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Speakly vs Babbel
See which language learning app we think is better in this comparison of Babbel vs Speakly
Picking a language learning app can be hard, especially when the two apps you’re considering cost the same and are as similar as Babbel and Speakly. Fortunately, we’ve purchased, used and tested out both of these popular language programs, and have some pretty strong opinions on each. In this guide we’ll break down all our thoughts, including coverage on each app’s structure, effectiveness, price, and more.
To start at the top, let’s compare each company’s program structure. In terms of learning framework, Speakly is somewhat different from most apps I’ve used and reviewed. Just about every other language program on the market that I’ve tested (including Babbel) uses a “lesson” framework, where you complete discrete lessons.
Basically, there’s a lesson covering a certain topic, it’s a certain length, and when you complete it, you’re done for the day. Speakly, however, doesn’t use this lesson format. Instead, with Speakly, it’s about learning words.
Essentially, you set your goal for how many words you want to learn each day, and you work until you hit that target. You can always stop short for the day if you don’t have time, or you can always do more.
There’s just not a modular-type structure to the program like there is with Babbel. It’s more so a do-as-much or do-as-little as you want each day approach.
However, in terms of the drills to learn those words, it’s pretty straightforward. Speakly uses a small variety of exercises based on flashcards, writing, and listening. In that respect, it’s somewhat like Babbel.
And on that point, let’s discuss Babbel. As noted above, Babbel uses a more traditional lesson-based approach to teaching, where you’re tasked with completing one lesson each day.
Most lessons are designed to teach vocabulary, but many also cover grammar and more thematic topics about the language. In that respect, it’s a nice mix.
Each Babbel lesson takes about 10 to 15 minutes to complete, and is comprised of a variety of drills and exercises (more types than Speakly). You’ve got matching pairs, speaking drills, mock dialogues, listening, and flashcards, among others.
It’s a very nice mix of exercises, which gives the lessons and program overall a fun and fast-paced feel.
Cost & Subscription Options
Now that we’ve covered what both programs are like, let’s quickly compare pricing, starting with Babbel. They offer a few different plans, ranging from around $6 to $14 per month, depending on which plan you select.
Or you can purchase a lifetime pass, which includes access to all Babbel languages for around $200-300. It all just depends on how long you want to commit to and pay for in advance.
On the other side, Speakly also uses a similar subscription-based approach. Their plans range from around €6 per month on the low-end to €11 per month on the high-end. Again, it just depends on how long you want to commit to and pay for in advance.
Thus, in terms of cost, it’s sort of a wash. Both programs are in the same ballpark in terms of pricing; however, one thing I do need to call out here is that Babbel seems to be much more aggressive in their discounting. They regularly offer deals and special promotions, so make sure to check for coupon codes and discount links before buying.
Why Babbel Is Better
Now that we’ve discussed pricing and a program overview, let’s get to the good stuff and cover the main advantages of using Babbel over Speakly, and vice versa. And let’s start with Babbel.
Actual Lessons, Not Just “Words”
The first thing I want to cover is something I’ve already touched on above – lesson structure. Basically, I just like Babbel’s approach to language learning a lot more than Speakly’s.
I like that you get a daily lesson, where it’s clear exactly what you have to do (similar to Pimsleur). This is in contrast to Speakly’s more general approach of just doing as many words as you want.
Babbel’s lesson framework gives the program a more structured feel, and it makes logging on and doing your daily assignment a little easier knowing you have a discrete 10- or 15-minute lesson.
Plus, I also like the exercise variety of Babbel’s approach better. Speakly offers just a few exercise types that you hit over and over again. It’s a touch repetitive, to be honest.
With Babbel, there’s a much greater diversity of drill types, and that makes things more fun, and your daily work seems to go faster.
The second advantage in favor of Babbel is their review sessions. Everyday when you log in, Babbel hits you with a quick 3-4 minute review session. They’ll test you on vocabulary you already learned weeks ago and make sure it’s sticking.
Personally, I love this spaced repetition approach. Consistency is crucial for language learning, and this method really helps you move newly learned words from your short term memory to your long term memory.
Not to mention, I like that Babbel gives the option on how you want to review – flashcards, listening, speaking or writing. It’s really cool.
Smart Grammar Integration
Third up for Babbel is their approach to grammar. Honestly, both companies use pretty different approaches to teaching grammar. As I mentioned, Speakly is primarily focused on teaching words and phrases, not necessarily grammar.
