The Ultimate Babbel Review (Pros & Cons) - Live Fluent

The Ultimate Babbel Review (Pros & Cons)

Review of: Babbel

Use: Language learning course & app

Effectiveness

Provides a solid foundation of grammar and vocabulary in a foreign language

Price

Monthly subscriptions starting at $6.95 per month

Time Commitment

1 Lesson takes around 10-15 minutes

Ease of Use

 Extremely user friendly

Structure

Courses sorted by categories like Grammar, Beginner, Words & Phrases, etc

I Like

  • 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

Summary

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

Is Babbel right for you?

Yes

If you're a beginner to intermediate

Like many online language courses Babbel caters mainly to beginners and intermediate learners. For all it's languages there is a large amount of beginner material but as you get into the intermediate level some languages will have more course content than others.

If you're looking for a learning supplement

If you were to use Babbel as your only means of learning a language you would walk away with a foundational knowledge but you would be far from fluent. Babbel doesn't claim to turn you into a near native speaker in a new language. 

Babbel is best used as an introduction to a language, or as an additional practice tool alongside other resources. 

If you're learning 1 of 14 languages

Babbel is available in 14 languages. Some of the most popular are Spanish, French, German, and Italian. If you're learning any one of the languages the site offers then Babbel is worth a look.

Language courses offered by babbel

If you're on a budget

Compared to other language courses Babbel is pretty affordable with prices as low as $6.95 per month (up to $12.95 per month). It's a great option if you're not prepared to fork over an arm and a leg for a language course.

No

If you'r an advanced learner

Advanced level lessons aren't offered on Babbel and the platform is best for gaining an understanding of basic vocabulary and grammar constructions in a foreign language. Students who already have a high proficiency in their target language won't gain much if anything from Babbel. 

If you want to emphasize conversational skills

While there is some recall involved in Babbel's courses, there isn't a lot of pressure to produce phrases or words on your own. You often have to choose between a set of given options versus thinking of something yourself.

With this manner of learning you will learn grammar and vocabulary but you will be ill prepared to use it in the context of a real world conversation. 

If learning a language not offered

Some popular foreign languages not offered on Babbel include: Japanese, Mandarin, Arabic, and Korean. 

What is Babbel?

Method

Babbel's method is built around a straightforward quiz format. Their courses use a combination of words, pictures, and audio to help you learn and practice a language.

If you've ever used Rosetta Stone it's very similar, with the main exception being that Babbel will break into English to explain grammar. 

At the beginning of each lesson you'll be shown an example of either new words or a grammar concept (like verb conjugation for example). After that Babbel will present you with matching, multiple choice, and fill in the blank style questions to practice what you just learned. ​

Once you move past the beginner level lessons, you start to notice that the sentences and words you learned throughout the lessons are combined in a dialogue at the end so that you work with larger phrases and not just individual words. 

Intermediate lessons typically end with a full dialogue

What makes the Babbel method unique?

In many ways the Babbel method doesn't seem all that unique. In course format is highly reminiscent of other courses like Rosetta Stone and Duolingo. 

Babbel lacks the game styled format of Duolingo, and to be honest if it were strictly a language learning app I don't think it would be as fun either. Babbel also feels like it's paced a bit faster than Duolingo is, that is Babbel is quicker to present new information. 

Compared to Rosetta Stone Babbel's courses aren't as meticulous in the way they introduce you to the language. Again Babbel seems to introduce the material a bit faster. Rosetta Stone tries hard to get you to only think and use your target language. With Babbel there's no such pressure. 

The biggest difference between Babbel and Rosetta Stone is that Babbel goes out of their way to explain grammar concepts and language rules.  Rosetta Stone uses no English in their courses.

Babbel offers grammar explanations in their courses

What do you get in a Babbel course?

Babbel language courses are completely online and are accessible via computer, mobile phone, or tablet. Babbel's courses are broken into categories which are then broken down into individual courses.

Course structure

Categories include beginner courses, grammar, special interest (like the alphabet), and vocabulary (called "words and sentences"). Each category will have a list of courses which in turn have a series of lessons.

For example under the "Grammar" category you might find a course on verbs and adverbs which will have lessons on present tense, specific conjugations, and so on. 

A look at some of the lessons in a course (French)

Review feature

In addition to its courses Babbel offers review exercises to revisit the material you've already learned. You have the option of doing fill in the blank type written exercises, spoken response exercises, or a standard spaced repetition flashcard review. 

