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FluentU vs Babbel
After thoroughly using and evaluating each language app, we explain the differences between Babbel and FluentU
If you’re looking for a language program with shorter lessons (in the 10-15 minute range) and lots of visuals, that’s going to significantly narrow down your list of potential language apps. In fact, it might leave you with just Babbel and FluentU. But between these two, how do you know which one to go with? In this comprehensive comparison, we discuss how these language programs stack up in terms of lesson structure, pricing, effectiveness, and more.
Given that this is a lengthy and detailed article, we’ve added convenient jump-to links above so you can quickly navigate this article.
Video Review: FluentU Or Babbel?
In this video breakdown, John covers how the language learning programs from FluentU and Babbel stack up. He covers how the lesson formats differ, pricing and much more. Or as always, continue reading for more detail.
First up here, let’s cover what the lessons from both companies are like, starting with Babbel. The Babbel lessons are fairly short and go by quickly, taking about 10 to 15 minutes to complete.
They’re made up of several quick-hit, interactive drills and exercises that span listening, reading, writing and speaking.
These exercises include digital flashcards, multiple-choice questions, sentence construction drills, fill-in-the-blanks, and completing mock conversations, just to name a few. Overall, the Babbel lessons take a very fast moving, blended approach.
They sort of throw the same content at you in a variety of different ways, which really forces you to interact with the material in a short time frame. And because of this fast, varied approach, you really don’t get bored.
In my opinion, the Babbel lessons do a great job of holding your attention.
FluentU, on the other hand, is more of a video platform than anything else. I’m honestly not sure I’d call it a full-fledged language course per se. They essentially take video content from YouTube and other sources in your target language, and then integrate it into their own platform, which adds subtitles, explanations, and quizzes.
I’ll talk more about this video-based approach in the FluentU section below, but that’s the gist of FluentU’s program structure.
Why Babbel Is Better Than FluentU
Both Babbel and FluentU each have their owns strengths and weaknesses, making them better for different types of learners. Let’s explore where Babbel wins over FluentU and who it would be better for.
More Diverse Lessons
The first advantage for Babbel is that their lessons are more diverse and comprehensive than FluentU’s. Basically, there’s just more variety in terms of drills and exercises with Babbel (same story with Pimsleur).
With FluentU, their entire program really revolves around watching videos, and the listening and reading that go along with that. This is in contrast with Babbel’s lessons, which actually include verbal practice exercises as well.
While reading, writing, and listening are important, speaking is probably the most crucial component of them all. So from that perspective, Babbel definitely has a leg up (even if you are learning Russian for example).
Speech Recognition Technology
Babbel’s next strength is their speech recognition technology. As you complete verbal practice exercises, Babbel’s tech will immediately evaluate your pronunciation and prompt you to repeat certain words and phrases if you mispronounce them (sort of similar to how Duolingo does it).
This is something missing from the FluentU program. There is no pronunciation feedback with FluentU.
Overall, it’s just one more reason why Babbel is superior to FluentU when it comes to developing your conversational skills.
Not only does Babbel include verbal practice exercises within their lessons, but you also get feedback on your pronunciation to help improve your speaking abilities.
The next advantage for Babbel is that they make grammar content and instruction a priority, while with FluentU, grammar sort of takes a backseat.
Really, FluentU’s only attempt at grammar instruction is a dictionary-type definition of whether a word is a noun, verb, present tense, past tense, etc.
This is in contrast to Babbel, which takes its grammar lessons a step further. However, don’t get me wrong, Babbel doesn’t overwhelm you with long, boring explanations of grammatical principles.
Instead, Babbel integrates grammar instruction into their lessons in a very streamlined way.
They’ll introduce a concept, provide a short explanation of the reasoning behind it (just a sentence or two), add some cultural insights, and then have you participate by filling in blanks in example sentences to ensure you understand.
Overall, in my opinion, it’s a very effective framework for picking up grammar for a new language.
The fourth advantage in favor of Babbel is that they offer live classes. Now, to be clear these classes are not included in Babbel’s standard subscription packages and you do have to pay extra.
Each class is usually around an hour long, and they cover all sorts of different topics to match your specific interests (Rosetta Stone offers live language classes as well).
With classes from cooking, to historical events, to common phrases used during travel, pretty much everyone can find a class that they find interesting.
