Learning German vocabulary with vobot
vobot currently works only on Apple mobile devices running iOS 8 or higher. The app is based on the Hueber German-English Learner’s Dictionary with over 30,000 words and nearly 100,000 sample sentences. The app features a series of 5 exercises with increasing difficulty to help you learn the word, always in the context of the sample sentence you choose.
You can currently choose between two version of vobot:
1: Full version: Pay once, use all functions without limit (name in Appstore: vobot German – vocabulary trainer with exercises)
2: Subscription version: Pay monthly, have access to all functions and updates as long as you continue to pay the subscription (name in Appstore: vobot German dictionary & vocab trainer – monthly). Read our terms & conditions for the subscription version below.
The team at L-Pub is doing everything we can to help make vobot the best vocabulary trainer app ever. If everything isn’t perfect yet, remember: when you buy or subscribe to the app, you will automatically receive future updates as we implement them.
Help us improve vobot!
Let us know which optimizations you would like us to implement first by completing our vobot wishlist
If you are a teacher, please also see our Teacher Area
The questions on this page are sorted into the following categories:
How do I look for a word?
When you start the app you will automatically be directed to the search screen. If you are in the “Learn” area, just press the button “Search” on the bottom left of your screen to get back to the search mode. Once you are there, type in any German word in the search field. Options which include those letters start appearing beneath the search field. Touch a word to see a definition and sample sentence or phrase. You can also look for a word in English and get the German equivalents. Sometimes you may need to choose between different meanings.
How do I type in an umlaut (ä ö ü)?
If you don’t have any umlauts on your regular keyboard, just press and hold “a”, “o” or “u” until you see different letter options appear like “ä”, “ö” and “ü”. Then slide your finger over to the letter you want and let go.
How do I type an “ß”?
If you don’t have the “ß” (called “Eszett” or “scharfes S”) on your regular keyboard, just press and hold “s” until you see different letter options appear. Then slide your finger over to the “ß” and let go.
Why are some words listed more than once?
If a word with the same spelling is not only an adjective, but also an adverb, such as “eben”, it will be listed twice. Usually, however, if there are different meanings of one word (but it’s always a verb, for instance), you only see the word once in the search list and its different meanings on the definition screen.
Can I search for plurals of a noun?
Yes. Enter the plural spelling and the word that appears will be the singular base form of the noun. Be aware that plural and singular spellings of nouns can vary depending on the case. At the moment, vobot only shows you the noun in the nominative (non-inflected) spelling. You may, however, find certain inflections when you browse through the sample sentences. So you can choose those to practice. In the future, we would like to include all possible spellings of a noun – for searching, but also to show in a table as a reference. Let us know which improvements are most important to you by filling out our vobot wishlist.
Can I search for inflections of a verb?
Yes. If you type in an inflection like “wusste”, vobot will point you the to the base form or infinitive “wissen”.
Why are the definitions in German. Can I get those in English too?
The definitions are only in German because vobot is based on a so-called “bilingualized” dictionary (the Hueber German-English Learner’s Dictionary). It’s a combination of a translation dictionary and monolingual dictionary. Beginners can focus more on the translations, while more advanced learners can benefit from the details in the German definition.
I don’t understand all the words in the sample phrase. Is there a translation somewhere?
The sample phrases are authentic contexts in which a word is actually used. They are mostly meant to expose you to proper German usage and let you learn a word in a meaningful context. You do not need to understand the other words in order to successful complete all the exercises. Of course, if you really want to know a word from the sample sentence, you can always go back to the search page and look it up!
Why can’t I see the search field anymore?
This is an occasional bug we’ll soon get rid of, but it’s easy for you to fix: just rotate your screen (e.g. from vertical to horizontal and back) and the search field will reappear. If that doesn’t work, it might be that you are in a long list and just have to scroll up to the top to find the search field again.
Can I hear the pronunciation of a word?
Audio is currently not available, but we hope to include this function in a future edition. Let us know which improvements are most important to you by filling out our vobot wishlist.
I don’t understand the English translations! Why?
The translations are in British English. If you did not grow up in England, some words, such as lorry (U.S. truck or semi), may be unfamiliar to you. In the near future, we aim to add translations which make sense to non-British learners too. As we encounter them, we are adding translations which make sense to non-British learners too. If you find a British spelling without the U.S. equivalent, please send us an e-mail and we will update it in the next version. Thanks!
How do I get rid of the keyboard in order to go to my learning list?
