Summary: Pimsleur’s courses primarily focus on oral language. They are one of the biggest names in language learning but was something I had a hard time recommending to people in the past because of the insanely high prices.
They recently added a subscription model with much more reasonable prices and a new app that is much better designed. This review focuses on the new subscription model which isn’t yet available to the general public from the Pimsleur website but you can find it here.
I was really impressed with the quality of the lessons and now that the price is much better, I’m happy to recommend studying with Pimsleur.
The lessons are very well structured and the new app works great
Pimsleur primarily focuses on oral language at the expense of grammar.
The new subscription cost is very affordable.
The lessons focus on oral language which gets students speaking right away.
The lessons are very active. You’re constantly being prompted and need to produce the language you’re learning.
The lessons build upon each other exceptionally well with previously learned material constantly being reinforced.
The app is well designed with lots of beautiful images and interesting cultural notes.
I Don’t Like…
The lessons aren’t terribly exciting.
The written language is much more of an afterthought and not heavily featured in the lessons.
The practice activities included in the premium plan aren’t particularly well done.
Price: A basic subscription costs $14.95 per month and a premium subscription costs $19.95 per month. This is a massive improvement over the old prices which cost as much as $550 for five levels.
You won’t find any information about this new subscription price on their website. The link below will take you to a page with more information on their subscription plans.
Summary: Memrise is one of the most popular language learning apps around. It’s basically a gamified flashcard app. It’s a good way to help build vocabulary and beginner students would benefit the most from it. While it can be very useful, it’s important to not try to use it as your main tool for learning a new language.
Quality The app is extremely well designed, but courses are user-made, so quality can vary.
Thoroughness There are courses covering tons of topics, but you’ll need to use additional resources.
Value Free and very useful. Awesome!
I Like It uses spaced-repetition software making it easy to learn new words and review them periodically. It’s a bit more fun than traditional flashcard apps. There are tons of different courses to choose from.
I Don’t Like I personally prefer other flashcard apps that are less gamified (Anki or Pleco for Mandarin). It should be used with other resources, not in isolation.
Price: It’s free. The Premium Plan costs $9 per month or $59 per year.
Summary: Busuu is one of the most popular language learning courses around but it’s not worth paying for. The course content isn’t designed very well and there are better free alternatives. I do really like Busuu’s social features that make it easy to have your speech and writing corrected by a native speaker, but that part is free.
Busuu’s platform is well designed but their lessons aren’t.
The content of their courses leaves a lot to be desired.
Other free apps teach languages better.
The language exchange part of the app is awesome and free to use. It’s really easy to get your speech or writing corrected.
They use video and picture prompts to help you think of a topic to write or talk about.
I Don’t Like…
The lesson structure has you learn some obscure vocabulary before learning the essentials.
You can find better courses for free.
A lot of important things like pronunciation and grammar are left out or barely explained.
Price: Busuu costs $8.33/month with a 3-month minimum subscription.
Languages: Chinese, Japanese, Arabic, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Polish, Turkish, and English
Summary:Verbling is a language learning platform where you can find and book classes directly from a teacher. It’s very similar to italki with a few minor differences. Unfortunately, on Verbling, the cost of lessons are generally higher and the number of teachers to choose from fewer. Still, it’s a fairly good option for finding a teacher.
Teacher Quality Professional teachers that have to submit an application
Platform Doesn’t use Skype for lessons
Value Cheaper than most options, but more expensive than italki
I Like Teachers are experienced and professional. No need to deposit money or buy credits first. Can simply pay one lesson at a time. Also has many payment options including Bitcoin. Well designed platform that makes booking lessons easy.
I Don’t Like Lessons are more expensive compared to italki. Far fewer teachers to choose from compared to italki. Fairly expensive if you’re only looking for conversation practice.
Price: The cost of lessons varies depending on the teacher and the language. The average cost for an hour long Spanish class is $18, for French it’s $24, and for German it’s $31. There are many other languages available as well.
Summary: italki is the most flexible and affordable place to find a tutor for the language you’re learning. They have a huge number of teachers offering classes to students of over 100 different languages. As a learner, you’ll be able to find a tutor that best fits your learning style, schedule, and personality. Teachers are able to set their own prices and make their own schedule.
Teacher Quality You’ll find everyone from long-time professionals to brand new teachers.
Platform The overall platform has tons of useful features but also some room for improvement.
Value Huge number of teachers, low prices, and flexible scheduling.
I Like… There are large numbers of teachers available even for less common languages.
You can find skilled teachers even at low prices.
The flexibility to schedule lessons whenever convenient. The huge number of teachers guarantees you’ll find someone to fit your schedule.
The extra features like answers, notebook, and language partners makes it easy to ask questions, get your writing checked, and find a free language exchange partner.
I Don’t Like… You have to load money onto your account before paying for a class. You can’t simply pay one class at a time without buying credits first.
You may need to try several tutors before finding one that fits your learning and personality style.
It’s easy to not take classes as often as you should.
Price: The prices vary by teacher and language with some being as low as $4 and others as high as $60 per hour. Most will fall somewhere near the $10 per hour range.