Busuu is a language learning app with 120+ million learners. It targets all aspects of communication: speaking, reading, writing, and listening. Lessons are interactive and fun and your written and spoken work can be submitted for feedback from native speakers. An AI tool tracks your progress and revisits content you need to work on more closely.
Best for: Anyone from a beginner to intermediate ability in the target language as there’s a range of levels. And if you’re not sure of your level, you can take Busuu’s placement test. It’s also great wherever you want to learn, either on the go or on a desktop.
Price: From $6.95 per month for an annual subscription (billed annually).
Overall: A fun, comprehensive app that effectively develops all areas of language communication. When you join you become part of the community of Busuu users and can submit written and spoken work to native speakers for feedback. I found Busuu to be very effective and started listening, reading and understanding right away. It’s priced competitively and for what’s on offer, it’s good value.
Busuu supports 14 languages:
Spanish, Japanese, French, English, German, Dutch, Italian, Portuguese, Chinese, Polish, Turkish, Russian, Arabic and Korean.
“Busuu’s core belief is that amazing things happen when we learn together and combining human interactions, expert-created courses and smart learning technology is the best way to learn a language,” Neil Ballantyne, Busuu.
Busuu is a language e-learning service founded in 2008 designed to provide a complete self-study and language practice environment.
It’s now one of the best known names in the industry with 120+ million learners.
Via Busuu’s global community you have the opportunity to connect with millions of native speakers - proven to be the best way to learn a language.
Busuu also partners with experts on linguistics and learning to design their courses and keep them relevant and up to date.
Studies carried out by the Universities of New York and South Carolina show that 15 hours studying on Busuu premium is the equivalent of one semester of language college.
To get started on Busuu you simply sign up for a free account on your laptop or download the app.
You will be asked some simple questions about which language(s) you want to learn and what you hope to achieve. You then either choose your level or take a placement test if you are unsure what level you're currently at.
All Busuu courses fall into 4 levels based on the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR). This provides an approved standard for identifying language proficiency. Each level contains several lessons which target writing, reading, listening and speaking.
Busuu’s lessons are grouped around communication topics depending on your purpose for learning (eg: business, travel, etc.). Each one is designed to teach useful phrases and sentences which you then practise.
Practice activities include gap fills, multiple choice questions, sentence reordering and writing activities. You can also have written and recorded speaking exercises corrected by native speakers. Or use a private messaging facility, which allows you to chat with language partners in the community.
Generally, whatever the level or language, lessons are structured in a similar way.
There are a number of choices for a Premium subscription depending the length of membership you’re prepared to commit to:
|Subscription Length||Cost per month||Billing|
|6 month||$8.45||6 monthly ($50.70)|
Busuu pricing is competitive with other language apps and Busuu generally offers a lot more features. Discounts are sometimes offered, and even at full price Busuu is far cheaper than in person learning.
Busuu offers a free version but there are lots of annoying, distracting adverts and some features you will miss out on.
That said, it will definitely help you gain inroads into your target language. And, since Busuu lessons are generally all structured in the same way it’s a great way of gaining a clear idea of what the platform is like before committing to membership.
With premium membership you can access :
Busuu offers a 14 day money-back guarantee.
To review Busuu, I used both the free and Premium version. I was initially going to subscribe for one month, but the annual membership with a 50% discount was too good a deal to miss. I also used review sites like Reddit to gauge what other users felt were the strengths and weaknesses of the platform
I used the free version to study Busuu German A1 over several days. I have ‘schoolgirl’ German but wanted to see if Busuu provided a good introduction. I quickly felt competent enough to greet people, introduce myself and have a simple conversation and mastered some pronunciation and grammatical rules.
Using my subscription, I studied A1 Spanish which I had no knowledge of. The lesson styles and topics were the same as German ones. However, I was able to set up a personalized lesson plan and received much faster feedback on my work.
I found Spanish surprisingly easy, despite having no knowledge of it, which I felt was due to the mix of visual, aural and kinesthetic activities, as well as the use of all four language elements. This combination makes Busuu’s method surprisingly ‘sticky’.
Something that really sets Busuu apart is its active global community of native speakers. When it comes to learning languages native speakers are the best teachers. They know the small details and nuances that help master a language.
