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German is an essential language in the international business world and is the second most spoken language in Europe. Knowing the language can help you get around in Europe and will impress your friends. All you need to get started are some apps to learn German. But how do you know which ones are the best for you? Well, it depends on what you’re looking for.
Babble tailors its lessons to your proficiency and will teach you the things you need to know for everyday conversations. For personal improvement and conversations, Italki gives users the opportunity to chat with real people in German!
If you’re looking for an immersive language experience, LingQ allows you to watch and read in German by pulling and translating from CNN, Netflix, YouTube, Quora and more. Duolingo is great if you’re looking for a fun, gamified experience, and is excellent for on-the-go learning (the Plus version even allows you to learn German offline!).
Deutsche Welle’s app is also a great way to go if you’re looking for lessons in a variety of formats tailored to the different Common European Framework for Reference (CEFR) levels.
Regardless of which German learning application you choose, you can’t go wrong!
Why use apps to learn German?
If you’re like me, you’re always searching for new ways to learn a new language or improve existing skills. In an increasingly mobile world, apps provide a great on-the-go way to learn and review German.
Most apps on the market today have quick lessons for when you’re in a rush, allowing you to get that practice in at lunch, when commuting, or between meetings and classes. A lot of them also have calendars and progress trackers that allow you to stay on top of your learning and set reminders.
While the apps listed here are some of the best, it’s still important to practice in a variety of different ways: with podcasts, courses, tutors, and so on. I personally find it very helpful to supplement my app learning with German Netflix shows/movies, music on Spotify, and books. Sometimes I even go back to my German textbooks to revisit old concepts and complete some more rigorous exercises.
The best apps to learn German
Babbel is a great language-learning app that caters to different levels of language proficiency. The app lets you pick and choose your topics, so you can practice conducting business in German, learn colloquialisms and idioms, or just brush up on your previous knowledge. The app lets you set goals and reminders to help stay motivated and give yourself a little reward each week!
Something I find particularly helpful is that Babbel keeps track of the vocab you’ve learned and the items you’ve gotten wrong so that you can review specific knowledge levels when needed.
What’s more, Babbel utilizes a variety of tools to help you learn German, so you’re not just studying one aspect of the language, like only speaking or only listening. Each lesson and review gives you the option of practicing different skills, and you can keep in practice by listening to podcasts or attending live classes.
Why you should try Babbel:
- Offers courses for intro, intermediate, and advanced learners, as well as refreshers
- Now has live classes so you can interact with other people in German
- Focuses on real-world language applications
- Lets you set weekly goals to keep on track of your learning
Pricing: Try it free for 7 days! After that, a monthly plan is $13.95, while a 3-month plan is $41.85, a half-year plan is $83.70, and a full-year subscription is $167.40.
Something that helps Rosetta Stone stand out among other apps is that it offers an immediately immersive experience to learners. This is known to be one of the best ways to learn a language, and Rosetta gets it down perfectly.
You can select a plan with specific goals, such as ordering at a restaurant or going on a trip, or you can go through their prepared lessons. The lessons are grouped based on skills, such as pronunciation, vocab, grammar, or writing, and are created in bite-sized chunks for quick reviews. Each lesson is downloadable, so the app gives users the flexibility of learning German offline.
The coaching option on Rosetta is particularly helpful since it gives you a chance to chat at your skill level in German with another speaker. Additional components of the app, such as games in the language, videos on grammar and culture, and group tutoring really helps the German language learning experience.
Why you should try Rosetta Stone:
- Is immersive right from the beginning, giving you extra practice
- Has relevant lessons with real-world applications
- Offers games, short stories, and an audio companion to go along with your learning
- Has live and recorded lessons on German culture and grammar
- You can schedule coaching and group tutoring sessions to practice your skills with other speakers
Pricing: Rosetta is definitely pricier than a lot of other options out there, with a quarterly subscription costing $35.97 and the yearly subscription costing $179. The Lifetime plan never expires and is priced as a single $199 payment, and the Lifetime Plus subscription is priced at $299, with the added benefit of a year of free group coaching.
Like the others, Busuu aims at getting you speaking the language. Created in partnership with linguists, Busuu utilizes adaptive learning so that you’re reviewing the information you’re actually forgetting.
