Advent Calendar 20 – Re-Cognate

Written By: Emanuel Updated: December 20, 2023




Hello everyone,

and welcome to Day 20 of this year’s Advent Calendar – the final stretch. And behind today’s door is a little surprise and recommendation called

Cognate 2.0

Some of you, who followed the calendar last year, might remember that I talked about a new tool called Cognate. It was a website/webapp focused on learning vocabulary based on what you’re actually interested it. So you could have it focus on specifically medical terms, IT and soccer for example.

Quite a few of you gave it a try back then and apparently, you also provided a good amount of valuable feedback to the people behind the project.
So a couple of months ago, the founder reached out to me again, and was like “What’s good bro, you wanna talk about us again?”
And I was like “Bruh, nah bro, we already did that.”
And he was like “Bro, we rebuilt everything, added a LOT of stuff and we’d give your readers a discount.”
And I was like “Aight, imma give it a look.”

Yeah… that’s of course not really how the conversation went.
But Alejandro really did reach out to me because they had developped Cognate so much that it’s almost an entirely new and better product now. I did some testing, gave quite a bit of criticism and they addressed quite a few of the issues I found, which is amazing!!

And way more than I can say about Toucan, which I was REALLY close to reviewing, but then I didn’t because the product was just too bad. Like… I love the concept, but the implementation is just so bad that it’s not something I want to recommend. And then I found out they had like 7 Million in seed investing or something. In 2021. I really don’t know where the money is, but it for sure is not in the product.

Anyway, so Cognate really is quite open to user feedback and the product is pretty cool too, so I decided to introduce it a second time this year :)

What is Cognate 2.0

Originally, they started out as a way to gather and learn vocabulary that fits your interests, and that’s still part of their core idea.
But they’ve broadened their scope and included a curriculum and levels, so now the app slowly guides you toward the higher levels.
They also added explanations for the basic grammar, and the ones I have seen were pretty nice.

But more importantly, they added a LOT of reading practice material. Hundreds of little stories, that are written by AI but reviewed by humans and that introduce new vocabulary in context.
And they also added AI based chat bots that slowly adjust to your interests and also at least try to adjust to your proficiency level.
You can always chat with them, either “freestyle” or about one of the stories you’ve read, which is pretty cool. And they’re also planning to include voice synthesis (the one they’ll use sounds VERY good… I know it already) and they also want to use text to speech so you can actually TALK with the chatbot. None of this is too difficult to implement with today’s tech, so I’d suspect they can roll this out next year.

Now, we have to be honest… this chat bot stuff is not unique, and there are multiple apps that are offering the same. But in Cognate it’s integrated into a pretty robust vocabulary trainer and I really like that they actually review the stories they put up and not just blindly take what the AI puts out.

Oh, and they’ve also been working on making it a real app, and as far as I know the iPhone version is finished or close to finished. But you may just as well use the web based version.

How to try Cognate

Cognate has decided to offer a 7 day free trial which includes THE ENTIRE THING. So it’s not like the usual “You get the first free lessons”. No… you have 7 days to check out the entire thing with all the functionality to see if you like it. Actually, I’d sign up for the trial over the holidays so you have enough time… unless of course you want to take a break from German :). Then DON’T sign up now and waste the free 7 days.

Here’s the link to the website:

Cognate Languages

Anyway, if you like it and you decide you want to work with it for longer, you can then sign up using the following discount code:


This will give you 25% on all the plans. And I’ll also get a little referral bonus. Yeay. That’s NOT the reason I am recommending them though. I just like their product and that they’re a small team that really cares.
So yeah… YOURDAILYGERMAN for 25% discount. Oh and yes… your account WILL also work on the actual iPhone app, but it’s better the sign up via web, because Cognate gets to keep the money and doesn’t have to pay 30% app store rent. I mean… I have nothing against Apple taking a cut, but 30% is just too much for virtually no service provided.

Anyway, that’s it for today.
Let me know in the comments if you’ve tried Cognate last year or if you’ve been using them regularly and what you think about the project. And be honest… like I said, Alejandro and the others really are open to feedback and criticism. It’s a small team and they’re trying their best to make a good product for German learners.

So yeah, try it out, let me know and have a great Wednesday, and I’ll see y’all tomorrow.


5 5 votes
Article Rating

German in your inbox

Sign up to my epic newsletter and get notified whenever I post something new :)
(roughly once per week)

No Spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.