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Babbel French Review
We cover the major strengths and weaknesses of the Babbel French program
So you want to learn French, and you’re thinking about using Babbel as your app. That’s great. But before you dive in, you naturally want to know whether this program works, and if it’s worth it. Well let us save you the guesswork and lost time. After using this language app daily for a month, I can tell you it works – at least for me. But no two learners are ever the same. So let me break down what I like about Babbel’s French app and what I don’t like about it, so that you can figure out whether it will work for you.
To make navigating this lengthy review a little easier, we’ve inserted jump-to links above.
Video Review: Learning French With Babbel
In the video above, John from the TPI team walks you through the major pros and cons of using Babbel to learn French. For more detail, be sure to continue reading our full written Babbel French review below.
How The Babbel French App Works
Let’s kick this review off by discussing what the Babbel French program is all about and how it works. In terms of structure and organization of content, it’s pretty standard compared to other apps I’ve used.
Essentially, there are various levels that you need to work through, such as newcomer, beginner, intermediate, advanced, etc. Then within each overarching level, there are typically somewhere between 2 and 8 “courses,” which cover different topics and themes. And then within each course, there are anywhere from 5 to 15 lessons to complete.
You get the picture. At the end of the day though, the lessons are the most important aspect. You should aim to complete one to two lessons per day to stay consistent. So let’s take a quick look at the lessons themselves.
Babbel’s French Lessons: What Are They Like?
The Babbel lessons are very short. Each one only takes around 10 to 15 minutes to complete, and they go by super quick. And that’s because each lesson is comprised of several quick-hit, interactive exercises.
Basically, each lesson is made up of around a dozen or so rapid-fire drills that touch on reading, writing, listening and speaking. There are digital flashcards drills, fill-in-the-blanks, matching pairs, listen-and-repeat type exercises, matching phrases to images, completing mock conversations, and short grammar exercises, among others. It’s a very diverse, blended approach that moves fast.
Honestly, as I’ll touch on later in this review, I’m a big fan of how Babbel throws the same content at you in a variety of different formats and really forces you to interact with the material.
This differs from other language apps out there (like Rosetta Stone for example), which just sort of repeat the same type of exercise format over and over again.
To be honest, you never get bored during the Babbel lessons, and this fast-paced blended approach makes the app pretty fun. So from an overall lesson perspective, Babbel definitely receives high marks from me.
Babbel French Subscription Options
Now that you have an idea of what the Babbel lessons are like, let’s quickly touch on pricing and how Babbel French stacks up against competitors. In short, Babbel offers several different subscription options that range in price from around $7 to $14 per month, depending on the length of access you need or want.
And for those who are interested, Babbel also offers a lifetime plan, which costs around $200-$300 and actually includes access to all Babbel languages.
For $7 to $14 per month, Babbel is definitely on the affordable end of the spectrum, and I would consider them a very strong value.
In addition, it’s worth mentioning that if you want to kick the tires on this app before fully committing, Babbel does have a 20-day money back guarantee. It’s not as good as a free trial, but basically serves the same purpose.
What We Like About Babbel French
Ok, now that we’ve covered pricing and what the Babbel lessons and program are all about, let’s get into the good stuff. Let’s discuss what I like and what I don’t like about Babbel’s French program – and let’s start with the things I really like.
I’m a big fan of the format of Babbel’s lessons. They’re fast-paced, diverse and just plain fun (similar to the Duolingo lessons). For people that don’t have an hour to work through a lengthy lesson everyday and are trying to squeeze their studying in around a busy schedule, Babbel is ideal.
I just really like that lessons only take about 10 or 15 minutes to complete. They’re perfect for working professionals and busy parents.
Easy Grammar Tips
Next, unlike the Rosetta Stone French course, I really like how Babbel blends grammar instruction into their lessons. Grammar is a topic that is often difficult for language learning companies to balance.
I personally think it’s extremely important to establish the basic grammar building blocks early as you learn a new language, but if companies place too much of an emphasis on detailed grammar instruction, I think it can actually slow your progress and hinder your learning.
However, I think Babbel has done a really good job balancing this. They keep their grammar insights and descriptions short, and they do an excellent job subtly weaving these quick teaching points into the lessons (similar to how Busuu does it).
Speech Recognition Software
Third up, I think Babbel’s speech recognition technology is top-notch. As I completed various verbal practice exercises, I found their software to be quick and accurate, which isn’t always the case with language learning apps.