The app offers a wide range of topics you can study as you improve your fluency, and you can even get your exercises corrected by native German speakers. If you want a bit more reinforcement, live tutoring is also available in bundles of one, three, or five sessions. Busuu is also downloadable for learning offline for commuters or people with less secure internet.
Why you should try Busuu:
- Live tutoring
- Can get CEFR certifications at certain points
- Can strengthen your weak vocab
- Get corrected by real German speakers
Pricing: For a Premium account that allows you to practice with native speakers, practice offline, and have grammar lessons, Busuu charges you $5.83/year. The Premium Plus plan, which has all the benefits of a Premium account as well as personalized study plans and the ability to test for CEFR certificates, is only slightly more expensive at $6.66/year.
Duolingo is a great option if you want to learn a wide range of topics and get reminders to stay on top of your goals. Learners have the option of starting at the beginning of the course, or you can test out of certain skills, so it works for a variety of skill levels. Plus, the app has recently added ‘challenges’ that test your skills in a timed setting.
The app also encourages learning to read in German, with short interactive stories that build in complexity. Duolingo recently came out with a Plus subscription, which allows you to review your mistakes and take milestone quizzes.
Why you should try Duolingo:
- Can test into different skill levels
- Has forums to discuss German or specific items
- It’s gamified and will give you challenges or little rewards for reaching certain milestones (ex. studied every day for a week, learning x number of words)
- Each lesson has grammar, pronunciation, and/or cultural tips
Pricing: Duolingo is a free app to learn German, though you can pay to get access to the milestone quizzes and specific item reviews. If you want to upgrade, Plus is $12.99 on a monthly plan, $47.99 for 6 months, and $79.99 for the full year.
The best app to combine learning the German language with learning German culture is Seedlang. What’s unique about Seedlang is that it is solely a German-language app, so all of their updates and improvements go directly into your learning.
Using funny videos with real people, the app takes a word-by-word, then sentence-by-sentence approach to teaching German, offering grammar tips and conjugation tables at the click of a button for easy use.
It’s fairly user-oriented and allows you to create your own German flashcards and reviews so you can focus on what you choose.
Why you should try Seedlang:
- Seedlang has trivia you can play in German against other players
- Grammar tips are available for each word, so no more guessing why a certain form is used
- It focuses on pronunciation so you can become fluent
- Short and funny videos help stimulate learning
Pricing: Seedlang gives you limited access to the app for free, but you can get access to all the content using the Pro subscription for $8.99/month, $6.99/quarterly, or $4.99/annually.
Best apps for German immersion
For anyone who has consumed German media and wanted to use those TV shows, YouTube videos, and books to learn more German in a structured manner: LingQ is the app for you.
Not only does it already have podcasts, news articles and videos, and ebooks already imported and turned into German lessons, but you can upload your own content and use it to study! You can set your own goals and explore content in German, marking words you’re unfamiliar with for later study.
Why you should use LingQ:
- You can use Netflix, news, ebooks, etc. to learn German
- Tailor lessons to a variety of topics (culture, politics, sports, books, etc.)
- Forum for writing and improving grammar skills
- There’s a Grammar Guide to help explain the intricacies of the language
Pricing: You can use LingQ for free, but it limits you to a certain number of unknown words a day. The Premium subscription is listed at a month-long subscription for $12.99, a 6-month subscription for $11.99/month, a yearly subscription at $8.99/month, and a two-year subscription for $7.99/month.
A Premium Plus subscription is more expensive, at $35.99/month and $34.99/month for a yearly and two-year subscription, respectively. These plans give you access to live tutoring, writing corrections, and premium lessons on top of everything you’d get in the regular Premium subscription.
What’s interesting about Deutsche Welle’s app is that there’s a pretty wide variety of options for studying German. Their modules are highly interactive, but they also have articles to help you learn to read German and podcasts so you can listen while driving.
If you’re unsure what level you’re at, or you just want to see content for your proficiency, DW makes it easy and offers CEFR placement on their app. Not only does this make studying easier, but it’s also a great and replicable way to see how you’re improving. The higher you go through CEFR proficiency, the more immersive the app becomes.
