The substantial and ever-growing number of language apps available to learners of German is a good thing. It means that there’s an option out there for everyone, whatever their level of proficiency, goals, interests, and study preferences.
Sometimes, the trouble comes from choosing between so many options. The fact is, a lot of language apps do one or more things exceptionally well, and some are simply bad at everything.
This isn’t a list of every German language app ever made, but it’s a list of our favorites, organized by what they do best. We’ve spent hundreds of hours testing a great deal of them — hopefully, you can use our findings to locate the ones that will serve you best.
Best Course for Developing Communication Skills: Pimsleur
Best for a Fun and Easy Way to Learn Vocabulary: Memrise
Best for a Customizable Review Experience: Anki
Best for Learning German Irregular Verbs: German Irregular Verbs Wizard
Best for Grammar Exercises: Learn German DeutschAkademie
Best for Interesting Content: News in Slow German
Best for Reading Practice: LingQ
Best German Radio App: Radio Germany
Best for Feedback on Pronunciation: Speechling
Best for Feeback on Writing: italki
Best for Answers to Quick Questions: HiNative
Best for Tutors: italki
Best for Language Exchange: Tandem
As most people know, learning a language involves learning a bunch of different skills. Speaking, listening, reading and writing are the big ones. Lots of language apps focus on one or more of these skills, and a few try to touch on all of them. The apps in this category are as close as you’ll come to a “one-stop-shop” in a language learning app.
Lingodeer may not be the most well-known resource in this list, but it’s got a lot going for it. It leverages gamification and snack-size topical lessons to make learning convenient and engaging. Especially for people just beginning with a language, this approach makes it easy to start studying without becoming overwhelmed.
The first languages available on Lingodeer were of the Asian variety (which it teaches really well), but the app has since expanded to offer others, including German. The course will be most useful to beginners and lower-intermediate learners, but it’s interactive, includes a variety of exercises, and uses quality audio. That’s not something every app can say. Review.
Babbel is one of the most trusted language instruction courses out there. It’s been around since 2007, has a massive user base, and is known for delivering solid curriculum-based courses. It might not be the most eye-grabbing platform out there, but it does a lot of things right.
Each of the courses on Babbel is structured very logically and designed to get users to a conversational level as quickly as possible. Advanced learners may be left wanting, but others will find quality content presented in straightforward lessons that last 10-15 minutes. The exercises may get repetitive after a while, but the grammar explanations and practical information you’ll get is hard to beat. Review.
Another mega-popular resource, Busuu has some solid material to offer. Two of its best features are the layout of the app and its social feature. The interface sets it apart from similar apps in that it’s exceptionally easy to use and to monitor your own progress. The social feature allows users to give and receive feedback from other users. Feedback from real humans on writing or speaking is especially useful.
In addition to these two features, Busuu offers some good practice activities and a useful communication exercise. Potential downsides to this one are that the grammar explanations aren’t as in-depth as they are with other options, and some of the exercises lack helpful translations. Review.
The Pimsleur app places a strong emphasis on developing communication skills right away. Instead of spending time on grammar explanations or the written language, you’ll dive right into speaking.
The main benefit here is that you’ll get loads of listening and speaking practice faster than you will with most other apps. The lessons are very interactive and require active participation, which makes it hard to have inefficient study time. The app is also full of pictures and interesting cultural notes, which makes the experience even more engaging.
You won’t, however, get anything in the way of grammar instruction, which will mean more to some than others. This isn’t for learners looking to develop proficiency in written German. Review.
In terms of accessible language instruction, there’s little that’s in close competition with Duolingo. It’s available on all devices, feels like a game, uses short lessons, and is totally free. These features make it quite appealing, and it makes a great option for people looking to get started in German without having to pay any money.
What’s the tradeoff for being free? In addition to having to deal with some ads that may be distracting (they aren’t super bad), you won’t get much in the way of grammar explanation or communication practice. That said, it’s hard to ignore something that’s free and fun to use. Review.
Language Transfer and Duolingo are both free language apps, but that’s about all they have in common. Where Duolingo places an emphasis on gamification and appealing graphics, Language Transfer is purely audio and takes a more heady, explanation-heavy approach.
The app teaches learners how to think their way through a new language, highlighting the similarities and differences between German and English. As such, it’s best-suited for English speaking learners of German. There’s nothing fancy happening with the app, but there are also no ads. The 50 lessons in the German course are all relatively short and make a fantastic introduction to the language. Review.
