The names of the countries in Africa.
The elements of the periodic table.
The Founding Fathers.
Remember when you were in elementary and middle school, and you used to make flashcards to study for topics like these?
There’s a reason why young students are encouraged to make flashcards: because this method actually works to help memorize something. As you get older and progress through school, classes become less about memorization and more about understanding grand themes and important topics.
That is, unless you decide to study a foreign language, in which case memorization is more important than ever.
That’s why, if you are learning German, we strongly recommend that you make a set of flashcards to ensure that you master all the new German vocabulary that you are encountering every day, through books, through movies or through other media.
Making these by hand can be cumbersome and time consuming, which is why we’ll be introducing some amazing flashcard apps that’ll make vocab practice slick as ever.
Tips for Making the Most out of Your Flashcard Studying
How can you ensure that you learn the vocabulary from your flashcards, and integrate it into your daily life?
- Learn 10 new flashcards every day. One new word per day is not enough. More than 10 is too much and could become overwhelming. Ten is the perfect number: just enough so you can keep moving forward with the language, but not so much that you give up on your flashcards on day three. You should also review the flashcards you learned the last few days to make sure the words stick in your head.
- Don’t put your mother language on the flashcards. If you are above the beginner levels of German, try to make German-to-German flashcards. That is, don’t put the definition in your mother tongue on one side of the flashcard. Instead, try to describe the word using German words you already know. This will increase your German fluency and decrease your dependence on your native language.
- Say the words out loud. Chances are you won’t just be using German to read and write; you’ll also be using it to speak and understand. That’s why it’s crucial to say your flashcard words out loud. Not only will speaking help you memorize the words, but it will also help you with pronunciation and with integrating the words into your spoken vocabulary.
- Use pictures as helpful memorization devices. Maybe you can’t think of a way to describe your German word using other German words. Maybe you want a funny image to help you remember whatever word you are trying to learn. For both of these reasons, drawing pictures can be a great way to help you memorize your German words. Some of these apps offer tools where you can draw digitally; if you decide to make your own paper flashcards (see below) this method can also work.
6 Flashcard Apps to Learn German Vocab in a Flash
Are you looking for something that goes above and beyond your typical flashcards? FluentU brings flashcards to life.
How does it create such unique flashcards? FluentU takes real-world videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
You’ll be watching video content that native German speakers actually watch regularly, meaning you’ll quickly become familiar with everyday, modern German that’s relevant to you.
Then, FluentU converts that German video content into personalized flashcards—complete with audio, an image, an in-context definition, authentic example sentences, and other videos across the site in which that same word appears.
While watching your chosen videos, you can tap on any subtitled word to look it up instantly. Every definition has examples that have been written to help you understand how the word is used by modern natives. If you see an interesting word you don’t know, you can simply tap “add” to save it to your vocabulary list.
FluentU uses SRS technology to tell you exactly when each word is ready for review, which means you don’t have to plan your learning or review sessions. These truly memorable in-context learning experiences are all ready for you!
The best part is that FluentU keeps track of your progress and recommends relevant content based on what you’ve already learned.
In addition to flashcard sets from videos, there are other pre-made flashcards—like this set, for the 12 common German phrases in this post. Plus, you can add any word from any video to your own vocabulary lists. Cool, huh?
Memrise is a website and app that uses image-based flashcards to help you learn languages and vocab. You can take courses in any given level of German (the site also offers other languages and topics) or to create your own courses.
With Memrise’s premade courses, you can easily work your way through the most important German vocabulary at any level. Flashcards come with audio, plus you can choose which meme/image appears for each—so you can pick whatever’s easiest for you to remember for the visual aspect.
The site and app present users with these vocab sets using the “spacing method,” which presents the same information repeatedly at intervals, a technique proven to hammer the information home. New words on Memrise begin as “seeds,” and the site will tell you as soon as words “need watering.”
Memrise also encourages users to make their own courses and share them with the community, though note that you can only make courses on the website version, not the app—but any course made on the website can then be used on the app.
MosaLingua is a handy little flashcard app that comes with pre-made cards for useful words and phrases. It includes audio pronunciations, native dialogues, and categories and subcategories you can explore on various subjects like eating, transportation, flirting and more.
The philosophy behind the app is centered around a) learning the most useful parts of the language first and b) not wasting time studying things you already know (this last one being achieved through SRS technology).
What really makes MosaLingua stand out, though, is that in addition to the mobile version of the app, you can use the web version to conveniently translate words and phrases you find in reading material, then add these words and phrases to your flashcards across all devices. This gives you the advantage of being able to customize your learning while still making the process of learning easier.
StudyBlue is an app aimed at university students where you can create flashcards, notes, study guides and quizzes—or use the pre-made content shared by other users. Each existing deck says which university it’s from, so all you college students out there can find flashcards and notes for your exact German course.
And if you’re not a university student, the content is still totally useful to study. StudyBlue has a simple, no-frills interface, which allows you to easily and quickly make your own flashcards on your phone without getting distracted by other features.
The app tracks which words you get right and wrong, and then makes a chart of your progress—which helps you figure out how far you’ve come and how far you have left to go. Note that you can’t add pictures to the flashcards, so it’s words-only on StudyBlue.
Cost: Free; In-app purchases from $4.50
Available on: Google Play
German Flashcards by BH Inc. is an app that provides users with a set of flashcards containing image, sound and text, which help you memorize information using different senses. And in addition to flashcards, there are a variety of learning modes: study, slide show, matching, memorize, quiz, spelling and re-arrange.
You can make your own flashcards or use the 4,000+ pre-made flashcards that cover nine main categories. Users can also access cards from Super Flashcard and import flashcard sets from Course Hero, Quizlet, and Flashcard Exchange.
Games on this German Flashcards app can be played on your own, with friends or with random users. There’s a handy stats section too, which lets you view your learning progress. Premium features include text-to-speech, the ability to download unlimited flashcards for offline study, and customizing text and background colors on cards.
Cons: Users have to pay more for the full version, and not all words are matched with their article (der, die, das).
Available on: iTunes
The iStudious Flashcard app is not German-specific, but allows users to draw and include pictures and audio on flashcards, making it ideal for language learners.
All of the app’s different features mean that you German learners can customize your learning experience exactly how you want to—using hand-drawn pictures, photographs, recorded audio or handwritten notes.
You can share flashcard stacks via email, and also export them as PDFs. Additionally, the app integrates with Quizlet, so you can import German content from Quizlet straight into iStudious flashcards.
Test drive the app for free by downloading iStudious Lite, which lets you make four stacks with six cards in each. The paid iStudious Flashcard app lets you make unlimited stacks and cards.
A Note on Making Your Own Paper Flashcards
Of course, if you’re in an analog or creative mood, you can always take the time to make your own paper flashcards. The disadvantages of making paper flashcards are that you can lose them or misplace them, and you can’t share them with anyone (while keeping a copy for yourself, that is).
However, the advantages are that you can use them anywhere, not only places where you have data or Wi-Fi for your phone (making them particularly useful when you are traveling in a foreign country). Plus, handwriting words as opposed to typing them or using a pre-made list is often a great way to remember them.
And finally, if you make your own flashcards, you can draw your own funny pictures to accompany them, which I personally find to be a great way to help a word stick in your head.
No matter which method you choose, if you get started on your flashcard collection today, you’ll soon have a built-in way to memorize the German words that you encounter in your reading, lessons or everyday life. So what are you waiting for?
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn German with real-world videos.