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While nothing can replace good old-fashioned classrooms and human interaction, apps to learn German have grown immensely popular in the past few years. There never has been so much choice for learners of all levels. They all promise rapid progress & a fun experience, but do they deliver?

This large overview selects the best apps to learn German based on the quality of their curriculum & features. It also points out which ones are best fitted for different learning styles, for free or with subscription.

best apps to learn German post

Best apps to learn German – Too long, didn’t read

I made this overview extra long so there is enough details for you to make a decision. However, if you want the main findings right away, here they are:

  • The best apps to learn German are effective, especially if they are combined with a language class or a trip.
  • To pick the right app, you need to know what learning style work for you. Do you react best to visual cues, to sound or tangible items?
  • The best free option for beginners is probably DuoLingo. (Read why in this section)
  • The best paid option for beginners is probably Memrise. (Read why in this section)
  • The best paid option for advanced levels is probably babbel. (Read why in this section)
  • A good option for tactile/kinesthetic learners is probably Memrise. (Read why in this section)
  • A good option for visual learners is probably LingQ. (Read why in this section)
  • A good option for auditory learners is probably Busuu. (Read why in this section)

Feel free to ask questions in the comments too. And remember; the best apps to learn German are the ones you stick with. 🙂


Are apps effective for learning German?

Apps are definitely useful and can help you make considerable progress. Beginner language learners, people who can’t speak German often, and those looking to brush up on their vocabulary, will all get a lot of benefit from language learning apps. Studies have found that apps are effective when it comes to learning vocabulary and some grammar concepts, and some apps have been shown to improve speaking skills considerably. Used in combination with German classes or immersion experiences, apps are very useful tools for improving your German comprehension. 

Which language learning styles is right for you? 

Now that we know that the use of apps is definitely worthwhile, let’s look at a way of streamlining the learning process. People learn in different ways, and knowing what type of learning style is most effective for you will help you decide which app you should use. The best apps to learn German are the ones that suits your learning style.

Language learners can be divided into four different categories:

  • Visual – Visual learners like to read and can obtain a great deal from visual stimuli such as lectures and conversations that make use of graphics and videos.
  • Auditory – Auditory learners are comfortable without any visual input and therefore enjoy conversations and other audio lessons.
  • Tactile and kinesthetic – Tactile and kinesthetic are very much hands-on learners. These learners feel comfortable with working with flashcards, tangible objects, and creative means such as creating sculptures, models, or collages.

Take this quick test to discover what your style is.

Below, we’ll take a more detailed look at some of the best apps for learning German currently on the market, and highlight which learners will get the most benefit out of a particular app.


A detailed look at the best apps to learn German

DuoLingo

With over 300 million users learning over 106 different language courses in 38 languages, DuoLingo is easily the most popular free app to learn German on the market. Using the app feels more like playing a game than grinding through language lessons, but this is by design. The developers want you to feel like you’re having fun and scoring points, hoping that leads to greater retention. 

Core Features, Exercises, and Lessons

Learning in DuoLingo takes place in the form of bite-sized lessons based around a number of different themed modules (travel, family, food etc). The app uses a variety of learning formats from flashcards and translation to listening exercises and writing lessons in order to help you learn progressively more complicated vocabulary and grammar. 

DuoLingo takes a functional approach to language learning and centres its lessons around real-life goals like ordering food at a restaurant. The app also uses a system of daily and weekly challenges to keep you motivated and encourage you to complete a certain number of exercises per day. DuoLingo is one of the best apps to learn German for free.

DuoLingo app screenshots
DuoLingo’s interface is fun & colorful

Which type of learner benefits from using it?

DuoLingo is suited for learners of all different learning styles. It makes use of diction, translation, writing exercises, and more and so is a good allrounder. 

How much German should you already know?

Nothing. DuoLingo is great for beginners who are just starting out on their language learning journey and looking to make some solid and rapid progress. Thanks to the progressive difficulty of the lessons, it’s also good for more intermediate learners who want to sharpen their skills. However, beyond that point, the relative repetition of some exercises may bore you. It’s a good sign. It means you are ready for something more challenging.

