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Babbel Italian Review
See whether Babbel is the right app for you to learn Italian in this detailed review
Babbel is one of the most popular language learning programs in the world to learn Italian. With quick-hit lessons, a fun digital platform, and a cheap price tag, it has tons of appeal. But the question is always the same: does it work? We tried the Babbel Italian app for two months, doing lessons everyday, and here’s what we think.
Given that this is a detailed review, feel free to use the jump-to links above for quick navigation.
Video Review: Is Babbel Italian Worth It?
In the above video, team member John breaks down everything you need to know about the Babbel Italian app in under 10 minutes. For more detail, continue reading our full written Babbel Italian review below.
What The Babbel Italian Lessons Are Like
To begin, let’s start with a quick overview of how the Babbel Italian program is structured. I think this will help to lay the groundwork for this review.
From a high level, there are different levels within the Italian course, including Newcomer I & Newcomer II, Beginner I & Beginner II, etc. Basically, the levels work up from having zero knowledge to advanced.
Then within each level, there are typically somewhere between 2 and 8 courses that cover different thematic topics. And then within each course, there are anywhere from 5 to 15 lessons to complete. So think of it like a pyramid, with levels at the top, courses in the middle, and lessons at the bottom.
There are hundreds of lessons across the Babbel Italian program, and your goal should be to complete at least one per day for consistency. And that’s probably a good segue into what the lessons themselves are actually like.
The lessons are very short, perhaps 10 to 15 minutes max, and they go by super fast. In terms of substance, each lesson is comprised of several quick-hit, interactive drills that touch on reading, writing, listening and speaking.
There are digital flashcards, fill-in-the-blanks, matching pairs, multiple-choice questions, matching phrases to images, completing mock conversations, short grammar exercises, and more. It is just a very diverse, hybrid approach to learning that moves quickly.
And frankly, as I’ll touch on later in this review, we were big fans of this format. I personally love how Babbel basically presents same content in a variety of different ways and really forces you to interact with the material.
This differs from other language apps out there, like Rosetta Stone for example, which follows more of a rinse-and-repeat type of model. Honestly, you never get bored during the Babbel Italian lessons, and this fast-paced, blended approach makes the learning process pretty fun and exciting.
So from an overall lesson perspective, Babbel definitely receives high marks from our team. They’ve designed a very manageable and fun program.
Babbel Italian Subscription Options
Now that you have an idea of how the Babbel Italian course is organized and what the lessons are all about, let’s talk pricing. Babbel offers several different subscription options. Essentially you can pay as you go (month-to-month), or pay for 3, 6, 9, or 12 months in advance.
These subscription options range in price from around $7 to $14 per month. Or, for those of you looking for longer term access, Babbel also offers a lifetime plan, which costs around $200-$300.
Taking a step back and looking at the entire language learning landscape as a whole, Babbel actually stacks up quite wellwith competitors from a pricing perspective. Their plans are cheaper than those from Rosetta Stone, Pimsleur and FluentU just to name a few.
For less than $10 per month, Babbel is definitely one of the more affordable options on the market, and I would consider their plans to be a solid value.
Not to mention, if you would like 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.
Babbel Italian Highlights
Time to get to the good stuff. Let’s talk about what I like and what I don’t like about Babbel’s Italian program after testing it out. And let’s start with the highlights.
Having Your Hand Held
Foremost, I love the guidance that Babbel provides in its Italian course. From the second you log in, the dashboard is easy to navigate, it’s clear exactly what lesson you’re on, and what’s next.
I personally dislike those kinds of courses that are self-driven and up to the user to decide what to study and when. They drive me crazy. I just think that style leads to confusion and frustration a lot of times.
Instead, I’d rather have my hand held throughout the learning 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 the overall user experience is awesome. The company’s digital platform across both mobile and desktop are top-notch. The mobile app especially is very fast, sleek and modern.
Fast, Fun & Diverse Lessons
Second up, I really like Babbel’s lesson format. It’s fast-paced, diverse and just plain fun (somewhat similar to the Duolingo lessons). If you have a busy schedule that tends to vary quite a bit from day to day (like mine), Babbel’s lessons are perfect.
