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Busuu vs Babbel
See which language learning app wins in this detailed Babbel vs Busuu comparison
For those looking to learn a second (or third) language, the decision of which app to purchase often boils down to Busuu and Babbel. Although there are dozens of choices out there, Busuu and Babbel have separated themselves from the pack as two of the most effective and popular language learning programs in the world. In this comparison, we break down the distinct differences between these two companies so you can finally decide whether to go with Babbel or Busuu.
Given that this is a lengthy comparison, our team has included jump-to links above for your convenience.
Video: Babbel vs Busuu
In the above video, John from the TPI team covers the major similarities and differences between Busuu and Babbel. He discusses lesson style and structure, pricing, effectiveness, and a lot more. For more detail, please continue reading below.
From a high level, the core lessons from Busuu and Babbel are somewhat similar in terms of both length and format. In short, both companies’ lessons range from around 5 to 15 minutes in length, and are made up of a series of short, interactive drills, exercises and quizzes that touch on reading, writing, listening and speaking.
For example, some of the exercises you will complete include fill-in-the-blanks, digital flashcards, matching pairs, constructing sentences, multiple choice questions, etc.
Now, you may have noticed above that I stated the lessons are somewhat similar, and that’s because there are three major differences you should be aware of.
Busuu incorporates video clips of fluent speakers into their lessons, whereas Babbel’s lessons primarily rely upon images and text
Babbel provides more immediate and accurate pronunciation feedback with its speech recognition software
Busuu takes advantage of its entire userbase to provide feedback on your verbal and written practice exercises
I’ll talk about these three topics in more detail later in this comparison.
Pricing & Subscription Options
Babbel: There are several plans to choose from, ranging from around $7 per month for their 1-year plan, up to $14 per month for their pay-as-you-go plan. If you’d like, you can also purchase a lifetime Babbel plan, which includes access to all languages (there’s around 14 of them in total) for around $200 (when there’s a sale on). Therefore, it just depends on how long you want to commit to and pay for in advance.
Busuu: The first thing you should be aware of is that Busuu actually offers a free plan. However, as you might imagine, the free plan is limited in terms of content and features. Thus, a lot of folks out there choose to upgrade to either the Busuu Premium Plan or the Premium Plus Plan, which will run you anywhere from $3 to $14 per month, depending on whether you sign up for the 1 month, 1 year or the 2 year option, as well as deals and discounts.
Winner: All in all, it’s sort of a toss up in terms of pricing. Both companies are competitively priced (and really quite affordable in the big picture). With that said, if you really want to get technical, Busuu has cheaper subscription options (by a couple bucks per month). I should add though that both companies do offer money back guarantees so you can always sort of kick the tires risk-free if you want before fully committing.
Why Babbel Is More Effective Than Busuu
Before getting to what Busuu has to offer, let’s discuss the areas in which Babbel wins.
Speech Recognition Technology
The biggest advantage in Babbel’s favor is their speech recognition technology. As you complete verbal practice exercises, Babbel’s speech technology will immediately evaluate your pronunciation and prompt you to repeat certain words and phrases if you mispronounce them.
By contrast, this tool does not exist with Busuu. Rather, with Busuu, you have to rely on other Busuu users for feedback. So what does this mean?
Well for one, you have to wait at least 30 to 90 minutes to receive feedback with Busuu. It’s not immediate like it is with Babbel. Secondly, we’re talking about humans here. The Busuu users providing the feedback will inevitably make mistakes, whereas Babbel’s technology is much more consistent. Those are the two big takeaways here.
To summarize, with Babbel, you’ll receive immediate, consistent feedback on your verbal practice exercises.
Babbel provides more choices and flexibility than Busuu when it comes to review sessions. To be clear, I’m talking about the extra practice work that both companies offer (i.e. reviewing the words and phrases you’ve learned in previous lessons).
Everyday, before you start your main lesson, Babbel will prompt you to do a quick review session covering words and phrases from past sessions. This is intended to really help the material sink in.
Moreover, with Babbel, they give you the choice of how you want to review. You can choose between flashcards, listening drills, verbal practice or writing exercises (it’s pretty awesome). Therefore, if you feel you’re lagging in any particular aspect, you can really focus in on that area until you gain more confidence. I found this to be a big value add.