DuoLingo reviews

DuoLingo is scoring an average of 4.7 out of 5 stars with millions of ratings cross the Appstore & the Playstore. It’s… impressive! There is common trend across many of those reviews. DuoLingo is better than expected for a free app, especially with its gamification aspect. However, it’s won’t be enough on its own to bring you to fluency. Some also mention that grammar lessons are weaker than with other apps.

Pricing model

  • Basic version is free, which comes with the occasional ad.
  • Duolingo Plus costs $6.99 per month. It comes with offline capabilities and an ad-free experience.

Speechling

Speechling is another free app to learn German. It puts a heavy emphasis on speech. It uses a combination of technology and human coaching that makes it easy to practice mimicking native German speakers. It not only teaches you how to say new sentences in German but helps you master pronunciation too. As one of the only apps that put a focus on speaking, Speechling is an invaluable resource for learning how to speak fluidly without going to a classroom.

Core Features, Exercises, and Lessons

Speechling’s curriculum is separated into three parts: Beginner (A1), Intermediate (A2), Advanced (B1-B2), and Expert (C1-C2).You can also get exercises from their phrasebook which is separated by category.

Speechling’s speaking exercises take place in three phases. The first involves listening to a professional voice actor say a sentence (you can choose male or female). Next, you record yourself saying the same sentence and save it for your coach. Finally, your sentence is reviewed and feedback is given on your word pronunciation, intonation, rhythm, grammar, word choice, and more. Advanced students can answer a question or describe an image, and the Speechling coaches will give feedback similar to that of a private tutor.

While focused on speech, Speechling also offers exercises such as dictation, listening, flashcards, multiple-choice quizzes, and fill-in-the-blank to cover language learning blind spots.

Speechling’s interface is not the most elegant, but it does the job

How much German should you already know and which type of learner benefits from using it?

While Speechling offers courses from A1 – C2, this app isn’t great for absolute beginners. In terms of learning styles, it’s ideal for auditory learners due to its heavy focus on speaking and listening.

Speechling reviews

There are only a few hundreds reviews across the Playstore & the Appstore, but with 4.8 out of 5 stars on average, there is nothing to be shy about. Reviews do mention occasional bugs but praise the value of the free plan. The easy access to native speakers is the main take away, and works well. This is a key differentiator among the best apps to learn German.

Pricing model

Speechling is a non-profit company, which means that most of its features are free. The Forever Free Plan, as you might guess, is completely free. It includes coaching corrections on up to 35 sentences per month.

A monthly subscription to the Unlimited Plan costs $19.99 per month and gives you access to unlimited coaching corrections.


Babbel

Babbel is one of the most trusted language apps out there. It’s been around since 2007, has a massive user base, and is known for delivering solid curriculum-based courses.

Each of the courses on Babbel is structured very logically and designed to get users to a conversational level as quickly as possible. The content is presented in straightforward lessons that last between 10 and 15 minutes. The exercises may get repetitive after a while, but the grammar explanations and practical information is comprehensive, making Babbel one of the best paid apps to learn German.

Core Features, Exercises, and Lessons

Babbel’s interface is clear, polished, and straightforward. Lessons are comprised of a variety of exercises that cover different language skills, with a heavy focus on writing, grammar, and pronunciation. Unlike Speechling, which uses real people to correct your pronunciation, Babbel relies on its speech recognition technology, which does a pretty good job.

Exercises include fill-in-the-gap grammar and vocabulary tasks, word type identification, listening to conversations between native speakers, flashcards, speak and repeat exercises, and tasks that require you to manipulate language based on the knowledge you’ve already learned.  This comprehensive approach makes it one of the best apps to learn German on the market.

Babbel app screenshots
Babbel’s interface is a little more serious but really clean

How much German should you already know and which type of learner benefits from using it?

