Post header - Babbel Review 2021

Babbel Review 2021: The Serious Language Learning App

Babbel Web & App

From US$6.95
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Ease of Use

9.0/10

Attractiveness

7.0/10

Quality of Content

9.0/10

Effectiveness

7.0/10

Pros

  • Clean interface
  • Designed for effective learning
  • Grammar lessons included
  • Associated podcasts and live lesson available

Cons

  • Monthly subscription a little expensive
  • Repetitive
  • 1 language/monthly subscription
  • Only 13 languages available

Do you get FOMO when choosing language learning resources? I do. Every time I start learning a new language I think to myself “Which app will I use?”. Recently I started learning Spanish, so I did some research about which app to use, and of course Babbel is always in contention.

So why might you choose Babbel?

Babbel always feels like the ‘serious’ choice for apps. As a serial language learner, I often feel like I should choose it. While not the prettiest app, Babbel claims to have a ‘world-class didactic method’ at its core. So what does that mean, why you should care, and what does Babbel offers the language learner.

What Is The Babbel App

The Babbel app (and website) is a language learning platform designed to take you from absolute beginner to “advanced”… which from what I can tell may actually be around B2, and only in some languages. French and Spanish seem to have the most advanced courses, whereas some like Indonesian only have a couple of beginner courses.

The didactic approach is holistic, integrating contemporary theories of learning and teaching. Consequently, the learner develops a broad base of language skills. Babbel integrates activites in reading, writing, listening and speaking to teach both vocabulary and grammar. The activities are designed to be lifelike and practical, teaching through dialogue. It also has voice recognition, to help check your pronunciation, and the ability to review past lessons at will.

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One of Babbel’s advantages over some other apps is that you can assess your level of language, and choose to start your learning accordingly. There is no need to start from scratch, as most other apps, like Duolingo, force you to do. This is great if you are a ‘false beginner’, or if you have been learning with some other app and decide to make the change.

It also has the option to be picky about including accents over letters when you are answering, or to turn it off and not worry about them. Personally I think they are important to learn if you want to write in the language well, but you may have reasons to turn them off.

There are also specific courses on grammar that you can choose to complete.

Babbel Podcasts

To supplement the excercises in the app, Babbel has podcasts available through Spotify, Google and Apple Podcasts. Some are about general life, others more specifically language learning, and the levels range from beginner to advanced. Best of all, these podcasts are available for free; you do not need to have a subscription to access them.

What is Babbel Live?

Babbel Live is a separate subscription program for Spanish, French, German or Italian that includes live classes in your target language, in addition to use of the app courses. You choose between 5, 10 and 20 classes per month (prices are AU$130, AU$225 and AU$385 per month). Classes are limited to just 6 people, and you can choose the topic, level of class and time from an extensive schedule.

Languages On Babbel

Babbel has presently has courses across 13 languages for English speakers (as of June, 2021). Each language has a different number of courses available. As you can see, some of them are quite substantial… others, not so much. But the subscription is the same, regardless of language.

DanishNewcomer – 3 courses
Beginner I – 4 courses
Beginner II – 1 course
Grammar – 2 courses
Pronunciation – 4 courses
Countries and Traditions – 3 courses
Specials – 2 courses
Words and Sentences – 19 courses
PolishNewcomer – 2 courses
Beginner I – 7 courses
Beginner II – 6 courses
Grammar – 9 courses
Countries and Traditions – 3 courses
Specials – 8 courses
Words and Sentences – 19 courses
DutchNewcomer – 3 courses
Beginner I – 4 courses
Beginner II – 4 courses
Pre-intermediate – 2 courses
Grammar – 5 courses
Listening and Speaking – 3 courses
Countries and Traditions – 4 courses
Specials – 3 courses
Words and Sentences – 19 courses
PortugueseNewcomer – 2 courses
Beginner I – 3 courses
Beginner II – 3 courses
Pre-intermediate – 3 courses
Intermediate – 2 courses
Refresher – 1 course
Grammar – 5 courses
Countries and Traditions – 3 courses
Specials – 5 courses
Words and Sentences – 31 courses
FrenchNewcomer – 3 courses
Beginner I – 4 courses
Beginner II – 4 courses
Pre-intermediate – 2 courses
Intermediate – 4 courses
Independent – 2 courses
Advanced – 1 course
Refresher – 2 courses
Grammar – 7 courses
Listening and Speaking – 6 courses
Countries and Traditions – 6 courses
Specials – 7 courses
Words and Sentences – 31 courses
RussianNewcomer – 2 courses
Beginner I – 8 courses
Grammar – 3 courses
Countries and Traditions – 4 courses
Specials – 4 courses
Words and Sentences – 19 courses
GermanNewcomer – 3 courses
Beginner I – 3 courses
Beginner II – 2 courses
Pre-intermediate – 3 courses
Intermediate – 3 courses
Independent – 2 courses
Refresher – 2 courses
Grammar – 6 courses
Listening and Speaking – 5 courses
Business German – 7 courses
Reading and Writing – 2 courses
Countries and Traditions – 4 courses
Specials – 5 courses
Words and Sentences – 31 courses
SpanishNewcomer – 3 courses
Beginner I – 3 courses
Beginner II – 3 courses
Pre-intermediate – 2 courses
Intermediate – 4 courses
Independent – 3 courses
Advanced – 1 course
Mexican Spanish – 6 courses
Refresher – 2 courses
Grammar – 6 courses
Business Spanish – 5 courses
Listening and Speaking – 6 courses
Countries and Traditions – 5 courses
Specials – 6 courses
Words and Sentences – 31 courses
IndonesianNewcomer – 2 courses
Beginner I – 2 courses
Beginner II – 2 courses
Words and Sentences – 19 courses
Specials – 2 courses
SwedishNewcomer – 2 courses
Beginner I – 4 courses
Beginner II – 4 courses
Pre-Intermediate – 2 courses
Intermediate – 1 course
Refresher – 2 courses
Grammar – 4 courses
Countries and Traditions – 6 courses
Listening and Speaking – 4 courses
Specials – 4 courses
Words and Sentences – 31 courses
ItalianNewcomer – 2 courses
Beginner I – 4 courses
Beginner II – 4 courses
Pre-intermediate – 5 courses
Intermediate – 5 courses
Independent – 1 course
Refresher – 2 courses
Grammar – 8 courses
Listening and Speaking – 4 courses
Countries and Traditions – 5 courses
Specials – 5 courses
Words and Sentences – 31 courses
TurkishNewcomer – 2 courses
Beginner I – 6 courses
Beginner II – 7 courses
Grammar – 11 courses
Specials – 10 courses
Words and Sentences – 22 courses
NorwegianNewcomer – 2 courses
Beginner I – 4 courses
Beginner II – 4 courses
Grammar – 6 courses
Countries and Traditions – 3 courses
Specials – 5 courses
Words and Sentences – 19 courses
Language Courses (From English) Available With Babbel 2021

