Let’s Review – Seedlang

Hello everyone,

and welcome to a new episode of ER.
On the previous episode, famous playboy and ER surgeon Dr. Emanuel (played by Robert Pattinson) was faced with a tough decision: get the equipment he needs for the brain surgery or finally stand up to his third ex-wife. Today, the conclusion.
Yeah… some people are going to be really confused now. Especially Jeremy, who’s now asking himself:
“What is this? This is not what I asked for.”
But I’m kidding of course. This ER series is not the famous Emergency Room from two decades ago (feel old yet?).
It is the series

Emanuel Recommends

Which is basically Review of the Day, just with a new name.
In this series, I recommend to you an app or website or book that I think is not only helpful (because all tools have their place), but actually really special in the German language learning space.
And today, I want to take a good look at:

Seedlang

Those of you who have been following me for a while might be like “Wait, you already talked about Seedlang.”
Which is true. I reviewed it a few years ago.
But the app has grown a LOT since then and there are also lots of new people here who maybe haven’t heard about Seedlang before.
And most importantly, the very founder and developer of the app, Jeremy, took some time so I could grill him over some questions and concerns I have about Seedlang.
I mean… just because it’s the best app on the market in my opinion doesn’t mean that it’s without room for improvement :).
So are you ready to jump in?
Then let’s go… oh, and yes… you can win something, so you better read with focus so you don’t miss it ;).

So, I already said it in the intro and I’ll say it again with more official formatting:

“I think Seedlang is the best app for German learners that’s out there.
If you only get one app – Get Seedlang!”
(Emanuel on Seedlang, 2022)

Yes, I have a few little guest appearances in the app and yes, I am friends with Jeremy and Cari from Easy German, but I really do think Seedlang is overall the best option. It can take you from absolute beginner to upper intermediate level with much more fun and less boredom than Duolingo and it’s by far the best deal in terms of what you get for your money.
But what is it exactly?

What is Seedlang?

Seedlang is an “all inclusive system”. So its goal is to be the main app for your language learning journey from beginner to advanced speaker.
At the heart of it is a lesson tree, similar to Duolingo.

But each of the almost 300 lessons are actually cute, funny little handcrafted videos with a story. And not cheap animations either – real life video with real people.

So you don’t just see a bunch of new words and grammar – you actually see native speakers use the words and grammar in contexts and examples that make sense and are memorable.

Inside each lesson, the content is organized as “sentence cards”.
Every single sentence of the little story is a card with video, translations AND a discussion section, where you can clear up questions you might have.
And if you want, you can add each of these sentence cards to your own review decks, which work much like a normal flashcard system, with spaced repetition and tracking… but with real sentences with video and audio. Great stuff and pretty unique.

What’s also cool is that the translations on the cards are actually fully interactive so you can click on any word and get a translation AND a selection of the relevant grammar bits for this word.
So if you click on a noun, you’ll see the translation, the plural, the gender AND the case and you can access a quick explanation of cases. And for a verb you can see the complete conjugation.

And last but not least, Seedlang’s main focus is on S P E A K I N G!
There is a typing option, and there are a few “sort-the-box” type exercises in the lessons, but the main task you’ll have is to repeat after the native speakers, and as a second step, make the sentence yourself based on English. And that’s a really great way to learn. It’s also something I think could be made even better, but we’ll get to that in a second.

So, the lesson tree is arguably the core of Seedlang but the app also has a number of “supplemental” features that most German learners use at some point or another, so you won’t have to download a separate app for any of these:

  • gender trainer
  • plural trainer
  • vocabulary trainer
  • conjugation trainer

 

 

For some leisure, Seedlang also has a Trivia quiz section where you can practice your German naturally, while playing trivia quizzes against time or real opponents. So you can even learn while you take a break from studying.

And last but not least, they’re also building out their own dictionary. Currently, there are over 12.000 words in there, all of which you can use for the various trainers I just mentioned.
And they also started rolling out content for Spanish and French, so you can start learning one of those languages once you’re done with German. Or you need a break :).

Cool.
So now that you have a rough (and incomplete) overview over what Seedlang offer, let’s go over why I think this is the best app currently out there.

