Babbel French app aims to get learners to a conversational level as quickly as possible through the use of a variety of exercises and spaced repetition for review. The courses are well put together and relatively inexpensive.
It’s well-designed and the content is immediately useful.
The material provided is effective and covers a lot, but isn’t ideal for advanced levels.
The value for what you get is very attractive.
- The content is practical for real-life use
- It’s easy to use
- The lessons are fairly short
I Don’t Like
- The exercises can get repetitive
- The review exercises don’t include grammar concepts
- Speech recognition isn’t the best way to learn pronunciation
Babbel uses a recurring subscription model and offers a 20-day money-back guarantee. Price per month depends on the length of the subscription and only includes access to one language.
Monthly – $14.95/mo Every 3 Months – $12.65/mo Every 6 Months – $11.15/mo Every year – $7.45/mo
The prices listed here are for customers in the United States; they otherwise vary by region.
Whether you just need to pass a college French class or you want to become fluent for a trip abroad, you have probably looked into the popular Babbel French course. Babbel is a subscription-based language learning app that offers a tailored learning program aligned with your skill level and interests, such as culture vs travel.
Can Babbel really transform you into a fluent French speaker? This Babbel French review will give you the down-low on everything you need to know.
Pros of Babbel French:
- Solid basic grammar
- Placement quizzes to tailor lessons to your level
Cons of Babbel French:
- Uses translation instead of immersion approach
- Offers little advanced content
- Does not provide enough speaking practice
Things to Consider When Buying Babbel French
The best language learning programs focus on the unique challenges of a specific language. French, for example, often challenges English speakers because of its unique pronunciation.
- The French language sounds gorgeous, but speaking it is no walk in the park! You will need to master nasal sounds, accent marks, and more.
- French spelling challenges English speakers, too, because many French words use multiple letters to form one sound.
- While English and French share some grammatical structures, English speakers may trip up on French grammar concepts like gendered nouns.
A perfect French course will zero in on these critical areas, providing you with speaking practice for pronunciation, literacy activities to master spelling, and solid explanations of grammar.
Features and Benefits of Babbel French
The Babbel French course features a good foundation in basic vocabulary and grammar through short lessons and consistent review sessions.
Each level in the app offers between two and six courses on a theme, with each course broken down into fifteen-minute lessons. Lessons offer review sessions for retention and English translations to explain grammar. Beyond the beginner courses, Babbel has slim pickings for intermediate French learning.
The lessons use a variety of formats like matching, flashcards, and quizzes. Babbel also uses speech recognition software that allows you to practice saying words and phrases.
You can commit to a six-month subscription for $11.50 per month, a year-long subscription for $7.45 a month, or a lifetime subscription to all of the Babbel language courses for $349. Plus, you can opt-in for live language classes for $50 to $100 more.
Will completing the Babbel lessons help you become fluent in French? Take a look at how Babbel approaches common French challenges to find out.
Speaking French with an authentic accent presents a steep learning curve. French uses several sounds that simply don’t exist in English, like rolled r’s and nasal sounds. Your brain will have to learn those sounds as a first step!
Then you will come up against the concept of liaison, which means not pronouncing certain sounds in a word. For example, when you say un petit enfant in French, you would not pronounce the “t” sound at the end of petit.
If that does not seem too bad, French also uses five different accent marks. These alter the pronunciation of sounds within words, as in the word passé.
Babbel does use language recognition software that enables spoken French activities. But these exercises only let you practice saying simple phrases. You do not get the chance to practice in a conversational setting. On top of this, Babbel does not spend much time on spoken activities.
To spell a word in French, you need to use the appropriate accents and find the right multi-letter spellings for certain sounds.
French uses many digraphs and trigraphs, which means spelling a single sound using two or three letters. For example, many French words use the trigraph “eau,” as in the word manteau, or coat.
Reading and writing activities will help you master these complex spellings. Sadly, Babbel does not provide any writing lessons or focus on literacy activities.
One of the hardest parts of learning French for a total beginner is wrapping your head around the idea of gendered nouns.
In French, every noun has a gender. For instance, does the French word for “daisy” have masculine or feminine gender? (In case you’re wondering, the answer is feminine: la marguerite).
Babbel does a solid job introducing you to this concept as it offers explanations of basic grammar in English. But the downside is that Babbel uses this translation-based approach to teach all vocabulary and grammar. Eventually, this will hinder your fluency because you will always think about a word in English first and then translate it into French.
Alternatives to Babbel French
If you question whether Babbel French will work for you, you can find plenty of alternatives to speed up your language learning.
Pimsleur’s app focuses heavily on teaching French pronunciation. The Pimsleur French course includes five sequential levels building up to intermediate French.
- The monthly subscription to the Pimsleur French course costs $19.95, about twice as much as Babbel.
- Pimsleur offers reading lessons to help you gain literacy and spelling skills.
- Pimsleur uses listening comprehension and speaking practice to teach you French pronunciation.
If you struggle with nasal French sounds or silent letters, you may want to consider the Pimsleur app. You can sign up for a free seven-day trial here!
FrenchPod101 uses an immersive audio-learning approach to teach through recorded conversations. Originally a podcast to help language learners, this course offers a flexible approach that allows you to jump in at your own comfort level.
A subscription to the basic level costs just $8 per month, but you can access the premium level for $25 a month or the premium plus access for $45 per month.
- The basic FrenchPod101 costs less than Babbel per month.
- Unlike Babbel, FrenchPod101 does not have a speech recognition tool to help with your pronunciation.
- FrenchPod101 does offer a great way to develop listening comprehension, vocabulary, and grammar.
If you like to learn through listening, FrenchPod101 might offer the best program for you. Check it out here!
The StoryLearning French course teaches through stories. In each lesson, you listen to a story and then break down the components of the story to learn vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation.
Access to the StoryLearning French app costs $297 for each level of coursework, or you can make a one-time payment of $997 to subscribe to all the levels.
- StoryLearning costs more than Babbel French, but it also features advanced coursework.
- Native speakers tell the stories in each StoryLearning lesson, which will help you pinpoint an authentic French accent.
- StoryLearning has a great focus on building practical vocabulary.
If you find repetitive lessons boring, the StoryLearning French course may offer a more entertaining way to learn. You can check out StoryLearning here!
Learning French can help you communicate fluently in over 200 countries around the world. But English speakers often struggle to master French pronunciation, grammar, and spelling.
Babbel offers a solid introduction to French grammar but does not help much with pronunciation or spelling. It has a beginner-level focus aimed at basic grammar and vocabulary.
If you truly want to develop a natural French accent, you may find Pimsleur’s app-based French course more useful because it focuses on listening comprehension and authentic pronunciation. Want to give it a try? Check it out here!