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Busuu vs Rocket Languages
Our team's detailed breakdown of the courses from Rocket Languages and Busuu
Given that there are dozens of language learning programs online, all with varying strengths and styles, it can be difficult to decide which one is best. Of all these options, Rocket Languages and Busuu have risen to the top, thanks in large part to their effective learning frameworks and comprehensive lessons. However, they are quite different. In this comparison, we explain the major differences between the two companies so you can decide which is best for your particular learning style.
Since this is a fairly detailed article, our team has included jump-to links above for quick navigation.
How The Busuu & Rocket Lessons Compare
Let’s quickly discuss how the lessons from both companies compare.
At a high level, the Rocket courses are each broken down into three overarching levels (beginner, intermediate and advanced), and then further into modules. Then within each module, there are several lessons, including two types: interactive audio lessons and language/culture lessons.
In the interactive audio lessons, a host speaking in English walks you through a conversation in your target language in short, bite-sized chunks. You’ll listen to fluent speakers converse and every few sentences the host will stop to explain the situation, provide tips and insights, and most importantly, have you participate in the discussion by asking you questions. Thus in a way, you can essentially think of these interactive audio lessons as guided conversations.
To then round things out after each audio lesson, you review what you learned in the guided conversation by completing several short, reinforcement exercises. These exercises include variations of flashcards, verbal practice, writing drills, and quizzes.
Following this, you then move onto the company’s language & culture lessons, which take the form of short digital explanations. In a digital textbook-style format, Rocket breaks down various grammar points in one-paragraph chunks, each followed by a quick drill or two.
Overall, the Rocket courses are very robust in terms of content and curriculum, and you can expect to spend a full hour to get through an entire lesson.
With Busuu, there are no simulated conversations. In fact, their lessons are much shorter on the whole. You’re looking at about 3 to 15 minutes in all for each lesson.
From a structural standpoint, each Busuu lesson is broken down into three or four mini-sessions. The first session will introduce the topic or target words, then the following sessions will prompt you to practice what you just learned through a variety of drills, exercises and quizzes that span listening, reading, writing and speaking.
So all in all, the Busuu lessons are sort of like the reinforcement portion of the Rocket lessons, except that the Busuu exercises are a little more diverse than Rocket’s. For example, the Busuu exercises contain video clips of fluent speakers, and in some cases, you’ll even record yourself answering a question or responding to a prompt, and then the recording gets sent to the Busuu community for feedback. In short, Busuu’s lessons are faster moving, more varied, and frankly, more fun.
Pricing & Subscription Options
Busuu: Busuu offers three different plans, the first of which is actually free. However, as you might expect, the free plan is limited in terms of features and content. Therefore, a lot of users tend to upgrade to either the Busuu Premium Plan or Premium Plus Plan, which range in price from around $3 to $14 per month, depending on whether you sign up for 1 month, 1 year or 2 years, as well as current discounts.
Rocket Languages: In contrast, Rocket actually only offers one-time purchase, lifetime plans as opposed to monthly or annual subscriptions. These lifetime plans range from around $150 to $450, depending on how many levels you want to purchase. However, those prices are a bit deceiving as they’re just the MSRPs. Rocket Languages is almost always running some sort of deal or special promotion and I regularly see their courses discounted by 50%, if not more.
Verdict: From an overall price perspective, it’s somewhat difficult to compare these two companies. Who wins depends on what you’re looking for. If you just want a few months of access to sort of dip your toes in the language learning water, then obviously Busuu is the more affordable option. However, if you’re committed to learning a new language over the long haul and want lifetime access, then Rocket is the way to go. I should mention though that both Rocket and Busuu offer money back guarantees so you can always test their courses for a little a while before fully committing.
Why Rocket Languages Is Better Than Busuu
Now that you have some background as far as lesson format, pricing and subscription options go, let’s dive into the strengths of the courses from Rocket Languages.
Lessons Emphasize Conversational Practice
The first reason we prefer Rocket is that their lessons are much better than Busuu’s for improving your speaking and conversational skills. Instead of just periodically recording yourself responding to a short prompt and then receiving feedback on it like you do with Busuu, the Rocket audio lessons are much more robust.
Their lessons prompt you to use vocabulary and respond to a fluent speaker in the context of a mock conversation. You’re actively involved in tracking the conversation and the host of the audio lessons keeps you awake and engaged since you need to understand the situation and respond at the proper times.
In my opinion, this active participation is extremely effective at getting you to recall and use the target language under pressure just as you would in real life situations. That’s the major point of emphasis here – you’re getting simulated real world experience with Rocket. This, in my opinion, is about the best practice you can get when attempting to learning a new language.
More Ideal For Advanced Learners
The second reason in Rocket’s favor sort of piggybacks on my last point. Put simply, I think Rocket’s lesson format, language content, and overall learning framework are better suited for people wanting to progress toward an intermediate to advanced level of fluency with a new language.
With Busuu, because their lessons primarily revolve around new vocabulary and quick-hit drills and exercises, there’s really no opportunity for spontaneous language usage that mimics or simulates full conversations. And as stated above, this is an area where Rocket really excels. So overall, I have to give Rocket the win if you’re main goal is to absorb the language quickly and start having basic conversations in a shorter time frame.