The opportunity for learners to exchange expertise in their native language enables genuine connections through language. Learners can motivate each other and have their efforts validated in return. Lack of social interaction is the biggest barrier to student success online. Busuu has addressed this.
When I was reviewing Busuu, feedback took about a day to come back. It’s faster in premium. In both the free and premium versions it provides super helpful hints on how to improve. And it doesn’t take long before you get requests for help from people learning your native language.
Busuu’s AI powered Smart Review tool identifies precisely what vocabulary and grammar each individual learner needs to review. Then surfaces it for you to revisit it at the right moment.
This means your time is optimised focussing precisely on what you need to practise, providing a personalized experience that helps you take your skills to the next level.
All Busuu classes have picture puzzles, sentence completion exercises, translations and more to help you get immersed in the language. Also, this allows for a more engaging learning experience with the material.
The app recognises if there are any issues with a particular lesson and provides opportunities for you to revisit the activities until you have mastered them.
Furthermore, it's easy to navigate and the aesthetics of the site make it easy to read, and it contains lots of useful graphics such as a progress bar and your completion percentage of a lesson if you have to cut it short and return to it later.
A combination of reading, writing, listening and speaking is necessary to create the learning experience needed to retain a new language. It’s hard to replicate that digitally.
But all Busuu lessons cleverly combine listening, reading, writing and speaking (for which feedback is available from a native speaker). Not only this, but they also cover different learning styles by using visual, aural and kinaesthetic techniques.
So I give Busuu an A+ for its efforts here.
Premium members can set up personalized plans to achieve specific language goals.
You can select your reason for learning (travel, business, etc.), the days and time you want to learn and set notifications to remind you of these.
Busuu uses lessons based on everyday topics for general learning, or commercial topics for business purposes.
And it offers cultural tips that help you learn when and how to say something appropriately, such as formal and informal situations.
It has also partnered with top educational sites such as Pearson, McGraw Hill, and El País to ensure its content is hyper relevant, up to date and engaging.
The Busuu free version will certainly get you started on the road to learning your target language. But the ads are intrusive and distracting and stay on the screen for 15 seconds before you can continue.
And if you want the little extras that really help to unlock the language, such as dedicated lesson plans, additional premium only lessons and priority feedback from native speakers or certificates, you’ll need to purchase Premium membership.
That said, the cost of Busuu is pretty competitive compared to other providers on the market so it’s definitely something to consider!
The majority of Busuu’s courses are excellent for language learning and offer great value.
However, Busuu is not great for learning Turkish, Arabic or Chinese. Some users report the audio quality and lack of visuals to be poor with these courses.
So it would definitely be worth putting the free version of Busuu through its paces if you are interested in learning one of these languages.
Although the number of languages offered by Busuu is increasing, it is still significantly less than some of its competitors. For example, Mondly has 30+ languages on its platform.
Premium members can take tests to receive certificates from Busuu and McGraw to indicate language proficiency. Whilst these are nice to have, they are not accredited or recognized in any official capacity.
The Busuu learning style would suit anyone who:
Likes the flexibility of learning on mobile and desktop
While Busuu would be ideal for anyone who’s always wanted to start learning a new language it will also suit those who are relatively proficient but want to improve.
Right away Busuu will have you speaking, listening and improving your conversational skills and grammar in your chosen language.
Busuu offers a number of features that make it an ideal choice for students who want to learn a language. These include:
Busuu makes use of streaks, points and leaderboards to make learning fun and keep learners motivated.
The premium plus plan provides access to personalized learning plans that enable you to control when and how long you learn for, plus what your aims are (eg travel, conversational, etc).
Busuu covers all aspects of language learning using fun, interactive exercises that touch on visual, aural and kinaesthetic learning styles. They include video flashcards which enable you to see and hear a native speaker pronouncing a phrase within the local context.
Which test you on content taught previously and once passed, unlock the next chapter. The Checkpoints support your learning by ensuring that you really master new content before moving on.
Many lessons include tips to avoid making rookie mistakes when interacting with a native speaker. There are also cultural insights into the country of origin.
Busuu is accessible from anywhere with an internet connection, and students can learn at their own pace and on their own schedule. The mobile version allows students to learn on the go and Premium membership provides offline access.
