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Duolingo vs LingoDeer vs Babbel
See which language app is best for you in this detailed comparison between Babbel, Duolingo and LingoDeer
When attempting to learn a new language, it’s important you select an app/course that fits your specific budget and learning preferences. In this article, we compare three of the most popular language learning apps on the market in Duolingo, Babbel and LingoDeer. On the surface, these three language programs share several similarities, however, once you peel back a few layers, there are some subtle and important differences that you need to understand before making a decision.
As this is a lengthy article, we’ve included jump-to links above for easy navigation.
Video: Babbel vs LingoDeer vs Duolingo
In the above video, John (from the Test Prep Insight team) walks you through our team’s thoughts on these three language learning apps. Continue reading for more detail!
Plans & Pricing Comparison
Let’s go ahead and quickly discuss pricing among these three companies.
LingoDeer does offer a free plan, but in reality, it’s more of a limited trial. In order to access the full version, you’ll have to sign up for LingoDeer Premium, which costs $15 per month, $40 per quarter, $80 per year, or $160 for a lifetime plan.
Moving on to Babbel, they offer the first lesson in every course for free, so you can test out their program, but after that you’ll have to pay between $6 and $9 per month, depending on which plan you select. They also offer a lifetime plan though, which can be purchased for around $200.
The lastly, there’s Duolingo, who offers a completely free version. Though I note that this version does come with several limitations, which I’ll discuss in more detail below. In order to unlock all the different features that Duolingo has to offer, you’ll have to sign up for the “Super” version, which costs around $80 per year.
So all in all, pricing between these three companies is very competitive. They all offer subscription options that are very affordable in my opinion.
Reasons To Choose Babbel
With pricing out of the way, let’s discuss the strengths and weaknesses of each of these language learning programs, first starting with Babbel.
Verbal Practice Exercises
The first advantage for Babbel is that their courses and lessons are better for developing your speaking skills than LingoDeer and Duolingo. With LingoDeer, there’s really not much verbal practice outside of their “Stories” feature. And with Duolingo, you’re really just asked to repeat words and phrases in a vacuum.
By contrast, with Babbel, their verbal exercises are much more robust. Plus, their speech recognition technology is top-notch. So really, Babbel wins on two fronts here. Their verbal exercises are more comprehensive and you’re able to receive immediate feedback on your pronunciation.
Bottom line, when it comes to developing your verbal skills so that you can start to hold basic conversations, Babbel is clearly the leader.
Streamlined Grammar Instruction
The second strength for Babbel is that when it comes grammar content, much like LingoDeer, they offer robust instruction.
What I particularly like about Babbel in this respect is that they don’t hit you over the head with long, dense explanations, because sometimes, I actually think that can do more harm than good, especially during the early stages of language acquisition.
So rather than having to click on a separate e-book style lesson like you do with LingoDeer, Babbel actually integrates grammar instruction into their core lessons. And they do it in a very subtle and skillful way.
For example, at the beginning of a new lesson, you might read a quick one-to-two sentence explanation in English regarding adjectives vs adverbs, after which, you’ll be asked to complete a fill-in-the-blank drill to reinforce what you just learned.
So overall, I not only like that Babbel makes grammar instruction a priority, but I especially like how they integrate it into their lesson plan.
Natural Language Usage
My third pro for Babbel is that they do a better job than both Duolingo and LingoDeer of using natural sentences and phrases. With LingoDeer, sometimes the order in which they introduce new words and phrases can be confusing.
For example, I just didn’t understand why the words lawyer and robot were introduced in a beginner Spanish lesson before more basic and useful words, like hot and cold.
No to mention, with Duolingo, it just seems like they sometimes pair random words together. For example, during a couple of the Duolingo lessons, I came across the sentences “I am making dinner out of you” and “the bed is food”.
It’s not a huge deal, but I definitely think Babbel gets the win in terms of logical lesson progression and natural language usage.
Finally, I love that Babbel offers live classes. Now, to be clear these classes are not included in Babbel’s standard subscription packages and you do have to pay extra. However, if you’re interested, the company offers hundreds of small-group live classes per week covering all sorts of different subjects across all learning levels.
You can learn about some really interesting topics, all while improving your language skills alongside people who are also learning.
These classes are just a fantastic way to dive deeper into specific subjects, practice chatting with your peers, and learn from experienced instructors. Plus, because there are so many classes, you can basically pick the days and times that work for you and drop in and out of the classes as you please.