Why you should try DW Learn German:
- Can test to your CEFR proficiency level
- The app has podcasts, web-series, articles, and more
- The modules are highly interactive
- Gets progressively more immersive as you go through their modules
Pricing: DW Learn German is completely free
In order to become truly fluent in a language, you need to practice with other speakers. Italki allows you to do just that by having 1-on-1 lessons with a fluent speaker of German. Many tutors offer conversational German classes, but you can find others that offer grammar classes or even the Goethe Institute test prep.
Italki lets you schedule lessons in accordance with your availability and as frequently as you like, so no worries about trying to meet difficult schedules. With so many tutors to choose from, you’ll be sure to find one that matches your goals and learning style.
Why you should try Italki:
- You get lessons in German from native speakers
- Improve your speaking skills
- Select lessons based on your own availability and interests
- You can also have casual conversations with native speakers if you’re on-the-go
Pricing: The app is free, but tutors set their own pricing for lessons, which range from $4-80. Find a tutor on Italki now!
Another great app for practicing German with native speakers is HelloTalk. You can chat with other speakers via text, drawings, voice calls or messaging, and even video calls.
HelloTalk has correction, translation, and transliteration software built into its chatting feature, so you can discover words you don’t know or correct your partner’s message (and vice versa). The Moments feature of the app acts like a social media platform, giving users the opportunity to post about their favorite shows, moments in time, or arrange meet-ups to be seen by other German speakers.
Why you should try HelloTalk:
- Get corrections from native speakers
- Allows for chatting in a variety of formats
- Post and receive replies in German with the Moments function
- You can translate, transliterate, save, and correct chats with other speakers
Pricing: Free unless you want to pay to get rid of adds for $6.99/month.
Best apps for learning to speak German
If you’re more of an auditory learner, Pimsleur might be for you. The app is optimized to get you speaking and understanding German hands-free. Based on memory and language research, the app paces your learning so you aren’t overwhelmed with new vocabulary and grammar, and will revisit topics down the line to help reinforce them.
If you’re ever in the mood for a more visual lesson, Pimsleur also offers German vocabulary flashcards as well as matching quizzes, allowing you to improve your visual and audio skills.
Why you should try Pimsleur:
- A hands-free design mean it’s optimized for learning while driving or multi-tasking
- Connects culture to the language
- Offers organic conversation scripts so you can practice speaking to others
- Based on memory and language research
Pricing: You can get access to Pimsleur German course free for seven days. Following that, Pimsleur has a monthly subscription that costs $19.95/month
11. Rocket Languages
Rocket Languages is an app that focuses on complete German fluency and utilizes real-world conversations to help you achieve that. Voice recognition will listen for your pronunciation and give you areas to improve, giving you the chance to speak German and to learn to sound like a native.
The app uses adaptive learning and will tailor review sessions to where you need additional help. The inclusion of culture into language lessons enables users to gain an understanding of cultural nuances as well as linguistic ones, both of which are important for travel and fluency.
Why you should try Rocket Languages:
- Voice recognition helps improve your pronunciation
- Adaptive technology tailors review lessons to what you need to work on
- The app focuses on complete fluency: reading, writing, listening, and speaking
- Lessons are downloadable for use offline
Pricing: Rocket Languages is on the more expensive side, but it’s definitely worth it. Lifetime access for Level 1 is $99.95, access for Levels 1 and 2 is $249, and access for all three levels is $259.90.
If you want to the best of dialogue exercises and flashcards, then Mosalingua has the perfect app for you. You can work hands-free and download lessons for learning offline. The app has a ton of topics for you to choose from, and it’s almost completely customizable.
When you learn German with Mosalingua, the goal is to get you speaking with fluency and that shows in their tips and emphasis on grammar you’ll actually use in everyday conversations.
Why you should try Mosalingua:
- There are 10 levels of difficulty
- The app is almost completely customizable
- Hands-free and offline lessons make it great for on-the-go learners
- There’s a ton of topics to learn from
Pricing: You can try it for free before deciding whether to subscribe monthly for $9.99/month or annually for $49.92/year.
Best apps to learn German vocabulary
Memrise is great for learners of a variety of levels and you can choose your proficiency level right at the beginning. It’s a great app for learning German vocabulary and is very visual-focused. There’s a ton of content available through the app and you can choose a wide variety of topics to study. Memrise is definitely a flashcard app and good for studying and brushing up on skills.
