re a lucky little devil, in German you are a Glückspilz – a lucky mushroom. (Mushrooms and pigs are about as lucky as you can get here, if you aren’t a lucky mushroom you better hope you’re a Glücksschwein. Or that you Schwein haben … have a pig …)
  • A drug is a Rauschgift, or a toxic trip.
  • That horrible embarrassment you feel on behalf of someone else? Fremdscham … foreign shame.
  • The spread for your breakfast bread that consists of strips of ham and pickle in a creamy mayonnaise? Fleischsalat. Meat salad.

There are more, so many more, but die Zeit läuft (the time runs) and I must einen Schuh machen (make a shoe … don’t ask). Feel free to share your favourites in the comments below.

ein Kaffeedämon

Learn German with Duolingo

by James Glazebrook

Free Language poster by Duolingo 1Free Language poster by Duolingo 2

As you already know, we’re really trying to learn German. What started as a vague desire not to be the expats with the shittiest Deutsch became one of our New Year’s Resolutions… and along with our new puppy, came a new goal: to be able to speak to six year olds in their own language about how “klein” and “süss” she is. But even with the Daily Deutsches and the weekly tutorials, we still find it hard to get regular practice. That’s where Duolingo, language learning software with a difference, is helping:

If you want to find out more about the story behind Duolingo, scroll down for founder Luis von Ahn’s presentation at TEDxCMU. Aside from his unique mission – using language learning to get 100m people to translate the web into every major language for free – I’ve already been impressed by the private beta version of Duolingo’s German program.

It’s simple, social (connecting to both Facebook and Twitter), works all your passive and active language skills – listening, reading, speaking and writing – and allows you to learn in manageable chunks, marked by a real sense of achievement. Plus, it pulls in real online content which is inherently more interesting than the usual textbook scenarios – so far, I’ve translated texts about Jeff Bridges, Ghostbusters and Nazis! Best of all, it’s totally free!

Duolingo are still gradually inviting new users – sign up over here.