Here are some more apps in the General Courses category. They may not have made our list of favorites, but many of them are very popular and some are pretty good. They’re worth checking out if you still haven’t found what you’re looking for.
Rocket French (Review)
Mango Languages (Review)
Rosetta Stone (Review)
Word Dive (Review)
Transparent Language (Review)
Michel Thomas (Review)
Is there an app with more user-created content out there? I’m not sure there is. Memrise blends flashcard-learning with engaging activities to keep the learning experience feeling fresh. The flashcards themselves aren’t your grandparents’ flashcards, either. They’ve often got pictures, sentences for context, native-speaker audio, and are interactive.
The mobile app is easy and fun to use, there are mountains of available content, and it uses spaced repetition to make the process even more efficient. Review.
This flashcard app takes customization seriously. It’s so customizable, in fact, that there are rather lengthy manuals dedicated to describing how to use it. If you want total control over your study materials, it’s worth getting acquainted. You can make cloze deletion cards, add pictures, audio, notes, and tags to suit your needs.
Like the best memorization tools out there, Anki uses spaced repetition. This, along with its customizability, has made it a go-to resource for people in all sorts of industries, language learning being a popular one. There are also quite a few shared decks for learners of German that have been created by other users.
You’ll have to pay to use Anki on iOS, but it’s otherwise totally free.
While it offers additional features for practicing just about every aspect of a language, vocabulary acquisition is what Lingvist does best. Like many others on this list, it uses spaced repetition and flashcards to get users to commit new words to long-term memory.
Instead of limiting practice to direct word-to-word translations, Lingvist presents new language items in the context of a sentence to get users used to seeing the language as it’s actually used. The design is unassuming and sleek, but it’s more fun to use than you might expect. It’s also pretty efficient. Review.
Clozemaster and Lingvist probably couldn’t be any more different in terms of aesthetics, but they share some functionality. They both teach new vocabulary through exposure to pieces of language in context sentences via flashcards and spaced repetition.
The Clozemaster style will appeal to learners that like to feel like they’re playing a game. There are points to gain, levels to progress through, and an element of friendly competition. It’s mostly free to use, but this is probably because it isn’t the most comprehensive resource out there. Review.
This dictionary/translation app is a handy tool for easily translating between German and English (and 36 other languages). The dictionaries are continually reviewed by lexicographers and frequently updated. There are also plenty of context sentences to boost understanding and audio recordings so you can be sure to say things correctly.
Sometimes looking up the individual words in a phrase isn’t enough to give you the meaning of the phrase as a whole. In these cases, a phrase translator is much more helpful than just a dictionary. This is something that Linguee can help with. It takes advantage of the huge amount of bilingual texts that are available on the web by searching them for your phrase. Oftentimes, it’s been translated before.
Articles in German contain important information like the gender, number, and case of the noun they describe. Students of German will know that choosing the correct article is easier said than done. There are a bunch of rules and exceptions to remember, and that isn’t inherently very fun.
The goal of this app is to make German article and noun practice more convenient and fun. The app is easy to use whenever you like and will give you plenty of opportunities to practice.
This app has the power to help you memorize 1700 different common German nouns and their articles. For each of the nouns, it will teach you the gender as well as provide a translation and the proper pronunciation. The app uses spaced repetition to help you remember what you learn in the long term.
There are also original images for a portion of the vocabulary words, as well as five bonus videos that provide extra instruction to help you on your mission to learn German articles.
This app, along with the next one on the list, was created by Michael Schmitz of smarterGerman. For those looking for an in-depth German course, smarterGerman (review) is as good as it gets. Alternatively, there’s also a free German Articles Mini-Course available.
Irregular verbs are a nasty obstacle in any language learner’s path to fluency, and German’s got its fair share. The mission of this app is to help users master conjugation in different verb tenses. It’s done with illustrations and informational videos used in conjunction with a memory technique. They even offer their own certificate to users that have mastered the use of German verbs in the past tense with the app.
This app is an all-around grammar trainer for learners of German. It’s full of ways to practice with over 22,000 grammar exercises and compatibility with over 70 German language textbooks. You can also sort through learning material by CEFR level, which is a nice feature. The course was designed by German language teachers and provides you with statistics on your performance.
