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
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:
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 :).
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 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.
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 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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. We offer a free membership to those who help us with translations, and will notify you when our new translator program is released!
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
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.