The Best Apps for Learning German

5 Best Apps for Learning German

An enormous library of video and audio lessons delivered by native speakers, with a completely flexible syllabus catered to your needs.

Follow the fascinating story of ‘Der Mann mit dem Hut’ as you indirectly master all the main components of the German language.

Explore thousands of authentic German videos, subtitled with custom-built translations, appropriate for your level & personal interests.

Do you have a love affair with your smartphone? Nowadays, we’re inseparable from our personal devices – our smartphones following our every move. And god forbid, should it ever run out of battery!

But what if I told you that instead of killing zombies, crushing candy, or swiping on tinder, you could actually use this time to become fluent in a new language? There’s a multitude of language-learning apps in the app stores just waiting to be downloaded, and many comprehensive language programs are now available on custom-built apps.

“But what about my hit of dopamine?”, I hear you say. Well, many of these language apps know very well how important it is to stay motivated, which is why many of them have incorporated the same flashy gamified features as your familiar guilty pleasures, to keep you coming back for more.

So why not give some of them a go? In this article, we’ve compiled a list of the very best apps for learning German that’ll fit right into your busy schedule. You’ll be saying “Ich hätte einen halben Liter Vollbier, bitte” like a local in no time at all!

Lass uns gehen!

Best Overall

GermanPod101 is a language learning app created by Innovative Language. They’ve been in the language learning space for a long time now and have been continuously improving and adding to their library of lessons. GermanPod101 is a brilliant option for anyone looking to improve their German at any level, and study in their own time in a flexible and fun way. The course was originally designed around podcast lessons but now includes a huge amount of very engaging video lessons by a variety of native speakers.

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Each lesson normally contains first a video or podcast (where everything is explained), an authentic dialogue, grammar and vocab sections, extensive lessons notes and cultural insights. You can then complete quizzes, create flashcards and explore the many other learning features on the app.

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Most Effective

Spanish Uncovered is a very language unique course, one that’s very different from all the others in this list. Based on Olly Richard’s StoryLearning® method, Spanish Uncovered takes you on a journey to discover the mystery behind ‘Der Mann mit dem Hut’ (the man with the hat). 

The entire 20 module course follows the story of three friends who find a mysterious note left in a dusty old library book, and then set off to travel around Germany, following clues left by the man with the hat. It’s a great story that keeps you coming back for more, – the focus is on the story and having fun, not just the language itself.

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Spanish Uncovered is perfect for beginners, and even those at an upper-beginner / intermediate level since the story gradually increases in difficulty. The modules are structured by first completely immersing you in the audio & text. Then Kerstin, the native tutor, outlines the cognates, specific vocabulary, grammar, pronunciation and speaking exercises. Lots of explanations are deliberately left out to help you learn faster through immersion. Overall, it’s the most effective teaching method we know of for learning Spanish.

Click here to check out our full review of German Uncovered.

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Best for Vocab & Immersive Listening Skills

FluentU is a brilliant app for binge watching your way to fluency! They’ve collated a library of thousands of authentic German youtube videos on a massive range of topics (from music videos to how-to videos) and integrated them into their custom-built language learning platform. By hovering over a word in the subtitle you’ll get an instant translation. Click on that word and you’ll find examples of it being used in other videos, plus you can add it to your vocab lists of flashcard decks.

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We love how the more you use the app, the more it knows you! Kinda scary, but very useful. Underneath each video in the library is a blue bar indicating how much of that video you’ll already understand based on the words you’ve mastered. This is a great way to focus on the videos that you know most of the content already but there’s still many you don’t know that you can pick up from context – the ideal sweet spot.

Click here to read our full review of FluentU.

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Best for Conversation Practice

If you are really serious about becoming fluent in German then it’s really important that you have regular conversation practice with native speakers. This can be hard if you are not currently living in Germany, however italki is the perfect option for getting exposure to the native language without actually living there. You can easily schedule lessons for whenever is most convenient for you and start speaking German from day one.