The “best” apps listed above definitely aren’t your only options when it comes to apps that teach German vocabulary and grammar. Below are some additional options that might be right for you.
Finding learning material that holds your attention is often easier said than done, and it’s worth a lot. In this regard, News in Slow German accomplishes a great deal. It’s a lot of fun to use, and the content is genuinely engaging. In addition to uploads of new 30-minute episodes every week, there’s an impressive amount of study material available in their grammar and expressions catalogs — enough to keep you busy for as long as you need.
It’s helpful to note that this resource is most useful for learners at the intermediate level. Also, the app design is less impressive than the resource itself; users may end up preferring the mobile version. Review.
This app is cool because it helps users get productive reading practice in their target language. It does this by making it quick and easy to look up words in the text that you don’t know. It also keeps track of the words you know by color-coating the text. You can upload your own material to the resource as well, which is a good way to ensure you’re interested in what you’re reading.
The downsides to using LingQ are that the vocabulary review isn’t particularly well done and the free version is limited. Review.
A web app with similar functionality is Readlang, which lets you translate words and phrases from any website.
Radio stations offer unique advantages to learners of any language. They’re often free, easy to access whenever you like, and full of interesting content.
Radio Germany is the go-to app for anyone that wants exposure to authentic German-language audio that they find interesting. With over 1,000 radio stations, you’ll be able to find music, sports, news, comedy, and even podcasts.
This is a great option for learners that are beyond the beginner level and are looking for ways to fill out their study plan with authentic material.
Don’t see one you’re interested in among the above apps? Below are some more potentially worthwhile apps for getting German reading and listening practice.
Learning how to pronounce words in a new language is often one of the most difficult and important aspects of learning the language, but good practice is hard to come by in most language apps.
Speechling tries to solve this problem by getting real humans involved. With a free membership, users can send a limited number of audio recordings of themselves to be evaluated by native speakers. Paying for the Unlimited Plan gives users the ability to send an unlimited number of recordings.
This app isn’t the best for absolute beginners or someone looking for comprehensive language study, but it’s great for getting accurate feedback on pronunciation. Review.
italki is one of the best resources out there for several reasons. One of them is its Notebook feature. It’s a feature that allows users to get feedback on their writing from others.
Feedback from humans is extra valuable when it comes to writing. There are plenty of mistakes and unnatural phrases that computers still aren’t able to pick up well enough.
The Notebook is pretty straightforward and very easy to use. Simply write something (anything) and then “publish” it where the italki community can read it. Other users that are proficient in your target language can then offer corrections to your writing. This is free to use! You can pay it forward by volunteering to correct someone else’s writing. Review.
There are resources out there for learning just about everything about German. Still, there will always be times where a book or website just doesn’t have the answer to your question.
Oftentimes, asking a human is the quickest and most trustworthy way to get the answer you’re looking for, and that’s something HiNative tries to facilitate. Posting a question about German on the app will expose it to a large community of native German speakers that will likely get you an answer very quickly.
This makes a great extra study tool for hard-to-look-up questions. The app is mostly free to use; extra features like audio recordings are available for a membership subscription. Review.
This is one of the largest online directories for language tutors. There are hundreds of German tutors on the site, meaning you’ll almost certainly be able to find several that fit your budget and schedule. The site is easy to use and its free extra features cement it as one of the best available.
In addition to connecting users with language tutors, italki has a free language exchange function. Users can easily look for others that would make good language partners and connect with them by simply sending a message. The community of learners here is pretty dedicated, and finding a serious language partner is certainly doable. Review.
Tandem is a great app for language exchange. It’s super easy to use and functions like most other social messaging apps, so the learning curve is minimal. It’s also got an attractive design.
What makes Tandem good for language exchange are its built-in language tools and the community that uses the app. The language tools allow you to translate messages (you’ll have to pay for unlimited translations) and offer corrections to your language partner with ease.
The community on Tandem is also better than some of the alternatives. The user-base is generally very active and focused on productive language practice. Review.
The apps below are also very commonly recommended, and they’re worth looking into even if they didn’t make our shortlist of favorites.
As you can see, there’s no shortage of apps aiming to teach people German. Just as this list doesn’t include every language app created, it also doesn’t cover other ways of learning a language. There are plenty of quality resources that aren’t available as an app, and so they didn’t make this list.
The numbers are clearly on your side when it comes to ways to learn German. Do you have a favorite we missed?