Babbel is the world’s best selling language app with 10 million purchased subscriptions. It teaches common words and phrases and then immerses you in simulated conversation to practice them. Recordings of native speakers and advanced voice recognition help to hone your accent, and culture and grammar tips bring the language into context. A review manager tracks your progress and with Babbel Live you can receive small group tuition.
Best for: Babbel is a comprehensive language learning platform that’s great for a wide range of learners. That said, I’d say Babbel is best for those wanting to learn a new language from scratch or looking to improve their intermediate skills. It will especially suit people who want to learn flexibly in short bursts and those interested in joining small live tutorial groups.
Price: Pricing from $7.45/month.
Overall: Babbel is an excellent choice if you want to learn a new language efficiently and effectively. Its well-designed lessons, practical approach, and customizable learning paths make it a great tool for gaining real-world language skills. Babbel Live instructor-led classes provide a more immersive experience for anyone serious about language learning. Combine Babbel’s curated courses with the Babbel Live classes and you’ll be speaking your target language in no time at all.
Babbel currently offers courses in 14 different languages:
Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Dutch, Swedish, Turkish, Polish, Norwegian, Danish, Indonesian, and English for non-native speakers.
Babbel was founded in Germany in 2007 as the world’s first language-learning app. It’s now the best selling, with over 10 million purchased subscriptions. It has a strong focus on intuitive lessons that center on learning a new language through real-life conversations
Babbel’s methods have been developed by 150+ language experts and the platform now has 13,000+ hours of content across 14 languages. It uses proven techniques that move new vocabulary through all your brain’s memory stages before cementing it into long-term memory.
In a study of Babbel’s teaching methods by Yale University, researchers found that 100% of participants improved their language proficiency by a statistically significant margin
All Babbel’s courses are unique and take into account the similarities and differences between ‘language pairs’. That is, your native language and the one you’re learning. This accelerates progress and helps develop cultural sensitivity.
Babbel also provides customized experiences that adjust to your progress and preferred way of learning. It recently added live instructor-led classes to create a more immersive and interactive experience for anyone serious about language learning.
Babbel is a subscription service available on both desktop and mobile, providing portability if you want to learn on the go. Lessons are self paced so you can fit learning around your schedule.
Core lessons are arranged by Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) levels. Additional lessons are grouped by language-specific skills and themes so you can pick and choose based on what you want to develop. This combo of both structured and flexible approaches lets you progress through the material in a logical but personalized manner.
The Babbel method:
Uses audio dialogue examples recorded with native speakers (not bots)
You’ll also learn about the history of your target language, discover recipes and songs, and gain tons of helpful cultural tips.
Babbel tracks your progress and displays it on a leaderboard. This gamified approach encourages healthy competition among learners and makes language learning more motivating.
To get started you simply select the language you want to learn and answer some questions about why and how you want to learn, how much time you’re willing to commit each week, your age range and where you heard about Babbel. You then either select a subscription or scroll down the page for a free trial.
Lessons take about 10 to 15 minutes to complete and are broken down into bite sized chunks.
Babbel introduces you to new vocabulary through context-based exercises, accompanied by images and native-speaker audio. This helps you memorize the vocabulary and understand how to use it in real-life situations. A combination of matching, fill-in-the-blank, sorting, writing and speaking exercises are mixed in with cultural and grammar tips.
Babbel's speaking lessons utilize voice recognition technology. You mimic a native speaker’s pronunciations and get instant feedback to help you perfect your accent.
Babbel also offers Babbel Live, which features live group classes led by certified language teachers. These sessions allow you to practice newly acquired skills with fellow students, receive real-time feedback, and engage in conversation.
Babbel offers a range of pricing plans to suit different budgets and learning needs. They’re a bit complicated, so I put together the below table to give you a better idea of the pricing.
(+ all languages)
NB:These prices reflect the discount offered to new learners
Babbel does not have a free version, though it does offer a free trial for each language.
Babbel allows you to take the first lesson in each level for free when you register for a Babbel account.
For instance, in the Portuguese courses you can complete the first lesson in each level (A1-B1) plus review sessions.
This allows you to get acquainted with course themes and lesson structure before deciding whether to sign up for a subscription.
You can request a refund within 20 days of your initial purchase. This gives you enough time to dive into the courses and evaluate whether Babbel meets your language learning needs and expectations.
To request a refund, simply contact Babbel's customer support team via their website or email, and they will guide you through the process.
The refund policy applies only to the initial subscription purchase and not to any subsequent renewals or additional purchases made within the platform.
I reviewed Babbel by mimicking the experience of two types of learners: complete beginner and intermediate learner. To do this, I spent one week using Babbel for a few hours a day, alternating between Portuguese, and Spanish -- languages in which I have varying levels of proficiency.
In Portuguese, I had no experience so went for the A1 level. The pace was a little slow, but I recognized the importance of mastering the basics. I also explored grammar courses by theme and practiced more advanced grammatical forms through the "Explore" tab.