You can close the keyboard either by pressing the “Search/Done/Enter” button or tapping anywhere in the screen above the keyboard. Be aware that if you tap on a word in the search list, it may take you to its definition instead of just closing the keyboard. Once the keyboard is gone, you will see the “LEARN” icon to the lower right to access your learning list.
Why is the word I am looking for not available?
vobot is based on the Hueber German-English Learner’s Dictionary, which has over 30,000 entries, but that does not include every word in the German language. Often, with a little bit of detective work, you can find the meaning to most words anyway. For instance, if the word is especially long (e.g. Tanzunterricht), try looking for the different parts (“Tanz” and “Unterricht”). Have fun!
Why can’t I look up abbreviations?
We hope to offer this in a future version. Let us know which improvements are most important to you by filling out our vobot wishlist.
How can I add a bunch of words at once, so I don’t have to type them all in?
If you go to the settings menu (accessible via the double downward arrow at the upper right), you will find the option “Add 20 random words”. Choose your learning level and 20 corresponding words will be added. Make sure you review the words in your learning list before practicing them. Since you didn’t choose them yourself, you’ll need to familiarize your self with them first. In the future, we may offer the option of adding lists of words on specific subjects, or lists which a teacher prepares. Let us know which improvements are most important to you by filling out our vobot wishlist.
Why do some words not have translations?
This is a bug we are trying to fix. vobot might crash if you add a word like this to your learning list. We hope to have this issue resolved soon.
Why do some words not have sample sentences?
There are over 100,000 sample sentences in vobot. Still, it can happen that you find an entry without a sample sentence. You can still look these words up to get translations and definitions, but you will unfortunately not be able to practice them.
What do the numbers and the arrows above the German word mean?
Many words in German have different meanings, or at least different possible translations into English. The numbers at the left tell you which definition you are looking at and how many definitions there are in total. The arrows to the right let you navigate between the different definitions.
What do the numbers and the arrows above the sample sentence mean?
Many entries in the vobot app have more than one sample sentence you can choose from. The numbers at the left tell you which sample sentence you are looking at and how many sentences there are in total. The arrows to the right let you navigate between the different sentences.
How do I browse the different meanings and sample sentences?
You can either use the back/forward arrows or actually swipe the definition or sentence itself to the left or right.
Why are some sentences not complete?
Even though not all of the sample sentences in vobot are complete sentences, they are still relevant contexts which are great for learning. Our aim is to offer a vocabulary trainer that does not just work with isolated words, but always in a context. That has at least two distinct advantages: 1) you learn how a word is used in context, 2) you pick up a few other words along the way.
What exactly am I adding when I select “ADD TO LEARNING LIST”?
When you hit “ADD TO LEARNING LIST”, both the definition and the sample sentence you see on your screen will be the ones used for your exercises in the “LEARN” section. The button then becomes grey because you cannot add a sentence twice. You can add a word twice though if you choose different sample sentences.
What is the learning list?
The learning (or vocabulary) list contains all words that you have looked up and added in the SEARCH section. One word can appear twice if you chose to add more than one sample sentence to your list.
How do I get to the learning list?
When you start vobot you will automatically be directed to the search screen. To access the learning list, just press the LEARN icon at the bottom right of your screen (you may need to close the keyboard in order to see it). If you are in the middle of doing exercises, just click the back double arrow or hit the LEARN button to return to your learning list.
What happens when I press the “TEST NOW” button?
When you press “TEST NOW”, you will be asked a question based on a random word from your learning list. After answering a question, you get immediate feedback about how you did. Press the “NEXT” button to get a question about another random word. Depending on how successfully you have practiced a word in the past, you be asked an easy or a more difficult question. The most difficult question involves spelling the word in its entirety. So make sure you keep an eye on how the word is spelled as you progress through the exercises.
What is the “SHOW NEW” button all about?
After you have been using vobot for a while, you should have a lot of words in your learning list. Some of them you have practiced already, others you have not yet practiced even once. SHOW NEW lets you see all of the unpracticed words, not only the ones you just added. In other words, you will see all of the words for which all 5 progress boxes are still empty.
What does the “SHOW ALL” button mean?
SHOW ALL means you are currently viewing only the words you have not practiced yet. Press SHOW ALL in order to view all the words in your learning list, also the ones you have already successfully completed a few exercises for.
How do I delete a word from my learning list?
Swipe the word to the left and “delete” will appear. Sometimes this function appears to block if you delete a bunch of words one after the other. We are aware of this bug and are trying to fix it.
