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Fluenz vs Babbel
We deliver our verdict on which language program is more effective after using both Fluenz and Babbel
Though both are popular programs for learning a foreign language online, Babbel and Fluenz are fundamentally different. While Fluenz bases their program around video lessons and simulated tutoring, giving it more of a classroom feel, Babbel leverages fast-moving and diverse exercises in a self-study format. So which one is better? Find out in this detailed review, as we provide our thoughts after using both language apps.
To begin, let’s compare the lessons and teaching style from both companies. With Babbel, the lessons are shorter and faster moving. They usually take about 10 to 15 minutes to complete, and offer more of a gamified type learning experience.
They’re not as game-like as Duolingo, but they are more on the fun side and do a good job holding your attention.
Each lesson is comprised of several quick-hit drills and exercises, such as flashcards, fill-in-the-blanks, and mock conversations. In short, they’re fast, fun and diverse.
Fluenz’s lessons, on the other hand, are longer. The Fluenz lessons are about 45 minutes in length and take more of a classroom- or tutoring-type approach.
The focus is on simulating a classroom environment via video lessons and drills, with the option to kick in tutoring if you desire.
Those are two big differences between these programs: lesson length and style. Personally, I prefer Babbel’s fast-paced lessons over the longer Fluenz lessons (finding them more engaging), but I do recognize that everyone is different in this respect.
Pricing & Subscription Options
As with the lessons, the cost structure from both companies is pretty different. Let’s start with Babbel.
They offer a few different plans, ranging from around $7 to $14 per month. Alternatively, you can purchase a lifetime pass with Babbel, which includes access to all 14 of their languages for around $200-300, though that does seem to be a less popular option than the monthly subscriptions.
Fluenz, on the other hand, does not offer any monthly subscription options. You can purchase access to individual levels for your specific language, or you can purchase an all-level package.
For example, for Fluenz Spanish, you can purchase Level 1 for around $190 or all five levels at once for around $400.
Thus, in terms of cost, it’s sort of like comparing apples to oranges. Overall though, Babbel is the more affordable option, especially when you’re first starting out. It’s just tough to beat their $7/month price point.
Not to mention, Babbel seems to offer more frequent and steeper discounts than Fluenz, which are definitely worth looking out for.
Why Babbel Is Better Than Fluenz
With that overview in mind, let’s get to the good stuff and cover the main advantages of each platform. Let’s start with Babbel.
Speech Recognition Software
Babbel’s first advantage is their speech recognition technology. As you complete verbal practice exercises, Babbel’s tech will immediately grade you on your pronunciation, and occasionally prompt you to repeat certain words and phrases if you mispronounce them.
It’s solid tech and works really well. This is in contrast with the speech recognition software from Fluenz, which is somewhat basic. By comparison, the Fluenz software really just offers recording and playback capabilities.
Or in other words, their tech doesn’t actually evaluate your pronunciation. For that reason, Babbel gets the easy win in this category for all of their courses, including Babbel Spanish and Babbel German.
Fast & Effective Lesson Format
As mentioned, I am a big fan of the format of Babbel’s lessons. They’re fast-paced, diverse and just plain fun. For people that don’t have 45 minutes to an hour each day to work through a lengthy lesson, and are trying to squeeze their studying in around a busy, hectic schedule, Babbel is great.
I personally really like that the lessons only take about 10 or 15 minutes to complete. They really hold your attention, and are perfect for working professionals, students or parents.
Spaced Reviews Boost Retention
Another advantage in favor of Babbel is their review sessions. Essentially, everyday when you log in to the app, Babbel hits you with a quick 3-4 minute review session.
They’ll test you on vocabulary you learned weeks ago and make sure it’s sticking. For me, personally, I love this spaced repetition approach. It really helps you move newly-learned words from your short term memory to your long term memory, which is crucial for language learning.
Live Classes For Advanced Learning
The final 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.
However, the company offers hundreds of small group live classes per week across all different learning levels. These small group sessions are capped at 6 students per class and typically last around an hour.
The class topics vary widely, which is cool, as you can join the classes that actually interest you, whether that is related to Spanish, German, or any other language sub-topic.
Overall, I just think the Babbel live classes are a fantastic way to dive deeper into specific subjects, converse with your peers, and ask experienced instructors questions, especially once you start making real progress.
Plus, since there are so many classes, you can basically pick the days and times that work for your schedule, and you don’t have to follow a rigid schedule.
Having covered why we like Babbel, let’s turn the tables now and cover the major advantages in favor of Fluenz.
Love The Video Lessons
The first advantage in favor of Fluenz is that their lessons incorporate videos, which I think is a major plus. Each session starts with an intro video, where an instructor introduces the concepts being taught and lays the foundation for the upcoming lesson.
You then complete a series of practice drills, or “workouts,” as Fluenz calls them. Between these workouts, however, you’re prompted to watch additional videos that break down and further explain the materials you’re learning.
Overall, I just thought this approach was highly effective. Although they feel a little over-choreographed at times, it’s still helpful to have an instructor on-screen walking you through the lesson. In my opinion, it really improves material retention.
The second advantage in favor of Fluenz is that because their lessons utilize videos with instructors on-screen, their program overall just has more of a classroom type of feel than Babbel’s DIY course. And that’s on purpose.
Fluenz even states that their lessons are designed to simulate a 1-on-1 tutoring session. Now, I don’t if I would go that far (after all, they are just pre-recorded videos), but I do have to give Fluenz credit.
Having covered all the important detail in this comparison, let’s get to the final verdict: should you choose Fluenz or Babbel? Well, after using each program, I have to give the win to Babbel.
Although I do appreciate that the lessons from Fluenz are thorough and incorporate videos, as well as a classroom-type feel, I still think Babbel offers the more effective language learning courses overall.
The Babbel lessons are engaging and do a really good job of holding your attention with their short length. Plus, their speech recognition technology is more advanced and the spaced reviews are highly effective for long term memory.
Overall, I think how the Babbel lessons are structured are a better fit for people with busy schedules and will be the preferable choice for most folks.
Which is better for learning Spanish, Fluenz or Babbel?
Whether Babbel or Fluenz is better for learning Spanish somewhat depends on your learning style. In terms of self-study and doing it yourself, we actually prefer Babbel for their quick-hit lessons and spaced reviews. However, if you want live classes and immersion, Fluenz is likely better.
Is Babbel cheaper than Fluenz?
Yes, Babbel is much more affordable than Fluenz. With the full Fluenz packages (levels 1 through 5) costing close to $400, Babbel is a much better value at $7-$14 per month.
Is Fluenz worth it over Babbel?
Though Fluenz’s program is good, we don’t see it as being worth the increased cost over Babbel. All else being equal, we prefer Babbel’s app on many substantive points (such as lesson format and length). Thus, with Babbel being a fraction of the price, we don’t necessarily think Fluenz is worth it over Babbel.