Babbel is suitable for both beginners who already have some basics and intermediate learners. It’s a no-nonsense resource that can get your German skills to an upper-intermediate level fairly quickly. It’s ideal for those who prefer to learn in a more visual and audible way. 

Babbel reviews

With close to a million reviews between the Playstore & the Appstore, Babbel closes in on 4.6 stars on average. It’s the paid app that has the most reviews. A lot of reviews praise the comprehensive approach mixing different formats and its generally good material. However, some reviews mention hit-and-miss voice recognition issues, a lack of sufficient pedagogy for true beginners & confusing material here and there.

Pricing model

Babbel uses a recurring subscription model and offers a 20-day money-back guarantee. The price varies depending on how many months you sign up for.

  • Monthly – $12.95/mo
  • Every 3 Months – $8.95/mo
  • Every 6 Months – $7.45/mo
  • Yearly – $6.95/mo

Busuu

Busuu is another heavy-hitter language-learning app for web, iOS, and Android that boasts over 100 million registered users. It offers a variety of vocabulary and grammar practices to get you from beginner to intermediate fairly quickly. It also includes a social aspect not found on other language learning apps that allows users to get writing and pronunciation feedback from native speakers. This is quite helpful, for example, if you can’t pronounce an umlaut and need some instruction.

Core Features, Exercises, and Lessons

Like other apps on this list, Busuu presents users with a number of themed interactive activities that target core language learning skills such as reading, writing, and listening. The lessons follow a logical progression and are grouped into different CEFR levels. The layout is clean, simple and intuitive, and allows you to clearly track your progress. You’ll come across fill-in-the-gap exercises, sentence puzzles, conversation simulation, and basic listening activities, to name a few.

Where Busuu really stands out is the use of its social feature. Busuu markets itself as a language learning social network, but this isn’t quite accurate. While users can add each other as friends, communication is restricted to giving and receiving pronunciation and writing feedback on each other’s exercises. That being said, the ability to receive personalized feedback is definitely a great tool for accelerating the whole German-learning process. Another neat feature is that you can tailor your learning experience depending on your profile: preparing a holiday abroad, a business travel, etc.

Busuu does, however, have its downsides. The grammar explanations aren’t as in-depth as they are with apps like DuoLingo and Babbel, and some of the exercises lack helpful translations.

Busuu app screenshots

How much German should you already know and which type of learner benefits from using it?

Busuu works for both complete beginners and those with some knowledge of German. They offer courses from A1 all the way to B2. If you’re unsure of your level, you can take a placement test or just choose topics that are most relevant to you. All types of language learners will benefit from the different exercises available but it’s a one of the best apps to learn German for auditory learners, thanks to the direct contact and speak feature with native speakers.

Busuu reviews

Busuu hits an average of 4.6 stars across Playstore & Appstore reviews with around 600k reviews. Reviews mention its unique approach that weaves all aspect of language learning into one cool looking package. To be able to be corrected by native speakers is a big plus too. Sense of progression is good as well. Some users complain that grammar concepts are not explained so well sometimes, which can be a problem, when thrown into a more complex scenario.

Pricing model

Learners can sign up for free, or subscribe to a Premium membership to unlock more features such as a personalized study plan, access to more languages, and official language certificates. We can’t really recommend Busuu as a free app to learn German. Other free German languages apps will serve you better.

Premium Subscriptions (access to offline mode, AI-powered review & grammar lessons)

  • One month: $9.99
  • Three months: $24.99
  • Six months: $34.92

Premium Plus Subscriptions (access to native speakers in the app, personalized study plan, official tests)

  • One month: $13.99
  • Three months: $28.98
  • Six months: $39.96

Memrise

Memrise blends flashcard-learning with engaging activities to keep the learning experience feeling fresh. Unlike other apps, Memrise places most of its focus on one type of activity – flashcards – to help learners retain more vocabulary. The mobile app is fun and easy to use and, since users can create courses, there’s a ton of good content related to almost any category you can think of. While Memrise is a useful tool in your language learning arsenal, it alone won’t bring you to fluency as it lacks a way for you to practice speaking.