What are the empty boxes behind an entry in my learning list?
With every word added to your list, the app creates 5 exercises. If all the boxes are empty, it simply means you have not successfully completed an exercise with that word yet. Once you complete the first exercise in the TEST NOW mode, the first box will be filled in, etc.
Why are there green boxes in the learning list?
Green boxes show how many times you have practiced a word successfully. Once you successfully complete all 5 exercises for a word, that word will be moved to your “mastered list”.
How do I see the words I’ve completed?
To view your “mastered list”, press the two arrows at the top right of your screen. A menu will appear with the option to view your mastered list.
Can I relearn the words I’ve completed?
At the moment, it is not possible to move words in your mastered list back into your active learning list. We want to offer this feature soon though. Let us know which improvements are most important to you by filling out our vobot wishlist.
How do I start the exercises?
To start the exercises, go to the LEARN mode (icon at the lower right of most screens) and press TEST NOW. We recommend having at least 10 words in your learning list before you start practicing them.
What are the 5 exercises?
vobot is designed to help you slowly commit a word to long-term memory. So the first two questions are a bit easier (multiple choice). The third exercise starts to prepare you for the last two, by taking a careful look at the spelling of the word. The trick is that German words are often written differently depending on the sentence they appear in. The last two exercises require you spell the word in the sample sentence.
Why can’t I have all 5 tests for one word in a row?
vobot gives you random exercises because you can’t learn one word in just a few seconds. The app’s random selection is designed to surprise you and keep you alert. You’ll really need to use your brain to remember the words.
What do the green boxes mean?
Every time you successfully complete an exercise, you earn a green box. Once all 5 boxes are filled up you have learned that word!
What does “base form” mean?
Many German words change their spelling depending on how they are being used. We call the base form (actually “Grundform”) the form of the word without any inflections. For example, “sehen” is the base form of the verb “to see”. But your sample sentence might be “Er sieht dich” (He sees you). You will need to learn both the base form “sehen” and the inflection “sieht” in order to successfully complete all exercises of that word.
The exercise that asks me find the correct definition is hard! I don’t speak German well enough to understand all the definitions. Can’t you make that one easier?
Learning is not always easy, but we do try to make it as fun and as productive as possible! One very important truth about learning languages is that you will constantly be confronted with new vocabulary or grammar that you don’t know. It is important to accept this but still try to understand as much as you can. Since this question provides multiple choices, if you don’t know the correct answer immediately, you can usually rule out the definitions that are definitely not right and then narrow down the options. Viel Spaß!
I keep getting very easy questions. Why can’t I start spelling right away?
The first exercises in our series of 5 are meant to be easier in order to slowly familiarize yourself with the word. They will get harder fast, don’t worry. Also keep in mind that when you have just started using vobot you only have new words in your list, so you will start with the easiest exercises first. As you practice more, you will move up to more difficult questions. But don’t forget to add new words every now and then to keep a good balance of “old” and new (unpracticed) words in your vocabulary list. We recommend switching back and forth regularly between the SEARCH and LEARN mode.
How do I get back to the learning list again to see all my words?
There are two ways to get back to your learning list. Either press the LEARN icon at the bottom right of the screen or the back button (two arrows at the top left of the screen).
Do I lose all the exercises I was working on when I hit the back button or LEARN icon?
No. Once you have successfully answered a question, one of the 5 boxes associated with that word is filled. That is real progress you have made which can no longer be lost. However, the series of 10 exercises you were working on is interrupted when you switch back to the learning list. That just means that you have to start from 1 again and work through 10 exercises before you see a summary of results. Keep in mind that this is just a review function for your reference, so it’s not such a big loss.
What happens when I hit the back button?
Hitting the back button does not return you to the exercise you just finished. It takes you back to your learning list. If you want to review how you did on a past exercise, keep going through the exercises until you complete 10 of them. Then you will get a review of how you did on the exercises and the opportunity to review your mistakes.
How do I type in an umlaut (ä ö ü)?
If you don’t have any umlauts on your regular keyboard, just press and hold ‘a’, ‘o’ or ‘u’ until you see different letter options like ‘ä’, ‘ö’ and ‘ü’.
How do I type an “ß”?
If you don’t have the ß (called “Eszett” or “scharfes S”) on your regular keyboard, just press and hold “s” until you see “ß” appear.
How do I get rid of the keyboard?