In Spanish, I tried the B1 level courses. About half of the content was familiar, while the other half helped me sound more authentic. I also visited the "Explore" tab to try out advanced grammatical forms.
To fully review Babbel, I opted for the Babbel Live package, which allowed me to enrol in instructor-led classes hosted on Zoom.
Babbel lessons strengthen your skills in all four elements of language learning - speaking, listening, reading and writing. A combination of matching, fill-in-the-blank, sorting and speaking exercises are mixed in with cultural and grammar tips that bring the language into context.
Babbel Live offers live virtual classes taught by native (or CEFR C2) language teachers.
After completing a Spanish lesson, I checked out Babbel Live and found a C1-level class was just about to start. The classes, limited to 6 students, are hosted on Zoom and focus on specific themes.
You can take an unlimited number of small-group classes with a Babbel live subscription. Though the cost seems a little high at first, if you really take advantage of this feature by maxing out on live lessons it works out way cheaper than in person teaching.
Babbel offers customizable learning paths and a review manager to help identify weaknesses. A nice feature of the review manager is that you’re asked how you want to review: through speaking, writing, or listening. This lets you customize your learning journey according to your learning style and preferences.
In addition, the Explore tab allows you to discover special courses tailored to your needs, such as tongue twisters, false friends, idioms, professional working language, and pronunciation help.
With Babbel's mobile app, you can learn and practice anytime and anywhere. The app is user-friendly and synchronizes across devices, so you can switch between your phone, tablet, and computer without losing progress.
This level of flexibility helps you make the most of any spare time during your day. So moments like waiting in line or commuting become opportunities for language practice. And with Babbel's offline mode, you can download lessons and never miss a learning opportunity, even in areas with limited connectivity.
Babbel regularly updates content and uses a conversational approach, emphasizing relevant, real-life situations and dialogues.
Babbel also offers a podcast series that immerses you in authentic conversations and cultural insights, further enhancing your language learning journey.
These podcasts expose you to native speakers discussing various topics, helping you develop a better understanding of the colloquialisms, rhythm and tone. Listening to podcasts can also improve your listening comprehension skills, making it easier for you to follow and participate in real-life conversations.
Understanding the culture connected to a language is vital to fully mastering it. Babbel uses Culture Bites and Babbel Magazine to provide insights and context. Some Culture Bites lessons are locked until you reach higher levels. But when you unlock them they support your learning experience by adding depth and cultural understanding.
The short, bite-sized chunks can make it feel like you’re progressing too slowly and seem somewhat repetitive. This is partly due to my learning preferences - I favor longer classes of 15-30 minutes to maintain momentum.
That said, Babbel Live sessions are an hour long and I found them really engaging. But it’s worth noting that pacing and lesson structure preferences vary among learners – you might appreciate squeezing the bite-sized lessons into breaks in a busy schedule.
Compared to its close competitor, Rosetta Stone, Babbel offers fewer (mostly European) languages (24 vs 14). If the language(s) you want to learn are offered by Babbel it’s a great way to learn. But if you’re interested in learning Asian languages, you might need to look elsewhere.
While using Babbel on a desktop computer, I encountered some awkwardness with the interface. The software seems better suited for touch-screen tablets or smartphones. On the bright side, Babbel Live worked seamlessly on my tablet. Additionally, when using Babbel on a smartphone, there's no in-app keyboard for special characters. This minor annoyance forces you to download the language-specific keyboard on your phone. If using the desktop version, Babbel provides codes for typing special characters, like "a//" for "à" in Portuguese.
Babbel is an appealing and versatile language learning platform that’s great for a wide range of learners. That said, I’d say Babbel is best for the following learners:
Babbel offers short, focused lessons that can easily fit into your daily schedule, allowing you to learn at your own pace and according to your unique learning style.
It’s available from anywhere - even places without an internet connection thanks to offline mode.
Though core lessons are arranged by CEFR levels, other lessons are grouped by skills and themes. They focus on aspects such as grammar, vocabulary, and conversation and allow you to dive deeper into areas that interest you or address weaknesses in your language abilities.
These targeted learning experiences mean you can tailor your studies to meet your individual needs effectively. Combined with Babbel’s flexibility, this approach lets you progress through the material in a logical but personalized manner.
Babbel’s advanced speech recognition technology helps you perfect your pronunciation and speak more confidently in your target language. By providing immediate feedback, Babbel enables you to correct mistakes and develop a more authentic accent.
This feature is particularly valuable for beginners who feel shy about speaking aloud in front of others.
Babbel Live offers small (6) virtual group classes led by certified language teachers. They provide an interactive and engaging learning experience and allow you to practice speaking and listening skills in real-time with fellow learners, ask questions, get instant feedback and learn from other students.
By combining flexible, bite-sized lessons with instructor-led Babbel Live classes, you can supercharge your language learning experience. This blended approach is widely considered one of the most effective methods for mastering a new language. It combines the convenience of self-paced learning with the guidance and support of experienced teachers.
Babbel's Review Manager helps cement new knowledge by providing regular review sessions based on a spaced repetition system. This scientifically proven method tracks your progress and schedules reviews at optimal intervals to reinforce your memory.