So rather than weaving grammar lessons and tips into their German or French coursework for example, they have a separate grammar manual that you can reference to learn. That’s fine, and I like the little digital booklet on grammar they give you, but Babbel’s approach is much better in my opinion.
They have entire lessons dedicated to grammar. And even in the non-grammar lessons, they do a nice job weaving in tips and key points with little callout boxes. In my opinion, it’s a very effective and efficient way of learning your grammar.
Cool Bonus Features
Last advantage for Babbel is the set of bonus features you get. With Speakly, it’s really just the main course and not much more. There are a few progress trackers and performance-based things like that, but no cool extras.
In contrast, Babbel gives you a bunch of awesome tools and resources, such as dedicated audio lessons, podcasts, games, and vocab reviews (this holds true for all courses, including Babbel Spanish and Babbel German too).
This supplemental work just makes the Babbel program feel a little more well-rounded and comprehensive overall.
Now that we’ve covered Babbel in depth, let’s turn the tables and cover the major advantages in favor of Speakly.
In-Depth Exercises (Periodically)
The first advantage in favor of Speakly is how they periodically mix more in-depth exercises into their coursework. Every few dozen or so new words (recall you work through “words” with Speakly, not lessons), they give you either a LIVE exercise to complete or a listening exercise.
The listening exercise is basically what it sounds like: an exercise where you listen. It’s an in-depth monologue where a fluent speaker will read through a story or short conversation in the language you’re learning, as a rolling transcript follows along.
The LIVE exercise, on the other hand, is a sort of simulated dialogue, where a fluent speaker will ask you a question or say something to you, and you have to respond verbally on the fly. Then it will show what you should have said, or what would have been a good response.
Frankly, I really like both of these exercise types as they break up the monotony of the main learning framework and offer a chance for more in-depth practice.
Speaking and listening skills are obviously critical to language acquisition, so I like that these exercises are very in-depth. For reference, Babbel, generally speaking, doesn’t have anything like this.
The second advantage of Speakly is how they won’t let you move on from from a drill until you get it right. For example, if you’re on a writing exercise and you misspell your answer, it will make you type it out correctly to move on.
To be honest, it can be kind of annoying at times because you understand and just want to move on, but you can’t until you retype it.
So it is a little frustrating when you’re trying to make progress, but it’s also a good thing. This framework ensures you really know the phases you’re learning before you can continue.
Very Streamlined, Efficient Approach
My last advantage for Speakly is how streamlined their language course is. A cornerstone of the Speakly framework is that you don’t have to be perfect when learning a new language – you just have to know enough.
They sort of assume you’re not trying to master your new language. So rather than teaching you detailed grammar and rich vocabulary, they place a heavy emphasis on language chunks – meaning you learn everyday, practical phrases. In other words, things you’ll actually use.
Now, this isn’t to imply that Babbel teaches you unnecessary stuff (I haven’t found that to be the case), but Speakly purposefully limits the vocab you learn to just 4,000 words. They want to make it easy and simple.
Some might argue that Speakly is sort of watering it down and oversimplifying language learning, but for people only looking to gain an intermediate level of fluency, I actually really like this.
That about does it for the detail in this comparison, so let’s get to the final verdict. Should you choose Speakly or Babbel?
Well, after using and testing each program, I prefer Babbel. In a lot of ways Speakly is like Babbel, but without a number of Babbel’s program components. Speakly does have some cool in-depth exercises, such as like their LIVE feature, and I like how they simplify and streamline things, but at the end of the day, there’s no doubt in my mind that Babbel is more comprehensive and well-rounded.
I love how Babbel kicks off every session with a spaced review, then weaves grammar into their lessons (which are all quick and diversified, and fun to complete). Plus, with all their nice extras, Babbel is more immersive as an app. So all in all, between these two, I would point you towards Babbel.
Is Speakly better than Babbel?
After using both apps for several weeks, we think Babbel is better than Speakly. Speakly does offer some nice benefits, but the Babbel curriculum and overall structure feels more comprehensive and effective.
How are Babbel and Speakly different?
The main difference between Speakly and Babbel is their program structure. With Babbel, you work through daily lessons with clearly defined assignments, whereas with Speakly you learn new “words” (no discrete lessons).
Which is cheaper, Babbel or Speakly?
Though both companies tend to offer similar price points (in the $7 to $14/month range), Babbel is much more aggressive in its discounting, making it a more affordable app overall.