Some language programs claim to have “speech recognition software,” but it’s really poor and barely seems functional. By contrast, Babbel’s is superb. So Babbel gets two thumbs up in that regard.
Quick-Hit Review Sessions
Between lessons, Babbel hits you with quick-hit review sessions. Essentially, every time you log in to complete a new lesson, Babbel will prompt you to complete a quick review.
They’re usually really fast and only take 3 to 5 minutes to finish; however, they’re great for refreshing your memory and helping to make the content sink in. Seeing vocab time and time again like this is what makes it sink into your long term memory.
And what’s cool with Babbel is that they offer you ultimate flexibility when it comes to review sessions – you get to choose how you want to review.
You can choose between flashcards, listening drills, verbal practice or writing exercises. It’s pretty awesome. If you feel you’re lagging in any particular area, you can really focus in on that area until you gain more confidence.
Killer User Experience
Next, I love Babbel’s digital platform and interface across both desktop and their mobile app. It’s very polished and professional – especially compared to other apps (see Mondly).
Babbel’s U/X is fast, everything is laid out in a logical manner, and it’s super easy to navigate. Honestly, it’s one of the sleeker apps I’ve tested in terms of both design and experience.
Lastly, I like the fact that Babbel also offers live classes for those who prefer more of a classroom-style learning environment. Now, to be clear, these classes are not included in Babbel’s standard subscription packages and you do have to pay extra.
Essentially though, the company offers hundreds of small-group live classes per week across all different learning levels. Each class is typically around an hour long and covers all sorts of different topics.
Overall, they’re just 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.
What We Dislike About Babbel French
With my pros out of the way, let’s turn the tables now and talk about the things I don’t like about Babbel French.
Expensive Live Class Upgrade
The first negative I want to call out actually has to do with those live classes I just referenced. While I’m a huge fan of the live class instruction and interaction, they are a bit pricey.
The Babbel live subscription costs between $50 and $100 per month depending on which package you go with. You very well may get your money’s worth out of upgrading to the live subscription if you plan on joining several classes per week, but realistically, I just don’t envision many people have that sort of time in addition to completing the regular lessons and practice work.
So bottom line, I just wish the live classes were a little more affordable (especially for students studying for the AP French exam).
Needs More Speaking Exercises
My second gripe is that the Babbel lessons and curriculum are not ideal for developing your conversational skills. Don’t get me wrong: there are verbal practice exercises where you repeat words and phrases, but it’s just somewhat basic.
There are no full-blown simulated conversations or extended speaking exercises. A lot of times it fell to me to try and conceptualize in what context I would say a phrase after I just learned it.
I’d have to imagine the scenario when I would use it, then practice with a sort of made up back-and-forth with an imaginary friend.
This is in contrast with a couple other language programs out there like Pimsleur and Rocket Languages, which lean heavily on mock conversations and audio practice. I guess to me, I’d like to just see more robust speaking exercises from Babbel.
Not Great For Advanced Learners
Finally, because the Babbel French lessons are somewhat light when it comes to extended speaking exercises and conversational practice, I see this course being best for beginner to intermediate learners.
If you’re looking to achieve an advanced level of fluency and really master French, Babbel just might not the best option out there. Of course, once you get to that point, you could always add in some live classes in order to get some more conversational practice under your belt.
Verdict: Is Babbel French Good?
All things considered, I was very impressed with Babbel’s French program. I love the diversity of their drills and exercises, the interactive format of their lessons, and how they integrate streamlined grammar content throughout the program. Plus, their mobile app and digital platform are about the best in the biz.
Yes, I do have a few minor grievances with their program, but by and large, I think Babbel French is a highly effective program that should get the job done for most anyone looking to gain a beginner to intermediate understanding of the French language.
Not to mention, it’s hard not to like the price tag. Babbel is one most affordable options on the market. So bottom line, I wouldn’t hesitate to go with Babbel French.
In my opinion, Babbel is a great choice for learning French. I’ve used over a half dozen apps at this point, and Babbel is definitely one of the better ones (if not the best). I love their quick-hit, engaging lessons, and felt like I made significant progress very quickly.
How much is Babbel French?
Babbel offers a few different subscription options, which range in price from $7 per month up to $14 per month. Live class upgrades will cost roughly cost $50+ per month.
Is Babbel French worth it?
For the cost, I personally think Babbel French is definitely worth it. I found the program to be fun, the lessons are fast, and I was having (very) basic conversations within the first 4-6 weeks.