Lesson Length & Engagement
While I give Busuu the win for having slightly more diverse lessons, I actually prefer the length and engagement factor with Babbel’s. Babbel’s lessons take just 5 to 15 minutes, and for whatever reason, seemed to hold my attention better.
Don’t get me wrong, Busuu’s lessons aren’t much longer and do a good job of sucking you in, but all else being equal, if I had to choose one lesson type to squeeze in on my commute to work on the train, I’d lean towards Babbel’s lessons.
More Language Choices
The last advantage in favor of Babbel is that they cover more languages than Busuu. Thus, if your goal is to learn Dutch, Danish, Norwegian, Swedish or Indonesian, then Babbel is your answer (Busuu does not offer courses for those languages).
The Busuu lessons are more diverse and comprehensive than Babbel’s. In other words, there’s just more variety in terms of drills and exercises. Case in point – the Busuu lessons utilize video clips of native speakers (similar to Memrise), which is something missing from the Babbel lessons.
Personally, I find video to be more captivating and interesting than images. I think it really augments the learning process when you’re able to observe the speaker’s body language, facial expressions, hand gestures, and posture. It’s these nonverbal cues that really help you pick the language quickly.
Receive Feedback From Fluent Speakers
This next point sort of builds on my last note regarding lesson diversity – Busuu has integrated a super helpful feedback system into its language courses. As you complete lessons, some of your verbal and written practice exercises are sent to other Busuu users for feedback.
For example, if you’re learning French, you may be presented with a short video clip of a recent French news segment. After the clip, you’ll record yourself describing your feelings and reaction to what you’ve just heard or witnessed.
From there, one or two fluent French speakers will respond with feedback regarding your description and pronunciation (usually within 30 to 90 minutes).
This feedback system really helps foster a community-like feel among the millions of Busuu users out there. The other nice thing about this system is that you can return the favor by providing feedback for French speakers trying to learn English. Overall, it’s just a very friendly and supportive community that Busuu has created.
Busuu Emphasizes Grammar Instruction
This is somewhat of a small win, but it seems like Busuu emphasizes grammar instruction just a little more than Babbel. Don’t get me wrong, Babbel still receives high marks in this department. In fact, I’d choose Babbel over other popular language apps like Rosetta Stone, Duolingo and Pimsleur all day when it comes to grammar.
With that said, it seems like Busuu just takes it a step further. Every couple lessons, the topic will focus solely on an important grammar principle or rule like possessive adjectives, demonstrative pronouns or prepositions of place. Don’t worry though, the Busuu grammar lessons don’t bog you down with lengthy, boring definitions (it’s not like reading a textbook).
Instead, Busuu delivers grammar content is a very streamlined manner. I’m talking short, digestible explanations, followed by a couple clear-cut examples, and then a few drills and exercises to ensure you comprehend the concept at hand.
It’s time for the final verdict. Should you choose Babbel or Busuu to learn a new language? Well, this is a tough decision in my opinion. Usually, I’m able to declare a winner pretty easily, but in this case, it’s too close to call and I’d probably call it a tie. The language courses from both companies are great.
However, if I had to pick one, I’d probably lean towards Babbel – though that’s just personal preference based on their lesson length and format (again, just more engaging for me personally). For you, it may be completely different.
I’d probably say that if you want more immediate feedback on your pronunciation as you work through a lesson, and don’t really care about the community feel of learning alongside other users, then go with Babbel. But if you’re more of a visual learner and want video clips, as well as a community-like feel with others giving your constant feedback, then go with Busuu. But either way, between these two, you can’t really go wrong.
After testing each language program, it’s a very close call. Our team was impressed with both Babbel and Busuu, giving each high marks. In the end though, our team would lean towards Busuu, primarily due to the diversity of their lessons.
How many language courses do Busuu and Babbel offer?
Babbel offers courses for 14 different languages, while Busuu only covers 12 different languages.
Do Busuu and Babbel offer money back guarantees?
Yes, both Busuu and Babbel offer users money back guarantees if you are not satisfied for some reason.
What is the difference between Busuu and Babbel?
One of the main differences between Busuu and Babbel is speech recognition technology. Babbel provides immediate and accurate feedback on your verbal practice drills using its proprietary software, whereas Busuu relies on its user-base to provide feedback.