You can close the keyboard by pressing the “Search/Done/Enter” button. Before doing so you, make sure you have spelled the word as correctly as possible, because now vobot will tell you how you did.
Why do I have to spell the word from start to finish? Why can’t I jump forward to fill in letters in the middle or the end and then work on the first letters later?
vobot does not currently allow you to place the cursor in the middle of the word. You need to remember how the word is spelled from beginning to end and work your way through the letters consecutively.
I finished spelling the word, but the NEXT button is still inactive. What can I do?
You need to press the “Search/Done/Enter” button on the keyboard. First, check to make sure there isn’t any dot visible in the sample sentence, which means you still need to finish spelling the word. Second, your keyboard may have been hidden for some reason. To reopen the keyboard, click on the word in the sample sentence that needs to be spelled. Another possibility is that you are using an external keyboard. Then all you have to do is hit the “Enter” key. After that, you will be able to move forward again.
Does vobot offer spaced repetition?
vobot currently only supports mass repetition, that is you repeat the word again and again, possibly all in one day if you don’t have a lot of words in your list and you spend a lot of time practicing. We are considering offering spaced repetition in the future, so you could only do one exercise of a word in one day and then you would have to wait a day or two to practice it again. This is a proven way to improve long-term retention. Let us know which improvements are most important to you by filling out our vobot wishlist.
Why can’t I repeat exercises for the words I got wrong?
When you finish 10 exercises, you are given the opportunity to review all the words you got wrong and also see why. You cannot practice them again immediately. Try to commit the answer to memory. When you continue testing, the word will eventually appear again. That is your chance to do it better.
Why does the vobot logo look like a bee?
The bee was inspired by the American tradition of the “spelling bee”, actually a spelling contest often held in schools but also on a wider level. A core differentiator between vobot and other vocabulary trainer apps is that you actually have to spell a word before it is considered successfully learned.
What’s the best way to use vobot?
vobot was originally designed to support you when reading a German text. You use it to look up words you don’t understand and then practice them in authentic sample phrases. The more words you have in your learning list, the more challenging and interesting it gets. You can also use vobot as a translation dictionary when travelling or anytime you want to write or say something in German. The big advantage is that you can also add those words to your personalized learning list and practice them later to really commit them to memory!
Why is there a difference between the word I looked up and the word I have to spell in the sample sentence?
German words very often change their spelling depending on how they are used in a sentence. By recognizing the difference between the base word and how the word is spelled in the sentence already exposes you to some of the trickiest things in the German language. It may not make sense now, but over time you will start to understand how it all fits together.
I don’t like the colors. Can I change them?
At the moment, we do not offer different colors or backgrounds. Let us know which improvements are most important to you by filling out our vobot wishlist.
I find the texts difficult to read. What can I do?
Sometime this is easily solved by increasing the brightness of your display. Go to the bottom of your display and pull your finger up. A menu should appear that includes a brightness control.
Where can I review the words that I have already practiced 5 times?
All words that you have already learned will be moved to your “Mastered List”. You can access it through the settings in the top right corner of the screen (double arrow pointing down). If you want to practice the word again, click on the entry and use the button “RELEARN WORD” at the bottom of the screen.
vobot crashed, what can I do?
Just restart the app. Please also help us improve vobot, by letting us know what happened. Send a description of what you did before the crash to firstname.lastname@example.org
How do I change the app’s font size, i.e. how large the texts appear?
The current version of vobot does not support changing the font or font size in the app. vobot also does not support Dynamic Type (global changes to fonts). If this is important to you, let us know and we will try to implement it in the next version. Let us know which improvements are most important to you by filling out our vobot wishlist.
What about grammar?
vobot is first and foremost a vocabulary trainer app, but we really believe an app would be a great way to learn grammar too. L-Pub, the company that produced vobot, is also working on other language learning tools that you might be interested in. Sign up for our newsletter to make sure you are among the first to know when a new tool becomes available.
Why does the app cost so much?
vobot is based on the Hueber German-English Learner’s Dictionary, which is already worth the cost. vobot adds additional value through its vocabulary learning resources – a feature that no other dictionary app can currently compete with.
Why are there no pictures to go with the vocabulary?
Pictures may often be misleading and for many words, especially more complex/abstract words, a picture does not really make sense. The advantage of vobot is that you learn a word in an authentic written context. This helps you create a mental image which will sit deeper in your mind for longer. If you disagree or would really like pictures anyway, let us know which improvements are most important to you by filling out our vobot wishlist.