What I like about Seedlang

The content

The content is interesting, funny, well produced and most importantly… full of love and care!! Lots of phrases will stick just because of these lovely videos. All the people in them will become like your friends on your language learning journey and I can guarantee you that you’ll remember a few of the little stories for life.

Real native speakers

Seedlang has videos for thousands of sentences and words with real native speakers. That’s much better than computer generated speech, no matter how well the generated speech is. And you can see the face and the mouth moving. Which is something your brain very much pays attention to and learns from, even if you don’t notice it directly.

The functionality

Lesson tree, custom review decks, vocabulary trainer, gender trainer, plural trainer, conjugation trainer… you really don’t need another app.
And also, the relevant grammar information for any word in any sentence is pretty much always one click away…. like… literally.
Which is really amazing and really really helpful. You can quickly read up on grammar or look up a conjugation WHILE studying a deck.

The flexibility

The lesson tree gives you a structure you can follow, which is really helpful, especially in the beginning stages. But at the same time, Seedlang allows you to access any material at any time without having to wade through a bunch of lessons you’re not interested in and I LOVE THAT.
Also, you can create not only your own flashcard sets or plural study decks, you can also create decks from the sentences from each lecture. So you’re super flexible in terms of what you want to focus on.

Actual interaction with the community

On Duolingo (which is a billion dollar company), questions in comments are answered by other students. On Seedlang, there’s actually a team of native speakers who answer questions, which is much better.
Also, Seedlang really listens to its users and what they want in terms of features and content. New words for the dictionary for instance are those that are submitted by we the people. Which is awesome.
And what’ also awesome is that Jeremy is giving away two free yearly subscriptions for you!!
What do you have to do to enter the competition? Well, you need to help out Seedlangs marketing department a bit :). Leave a comment completing the following sentence:
“Seedlang is to my German learning what _____ is to _____ .”
Make sure you enter your email address in the field, so we can contact you if you’re one of the winners.

The price

Last but not least, the price of Seedlang is a big plus. $8.99 if you go month by month, or $59.98 if you make it a whole year… INCLUDING VAT already. That is an absolute steal considering what you get in terms of functionality and content.
The only better deal is if you actually win one of the two yearly subscriptions, like I just mentioned ;). And since we’re at it, one little plea from my side: please don’t enter the competition if you have no trouble paying for the app. There are plenty of people reading this who really don’t have the means to pay, so let’s give them a chance to win. Danke :)

So there you have it.
Those are the reasons why I think Seedlang is the best choice when you’re looking for an app/system to learn German by yourself.
And what’s really cool is that you can actually try it out all of the functionality for free. Every first lessson in the tree is available even if you’re not a paying member, so you can REALLY get a feel for the app.
Just set up an account and see how you like it.

Check out Seedlang
(web-version)

 

Cool.
Now, as you can tell, I am pretty positive about Seedlang, but this wouldn’t really be a proper review if I didn’t also give you a few negatives. No app, no system is perfect, after all, and I did find a few little issues when trying out the app.
And what’s really cool is that Jeremy, the founder and developer, actually took the time to RESPOND to my criticism and share his thoughts.
And that’s why I’ll call this segment “Confronting the Dev”…. so epic :)

Confronting the Dev

Needs to have an offline mode

Originally, Seedlang was a web-app. That’s basically a website but it looks and acts like an app on your phone.
In 2021, Seedlang finally launched the actual, real app for both Android and Apple, so you can download it from the Apple and Play store.
Now, one of the benefits of an app is that it runs on your phone, so it doesn’t necessarily need to be connected to the internet to work.
But as of now, that is not the case for Seedlang. There is no offline mode at the moment, so you cannot use it on a plane, and because of all the bits of video the app downloads, it’s also not ideal if you have a bad connection or you have a limited data plan for your phone.
An option to make some of the lessons available offline or activate a data-saving mode would be great.

Jeremy responds:

“We get this request alot and adding this feature is very high on our priority list. Supporting this is a very big change for us though, and will still take some months before we can offer it as a feature.”