Babbel continuously updates its content to keep lessons relevant, fresh and up-to-date, This means you'll always have access to new challenges and insights, preventing your learning experience from becoming stale.
Babbel has a podcast series that exposes you to native speakers discussing various topics. They help you develop a better understanding of rhythm, tone, slang and idiom. Listening to podcasts can also improve your comprehension skills and make it easier to follow and participate in real-life conversations.
Babbel tracks your progress and displays it on a leaderboard to promote motivation and healthy competition. This feature is less developed than on other apps, like Duolingo which uses points, streak counts and more colorful graphics.
Babbel doesn’t just focus on vocabulary and how to use words in sentences. It also teaches you cultural and grammar tips about your target language. These include regional differences or how your target language’s grammar is different from that of your native language. This adds depth and understanding to your language learning experience.
Our evaluation system uses a range of criteria known to make language learning effective.
Babbel strengthens your skills in all the elements necessary to master a new language - speaking, listening, reading and writing. Exercises require you to sort, match, write, listen and speak (with voice recognition to hone your accent). Plus you can select to review your learning by either reading, writing, speaking, seeing or listening. Along with all this there are cultural and grammar tips that bring the language into context and the opportunity to take part in live group tutorials with Babbel Live.
Babbel provides an enjoyable and varied experience on a platform that is appealing and easy to navigate. It offers customizable learning paths and a review manager that enables you to specify how you want to revisit learned content. Occasionally the pace can feel a little slow.
The platform provides a generous range of features that are of good quality. Of particular note are the level of personalization it provides, the opportunity to join live tutorials with Babbel Live and advanced speech recognition with instant feedback.
Babbel delivers on its promises to a high standard.
Google Play 4.5 /5 based on 886k reviews
“French, Italian, and other “classical” languages to learn are pretty well organized and can hold you over till A2-B1 however … I don’t think it’s a great tool on its own, it’s repetitive, sometimes dull, but it does offer explanation on grammar choices, and offers a number of examples.” - Comment from Reddit user
The criticism that Babbel can feel repetitive is a valid critique. However, if you start feeling this way you can use the Explore tab to find lessons that focus on specific or more engaging aspects of the language. This can help break up the monotony and make your language learning journey more enjoyable.
“I am surprised not at myself, but at how effective the classes have been for me. I am conversational and satisfied with my level, and I have gotten more confident with each class. I can say now that I speak another language, and at this point I get by just with these classes after finishing the app course as well.” - Comment from Reddit user
This user is speaking of Babbel Live classes and how they enhanced their conversational abilities and boosted their confidence. Speaking from experience Babbel Live allows you to easily transition from finishing the app course to participating in real-life conversations.
And Babbel Live not only provides an effective language learning experience, but is also a more budget-friendly alternative to platforms like italki that connect you with native speaking language teachers.
There are lots of options online when it comes to learning a new language. Each of them comes with their own pros and cons. So, I’ll keep this short with a brief comparison of Babbel against three other leading online language learning providers:
On balance, Babbel has a lot going for it if you want to learn a new language.
For a start, it’s more than just an app for acquiring vocabulary and phrases. It integrates cultural understanding into its programs because Babbel understands that language and culture are closely tied. An understanding of how a different culture works helps you learn the mechanics of the language associated with it.
Likewise, Babbel's grammar explainers ease you into complex concepts, whereas other apps rely on you learning grammar intuitively by constantly seeing it used in context.
And the addition of Babbel Live virtual classes addresses the shortcomings of purely pre-set programs. They're engaging, effective, affordable and absolutely no limit on the number you take.
The pacing and structure of core lessons may not be to everyone’s taste and may feel a little repetitive. But they could be ideal for time starved students who need to squeeze in some language learning into their daily hustle and bustle. And the Explore tab is always there in case you get a bit burnt out on the meat and potatoes in the primary lessons.
And while Babbel may not cater to all the Asian language enthusiasts out there, it's a goldmine for Euro-language lovers.
And with the free trial and generous refund policy, there’s really no reason not to give it a shot.
Yes, Babbel is effective, value for money and easy to use. It has some stand out features including a strong focus on understanding the grammar and culture behind a language, speech recognition for pronunciation practice and Babbel live, small group tutorials with certified teachers and native speakers.
Babbel has a variety of packages and prices are dependent on subscription length and whether Babbel Live is included. Costs range from $8 - 70 per month.
Babbel offers flexible, self-paced language learning through desktop browsers and mobile apps. The lessons are structured by CEFR proficiency level and language-specific skills, allowing users to personalize their learning journey.
Babbel's software reinforces long-term memory retention through periodic reviews and gamifies the experience with leaderboards for motivation and enjoyment.
Babbel currently offers courses in 14 different languages, catering to a wide audience. Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Dutch, Swedish, Turkish, Polish, Norwegian, Danish, Indonesian, and English for non-native speakers.
Yes! Just contact Babbel’s customer support within 20 days of your purchase.