Lost in Translation: Language Learning in Germany

Language serves as a gateway to diverse cultures, a powerful tool for communication, and a key that unlocks new opportunities. Learning a new language can be motivated by a variety of reasons, from making a New Year’s resolution, to setting a long-term goal for one’s self, to needing it for study or work. Whatever the reason, we live in an era that is facilitated by the abundant availability of language learning apps and digital solutions, making the acquisition of new linguistic skills more achievable than ever before. In our interconnected world, where global connectivity is the norm, the ability to speak multiple languages is increasingly valuable.

Motivated by the growing accessibility of language learning through modern technology, DCMN conducted an in-depth exploration of this subject. In November and December 2023, leveraging the DCMN Brand Tracker, we surveyed 2000 German consumers, revealing fascinating insights into their language learning aspirations, motivations, and preferences. This investigation not only illuminates the current industry landscape in Germany, but also offers a glimpse into the evolving dynamics of personal and professional growth.

Learning Aspirations in Germany

Our research unearthed a compelling narrative surrounding the German populace’s eagerness to embrace new languages. The findings revealed a strong inclination towards multilingualism, with 61% of German consumers having already learned a foreign language at some point in their lives. Furthermore, 16% are actively engaged in current language-learning endeavours, showcasing a continuous commitment to expanding linguistic horizons. Among those the majority fall within the 30-35 age group. Looking ahead, an additional 14% have expressed intentions to embark on a language-learning journey in the near future. These statistics not only highlight the existing enthusiasm for language acquisition, but also indicate a sustained and evolving interest in fostering a multilingual society. This of course led to our next question: Why?

14% of German consumers say they plan to learn a new language in 2024.

Motivations for Language Learning

The nuanced motivations behind the desire to learn a new language reveal a multifaceted approach to personal and intellectual development. A resounding 55% of Germans cited travel as their primary motivator, underscoring the practicality of linguistic proficiency in a globalised world. Meanwhile, 45% of the consumers stated that they seek self-development through language learning, suggesting a deep-seated belief in the cognitive benefits of multilingualism. Cultural understanding (37%) and personal relationships (33%) followed in the ranking, further illuminating the social and emotional dimensions driving this linguistic quest. Together, these motivations paint a rich tapestry of German society’s evolving priorities and interests.

Source: DCMN Brand Tracker, November 2023 Sample size: 287

Preferred Learning Methods

59% of the respondents in the survey stated a preference for learning via language apps, highlighting not only the tech-savviness of the German population but also a growing reliance on digital platforms for educational pursuits. This inclination towards app-based learning aligns with the broader shift towards virtual experiences, reflecting a desire for flexibility and accessibility. The popularity of online private lessons (34%) and online group courses (25%) underscores the importance placed on adaptability in the learning journey. The lower ranking of physical group courses (21%) and physical private lessons (19%) highlights the preference for convenience and efficiency offered by digital language learning platforms.

Source: DCMN Brand Tracker, November 2023 Sample size: 287

Language Learning Apps Usage 

Among those with language learning experience, 36% of respondents reported having tried one or more language apps in the past, showcasing a substantial level of prior engagement with digital language learning platforms. Currently, 19% of participants are actively using one or more language learning apps. Furthermore, 20% expressed an intention to explore language apps in the future, highlighting a potential growth in adoption. However, it’s noteworthy that 25% of respondents have not tried any language apps and have no plans to do so, suggesting a segment of the population that remains unconvinced or uninterested in utilising digital platforms for language learning. 

Features Influencing Subscription to Language Learning Apps

The German consumer, interested in language learning, places a premium on practical considerations. Price, as the top priority for 73%, speaks to a keen awareness of economic factors in the decision-making process. Quality of course materials (61%) and flexibility (59%) represent an informed demand for effective and adaptable learning resources. The inclusion of creativity and innovation (39%) as a key consideration suggests a desire for engaging, forward-thinking educational experiences and gamification. In a world inundated with choices, the German language learner values a comprehensive and dynamic approach to language acquisition.

Source: DCMN Brand Tracker, November 2023 Sample size: 170

Exploring Popular Language Learning Apps in Germany

Luckily for the German consumers there are multiple language learning apps available on the market. On top of that, many of them have discounts and special offers during the current and upcoming shopping seasons. With the DCMN Brand Tracker we were able to rank these brands by Brand Awareness among the German consumers:

  1. Babbel focuses on practical language skills, tailoring lessons to real-life scenarios. Its structured courses, coupled with speech recognition technology, provide a comprehensive learning experience. According to our research 71% of Germany recognise Babbel as a brand and 51% have tried it. This makes Babbel the most recognised and used language learning app in the DCMN Brand Tracker research. Surprisingly, Babbel’s awareness is notably higher among females and the 46-55 age group in particular.
  2. Duolingo is a pioneer in the language learning app landscape, combining gamification with effective teaching methods. Its user-friendly interface and bite-sized lessons make it a favourite among beginners, offering a diverse range of languages. With 49% of German consumers recognising the brand and 44% admitting to having used it, Duolingo ranks second. 
  3. Rosetta Stone is a language learning platform offering interactive lessons, pronunciation practice, and speech recognition technology. Rosetta Stone ranks third in DCMN’s research.
  4. Busuu is next in our list. An app that combines AI-powered lessons with native speaker interactions. Busuu’s innovative approach ensures practical language skills through conversational practice and personalised study plans.
  5. Tandem is a language exchange app that connects users with language learners around the world. It facilitates language practice through conversations with native speakers, fostering a real-life learning experience. 
  6. Lingoda stands out for its emphasis on live, interactive lessons, making it feel like a virtual classroom. With a focus on spoken communication, Lingoda offers flexible schedules, catering to the needs of busy individuals seeking a personalised learning journey.

Source: DCMN Brand Tracker, December 2023

Top Languages of Interest

App-based language learning exhibits a consistent trend across diverse user groups, with English, Spanish, and French emerging as the primary languages of interest. Whether reflecting on past experiences, ongoing endeavours, or future learning plans, these three languages stand out as focal points for users engaging with language learning apps. We observe an increasing popularity of Spanish as the language 27% of Germans plan to learn in the future.

Source: DCMN Brand Tracker, December 2023 Sample size: Currently learning 337, Planning to learn 365


As the demand for language learning continues to grow in Germany, brands in the D2C (Direct-to-Consumer) space can leverage this trend with targeted campaigns. DCMN, equipped with performance-driven strategies, stands ready to assist brands in reaching their audience across all channels. Our expertise in crafting tailored, engaging creatives, coupled with comprehensive consumer and market insights, positions us as the ideal partner to propel D2C brands in the language learning industry to new heights. In a world where language is the bridge to understanding, DCMN is here to ensure that no message gets lost in translation.

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  1. DCMN Brand Tracker – 2000 German consumers surveyed monthly

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