Babbel is best for beginners
Babbel is one of the most popular language learning resources around, offering courses in a bunch of different languages.
The overall quality of their courses was a bit higher than I expected. Babbel provides a pretty solid foundation while making language learning a bit less intimidating.
More advanced learners wouldn’t get much use out of Babbel as the lesson content is more suitable for beginner and lower intermediate students.
While Babbel probably wouldn’t be my first choice for a course, I can definitely see why so many people love it. It’s a solid way to get started before moving onto other resources.
Their lessons are engaging. You get to repeat what you learn quite a lot and the lessons are not very long – they are straightforward and concise.
Considering the low cost for a subscription, Babbel definitely wouldn’t be a bad choice to use as you get started on your language learning journey.
It won’t make you conversationally fluent
The program was created by world-class experts that implemented various proven didactic methods, such as the cognitive techniques that help you memorize words easily and for the long-term.
At least that’s what I read.
I tend to not take claims like this too seriously. Pretty much every language learning resource claims to be scientifically proven to be amazing in some way.
You can use Babbel as a foundation to learn the basics and a bit more than that, depending on how ambitious you are. Its lessons are easy to go through and don’t take up a lot of your time.
The structure of the lessons is a game of matching words to the appropriate images, similar to Duolingo, but much richer in content.
Since the goal is to make sure what you learn is assimilated and remembered, Babbel offers a Review Manager tool which helps you review and practice the words and phrases you learnt in previous lessons.
This section reminds you of the importance of reviewing what you’ve learned. You’ll answer questions so they can check your level for this. Here is how Babbel explains the process:
The website offers plenty of information, easy-to-understand grammar explanations and the lessons are fairly fun and engaging.
This program is used by a lot of people and I haven’t seen many complaints about it. Generally speaking, it’s useful but not groundbreaking; you get what you pay for and can build a solid foundation when learning a new language.
Babbel has been awarded on more than one occasion for its value. Of course, these awards don’t necessarily mean a whole lot.
Let’s dig a bit deeper and see what Babbel has to offer.
Getting started is quick and easy
Just like most language learning resources out there, setting up an account with Babbel is quite easy and straightforward.
Once you confirm your email address, you have two options: go to the first lesson or to take a placement quiz to check your level and get their recommendation of where to start.
If you’re brand new to the language you’re studying, you may as well just start at the beginning.
Babbel also offers mobile apps, making it easy for you to learn pretty much anywhere, as long as your phone or tablet is with you.
The main navigation of the desktop version has multiple tabs which focus on the courses and the vocabulary.
Home represents the main dashboard, where you can find the next lesson you should study, all the available lessons to choose from, your vocabulary section and the daily challenge.
They also offer more courses, such as words and sentences, grammar, listening & speaking, countries & traditions, writing, and idioms. All of these options are present under Courses in the main menu and can be added at any time to your learning plan, displaying in the home section once selected.
The Invite friends section gives you the opportunity to share your personal Babbel link with one of your friends and they can get a free week of the resource for any language they want.
The Help button takes you to the FAQ page and the Contact section.
How Babbel structures their lessons
The modules are structured in lessons, a different number for each level (some have 19 lessons, others more than that).
As there is a lot of speaking involved in each lesson, you first start with the microphone settings to make sure you can repeat the words given. This step can be skipped, but it’s recommended you adjust your settings so the program can check your pronunciation.
Before you start the lesson, you can see a summary of what you will be able to learn from it.
The lesson starts with the study part where the speaker reads all the words. There are also images next to the words/phrases so it’s easier to focus on them.
Next, we have a session of listening and repeating the words and you’ll receive a score based on how accurate your pronunciation is.
Of course, you probably shouldn’t just take a machine’s word for it. I’d strongly suggest people supplement their lessons on Babbel with private tutoring from italki. Lessons are pretty cheap and getting feedback from a real person is incredibly useful.
After this, they give you the task of choosing the correct translation based on the images and the words presented in the first step. Next, we have a writing section; you have to translate the words based on the photo given and the mixed letters.
The final step of the lesson is completing the dialogue task. You are given some sentences and mixed letters and you have to write the correct word into the dialogue.
All of the sentences come together as a full text once you fill everything in and the speaker repeats every phrase out loud to emphasize on the correct pronunciation.
Based on what’s been presented before, they offer a grammar lesson to explain the usage of particular words.
Pronunciation is repeated here as well, plus they offer an advice pop-up on best practices. This handy pop-up is also present during the lessons when they want to emphasize an important note.
Based on this grammar explanation and the usage of words, your understanding will be tested in a small quiz to differentiate between the meanings of the words.
At the end of the lesson, there is a dialogue with missing words which need to be added to the text. This is a review activity to practice various words learnt up to that point.
Upon completion of each lesson, you get scored and have the opportunity to correct your errors too.
The lessons have a progressive and repetitive structure, meaning what you’ve learnt before gets included in the new lessons and they flow together nicely.
All of the vocabulary elements you use during the lessons get added to your vocabulary section, giving you the chance to review and practice them later on in the review manager.
Even though the lessons are progressive and connected to each other, you have the opportunity to start with whichever one you want by simply selecting Start in the All Lessons section.
After every two lessons, there is a review lesson to repeat and go over the learnt elements once more. Steps included here:
• Choosing the correct translation based on the images given;
• Choose the correct order of the words in a sentence;
• Listening and writing the words;
• Selecting the correct option based on the grammar explanations given during the lessons;
• Complete the dialogue by filling in the blanks with the appropriate translated word;
Babbel offers bonus lessons, for example, how to pronounce various letters inside of a word and what are the exceptions to the phonetic rule.
The Daily Challenge is a comprehensive tool that gives you the chance to learn much more besides the regular lessons.
You have to set them as courses and they will show up on your homepage as goals to achieve.
Based on your interests, you can choose from various thematic vocabulary lessons – food & drinks, relationships, sport, digital world, clothes, holidays, festivals and many others.
The structure of these lessons is similar to the rest of the lessons and they offer basic vocabulary elements.
Babbel isn’t very expensive
Babbel offers two levels of plans: personal and business.
- The personal plan offers four options; payment can be monthly or periodic. There is a 20-day money-back guarantee included as well:
- The business plan offers three options with a specific amount per employee and the possibility to use 14 languages:
Is Babbel a good choice?
Babbel isn’t anything amazing, but it’s not bad either.
It has a specific audience – beginners & early intermediate students. It’s an affordable tool and I believe it’s rather comprehensive for what it costs.
I like that using Babbel makes learning a language feel a bit less intimidating.
Babbel does lack the much-needed touch of conversational practice and personalized teaching. italki is an excellent option for finding affordable tutors to take their skills to the next level.
Although it might not be the most complex learning tool out there, it’s not a bad way to get started with learning a new language.