As a good portion of the Rocket lessons are audio-based, I think it’s great that you can complete these lessons while you’re working out, cleaning your house, taking your dog for a walk, or doing whatever you like.
It’s just nice your eyes don’t have to be fixed to your computer or phone at all times like you do with Busuu. Personally, I like to pace around the house when I listen to lessons and learn, and the Rocket lessons definitely allow for that.
Detailed Grammar Content
Although I think that both companies do an excellent job with grammar instruction, Rocket just takes it to an entirely different level. They mix grammar content and cultural insights into their lessons in multiple ways.
First, as you complete Rocket’s interactive audio lessons, the host routinely stops to discuss different grammar principles and verbally explain the rules and rationale behind them. Then the bulk of the grammar content is delivered through the company’s language & culture lessons, which take the form of a digital textbook.
Rocket does a great job breaking these lessons down into short, digestible chunks for users. Each section within the grammar lessons is only about 3- to 6-sentences long on average. Not to mention, within the lesson, there are dozens of stoppage points where you interact with examples and images to keep you engaged.
All in all, I was just really impressed with the level of grammar and cultural insights that the Rocket courses provide, as well as how the company integrates this material into their lessons.
Let’s turn the tables now and discuss the major strengths of the Busuu language courses in comparison to Rocket.
Diversity Of Drills & Exercises
The first reason in Busuu’s favor is that they offer more variety in terms of the types of drills and exercises you’ll be asked to complete. Specifically, I’m referencing the practice work outside of Rocket’s audio lessons.
For example, Busuu integrates video clips of fluent speakers into their lesson plan, which is something missing from the Rocket curriculum. This is a perfect example because I think video can be a game changer when you’re trying to learn a new language.
Being able to actually see a local speak your target language and observe their body language, facial expressions, hand gestures, and posture is super valuable. I think the nonverbal aspects of communication really help you pick up the language quicker and Busuu wins in this respect.
More Ideal For Visual Learners
Given the use of both video and images in their lessons, I think Busuu is the better choice for visual learners. With Rocket, besides the limited amount of images used in their language & culture lessons, there’s really not a ton of visuals throughout their courses.
This could be an issue for some people out there. There are certain people who learn best by seeing images and visuals and associating them with words and phrases. It’s just how some people soak up and retain new words.
However, this all comes down to personal preference. For some, this might not be a big deal at all, but for others who learn best through imagery and visuals, Busuu may be the more ideal choice.
Helpful Pronunciation Feedback
I’m a big fan of the feedback system Busuu has integrated into its courses. This really helps to promote a community-like feel among the millions of Busuu users out there. To explain, as you complete lessons, some of your practice exercises (either written or verbal), are sent to the Busuu community for feedback.
For example, if you’re learning Spanish, you might watch a short video clip of some guys surfing in Mexico. You’ll then record yourself reacting and responding to what you just watched, send it off, and then usually within 60 minutes, one or two fluent Spanish speakers will respond with feedback regarding your description and pronunciation.
It’s pretty awesome to be honest. Busuu really makes it very easy to be social and make new friends. Plus, the best part is that you can return the favor by providing feedback for people learning English. Overall, It’s just a really supportive ecosystem that Busuu has created.
Live Group Lessons Available
The last reason in favor of Busuu is that they offer private tutoring sessions and live group lessons. Now to be clear, these tutoring sessions and live lessons are not part of the Busuu Premium Plans and you do have to pay extra.
However, if you can afford it and you’re serious about learning a new language, I think these services can be really valuable. The live group lessons range from beginner to advanced, and cover all sorts of different topics. For example, I sat in on one of the intermediate Spanish live lessons that covered Spanish cuisine and found it super interesting.
For the private tutoring, you can either choose a custom session where you pretty much set the agenda or you choose a structured session where the tutor sets the agenda based on the Busuu curriculum and what level you’re currently at. Overall, I’m just a big fan of these live class options. They’re a great way to dive deeper into specific subjects, interact with your peers, and learn from experienced teachers.
With all of the detail in this comparison covered, let’s get to the final verdict. Should you choose Busuu or Rocket? Well, after testing each program, it’s a very close call, and I give both companies high grades (in fact, two of the highest grades I’ve doled out).
And although Busuu certainly scores points in a few key categories, in the end, I have to give Rocket Languages the win, primarily for their interactive audio lessons and detailed grammar instruction. I just think Rocket Languages is going to better prepare you to speak your target language quicker and ultimately help you achieve a higher level of fluency.
Although our team was impressed with the apps/courses from both companies, we think Rocket Languages offers the more complete and effective lessons overall. Busuu’s lessons are highly engaging and more fun, but lack Rocket’s comprehensiveness.
Which language app is more affordable, Busuu or Rocket?
Rocket Languages offers lifetime subscription plans, whereas Busuu offers free, monthly and annual subscription options. Therefore, Busuu is the cheaper option; however, it does somewhat depend on what type of subscription plan you are looking for.
Do Busuu and Rocket Languages offer money back guarantees?
Yes, both Busuu and Rocket Languages offer customers money back guarantees if they are not satisfied with their purchase.