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There are other apps that do similar things, such as Preply, HelloTalk and Tandem. However the latter two apps are both language exchange apps so finding a reliable speaking partner will be a bit more difficult. Also Preply is a little more on the expensive side – italki is the best value for high quality conversation practice. Bear in mind that the lessons are only as good as your preparation, so have a system in mind for discussing specific topics or revising your new vocabulary, for example.

Click here to read our full italki review.

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Best Dictionary App

When learning any language it’s important to have a good dictionary you can trust to quickly look things up. Nowadays there’s loads of really cool dictionaries that do much more than just provide definitions. Linguee is our favorite. Among other languages, it boasts a comprehensive German/English dictionary which can be used by searching for any words or phrases, or even just part of a word. You’ll get a bunch of example sentences from a variety of contexts, recordings for pronunciation, and it can be downloaded for offline use. Plus, no ads. Perfect :)

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What’s more, Linguee has memory. Once you’ve looked a word up, the app will send you a notification within a few days prompting you to remember it’s meaning. Pretty neat, right?

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Runners-up for Best App for Learning German:

There’s so many good apps out there, we could’t just stop with the top 5. So here’s some additional (close) runners up for the best German apps.

Rocket German is another great option for a comprehensive app to learn the language for complete beginners, or any level really. It’s made up of three main levels that are each broken down into different types of lessons – interactive audio lessons, language & culture lessons, and a ‘survival kit’. It’s got everything you need to master the German language. Our only reason it didn’t make it up there alongside GermanPod101 and German Uncovered is that the lessons can get very boring. There’s a lot of tedious exercises that despite their effectiveness can get mind-numbing very quickly, relying heavily on pure memorisation.

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What we did love, however, was their use of dialogues to introduce the language and provide lots of examples. You can play the dialogue with different voices, speed, and even take part in it yourself by recording your own voice! The software will wait for you to speak for your parts and you can then play it back and get a score on your pronunciation. The app is well designed and can be used offline – an added bonus.

Click here to check out our full Rocket German review.

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Der Tagesspiegel is a newspaper app that makes an excellent free resource for improving your German reading skills. Getting your hands on authentic texts can often be a struggle, so this app can come in super handy. Plus, you’ll be reading all about current German news and culture so you don’t have to force your way through the bland texts that are often provided in the traditional textbooks.

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Also, for the first month you can download digital copies of the newspaper. Why not upload them onto a kindle device so you can use your dictionary to check on specific words? Although you might think advanced learners will only find this resource useful, all levels can benefit. What’s important is that you constantly keep familiarizing yourself with the language and getting used to seeing new vocabulary and common phrases. Why not set a goal to read one article a day?

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LingoDeer is our favorite alternative to Duolingo. It’s not as well known as Duolingo, but it’s got a lot going for it. It makes learning German fun and easy by leveraging bite-size lessons on a range of topics, each one involving games and other motivational techniques. For those who are just starting out learning German and might be feeling overwhelmed, LingoDeer provides an easy way into the language without any information overload.

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Another popular app that is known for its enjoyable teaching style and gamified app. Memrise is mostly a spaced repetition flashcard app similar to Anki or Quizlet, however Memrise has an enormous library of existing content to explore. For example, you can test yourself on the 5000 most frequently used words in German, or phrases for ordering food.

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The flashcard system can feel very repetitive, but it is effective. They also have an official course, which includes video clips from native speakers, short dialogues, audio clips and more. Our only bane is that it’s mostly geared towards beginners, so students at a higher level might not find this app as useful as the others we’ve mentioned.

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The Best Apps For Learning German: Conclusion

Of course, the best way to learn German is to surround yourself with German speakers and absorb the sounds, rhythms and meanings through the context they are being used, through your direct experience. This is the way we all learn our first language as children, however, as adults we can’t always travel to the country of our target language, especially in these times of a global pandemic. So this list of top German language apps will be your best friend on your journey to fluency.

Watch German TV & vlogs with FluentU, start speaking with a local using italki, dive into an imaginative German story with German Uncovered, or explore authentic real-life dialogues with GermanPod101. Now you can use your personal smartphone as a portal into the German culture, language and literature.

Have fun!

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