“Können Sie sich bitte vorstellen?” asks teacher Frank through my MacBook screen. It’s Tuesday evening in Berlin and my online German class with Lingoda has begun, the first in a seven-week “Team Challenge” I’ve embarked on with a friend. In addition to teacher Frank, a friendly 40-something, the group is five students, who beam in from places like India, Jordan, Munich and Switzerland. Some leave their cameras off, but most smile down the webcam, bookshelves and kitchen cabinets behind them. It’s less awkward than you might expect, mostly because the classes move quickly and each student speaks often, pushed along by the teacher’s regular “Der Nächste, bitte!”.
Over the next few weeks, my challenge partner and I will log in through Zoom for hour-long classes we book ourselves, selecting the time, level, topics and teacher from dozens of daily options. The learning progression completely customisable, allowing students to hand-pick the topics they’d like to cover through a straightforward, intuitive interface. We’ve taken classes focussing on future tense, fitness vocabulary and modal verbs, filling up the gaps in our knowledge one Lektion at a time. So if you feel like you can already comfortably Gefühle ausdrücken, select that class on Film- und Theaterkritik instead.
Class plans are available before each lesson, so you can learn the required vocabulary before firing up Zoom. I can’t see myself becoming fluent through Lingoda group classes alone – I’d like to enrol in an intensive real-life class to really hammer my grammar home – but it would serve virtually anyone looking to upgrade their Deutsch, all the way up to higher levels. Prices start at €56 for a bundle of five group classes. All you need is Zoom and an active internet connection. Happy Deutschlernen!