Why you should try Memrise:
- Uses spaced repetition so you’re reviewing older and missed items more than newer and correct ones
- There’s a ton of content for German, so there’s plenty to choose from
- It is flashcard-centric and great for reviewing vocabulary
Pricing: You can use some stuff for free, but there’s also a Pro version with additional perks that costs $8.99/month for a monthly subscription, $3.33/month for a yearly subscription, and $119.99 for a lifetime subscription.
Another one of the best apps to learn German, and the one that might be the most aesthetically pleasing, is Drops. Drops is a gamified app aimed at learning German vocabulary. It presents information in quick spurts and is fantastic for word association and visual learners. The app makes German learning fun while still teaching vocab and grammar.
Why you should try Drops:
- Short sessions to avoid overwhelming learners
- Focus is on expanding vocabulary
- Innovative puzzles to keep learning exciting
- A fantastic visual dictionary to reinforce learning
Pricing: You can use it for free, but content is limited. The Premium subscription gives you access to everything for an annual cost of $30/year or a lifetime cost of $64.99.
The best German dictionary apps
No German language learning app list would be complete without apps for German-English dictionaries! These are particularly helpful for when you need to find the meaning of a new word in German or translate a word you don’t yet know from English.
15. LEO Dictionary
Leo is completely free and also has a website you can use if you want to test it out before getting the app. The app is super helpful because it gives you more than one option for the word you’re looking for plus information on how that word is typically used (i.e. medically, colloquially, in tech, archaically, etc.). It also has the option of hearing the pronunciation, seeing any plurals or conjugations, and also gives you the chance to see the definition of the English word.
What I particularly like about Leo is that it will provide you with any idioms or phrases the word you type in is a part of, so you may end up learning a new phrase on top of a new word!
Why you should try Dict.Leo:
- It provides conjugations and plural forms of the words
- If you look up a word that’s part of a common idiom or phrase, Leo will provide it as an option
- You can save words to revisit and study later
- You can also create lists of words so that you have a personalized dictionary
- Leo also has forums you can visit to see what others are saying about certain entries, grammar, and even culture
Despite being somewhat expensive, iTranslate Translator is a useful tool for translating German. You can look up words the traditional way, or you can scan documents and record speech and have the app translate that. There’s also a unique AR mode that scans your surroundings and will tag items with their translations (i.e. closet à Schrank). You can even add the app’s extension to iMessages and Siri to get translations anywhere, anytime.
Why you should try iTranslate Translator:
- Can scan written words and translate them
- AR mode lets you scan your environment and directly translate items
- Download languages to translate offline
- Give you multiple options for a translation
Pricing: You can use the ‘type translate’ feature for free, but if you want to use any of the other features it’s $69.99 for a yearly subscription.
Some final tips for learning German
Using apps can be an effective way to learn German without spending a ton of money. However, as mentioned, you should supplement with additional methods. Here are some of the tips I live by for learning a language:
While it can be super easy to dive right into a language, particularly German since it’s so similar to English, doing so when you’re just beginning to learn a new language can overwhelm your brain and actually prevent you from learning.
I recommend starting with chunks of 15-30 min and seeing how that feels. If you find you’re breezing through with no issues, then you can add additional practice, or reduce the amount of time you spend on new materials if you find yourself getting lost. The important thing is how you’re doing with the language.
Practice case endings
One of the hardest things about German is the number of different case endings there are. Luckily there are standard rules for when to use which endings and memorizing them will make life loads easier. By practicing case endings until you have them down, you’ll be one step closer to sounding fluent and will find your future German endeavors much easier.
Consume additional media
Apps are fantastic, but rarely do they cover every aspect of the language. Using one or more apps at a time is something I find particularly helpful, but consuming additional media is also a surefire way to improve your fluency. Netflix has a number of German movies and TV shows, and most Netflix Originals will let you set the audio to German so you can watch your favorites and still learn!
The most important tip when it comes to learning any language is to practice daily. Work in those exercises at some point during your day, be it between classes, on your lunch break, or when the kids are napping. A lot of the apps listed here have an offline and/or hands-free option, making this tip easy to follow!
And while conventional wisdom says to practice 15-30 min a day at least, I’m a firm believer in the idea that even 5 min daily can make a huge difference in your language skills.
With all that in mind, pick your favorite app(s) and gehen wir!