Core Features, Exercises, and Lessons

The layout of the app is basic but appealing. You start by searching for the course you would like to take, with Memrise’s courses appearing at the top and user-generated content below. Because of the vast amount of content on offer, the interface can feel quite cluttered. The flow of most courses is logical and intuitive, starting with basic words and phrases and slowly getting more advanced.

As mentioned above, the main learning mechanism that Memrise uses is interactive flashcards that use pictures, native-speaker audio and sentences to provide context. Memrise also offers a small number of basic exercises and grammar instruction, but neither of these is particularly comprehensive, especially when compared with competing apps.

Memrise makes use of spaced repetition – showing more difficult words and phrases more frequently – to help you focus on the words you have a harder time with.

Another feature, called “mems”, uses mnemonics to help learners retain more vocabulary. Mems are essentially personalized user-created flashcards. If you don’t find one that works for your particular lesson, you can create your own and add it to the database.

Memrise app screenshots
Memrise has one of the most engaging UIs out-there

How much German should you already know and which type of learner benefits from using it?

Memrise is ideal for absolute beginners who want to learn and memorize vocabulary. Tactile and kinesthetic learners will probably find it’s one of the best apps to learn Germany, as the flashcards are very hands-on and interactive. 

Memrise reviews

Memrise has gathered more than one million reviews with an average of 4.7 stars across Appstore & Playstore. Users mention the very friendly design and the passionate community around the app. Most reviews love the approach to learn real-life German through native videos, getting you to speak quickly. Some others regret the lack of focus on grammar, as it may prevent further progress in advanced levels.

Pricing model

The basic features of Memrise are free to use, but there are three other options for people looking to purchase a subscription:

  • Monthly subscription – $8.99/month
  • Annual subscription – $5.00/month — You have to pay the full year’s price upfront.
  • Lifetime Membership – $139.99

LingQ

LingQ is a language learning platform that makes it easy to read and listen to interesting content at varying difficulty levels. The app places a focus on learning from content that you find personally interesting. It offers a huge library of content to draw from in a number of different formats such as videos, podcasts, and texts. It also allows users to import anything into LingQ and instantly turn it into an interactive lesson.

Core Features, Exercises, and Lessons

At the core of LingQ is the lesson system. Each lesson features a short German text and a listening exercise spoken by native Germans. The lessons are organized into courses, and most of the courses follow a story. Each lesson builds on the story in the previous lesson and introduces new vocabulary.

During lessons, the app highlights words in different colors as you learn, as a way of differentiating what words you already know and which words you are struggling with.

LingQ has a huge variety of courses available. From the start, you’re encouraged to find courses on topics that interest you so that you will better retain the information. These could be anything from novels to TED talks to grammar courses. If you’re struggling to find something that resonates, the LingQ browser extension allows you to import any YouTube, Animelon, or Viki video with subtitles and turn it into an interactive lesson.

In addition to this, LingQ has a wide range of exercises – dictation, flashcards, multiple-choice tests, and speaking and writing tasks – for a holistic and well-rounded approach that tackles learning from all angles.

LingQ also has an extensive online language learning community, that makes it easy to engage, share ideas and connect with language exchange partners.

LingQ app screenshots
Ling’s Q interface is a bit cluttered and requires a little learning curve

How much German should you already know and which type of learner benefits from using it?

LingQ is good for intermediate & advanced learners and is well-adapted for visual and auditory learns thanks to its content import feature.

LingQ reviews

With around 15K reviews, LingQ can boast an average rating of 4.6 stars, which is line with the other best apps to learn German. Users like the unique approach to using content you already like. It seems to make a big impact on motivation. Interface is not rated well however, compared to other apps. Users also say LingQ is not so approachable for beginners.

Pricing model

There are a number of different premium options available depending on how long you sign up for:

  • One month – $12.99
  • Six months – $71.94
  • One year – $107.88
  • Two years – $191.76
  • Lifetime membership – $199

My personal experience with apps to learn German

My experience with learning apps is tied to different episodes of my life in Germany. I have both used DuoLingo & Babbel over the years.