Lack of automated feedback for audio recordings

I mentioned earlier that the main focus of Seedlang is to make you SPEAK. When you do the lessons, the main task you’ll have is to record yourself either repeating after native speakers or making the sentences up yourself and saying them.
Which is a GREAT system, but there’s one issue, at least in my opinion: lack of feedback.
The app pretty much forces you to record, so you can move to the next slide, but it ultimately doesn’t matter what you say, because there is no feedback on it. The app doesn’t process your recording in any way.
You can play it back and compare it with how the native speaker says it, but you have to motivate yourself to do that.
Some people are diligent enough to do that, but I am not, for example. And I found myself often just saying “blah blah”, just to get to the next slide.
So as much as I enjoy the content, I would effectively not be using Seedlang the way it is intended to be used.
Of course, that’s just me, but I think Seedlang would benefit greatly, if there was at least some sort of threshold for you to pass with your recording, similar to what Duolingo does (or what I do with my AI exercises … *pads myself on the back).
I personally need that to be motivated to actually make an effort and speak.
But let’s see what Jeremy’s thoughts are on the matter.

Jeremy responds:

I have two main problems with having the app itself provide automated feedback for audio recordings:
1. The feedback will be binary and will only tell you that you were “right” or “wrong”, but will never be able to tell you why. There is alot of nuance with pronunciation, and the best way to pick up the small details of how your speech differed from a native speaker, is to actually hear your speech and compare it to a native speaker.
I had this experience myself, where I heard within the app that I was pronouncing the German word “Obst” like “Ooobst”, and was able to correct it. Automated feedback is unfortunately not yet advanced enough to provide this kind of detailed feedback.
2. The right or wrong response that you get from any automated system will often be just flat out wrong. I had the experience of a popular app dinging me for being incorrect when speaking a German sentence, so I asked my German flatmate to speak the sentence, and it also dinged her as being incorrect even though she clearly wasn’t. I think that’s a frustrating experience for a user, and I didn’t want it to be part of my app.

Dictionary translations can be inconsistent

The Seedlang dictionary is still in development, but while browsing, I have noticed that the translations are sometimes a bit arbitrary and they don’t always line up with the examples.
“werden” for example has only one translation (to become) but loads of examples for passive and future tense.
Or “lassen” has only one translation (to let) while the noun der Erzieher has a whopping 8 translations, all for the same idea, and many only useful in very specific contexts.
Sure, these things can always be cleared up in the discussion thread for the word but I think a thorough review and quality control of the entries would benefit the students a lot because they can actually “rely” on the translations to give them a good indication of how a word is used.

Jeremy responds:

This point is fair enough. We already have 12k German words and our dictionary is growing each day with new words that we add from students’ submissions. Because the dictionary is so large, we rely on our community to help us to crowdsource the translations, and we have already had more than 270k translations submitted in over 50 languages.
But we have definitely had a problem with quality control with this many translations having been submitted, and we are currently working to improve our translator program to have more of an emphasis on quality control of the translations, making sure that they are as consistent as possible for each word in each language.
On that topic, if anyone would be interested in becoming a translator for Seedlang, please do contact us at help@seedlang.com. We offer a free membership to those who help us with translations, and will notify you when our new translator program is released!

Wrap Up

So those were my personal cricisms with Seedlang in its current stage and I really really appreciate that Jeremy was open to having this quick discussion about them here in the public.
They’re working hard every single day, the team is growing and the app will get better and better and better. And I mean EVEN better, because as I said… I do recommend Seedlang.
Go ahead, sign up and try it out and see if it works for you :).
Here are the links again:

Check out Seedlang
(web-version)

 

And that’s it for today :)
This was my deep dive on Seedlang, the best language learning app for German and definitely worth a try. It’s free after all.
Let me know in the comments what you think, and for those of you who have already used Seedlang… please please share your experience with it. I’m just one person after all and the more perspectives the better.
So yeah, I’m looking forward to your thoughts and ideas in the comments.
I hope you liked it and see you next time.

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Arpan
Arpan
3 days ago

Seedlang is to my German learning what Brötchen is to Germans.

Mr Burak Tilev
Mr Burak Tilev
25 days ago

Thank you Manuel, I have downloaded SEEDLANG on mobile and on laptop DANKE

Semaphoro
Semaphoro
1 month ago

Seedlang is to my German learning what marshmallows are to hot chocolate.

Halbri
Halbri
1 month ago

“Seedlang is to my German learning what a barfbag is to my seasickness.”

