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Babbel German Review
Our team breaks down Babbel's German app in this detailed review, covering every feature that matters
When people want to learn to speak German, many turn to Babbel. After all, Babbel is a German-based company whose first language offering was (you guessed it), German. However, just because a lot of other people are using Babbel, does that mean you should as well? In this comprehensive review, we evaluate everything you need to know about the German language program from Babbel. We discuss lesson structure, pricing, effectiveness, and of course, the thoughts of our resident linguist.
As this is a lengthy review, find helpful jump-to links above for convenience.
Babbel German Video Review
In the above video, team member John breaks down everything you need to know about the Babbel German program from a high level. For more detail, please continue reading below.
Babbel German Program Structure
To help provide some context for our thoughts on the Babbel German app as whole, let’s kick this review off by breaking down how the Babbel German program is structured and what the lessons look like.
From a high level, the Babbel program is broken down into around 15 different overarching levels, such as Newcomer, Beginner I, Beginner II, Intermediate and so. And there’s even some levels that cover more thematic topics like Business German and Traditions.
Within each of these 15 or so levels, there are usually somewhere between 2 and 8 courses. Then within each course, there are 5 to 15 lessons which each take around 10 to 15 minutes to complete. These lessons are the building blocks of the program and your goal, more or less everyday, will be to complete a lesson or two.
And if that’s a lot to visualize, I’ll use an example. Right after you sign up, the first overarching level will be “Newcomer,” and the first course you’ll complete under that level is “Newcomer Course 1” (I know real original). Under that first course there are 14 different lessons to complete before you move on to “Newcomer Course 2.”
That’s a pretty fair example of what to expect. In any event, across all of these different levels and courses, there are about 250 hours or so worth of lessons to complete.
And though that sounds like a lot, remember that you are learning an entirely new language and there is a ton of content to cover. In a nutshell, that’s how the Babbel German program is structured at a high level.
What The German Lessons Are Like
Next, getting into what the actual lessons are like (which you’ll be working on a daily basis), I’ll start with this: they’re very short. Each lesson is only about 10 to 15 minutes long, and they go by super fast.
The main reason the lessons go by quickly is that each is made up of several quick-hit, interactive drills. Basically, each lesson is comprised of around a dozen short exercises that come in a wide variety of formats. You’ll see digital flashcards drills, fill-in-the-blanks, matching pairs, listen-and-repeat exercises, matching phrases to images, completing mock conversations, short grammar exercises, and more.
It’s a very diverse, blended approach that moves fast. Frankly, as I’ll discuss in greater detail below, I love how Babbel throws the same content at you in a variety of different ways and forces you to interact with the material.
This is contrast with other language apps out there, like Rosetta Stone for example, which just sort of hit you over the head with the same type of exercise over and over again.
Honestly, 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 gets high marks.
Babbel German Live Classes
One other thing I should mention about Babbel’s program is that they also offer live classes. Now, to be clear, these classes are not part of the standard subscription – they are an add-on. However, in my opinion, they can offer a ton of value.
What you’ll start to notice is that as you get farther along into the course, you’ll have the ability to start speaking conversationally, but you’ve got no one to practice with. Unless your partner, in-laws, or a friend knows how to speak German, it will just be you and your online lessons.
Yet the best way to accelerate your learning and get over the hump is regularly practicing speaking. And that’s where Babbel’s live classes come in. Essentially, the company offers hundreds of small-group live classes per week across all different learning levels.
Each class is capped at just 6 students and you’re grouped with people from your own learning level. As a result, the classes feel very intimate and there’s very little pressure because you are with others at the same level, struggling through the same pain points as yourself.
Honestly, these classes are an awesome way to really speed up your fluency, and my favorite part is that 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 want.
Again though, these classes are not included in Babbel’s standard subscription and do cost extra. And that’s probably a good segue into pricing, which can be a very important point.
Babbel German Cost
Babbel offers four different subscription options: a monthly pay-as-you-go plan, which costs $14 per month; a 3-month plan that costs around $30, or $10 per month; a 6-month plan that costs around $50, or $8.50 per month; and finally a 12-month plan, which is the best value at around $7 per month.
In addition, if you want to add on those live classes that I just discussed, you’re looking at around $50 to $100 per month based on which package you go with, as well as current discounts.
From an overall price perspective, if you stack Babbel up against competitors, they’re somewhere in the middle of the pack. They are more expensive than companies like Duolingo and Memrise, but cheaper than Pimsleur and Rosetta Stone.
Overall, for $7 to $14 per month, they’re on the affordable end of the spectrum, and I would consider them a strong value. Plus, 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.
Also, those are just the full retail prices and Babbel does frequently offer deals and special promos, so be sure to grab a coupon code or discount before buying if Babbel does end up being your choice.
What We Like About Babbel German
Now that we’ve covered pricing and you know what the lessons and program are all about, let’s get into the juicy part: what I like and what I don’t like about Babbel’s German program. Let’s begin with the things I really like.