Busuu’s speech recognition AI technology helps develop speaking skills for those without a big budget to enroll in a private language class. You’ll get feedback on your pronunciation, even on the free version of Busuu.
Writing or recorded voice exercises which receive instant corrections from native speakers in the Busuu community
A big challenge for language learners is knowing what to study and when. Busuu’s AI powered Smart Review tool addresses this challenge by identifying exactly what vocabulary and grammar each individual needs to review, surfacing the right content at the right time.
Our evaluation system uses a range of criteria known to make language learning effective.
Busuu is comprehensive, covering all the aspects necessary to learn a language effectively. Plus its activities target different learning styles (visual, aural and kinaesthetic). Feedback is available via voice recognition, the global community and (indirectly) through the AI powered Smart Review tool. Cultural tips are integrated into lessons.
Activities are varied and engaging and gamification is used to encourage motivation and competition. A variety of aural, visual and kinaesthetic approaches ensure that all learning styles are covered. The app is simple to use and easy to navigate and you can personalize it to your needs.
Busuu has a generous range of features, though it offers fewer languages than its competitors. Of particular note is the ability to connect to the global community of native speakers, voice recognition and AI Smart Reviews (premium members only.
The platform delivers on its promise to a good standard and its price point is competitive. Discounts are frequently available. For the price, Busuu is definitely good value and you can use the free version first to see if it suits you.
Google Play Store 4.4 / 5 based on 525k+ reviews
"I got Busuu membership with 50% off, I had to say it was really worth the money. I like that there is an active community and how the app is organized." (Reddit user)
"I did Spanish, German, Portuguese and a little Dutch before my membership expired and they were really great in my opinion!" (Reddit user)
These comments generally reflect the positive experience people have using Busuu to learn the languages it performs well in. However, there were negative comments relating to particular languages such as Turkish and Chinese.
"The Busuu Turkish course was pretty bad. My wife did the English one and the quality was much better. So all in all the worth depends on the language you're learning." (Reddit User)
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 Busuu against three other leading online language learning providers:
Busuu aims to help you become confidently conversational in your target language and it does a pretty good job of achieving that aim.
I found it easy to use and thought the lessons were well structured, engaging, effective and ‘sticky’. Not surprising when Busuu partners with the likes of Pearson, McGraw Hill, and El País to keep abreast of the most cutting edge teaching and learning methods.
Busuu’s stand out feature is its strong community feel. Your written and spoken work can be submitted for feedback from native speakers which is the best way to authentically learn a new language.
It’s also comprehensive, helping you to improve all aspects of communication: speaking, reading, writing, and listening.
That said, there’s always room for improvement. Busuu does not offer as many languages as some other apps, and its quality is not consistent across all the languages offered.
It’s great for the more common languages like Spanish and French, but its Chinese, Arabic, and Russian courses aren’t as comprehensive. That said, you can use the free version to see if the language you want to learn is taught in a way that suits you before committing to a subscription.
There’s no free trial, but you can use the free version for as long as you like to see if this is the right platform for you. The pricing point is very competitive and there are frequent discounts available making it even better value.
Busuu is well worth your time and money if you’re considering learning a new language. With the option to use the free version for an unlimited period of time, plus a 14 day refund window if you do purchase premium membership, what have you got to lose?
Yes, Busuu is fun, effective, value for money and easy to use. It has some stand out features like state of the art voice recognition and access to a global community of native speakers for feedback.
There are lots of subscription choices, the best value is the annual membership which is around $6.95pm (billed annually) - though large discounts are sometimes available.
Busuu’s method is based on best language education practice. Lessons are grouped around communication topics (eg: introducing yourself, describing your hometown, ordering food in a restaurant). Eeach one is designed to teach useful phrases and sentences you then practise using Busuu activities or through the Busuu community of native speakers.
Spanish, Japanese, French, English, German, Dutch, Italian, Portuguese, Chinese, Polish, Turkish, Russian, Arabic and Korean
Busuu offers a 14 day money-back guarantee, which means that, after your first purchase, you can change your mind and request a refund of your payment.
The free version offers the full language course for each language but to gain access to the features that make Busuu really effective you need a Premium membership.