Last edited 1 month ago by German-is-easy
Don
1 month ago

I use both https://www.seedlang.com/ and https://yourdailygerman.com/ together. Overall I have found benefit to using both. Relative to the cost to taking a college course, these two online services are a bargain. Seedlang will move fast through the German language, I sometimes miss the in depth explanations found on YouDailyGerman. The Absolute Essentials is missing from Seedlang, instead the expectation is to pick this up using the click on word details while moving through the decks. I have also put sentences from Seedlang listen and repeat into YourDailyGerman Audio Recorder 2.0 to get feedback. I was not pronouncing the “ch” in Ich correct, so I found a specific lesson in Seedlang to work https://youtu.be/jo6eVzUH2cI

Last edited 1 month ago by Don
Anony787
Anony787
1 month ago

“Seedlang is to my German learning what a gold medal is to an Olympic athlete.”

Victoria Martinez
Victoria Martinez
1 month ago

Thank you. I found Duolingo unbearably boring and repetitive. Just seeing Cari in the Seedling video made me happy. I love her street interview videos and her personality. I progressed a lot in 2020 with her and her husband’s videos, specially in colloquial German. I have been too busy since to focus on German. I love your newsletter. Hoping to avail myself of your materials, hers and Seedling later in the year. Don’t stop sending me emails. It helps me to remember there is fun at the end of the tunnel.

Dan
Dan
1 month ago

What does “Seedlang” mean? Is it such an odd name…

Felipeze
Felipeze
1 month ago

I would like to thank the blog community, especially those who make the scholarships possible, as it allows me to participate in the website.

Greetings to all

Rohrkrepierer ‐ KOOK & HECKLER
Rohrkrepierer ‐ KOOK & HECKLER
1 month ago

Thema : Alt wie ein Baum

Fee Fei Föh Fümm!
als Setzling oder Seedlang,
bin ich leider,
zu alt und dumm!!!
7.4.22

Rohrkrepierer ‐ KOOK & HECKLER
Rohrkrepierer ‐ KOOK & HECKLER
1 month ago
Reply to  German-is-easy

Thema: Jack and the beanstalk

Es ist ein kleines Wunder es geht wieder!!

Fei Fie Fo Fum !
I smell the blood of an Englishman!

Als braves Kleinkind (Sprössling) in der. DDR ist dieses Märchen von kapitalistischer Ausbeutung und bean seedlings (sprouts) bisher Dir völlig unbekannt. Oder??

Quiz for extra credit für Dich
Jack ist Spitzname für Vorname -???? Sozusagen offshoot

Danke für die Hilfe

https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hans_und_die_Bohnenranke

Elsa
Elsa
1 month ago

Great review!
Although I don’t like Apps in general (but that’s just me, being a bit of a technophobe), this one seems to be worth the investment!
I have confirmed my subscription, just make sure I don’t get the newsletter twice :)
Bis bald!

Katherine
Katherine
1 month ago

Seedlang is to my German learning what butter is to hot cross buns!

Bev
Bev
1 month ago

“Seedlang is to my German learning what the letter ‘s’ is to the word ‘success’.”

marko
marko
1 month ago

Nice review! Love your blog, Emanuel, and I love Seedlang. But I started on Duolingo and Pimsleur. Pimsleur was fantastic, but only has 150 lessons. Duolingo is a lot of fun, doesn’t teach you as much, but keeps you from quitting early on. Most of all I love Anki, where I can put my own content and review it until the old brain can actually produce it. And I love listening to the Easy German episodes. Occasionally I like Benjamin’s pronunciation episodes. And Rieke, I love Rieke! Rieke saved me once I got to the point that I could not figure out all the prefixes that Germans can tack onto the front of a verb, such as schreiben or schließen.

Your AI pronunciation checker, Emanuel, is the best out there–but before your head swells too much, or your hand gets sore from patting yourself on the back–that’s still not all that great. There’s nothing like a real live teacher, wherever you find them. I found one on italki who’s absolutely awesome; and I also found a local one where I live and I talk to them both each week. The italki one lives in Vienna, so his pronunciation is much better than that of the local one, who grew up in Bremen. :). And the Norddeutscher doesn’t get the cool Viennese slang.