I used DuoLingo in the months leading to my move to Berlin, in an effort to refresh the basic vocabulary I had learned at school (and never remembered). It was a good refresh but I didn’t use for much longer after moving. I think it was because I was busy with setting up my new life and I was lucky enough to move in with German roommates. I had no motivation to go back to it.

I used Babbel 3-4 years later because I wanted to extend my vocabulary and reach closer to fluency. I was more convinced by the format and the resources offered by Babbel. The jump to a premium subscription was noticeable compared to DuoLingo. I paid for a subscription 2-3 months before I decided to go to a real-world class as well.

I have noticed 3 things about my relationship to apps:

  1. My level of commitment to using the app was higher when it was a paid subscription. Good for motivation because I didn’t want to waste money.
  2. I made better use of apps when I was taking part to a language course as well. Both really compliment each other because the app offers micro-interactions to stimulate skills between chunkier lessons at school.
  3. I made better use of apps when there was a defined goal behind it. The best apps to learn German are designed to make the experience fun & intuitive. That’s enough to keep you stimulated at first, but it fades out soon after. Long-term motivation was best driven my clearly defined goals to reach. Much like with physical training, incremental steps work best.
  4. The best apps to learn German won’t replace dedication & work. Gamification, funny stickers & cool content only goes so far.
Long road to fluency in German
The long road to learning German, with or without apps… ^^
(Image credits: Photo by The Lazy Artist Gallery from Pexels)

How the apps were selected for this post

The market is filled with platforms, services & software to cater language learning needs in so many ways. This post selected these apps for the following reasons:

  1. Mobile first – Native for iOs & Android: the best apps to learn German do best when they live in our pockets and are designed for a phone/tablet experience, for bite-sized sessions.
  2. Clean UI interface: Nobody likes a clunky slow interface
  3. Up to date & renewed material: The material available on the apps are regularly updated, enhanced, with new modules & themes added. Content is kept fresh and provide different ways to learn. Vocabulary flashcard apps are not enough for example.
  4. Self contained apps, not live classes, courses hybrid: There are some great options that offer an interactive “class-like” experience with other students, teachers & mentors. This is a complete other model and cannot be reviewed the same way, assessed with the same criteria.
  5. Transparent & fair pricing.

Other apps that didn’t make the cut

After extensive research, I didn’t feel like those apps would qualify for the list above base on the criteria, but they were still considered. This might change in future updates.


Conclusion

There are dozens of different apps to learn German, it’s up to you to pick the ones that suits your style best. I hope that this overview made it a little easier. Remember however that it’s like with any tool: you get out of it only how much you put in. Feel free to suggest your favorite ones in the comments or ask questions. 🙂

Best apps to learn German – FAQ

What is the best free app to learn German?

DuoLingo is probably the best free app to learn German today. Its engaging course structure, gamification aspects & sense of progression is hard to beat. Beginners will benefit most from it as advanced learners might find it a bit too repetitive. You can read DuoLingo’s full review here.

What is the best app to learn German fast?

Memrise is probably best the option to start talking German fast. Its focus on real-life German and its conscious choice to keep grammar to a minimum works well to start understanding and speaking the language relatively quickly. People wanting a more in-depth & advanced learning experience should look somewhere else. You can read Memrise’s full review here.

What is the best paid app to learn German?

This question has a different answer whether you are a beginner or a more advanced student. Beginners will probably get a better use out of Memrise, because it focuses on speaking & understanding real-world German. Advanced levels will look towards Babbel because of its comprehensive package of different modules, covering all aspects of language learning. You can read full reviews here.

How to pick the right app to learn German?

You should consider first your level. Do you start from scratch, do you need to refresh basics, or are you a more advanced learner? Then, you should also consider which teaching style works best with you. Are you best stimulated by audio, visual cues or a more tactile experience? You can read here which apps work best for you.

Sources: 1, 2, 3