Speakly: The Best App for Language Learning?

Speakly is the closest thing to perfection that I have seen in a language learning app. There are a ton of language learning apps out there. A lot of them even offer German. But, you have probably seen me complain about the many shortcomings of language learning apps. I have said some pretty disparaging things about language learning apps on this website in the past.

That’s why when I was first contacted by Speakly about reviewing their language learning app, it sat in my inbox for a while. Then they contacted me again. So I took a quick look at their website to see if there was anything that really stood out. There wasn’t ONE single thing that stood out about their site. Instead there were MANY. It isn’t just another app with an animal mascot harassing you about your lack of consistency. This app has a ton of stuff that sets it apart from the crowd. Let me show you why I think Speakly is one of the best apps for language learners. 

A Truly Free Free Trial

First and foremost, it is incredibly refreshing to see a company that takes the idea of a free trial seriously. I can’t count the number of times I have created an account for a language learning app to do a review of it only to find they want my credit card number, social security number, copy of my birth certificate and the blood of my first born just to have the privilege of a free trial of their app. 

Speakly does none of that. You open their app, they show you a general overview of what to expect and then they take you to the subscription page. If you just want to try it for 7 days for free, you simply exit the subscription page. It takes you straight to the app! No credit card. No building a profile. No human sacrifice. It is amazing! 

A Language Learning App That Helps YOU Learn a Language!

Aside from refreshing business practices, Speakly actually does their job well, too. They have managed to make a language learning app that helps you learn a language! Everything in this entire app is designed around the idea that you need to learn a language so that you can use that language. 

When learning a language you should learn words and phrases you can actually use. Speakly actually understand this. It was created by 2 polyglots who both speak 7 languages. They spent 6 years researching the habits and learning techniques of thousands of language learners when creating this app. Everything in the app is built around conversations. All vocabulary is taught in full sentences. Those full sentences are repeated until they are embedded in the space between your ears. 

When you first open the app, you can choose if you want to focus on speaking and listening or on writing or a combination of both. When you focus on speaking and listening, there won’t be any questions that require you to write out an answer. If you focus on writing, you will have to type sometimes. 

Real Conversational German Examples for Real Conversational German Learning

Words are introduced in real conversational sentences. None of this weird stuff you might find on other apps. Once you have seen a few examples of how the words are used, you are given a conversation that uses that vocabulary, but also some extras that you might not yet know, so it flows better. The conversations used are not stiff stilted conversations like you often see in textbooks, but rather the kind of conversation you might actually have when speaking German with a real human being. 

Decent Pronunciation Examples

The conversations are either read by native speakers or it is the best AI generated voice I’ve ever heard. There are a few times I heard a small robotic part, but I can’t tell if this is because it is an AI voice reader or because they recorded a finite number of phrases and then spliced them together later and it sometimes doesn’t mesh well. Bottom line is that the audio is pretty good.

Perfectly Between Not Enough Repetition and Annoying

Once you have read a conversation, it goes back to the introduction of new vocabulary. It continues this swap between introducing new vocabulary in example sentences and real conversational examples until you have finished the lesson for the day. I love the amount of repetition here. It is never enough to simply hear something once. You have to hear it over and over again in order for it to stick. This app does an excellent job of treading that line between not enough repetition and being annoying. 

Grammar Explanations Included

There are also explanations of grammar topics that are simply fantastic. One of my complaints about similar apps is that they pretend like you don’t need grammar. If you are a baby and learning a language, you might not need the grammar, as it will come naturally. If you aren’t a baby, you will likely need someone to point out the “why” behind the “what” of the sentences you learn. Speakly’s explanations are simple and concise, but also very thorough. Again, they have found that nice middle ground so it isn’t overwhelming or distracting from the language learning, but it still is enough grammatical information to give your learning context. 

Now You’re Just Showing Off

Once you have gone through a couple of lessons, Speakly really starts to show off. You can go to the main menu and choose from “LIVE-situations”, which are natural conversations in German using the vocabulary and phrases you have learned. They encourage you to be a part of the conversation by repeating the German phrases that the characters use. It listens to your pronunciation and makes sure you are pretty close. 