Anyway, Seedlang is my go-to app mostly because it does have a lot of C1 material that I can use. And it keeps getting better.

pmccann
pmccann
1 month ago

I had a somewhat “meh” first reaction to Seedlang: while I liked the videos, and loved the ability to compare and contrast my pronunciation with that of a native speaker, there was always a slightly “parrotish” nature to the sentences. While it has become pretty fashionable to take a dump on Duolingo at almost every opportunity, the one thing it offers that other apps can’t go close to matching is the ability to accept multiple translations to and from English and German. So, for example, when Duolingo asks you to translate “Meine Lieblingsband spielt am Samstag im Park”, it accepts over a hundred different variations as correct, including the following 3:

On Saturday, my [favorite / favourite] [band’s / band’s / group’s / group’s] [performing / playing] [at / in] the park.

My [favorite / favourite] [band / group] is [performing / playing] [at / in] the park on Saturday.

My [favorite / favourite] [band’s / band’s / group’s / group’s] going to perform [at / in] the park on Saturday.

(The notation used here should be fairly transparent: note that these “three” are really about a dozen variations.) That is, it allows a lot more flexibility in translation than any other app that I’m aware of, and this flexibility is enormously encouraging to the learner, even if you could argue about the quality of some of the alternatives in both languages! The standard, infinitely more rigid approach to translation instantly turned me off using a few other language learning systems, notably Babbel, and it’s also the one thing that feels a little wooden about Seedlang.

All that being said, my second encounter with Seedlang was a lot more pleasant, and the app has improved enormously. As you mentioned, the gender trainer, the vocabulary-building tools, and suchlike are genuinely useful, and really well implemented. The voice comparison tool is also great, and as Jeremy mentioned it is sometimes shocking to be confronted with your own long-standing mispronunciations. I would, however, recommend showing him just how fine-grained the feedback from the AI that you use on YourDailyGerman can be: it’s miles away from “wrong or right”, so his answer to your query on that issue was either (a) a little disingenuous, or (b) a (shocking!!) indication that he hasn’t been reading your blog with the required care!

pmccann
pmccann
1 month ago
Reply to  German-is-easy

Aah, the astonishing magic of a superbly tuned and attuned language model! I can only dream of the sort of language-learning functionality that’ll be available a few years down the track using this sort of mechanism.

[[Yep, Duolingo definitely had a kind of “educated crowdsourcing” thing going for a while. Sadly, the volunteers, some of whom were astonishingly dedicated and helpful, were gradually squeezed out of the process. When I started using Duolingo volunteer moderators could still make new questions, alter existing ones, and also alter the list of accepted solutions. Once that stopped, and only paid moderators and question writers were used, the quality of questions dropped drastically, and an increasingly large number of embarrassingly poor question+answer combinations appeared, and took longer and longer to be corrected, leading to a distinct lowering of the overall quality of the offering: heck, if you’re someone being paid-by-the-question then what’s the point of bothering with all those pesky variations, right? Male/female, formal/informal, different word orders, etc etc. Who needs that pain when simply adding more questions equals more pay? Even better, cut and paste existing questions. What’s that? Forgot to alter the set of solutions to reflect the new question. What….Ever…

Or so it seems, I really don’t know the mechanics of the business, I just know that the company has been taking a lot of steps during the last few years that make it significantly less useful as a learning resource than it used to be. Most recently they stopped allowing comments on individual questions, which is utterly bizarre, but appears to be part of a raft of cost-cutting measures introduced after the IPO last year. All a bit sad, really… ah well, it was quite fun while it lasted! ]]