Now that you understand the areas in which Babbel excels, let’s discuss the strengths of the LingoDeer language programs.
Detailed Grammar Explanations
The biggest strength for LingoDeer in my opinion are their grammar explanations. LingoDeer does a great job in this department (I’d say on par with Babbel and much better than Duolingo).
Their grammar explanations are delivered through their “Learning Tips” feature. Essentially, at any time, whether you’re in the middle of a lesson or not, you can click the little light bulb symbol and an e-book style pop up will appear containing detailed explanations and examples of grammar rules and principles that are specific to the lesson or unit you’re currently working on.
Overall, I found this feature to be super helpful. LingoDeer definitely goes above and beyond to ensure you understand the building blocks of grammar as you progress through their courses.
Crisp, Clear Audio
The next main strength for LingoDeer are their HD audio clips. These clips are very clear and crisp, and the sentences are obviously recorded by native speakers.
And I know clear, easily understandable audio clips might sound like a minor point, but it’s not. This is actually one of my biggest gripes with Duolingo. Their audio is not recorded for full sentences, so sometimes their recordings sound unnatural and choppy.
The key takeaway here is that LingoDeer does a great job with the audio portion of their lessons. They excel in this respect.
Custom Courses For Each Language
Last up, my final highlight is that LingoDeer doesn’t take a cookie cutter approach to all languages, and instead customizes their courses for each language. Instead of just including generic objects, foods, sports, and other thematic topics, LingoDeer actually personalizes each of their courses with the specific foods, places and objects that are relevant to the country or culture of the language being taught, which is awesome.
Not all language apps do this, so I definitely have to give LingoDeer credit for making each of their courses unique.
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Lastly, let’s discuss the reasons to possibly choose Duolingo over Babbel or Duolingo.
Free Version Available
I really like that Duolingo offers a free plan, which is obviously a huge benefit to those learning on a budget. Frankly, I just love that their language programs are accessible to everyone.
However, just to set expectations here, there are some limitations that come along with that free price tag. Among these, most notably, the free plan contain ads, which can become distracting and annoying.
Also, the hearts system that Duolingo uses can also be discouraging. Essentially, within the Duolingo lessons, hearts equal mistakes, and with the free version, you have a limited amount of mistakes.
So if you make too many errors, you have to stop and either review old lessons in order to earn more hearts back, or just give up for the day. Given the effort involved in earning back hearts, I would guess a lot of folks end up just quitting for the day, especially when many of the mistakes come from typos, not actually incorrect answers.
Those are really the two biggest drawbacks of the the free version.
Duolingo Makes The Learning Process Fun
My other big pro for Duolingo is that I really like how they gamify the language learning experience. As you complete each lesson, you earn experience points (or XP points for short), as well as Duolingo currency known as lingots.
The XP points relate to your daily completed work and allow you to track your progress, while the lingots can be used to buy add-on features within the Duolingo store.
I’m also a big fan of Duolingo’s app and digital platform, as well as all the visuals and reminders they provide in general. Their dashboard is intuitive and easy to navigate. It includes a daily goal tracker, a scoreboard where you can compete against others, invite friends, keep track of your achievements and streaks, and more.
All of this together creates a fun, collaborative environment to keep you motivated and inspired. So Duolingo definitely gets a shoutout from that perspective.
Having covered all the detail, let’s get to my final verdict. Should you go with LingoDeer, Babbel or Duolingo to learn a new language?
Well, after testing out each app, there’s a clear winner in my book, and that’s Babbel. Although LingoDeer and Duolingo definitely excel in a few areas and have their own strengths, I just think Babbel offers the more complete and well-rounded language courses.
Between their quick, engaging lessons, verbal practice exercises, helpful grammar instruction, fast and accurate speech recognition technology, and their live classes, Babbel simply gives you the best chance of quickly reaching an intermediate level of fluency.
What is the difference between LingoDeer and Duolingo?
Although Duolingo and LingoDeer are similar in several respects, one of the main differences between the two programs is that LingoDeer makes grammar content and instruction more of a priority within its coursework.
What is the difference between LingoDeer and Babbel?
The Babbel language courses are more comprehensive than those from LingoDeer. The Babbel coursework includes advanced speech recognition technology, more in-depth verbal practice exercises, and live class options.