Mobile internet usage has in many countries already surpassed desktop internet usage. This is particularly true among young people who are more likely to learn foreign languages than older generation. Mobile devices enable language learners to use their time more efficiently, e.g. while travelling or waiting at the doctors. There are plenty of mobile apps for learning a German language that can be used with all sorts of portable devices like smartphones, iPods or iPads. Many of these apps are free, though some also have paid pro-versions (for example, pro-versions may sometimes be necessary for downloading data if you wish to work offline).
Mobile apps are particularly suitable for building up vocabulary. Since most language apps are integrated with speech recognition technology that is built into mobile devices, they are ideal for training pronunciation. There are also apps for kids where children can learn a second language simply by playing games. Many apps will also work offline in places with no internet connection. Here is a brief overview of the best mobile apps for learning a German language available today. Most of them have a free basic version, while paid pro-versions are believed to offer good value for your money.
The Best Apps for German Learners
- Goethe-Verlag offers courses for beginners (levels A1-A2) that are also available in the form of a mobile application for iPhones and androids called 50 Sprachen. From their website follow the links to the iTunes store or Google Play to download the application. You can have a free version but it only contains the first 30 lessons for beginners. A complete German course consisting of 100 lessons will cost you EUR2.99 (an in-app purchase of Deutsch Komplett-Sprachpaket). With this app you should be able to learn basic German vocabulary and sentence structure so that you can make yourself understood in most common everyday situations.
- Learn German DeutschAkademie is an application for mobile devices that you can use to practice German grammar and build up vocabulary. Although it is not completely free (it costs EUR 1.99), it can be a good value for money for those who want to use their time efficiently. You will never get bored with this app as there are 22,000 grammar and vocabulary training exercises for all ability levels, from beginners to advance German speakers.
- Deutscher Volkshochschul-Verband (German Adult Education Association) has developed a free application called “Einstieg Deutsch” that you can download from iTunes or from GooglePlay, depending on your mobile device. This beginner’s course is available in nine languages and can be also used off-line. Its aim is to help immigrants in Germany find their way in common, everyday situations such as a doctor’s visit, shopping or contacting authorities. Anyone can try this useful free app, it is not reserved only to immigrants.
- Phase6 Hallo Deutsch Erwachsene is another application for smartphones and small portable devices that was developed for immigrants starting a new life in Germany but it can be downloaded for free by anybody else who wants to learn German. In addition to English, it is available in nine other languages including Arabic and Farsi. The focus is on building vocabulary needed in everyday situations and training pronunciation and listening comprehension. This course is suitable for complete beginners. There is also a children’s version of this app called “Phase 6 Hallo Deutsch Kinder”.
- Vocabulary Trainer is a free application from the Goethe Institute to help learners of German to practice their vocabulary. With this app you can download vocabulary lists from the Goethe Institute’s courses or you can add your own words that you wish to learn. There is also an option to learn new vocabulary using flashcards from the Institute’s free learning platform.
- The City of Words is yet another free app from the Goethe Institute. This is a unique, playful approach to learning German vocabulary and basic grammar structures through multiplayer online games. You will make friends with other German learners playing the game while comparing your language skills with them. This app is suitable for beginners (level A1) and can be played on most smartphones and portable devices (download it either from iTunes or Google Play store). The game can also be played on the desktop (you will need to install a free unity web player).
- Memrise is a free language app for iPhones, iPads and androids, which as its name suggests, will help you memorise new words. At the moment 13 language courses are available including German. This is an effortless and fun way of learning a second language. It is suited mainly for beginners. A pro-version is for those who need access to additional games or wish to download courses to their mobile device for offline use.
- Duolingo offers an easy-to-use app for learning and practising German that works on iPhones, androids and windows phones. This product is not only available free of charge but it is also free of distracting ads. It presents an effective but fun way of learning German with games, answering questions, speaking and translating. This app supports many languages, so if your native language is not English, you can possibly choose your own.
- AnkiMobile is an application that will help boost your German vocabulary using flashcards. This app works on iPhones and androids but the original version of this product was intended for desktops. Therefore, the mobile application is free of charge only for androids. The app for iPhones, iPads and iPods is paid and costs $24.99. Also, please note that AnkiMobile should be used in conjunction with the free computer version of Anki rather than as a stand-alone language course.
- Learn German from Bravolol is yet another free app for smart phones available to those who wish to acquire basic German vocabulary and learn common phrases (about 800 in total). It is primarily intended for beginners and travellers. This app is also suitable for practicing pronunciation and listening skills and can be used off-line. However, the premium version of this program costs $4.99.
- PONS Bildwörterbuch App is a useful tool for learning German vocabulary on the go. This app was developed for refugees coming to Germany but it can be used by anybody else who is at levels A1-C1. The course consists of 13 chapters (lessons) that include 15,000 German words with pictures, audios and English translations. The first chapter called “People” with about 250 basic German words is available free of charge. The remaining chapters cost EUR2.99 altogether. This app runs on most smartphones (iPhones, androids, etc.).
- Learn German – Wie Geht’s is an excellent tool for building up vocabulary, learning common phrases and simple grammar rules on the go. It works on iPhones, iPads, iPod touch and androids and can also be used in offline mode. The course is ideal for beginners and consists of 96 lessons. However, premium lessons require paid subscription. Once you finish this course you should know about 3,000 German words and be able to communicate with German native speakers in most common real-life situations.
- Learn German with WordPic is a user-friendly mobile app for beginners and intermediate learners of German to help them expand vocabulary and learn simple phrases but it can also be used for practising pronunciation. The pictures that accompany words are pulled from Instagram. This application can be used offline. Those who find ads annoying can have them removed through an in-app purchase.
- Mosalingua Learn German is an innovative free learning tool for busy people who want to make the most of their time when learning German. This app is suitable for all portable devices. Although there is also a mention of a version for desktops, it is apparently not yet available. This is a complete course that will help you train all aspects of language development such as vocabulary, grammar, pronunciation, listening comprehension and communication. There are ten levels of difficulty while the main focus is on mastering traveller’s language skills.
The above list includes mobile applications that help adult learners develop general German language skills. For mobile apps specifically developed for business German, travellers and children, please visit the respective sections of this website. Also, please do keep in mind that we have not tested all these apps recently and, therefore, you may need to try more than just one to find a product you are looking for. As the world changes, product developers respond by adding new functions and features to their apps, and so your best bet is to find a mobile app for learning German that has a history of regular upgrades and bug fixes.