Is Babbel Free?

Babbel is generally not free. When you sign up, you can access the first lesson for free, but then you must subscribe to access the rest of the lessons. However, it is giftable – so you might be able to convince your rich uncle to buy you a subscription 🙂

Also, many employers and schools have organisational licences for Babbel, so it is worth checking to see if you are able to access the courses that way.

How Much Does Babbel Cost?

Babbel has four subscription options. In Australia,

  • 1 month of access to Babbel costs AU$19.99
  • A 3-month subscription to Babbel costs AU$14.99 per month
  • A 6-month subscription to Babbel costs AU$12.99 per month
  • A 12-month subscription to Babbel costs AU$9.99 per month
Australian Prices For Babbel Subscriptions
Australian Prices For Babbel Subscriptions

In the USA, the prices are as follows:

  • 1 month of access to Babbel costs US$13.95
  • A 3-month subscription to Babbel costs US$9.95 per month
  • A 6-month subscription to Babbel costs US$8.45 per month
  • A 12-month subscription to Babbel costs US$6.95 per month

It is worth noting, these subscriptions are for access to ONE LANGUAGE. If you want to access a different language, you can either pay for another subscription, or purchase a yearly subscription to Babbel Complete.

What is the Babbel Complete Subscription?

Babbel Complete Subscription allows you to access all the languages offered by Babbel. Yearly subscription is AU$139.95 (payable in advance).

You may have heard in 2020 that Babbel was offering discounted lifetime subscriptions at the start of the coronavirus pandemic. At the time of writing (May 2021) this deal is still accessible for new users to purchase a lifetime subscription to Babble from Mashable for $299. This option is not on Babbel’s website, but it also offers access to every language on the Babbel platform, for a single lifetime cost. If you just love Babbel, and want to learn at least 3 languages that they offer, this is going to be worth considering.

Is Babbel Worth It?

Babbel is not the cheapest option out there for language learning, but sometimes cheapest is not the most economical. For most learners who are only wanting access to one language, at least at any one point in time, Babbel is twice the price of Duolingo if you pay monthly. But it does have the added flexibility of language level testing, ease of moving between courses within the language, and a more lifelike style of learning.

If you are a serial language learner, or like to have a couple of languages on the go, now would be a good time to purchase the lifetime access through Mashable!

Is Babbel Effective?

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Babbel is effective at what it is designed as: a flashcard app, with added audio and other features. While it does test pronunciation, this is a minor part of the learning activities. One of the weaknesses of apps is that they are often a more passive style of learning. Consequently, the learner can become quite good at recognising language when they see it, or hear it, but can still be weak on generating language to speak or write.

It also can feel a bit … well, repetitive, and dare I say, even boring. But maybe that is just because so many apps are so gamified, that I have become used to being entertained a little. It certainly has had a lot of thought put into it, and I have a lot of confidence in it as a serious educational aid.

Naturally, it goes without saying that the Babbel app alone is not a complete language learning resource. In order to build active language skills, I strongly suggest you either invest in the Babbel Live program, or find some other way to develop your active conversational skills. It doesn’t matter if that is formal lessons, with another provider such as iTalki, or if it is a local language exchange, expat group, or target language meetup.

Conclusion

So there you have it… my Babbel Review for 2021. So, did I choose to use it for Spanish? Well… no. I went back to Memrise, which is largely free, but for which I have an annual subscription anyway. Memrise doesn’t have the podcasts, nor the live classes, but most of the other features it does. And while it may not be quite as rigorous as Babbel, I do not depend on my tools to be rigorous – I do that myself. Nevertheless, everytime I look at Babbel, I am impressed with the effort they put in to make it a great quality product.