The internet might have brought the English-speaking world closer together, but understanding another language can give you a valuable edge in an increasingly competitive world.

And the good news is that the internet has revolutionised language learning. It hasn't taken away the need to practise, but it has made much easier - and more interesting.

The Goethe-Institut has harnessed the power of online learning for its German courses. "It gives people the flexibility to learn whenever - and wherever - they have the time," says Sylvia Warnecke, the course director at the Goethe-Institut in Glasgow.

"There has been a drastic change in how people learn with us. In the past we had courses where people came twice a week but that is unimaginable now. At the same time people now want to learn a new language as fast as possible.

"In language learning you have to put in the hours to get somewhere, so online learning allows you to put in the hours wherever you are and whenever you've got the time - without waiting from week to week to do it in the classroom."

The Goethe-Institut has always had a reputation for providing first class German lessons, alongside its highly regarded programme promoting German culture.

For over 40 years the institute has had a base at Park Circus in Glasgow, where generations have honed their language skills with native German-speaking teachers.

Adjusting to the way we live our lives, the institute has adapted its teaching style over the years and its face-to-face classes use the latest technology such as iPads, Smartboards, online conferencing and virtual learning environments.

"It allows students to learn in a style which best fits their life- and learning style best, enabling them to become more independent as learners and encouraging people to find their own learning path," says Sylvia.

Launched in 2012, the Goethe-Institut's online courses add an additional way to learn. They offer a fast track learning experience, so that students can progress from scratch to one of the Goethe-Institut's internationally recognised qualifications in four months. This would take two semesters - almost one year - in face-to-face classes.

Like Park Circus learners, online students have access to the library - including the award-winning e-library - and reductions for cultural events. And, as it has 160 offices in 94 countries across the world, should you move to another country, you'll still be able to take from where you left your studies and sit your exams.

Online students work in a cleanly designed virtual learning environment with a mix of tutor-led and self-study activities. With two dedicated tutors per course, as well as fellow students, you might be studying on your own physically, but it's very much an interactive experience.

There are live tutorials on Adobe Connect, while forum-style activities engage students in written conversations. "We've now also got facilities where you can record your answers and people can listen, so it is like a spoken conversation but not in real time," adds Sylvia.

The spoken element is probably the most impressive part of the Goethe-Institut's online classroom. The speech recognition technology guides you to pronounce the German fluently, correcting your pronunciation as you practise.

Now that technology copes so well with speech, all the traditional classroom activities can be accommodated in the virtual world.

"The Goethe's online course addresses all the four key skills of language learning - listening, speaking, reading,writing plus grammar - with well-structured activities which you work your way through, getting feedback as you go," explains Sylvia.

"This self-study element is the biggest part of what you do. It gives you the most flexibility, as you can do it wherever you've got an internet connection."

The virtual learning environment is both easy to use and full of powerful tools, offering immediate explanations, a repeat function, speed controls, spoken examples by a choice of different speakers and - if you are stuck - instant translations.

All this means that it's a learning package that fits into even the busiest of lives, adding a valuable skill and improving your prospects.

More details about the Goethe-Institut's online German courses are available here.

Details of all the courses available at the Goethe-Institut in Glasgow are here with the brochure for the next semester here.