Overall, these classes are a fantastic way to dive deeper into specific subjects, converse with your peers and learn from experienced instructors.
And since 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.
This is far from the most important point, but Babbel covers more languages than FluentU. Thus, if your goal is to learn Portuguese, Polish, Dutch, or Swedish, then Babbel is your answer. FluentU simply doesn’t offer content for those languages.
Knowing where Babbel wins, let’s flip the script now and cover the major advantages in favor of FluentU.
Better For Visual Learners
The first advantage in favor of FluentU is that because their content is packed with images, visuals, videos, and subtitles, their program is a great choice for visual learners (regardless of whether you want to learn Spanish, Italian, or German).
Basically, there are some people out there who learn best seeing pictures and video clips, and creating mental associations with the the words they hear or see alongside them.
Then when these folks are asked to recall those words later on, they picture that corresponding image in their mind, and the word or phrase comes naturally with it. It’s just how some people learn and retain new words.
So if that happens to be your preferred learning style (i.e. you’re a visual learner), then FluentU is a great option. LingoPie is also a great option for visual learners too.
Deep Video Library
The other major advantage for FluentU (and this is the big one) is FluentU’s massive video library. So beyond the core lessons, FluentU gives you access to thousands of videos in your target language.
And I’m not just referring to standard translation clips – these are real, engaging videos that you’d find on YouTube.
These include music videos, TV clips, commercials, movie trailers, cartoons, and more. Plus, the nice thing is that FluentU makes it extremely easy to find videos that match your specific interests and fluency level.
There’s a search function, as well as a bunch of different filters for you to play with.
For example, let’s say you’re learning German, you’re at an intermediate level, and you’re super interested in Bavarian culture. You can literally narrow down the content to just those types of videos.
In this case, you can watch a 3-minute quick explainer about Oktoberfest, in which you’re introduced to a bunch of new words like d’Wiesn, Wittelsbach and dunkles. Then afterwards, you’re quizzed on what you just watched.
Overall, it’s just a super engaging and entertaining way to learn a new language. Honestly, it doesn’t even feel like your studying since you’re really just watching TV clips and YouTube videos. It’s just a nice change of pace from the standard type of language lessons.
Now that you know how each program generally works and where we see each app winning, let’s compare pricing and affordability, starting again with Babbel. They offer several different plans, ranging from around $7 to $14 per month.
Alternatively, you can purchase a lifetime plan, which includes access to all Babbel languages (there’s around 14 of them in total) for around $500.
Moving over to FluentU, they offer two different subscription plans, which both grant you access to all of their languages (around 9 in total). You can choose between a pay-as-you-go plan, which costs $30 per month or an annual plan, which works out to around $15-20 per month.
Comparing the two companies, there’s no question that Babbel is the more affordable option. If you’re on a tight budget, you’ll likely save around $6 to $20 per month by choosing Babbel.
I should also add that Babbel does offer a 20-day money back guarantee in case you’re not satisfied, and FluentU has a 14-day free trial.
That about does it for the detail in this comparison, so let’s get to the final verdict. Should you choose FluentU or Babbel?
Well, after using and evaluating each program, I think Babbel is the clear winner. In my opinion, Babbel simply provides the more comprehensive language program and curriculum.
Not only does Babbel provide more in-depth grammar explanations, but they also include practice exercises that span the entire spectrum of listening, reading, writing and speaking.
Honestly, at the end of the day, I see FluentU more as a fun, engaging supplemental tool that someone could pair with an app like Babbel. But if you’re only looking to purchase and stick with one language program, I think Babbel is the answer.
After a thorough review of each app, our team believes Babbel is better than FluentU. Babbel offers a full-scale language program that covers every aspect of the learning process, while FluentU is very heavy of video and lacking in other areas.
Is Babbel or FluentU cheaper?
When comparing cost, Babbel is cheaper than FluentU. FluentU subscriptions cost $15 to $30 per month, while Babbel costs just $7 to $14 per month.
Do Babbel and FluentU have free versions?
Yes, sort of. While neither Babbel nor FluentU have a true free version like Duolingo, both offer trial periods of sorts. FluentU offers a 14-day free trial period, and Babbel has a 20-day money back guarantee if you’re not satisfied.
What is the difference between FluentU and Babbel?
Babbel is a full-fledged language program, whereas FluentU is more so used by learners as a supplemental video platform.