Price

Babbel is available in monthly subscriptions. You can't buy their courses out right. Prices range from $12.95 per month (for 1 month) down to $6.95 per month for 12 months. As with most subscription sites the more months you purchase upfront the lower the price is per month.  

There is also a 3 month option for $8.95 per month and a 6 month option for $7.45 per month.​

Babbel's monthly subscription options

All courses come with a 20 day money back guarantee.  Anytime within 20 days of purchase you can contact Babbel and get a refund of your purchase.  

Pros & Cons of Babbel

Pros

Good for foundational vocabulary

Babbel does a good job of presenting a functional vocabulary (especially at the beginning levels). If you use Babbel you will walk away with the knowledge of many common and essential words in your target language.

Great for nailing down difficult grammar

One thing I really like about Babbel is that They have lessons on specific grammar rules. Throughout the lesson you get to drill and focus on this concept until you're comfortable with it. All language courses teach grammar but not all of them let you pin point a specific point of grammar like Babbel does. 

I really like Babbel's focus on specific grammar rules

 Low price & Money back guarantee 

Compared to some of its competitors like Rosetta Stone and Pimsleur, Babbel is an extremely affordable language course. While Babbel courses aren't perfect the cheaper price means they're definitely worth checking out. 

I'm always a fan of courses that offer a simple and easy refund if you try a product and don't like it. Babbel's 20 day money back guarantee makes it easy to get your money back if you decide it's not right for you. 

Cons

Some courses don't have as much content

The number of courses available on Babbel differs widely based on which language you're learning. More popular languages like Spanish, French, and German will have significantly more courses than languages like Danish and Russian. 

Less popular languages often offer a collection of solid beginner courses , but their selection of intermediate material is scant to non-existent. 

Doesn't develop conversational skills

With Babbel you don't have to produce your own phrases or sentences in a foreign language. There is a recall element to the course (it's in quiz style after all), but you are usually choosing from a selection of sentences or fill in the blank options.

When it comes to speaking ability Babbel doesn't do much to prepare you for real conversations.  

Best way to use Babbel

Use it as a supplement

Babbel works best as a supplement to your regular language learning. It's a great way to review and reinforce what you're learning.  It can also help introduce you to basic grammar. 

You're likely to get the most out of Babbel's courses by using it daily alongside your regular language studies. Their courses aren't strong enough to develop your speaking skills on their own. 

Practice on the go

Babbel is easy to use on your tablet and smart phone. It's a great way to get some extra language practice in throughout the day. 5 minutes here, 10 minutes there, these small practice sessions will add up and improve your ability in a language. 

What other people are saying about Babbel

Babbel offers nice little quiz-style courses at extremely affordable prices. For your investment you get real recordings and access to a handful of learning options and tools to help you learn better.

I'd say, due to the extremely low price, that Babbel is definitely a competitive player in the quiz-style market falling somewhere between Duolingo (free) and Rosetta Stone (somewhat more expensive.)

Kris Broholm
actualfluency.com                


Alternatives to Babbel

Price

From $4+ per month

Time commitment

15+ minutes a day 

Summary:

Innovative Language's series of Pod101 language courses feature audio lessons in a podcast format. Lessons are great for grammar and vocabulary. Each lesson is designed around a conversation between native speakers of the foreign language, and the teachers do a great job of keeping things engaging. 

More than just language courses the Pod101s are effective learning tools. The sites feature transcripts, an in-site flashcard system, and many other useful features.

Price

Starts at $15 per month

Time commitment

5+ minutes a day 

Summary:

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 foreign TV shows, movies, commercials, and more. It's a great way to push your listening skills and vocabulary. 

Rocket Languages

Price

$150

Time commitment

20+ minutes a day 

Summary:

The Rocket Language courses are 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 developing conversational skills). 

The Rocket Language method s for those who want a full on comprehensive course. RL does a great job of incorporating speaking and listening, as well as reading and writing. 

Conclusion

Babbel is a simple but effective learning tool for beginners and most intermediate students. It's format is simple but effective, especially for discovering the basics of a foreign language.

While it lacks advance material, and some languages have less lessons than others, with its affordable price and 20 day money back guarantee Babbel is a course worth trying out for yourself! ​

About the Author Chris J

I'm definitely an unlikely language learner. I failed Spanish in high school. I started learning German as a hobby while studying abroad. Long story short...and a couple languages later...I love language learning!

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