Fun, Fast Lessons
I love the design of Babbel’s lessons. They’re fast moving, diverse, and just plain fun. For people that don’t have an hour straight to work through a lengthy lesson and are trying to squeeze their language learning in around life, Babbel is awesome in this respect. I just really like that lessons only take about 10 or 15 minutes to complete.
Subtle Grammar Instruction
I really like how Babbel weaves grammar instruction into their lessons. Honestly, grammar is a tough aspect for language apps to master. I personally think it’s incredibly important to establish the basic grammar building blocks as you learn a new language, but if you put too much emphasis on grammar, it can actually slow your progress and stunt your learning.
All things considered, I think Babbel has done a really nice job balancing this part of the teaching. Their grammar snippets are short, and they do an excellent job subtly weaving these quick teaching points into the lessons.
Regular Review Sessions
My third pro is the regular review sessions. Basically, every time you log in to do a new lesson, Babbel will hit you with a quick review session. They’re usually really fast and only take 3 or 4 minutes, but they’re great for refreshing your German vocabulary and making the material stick.
Seeing vocab time and time again like this is what makes it sink into your long term memory.
Easy To Follow
Next, I love the guidance that Babbel provides. From the second you log in, it’s clear exactly what lesson you’re on and what you need to learn. I personally hate those kinds of courses that are self-driven and up to the user to decide what to study and when. Frankly, I kind of want my hand to be held through the process, and Babbel is great about that.
Your progression through the course is clear as day, and you never feel lost or confused. It’s just a very smart, streamlined setup. Plus, their user experience is awesome with a modern interface and sleek look.
Plenty of English Directions
Lastly, I like that Babbel uses a lot of English directions and translations in their program. Not all language companies out there do this. Rosetta Stone, for example, is big on immersion, meaning very little English is used.
I understand the merits of the immersion argument, but when you’re learning a new language like German (which is very different from English), and you’re just thrown into the fire, it can be frustrating. So I like that Babbel guides you with English directions, which only fade out as you get farther into the course.
What We Don’t Like About Babbel German
With Babbel’s strengths out of the way, let’s turn the tables now and talk about the things I don’t like about Babbel.
Not Much Verbal Practice
Right out of the gate, I’ll just say that I feel like Babbel isn’t great about developing your conversational skills. Don’t get me wrong – there are verbal practice exercises where you repeat words and phrases, but they’re sort of limited. There are no full-blown mock conversations or extended speaking exercises.
A lot of times it was on me to conceptualize in what setting I would say a phrase after I just learned it, and then practice it. I’d have to imagine the scenario when I would use the phrase, then practice with a sort of made up back-and-forth with myself.
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 suppose I’d like to just see more robust speaking exercises from Babbel.
Vocab Practice Shortcoming
My second gripe is that as you learn new vocab in the Babbel German program, it will capture your new words under a “vocab” tab in the practice section. This allows you to practice those phrases you’ve already learned in between lessons. It’s actually a review tool I used almost daily.
However, my complaint here is that this vocab feature doesn’t capture everything you’ve learned. For example, after a lesson where I learned 7 phrases, it would only show 4 or 5 of them in there. So overall, I like this vocab practice tool for review purposes, but I just wish it captured everything. It was just a little frustrating to only see some of the stuff you’ve learned so far under this tab.
Not Ideal For Advanced Learners
My final negative has to do with the live classes. As I mentioned above, as you start getting up into the intermediate and advanced lessons, you’re going to want to start practicing actually speaking with other people that are fluent, or at least at your same level. Honestly, it’s what will be the difference maker in pushing your German over the edge.
And on that point, Babbel’s live classes are just a touch expensive. Just to be clear, I absolutely love their live classes. The small class sizes, varied topics, and intimate feel are great. However, $50 to $100 is just a little steep. It’s literally 5x to 10x as much as the cost of the base app. It would just be nice if these live class passes were a bit cheaper.
Verdict: Babbel German
Overall, I am a really big fan of Babbel’s German program. I love the diversity of their drills and exercises, as well as the fact that they only take 10 or 15 minutes to complete, with quick review sessions between each. Altogether, the lessons and review sessions are very manageable. I also like that they include English directions and translations, as well as subtle grammar instruction throughout. Plus, their structured guidance is great on walking you through the whole program.
Yes, I do have a few minor complaints with their program like the lack of in-depth speaking exercises, but by and large, I think Babbel is a really effective and fun option for those looking to learn German. Not to mention, it’s hard to argue with the price tag. At $7 to $14 per month, Babbel is one of the more affordable options on the market. So overall, I give Babbel high marks and wouldn’t hesitate to go with them to learn German.
After a full review and using the Babbel program for weeks, I can say that Babbel German is well worth it. It’s an incredibly fun and fast-moving program that holds your attention, in addition to being effective.
How much is Babbel German?
A subscription to Babbel’s German program costs anywhere from $7-$14 per month, depending on which package you opt for. Sometimes it can be found for cheaper when on sale.
How long does it take to learn German with Babbel?
If you complete one lesson per day, every day, you can expect to start speaking German at an intermediate level of fluency within 2 or 3 months.