pmccann
pmccann
1 month ago
Reply to  German-is-easy

> (re comments on individual questions) What? That borders on brain-dead! Yep, that’s my take on it as well. They just froze this aspect of the site at the same time that the generic forums were completely flushed. “Interestingly” enough, when the forum deletion was announced there was a lot of talk that it didn’t really matter, because comments on individual questions would be preserved. Most of us mistakenly, and rather naturally thought that meant you could still ask and answer such comments, but then the second boot came down. The official reasoning was that it was too much effort to maintain the forums (huh?), and to moderate the discussions. Which sounds good until you realise that there was, to my knowledge, as good as zero participation in either forums from Duolingo staff. So the “work” probably amounted to spam detection and deletion, which is far from trivial, but a company of Duo’s sacrificing one of its most useful functions for such a pathetic reason really stinks. Of course “useful” here is from my perspective as a reasonably dedicated language learner. Realistically only a small percentage of users would make use of the forums, so the “hit” to the business *qua business* through this change is correspondingly small: just snag a few more high school student classes and you’ve more than cancelled out that unhappy minority! >> And all I could think of was… crypto-currency. Haha… Them be strooong words! But I think there’s definitely a scammy element to what’s been happening. You can almost visualise the focus-group meetings, where the focus is on how to present the company as a lean, mean, profit-generating machine. Forums/feedback? Where’s the sense in that! Quality control? Bah, nur für Weicheier! > As it sounds from what you told me, lots of volunteers have put genuine love into their examples basically for free while others got rained with cash last year. Community built it, managers milked it. That’s it in a nutshell… Reading the main contributor’s resigned disappointment at the rug being pulled out from under them was actually quite tough, as you could clearly sense that they knew the organisation into which they had poured thousands of hours of time so as to help language learners had transformed into something barely recognisable. Anyway, I’ll stop there, as it’s a sad tale. Let’s hope that it opens up the language learning space for some more interesting alternatives that are actually focused on the *learning* side of things instead of raw participation numbers, while incorporating some of the *good* aspects of the old-style Duo.   >> I have heard from people in Duolingo management that they themselves find the idea that someone uses Duo for language learning ridiculous.  ((Sad to say, I don’t think they were joking (well, not much!), and viewing Duo as nothing more than a game company that simply stages itself in the universe of languages is not too far from the truth. There’s a Facebook group for those learning German that I’m… Read more »

MCGDN
MCGDN
1 month ago

Seedlang changed the way I learn German completely, I have realistically ran out of content on the app by now (1094 Day Streak) and have moved on to more advanced study, but if it wasn’t for Seedlang I would have never had structure in my learning and I think everyone should use it.

peter schäferhund
peter schäferhund
1 month ago

i can’t wait to see your ER episode!
The third ex-wife trope is seldom seen outside of porn or snuff, and while it seems funny… yes, doctor, it really is! 

In the 70s, there was a tv show called “Emergency!” which focused mostly on two EMTs. It had all the charm and logic you’d expect. i just watched some bits on youtubes, and SoCal styles from back then… to die for.

Me and my friends followed the show closely, and were impressed by one of the lead heroes/actors, a real man named Randolph Mantooth.

Mantooth, I’m not sure such a Mannzahn formulation exists (yet) in German, but when i return to pro wrestling, that’ll be me.

clare
clare
1 month ago

Seedlang is the main app I use for learning. I think it’s brilliant- well thought out, engaging and funny. It’s a real bargain too – only criticism- more trivia questions please.

Mimi
Mimi
1 month ago

I used Ouino last year based on your glowing recommemdation! It was a big help, but only took me so far. The verbs conjugation area was fantastic. I’ll check out seedlang.

Erich
Erich
1 month ago

I recall that you thought pretty highly of Ouino a few years ago. If Seedlang gets an “A”, what does Ouino get? Are they close? Danke!

Kayla-P
Kayla-P
1 month ago
Reply to  German-is-easy

I tried Ouino for three months and I just couldn’t get into it. (I started my German learning several years ago with Duolingo, finished it, did some lessons in person and via iTalki, got to B1, got sidetracked in my learning and basically have barely done anything for a year). I wanted to restart my learning with a review of what i already learned, but did not want to use Duolingo. There are things I liked a lot about Ouino, like being able to pick and choose what you want to learn, and the option to save things to a flashcard deck. what i didn’t like were the fake-sounding dialogues, the stock photos, the “quizzes” which were basically a test of how well you remembered the flashcards you just reviewed, and the order of the lessons – for example, they introduce modal verbs before they’ve even talked about the accusative case. For all Duolingo’s faults, the lessons progress in a logical order, starting with nominative and accusative case, so that you can at least begin to form simple sentences even though you’re brand new to the language. I don’t feel like that’s the case with Ouino. If I were a brand new German learner, I would have been very confused trying to work my way through their suggested learning path. In my opinion their grammar explanations also use too much jargon. Maybe it’s the type of learner i am – I need things spelled out for me very clearly and I need lots of visuals to help me understand grammar.
ANYWAY – all that to say – I am still looking for the magic bullet to jumpstart my learning (I am stuck at Konjunctiv II). So if I am not crazy about Ouino, will I feel the same about Seedlang?