I messed with it a few times to see what happens when you don’t say what you are supposed to. It isn’t perfect, but it is better than just recording yourself and hoping for the best, which I have seen some other apps do. The pronunciation doesn’t have to be perfect to be recognized as correct, but that’s also how life works. Your pronunciation doesn’t have to be native level. As long as your conversation partner can understand what you are saying and respond appropriately, your pronunciation is good enough.

It is a common misconception that fluency means you have a perfect accent. It doesn’t. Fluency means that you can communicate on a broad list of topics. Accents only come into play if they impede communication. 

Listening Exercises

There are also listening exercises. These are longer exercises that are meant to be used once you have learned a significant amount of German, but they open up early, so you can practice a lot. There are options to only listen to the audio, read along with the German text or to read along with the English translation. You can skip forward by paragraphs and you can slow the speech down to ¾ speed. They are like mini-podcast episodes and are purely for testing your ability to listen and understand. 

Something No Other App Has

Then there is something I have never seen in any language learning app and it blew my mind when I saw it. Music recommendations! I love listening to German music. I think it is one of the best ways you can absorb truckloads of language skills as passively as possible.

While in college I almost exclusively listened to German music. If I was on campus and was able to listen to music, I would be listening to German music. This is one of the few times that your brain will subconsciously pick up on things and learn without even trying. So when I saw that they were giving music recommendations, I was elated. 

The music recommendations are based on your level and are meant to build off of the vocabulary and phrasing you have learned so far. For example: I learned the phrases “Ich bin” and “Ich bin nicht” in the first few lessons in the app. Then it recommended “Verschwinde” by Annett Louisan.

If you haven’t listened to her music before, you should definitely check it out, but what makes this recommendation so good is that it uses some of the phrases that were used in the first few lessons in the app! It is music that reinforces what you learned. Not just good, legit German music, but music that applies directly to what you are learning. This is language learning heaven. I might even keep this account active just for their music recommendations. 

Not Just an App

Speakly isn’t just an app either. While I have primarily been showing you videos from the mobile app on my Android phone, it is also available on iOS and on the web.

Live Lessons Available

You can book lessons with a tutor on Speakly too. You can do individual lessons or group lessons. It is a subscription based system. Each month you will get 8 live meetings with your tutor. Individual lessons are 45 minutes long and group lessons are 60 minutes. Group lessons are capped at 6 students. I didn’t try their tutoring sessions, so I can’t say exactly what goes on in their lessons, but I just love the idea that there are tutors available from the same place as the app.

The Bottom Line

Now let’s get down to brass tacks.

Is this app worth it? YES

Is it perfect? No.

Will it magically transform you into a German speaker that is indistinguishable from a native speaker? No.

It is still an app. I stand by my statement that apps will not make you fluent. This includes this app. But this is the closest I have seen any app get. It might be the best we will ever get from a language learning app. 

Hitting the High Notes

It covers all of the bases. Listening and reading are first and foremost in the app. Input in the language is not just encouraged, it is a requirement to continue in the app. It isn’t just passively tapping on flashcards. You have to engage with the language through speaking and writing. You aren’t learning nonsense phrases that you will never use. Everything in this app is something you can actually use in a conversation. If you need grammar help, there are guides for that. If you need extra practice with a human, there is a place for that, too. 

And, I’ll say it again, MUSIC RECOMMENDATIONS! Discover your favorite German artists and become addicted to learning German through music. 

I get a lot of emails from companies that want me to review their apps. A lot of those emails go unanswered, because the apps are simply awful. Other emails go back and forth a few times, but after digging a bit deeper into the app, I find that they are lacking in such fundamental ways that I can’t recommend them on this site.

Speakly is not that. Speakly is the most perfect language learning app I have found to date. If you think there is a better one out there, I’ll be happy to take a look, but it is going to be very difficult to take the trophy out of Speakly’s hands. 

Herr Antrim
Herr Antrim is a German teacher with over 10 years of teaching experience. In 2011 he started his successful YouTube Channel "Learn German with Herr Antrim". In 2015 he created this website to enhance the German language lessons he was providing on YouTube. He is now the author of his own e-book, "Beginner German with Herr Antrim". He has also been featured on numerous blogs and other sites. *This site uses a variety of affiliate links. If there is a link that leads to an outside site from which you could potentially make a purchase, it is very likely an affiliate link for which Herr Antrim will receive a small portion of your purchase. This does not cost you any extra, but it does help keep this website going. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. If you would like more information about the affiliate programs this site uses, click here.
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