Babbel may not be as well known as courses like Rosetta Stone, Pimsleur, or Duolingo, but the company definitely has its own dedicated following of language learners. With over 1 million users worldwide Babbel is a language course worth taking note of.
Babbel's courses are known for helping beginners learn foundational grammar and vocabulary in a foreign language. Some common critiques of the platform include the lack of speaking and writing on the part of the user and a lack of more advance level material.
You can read more about the general strengths and weaknesses of Babbel in our Ultimate Babbel Review. In this post we're taking a look at how well Babbel can help you learn the French language.
Review of: Babbel
Use: Language learning course & app
Provides a solid foundation of grammar and vocabulary in a foreign language
Monthly subscriptions starting at $6.95 per month
1 Lesson takes around 10-15 minutes
Ease of Use
Extremely user friendly
Courses sorted by categories like Grammar, Beginner, Words & Phrases, etc
- Good for basic vocabulary
- Good for practicing difficult grammar
- Low price
- Easy to use
I Don't Like
- Less popular languages have less content
- Doesn't develop conversation skills
- No material past intermediate levels
Babbel Language courses are online/mobile courses built around quiz styled lessons. Users are shown new material (grammar, vocabulary, etc), and then they are asked questions throughout the lesson to reinforce the new information.
Babbel works well as an introduction to a foreign language. Courses range from beginner level to intermediate, but less popular languages only have beginner material. The courses are straightforward and easy to use and can be a great addition to your language learning routine.
Babbel's low price tag is also a plus. It's most expensive price point is $12.95 for a one month subscription, which is much less than higher end courses like Pimsleur and Rosetta Stone.
Babbel's shortcoming is that it doesn't prepare you very well for real life conversations. You simply aren't required to think of your own words or phrases, you usually pick an answer from a predetermined list.
Still with it's functionality, effectiveness (especially at beginner levels), and low price Babbel stands as an appealing option in the world of language learning tools.
Monthly subscriptions starting at $6.95 per month
In Babbel French right for you?
If you're new to French
Babbel courses are designed for beginner to low-intermediate level learners. They start with the basics of the French language like simple vocabulary and alphabet and then take you through more advance material step by step.
If you want a foundation in core grammar & vocabulary
At the end of a Babbel course you should have around a B1 (low intermediate) proficiency in the French language. You should be able to known enough French to talk about yourself, your interests, describe basic actions in the past and present, and communicate your desires and plans.
If you're on a budget
Babbel's price point is low compared to other language courses. A single monthly subscription costs $12.95 but the monthly rate can be as low as $6.95 per month depending on how many months you buy upfront.
If you're an advanced student of French
Babbel doesn't offer any material for advance level learners. There's simply no content past the low intermediate level. Maybe an advance student could use Babbel for review, but more likely the course won't be very helpful.
If you're focused on speaking
Babbel doesn't offer any way for students to practice speaking or writing original sentences in French. You will have to recall individual words or finish an incomplete phrase, but more often than not in the lessons you're a given a list of possible answers to pick from.
This keeps the course simple, and it works for teaching vocabulary and grammar, but it isn't good for developing your recall and communication skills in French.
Pros & Cons of Babbel French
It's great for mastering verb conjugations
Babbel is an effective tool for practicing French verb conjugations. If you're new to language learning that you may have been thrown for a loop when you first discovered that you have to conjugate French verbs.
Babbel's French course has a series of mini courses specifically for French verb conjugations in the present tense. At the beginning of each lesson you are given a rule of conjugation and a few examples. Then for the rest of the lessons you practice that rule with Babbel's usual quiz format.
A little info on French Verbs
Specific lessons include -er verbs, ir verbs, reflexive verbs, the verb être, and more.
Being able to focus on individual conjugations like this can propel your French skills. If you spent 15 minutes or so a day working through these specialized lessons it wouldn't take long to get comfortable with French verbs
It helps you get comfortable with tenses
Another problem point for new french learners is getting used to the various tenses. If it wasn't hard enough remembering how to conjugate a French verb in a different tense, you also have to remember how and when each tense is used.
The way French tenses are used aren't always comparable to the way we use tenses in English so this can get confusing (we won't get into the grammatical nuances here).
Babbel's French course also includes a mini course on the different French tenses so that you can become familiar with how each is used along with the different conjugations.
Again this pinpointed style of study can be very effective for remembering this part of the language.
There's a lot of material
Babbel has put more time and resources into developing courses for the languages that are more popular. Less popular languages sometimes offer little after the basic beginner courses. French doesn't have such a problem.
French is one of the most popular foreign languages for native English speakers and as a result it has a ton of courses to work through on the beginner and intermediate levels.
At the time of this article there are 59 individual courses under Babbel's main French course. Each has anywhere from 10-20+ Lessons.
It's a portable platform
Babbel's courses are available online or via app for tablet or mobile. This makes it a great way to practice French throughout the day where ever you find yourself.
No content past the intermediate level
The biggest shortcoming with Babbel French are also the biggest shortcomings with all Babbel courses: there just isn't any content past the lower intermediate lessons.
Most likely the market for beginning French students is much larger than the one for advanced so Babbel (like most companies) focuses their efforts on catering to new learners.
Still some higher level material would add tremendous value to their platform.
What other people are saying about Babbel French
The vocabulary is useful and dialogues sound realistic. The pronunciation is also very good.
The games such as finding the missing words, or putting words in the right orders can be fun. But I can’t help but wonder if they aren’t just a waste of time.
I also find that too much time is spent learning individual words rather than sentence.
This makes sense at first, but can make it harder to know how to use the words later on.
Fortunately, the presence of dialogues make this a minor problem. It would be nice to have the possibility to skip the memorizing words part and directly use dialogues.
Alternatives to Babbel French
From $4+ per month
15+ minutes a day
Frenchpod101 features audio lessons in a podcast format. Lessons are great for grammar and vocabulary. Each lesson is designed around a French conversation between native speakers, and the teachers do a great job of keeping things engaging.
Frenchpod101 is a substantial French learning tool in addition to being a course. The site features transcripts, an in-site flashcard system, and many other useful features.
Starts at $15 per month
5+ minutes a day
Fluentu is a site that helps you learn a language through native videos. Use in site flashcards, captions, and games to learn new words in context while watching French TV shows, movies, commercials, and more. It's a great way to push your listening skills and vocabulary.
20+ minutes a day
Rocket French is built around recorded audio in the form of dialogues. The dialogues have English explanations and usually teach the language in "chunks" or phrases versus individual words (this is great for conversational French).
The Rocket French method is for those who want a full on comprehensive French course. Rocket French does a good job of incorporating speaking and listening, as well as reading and writing.
Babbel's French course is a viable option for beginner students of the language. The course doesn't go a long way in developing speaking skills, but it is an effective way to master some of the harder parts of French grammar and walk away with a working knowledge of the language.
Prices vary from $12.95 per month down to $6.95 per month. With a 20 day money back guarantee period it's a great idea to try out Babbel French for yourself and see if it's right for you!