I think it’s fair to say that not everyone has an uninterrupted hour each day to work through a lengthy lesson from start to finish. Whether you’re a working professional logging 40+ hours per week or you’re a busy parent, Babbel will fit nicely into your schedule.
Nice Balance Of Grammar
My third course strength is the streamlined manner in which Babbel blends grammar content into their lessons. This is a topic that is often difficult for language learning companies to balance.
If they place too much of an emphasis on grammar early on and really hit you over the head with dense explanations, I think it can actually slow you progress and hinder your learning.
However, if grammar is ignored altogether, you miss out on those important, much needed building blocks as you first start to learn Italian. Luckily though, I think Babbel strikes a very nice balance.
They keep their grammar explanations short yet insightful, and they do an excellent job subtly weaving these quick teaching points into their lessons. Overall, Babbel gets high marks in the grammar department.
Quick-Hit Daily Review Sessions
Another highlight is Babbel’s review sessions, which are great for refreshing your memory and helping to make the material stick. Seeing vocabulary over and over again like this is what really helps move to the material from your short term memory to your long term memory (a major key to language learning).
And one cool thing on this point is that Babbel gives you choices. You get to choose how you want to review. You can choose between flashcards, listening drills, verbal practice, or writing exercises.
Honestly, it’s great. If you don’t feel like speaking one day, you can avoid it, or if you want listening practice, you can opt for that. The flexibility is awesome.
Once You Hit An Intermediate Level ➜ Live Classes
Last up as far as positives go, I appreciate that Babbel offers live classes in addition to their standard Italian course. This is a great tool for people 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 they do cost extra. However, the company offers hundreds of small-group live classes per week across all different learning levels on the spectrum.
Each class is typically around an hour long and you can find classes that cover all sorts of topics that may be of interest to you. For example, there are classes that cover Italian soccer leagues, how to make the perfect espresso, and Italy’s obsession with Vespas.
Overall, these classes are a fantastic way to dive deeper into specific subjects, converse with your peers who are also learning, 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.
Babbel Italian Lowlights
With the highlights covered, let’s turn to the things I don’t necessarily like about Babbel’s Italian program.
Costly Live Classes
On the point of those live classes that I just referenced, while I am a big advocate of the live class format and the interaction that comes along with it, the classes are on the expensive side.
The Babbel Live subscription costs between $50 and $100 per month depending on which package you go with. And yes, 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; however, I just don’t imagine that many people realistically having the free time necessary to complete live classes in addition to the standard coursework and practice exercises.
Honestly, this will probably only be a small segment of learners. Though again, once you’re ready for more in-depth practice, these classes are awesome. But bottom line, I just wish Babbel priced their live classes to be a little more affordable.
Light On Verbal Practice
Unfortunately, the Babbel lessons and curriculum are a little lacking in terms of developing your speaking skills. The lessons do include verbal practice exercises where you repeat words and phrases, but it’s just sort of elementary (the Rocket lessons are much better in this regard).
There’s no simulated conversations or extended speaking exercises. In most cases, the responsibility falls on the user to try to imagine the context in which you would use a word or phrase after learning it.
This is in contrast with other language apps out there like Pimsleur and Rocket Italian, for example, that make full, simulated conversations and audio practice a significant part of their learning framework. In short, I would just like to see more comprehensive speaking exercises from Babbel.
Not Great For Advanced Fluency
Relating to my complaint immediately above, my last negative is that because speaking exercises are not the main priority within the Babbel lessons, I see the Babbel Italian course as being more ideal for beginner to intermediate learners (like Mondly).
If you’re looking to reach an advanced level of fluency, you’ll likely need more robust verbal exercises. Of course, once you get to that point, you could always add in some live classes in order to get some serious conversational experience under your belt.
However, short of taking live classes, I’m not sure Babbel’s app alone will get you over the top to master the Italian language.
Verdict: Babbel Italian App Review
After using the Babbel Italian app for several weeks and evaluating all of its different features, I came away very impressed. I love the diversity of their drills and exercises, as well as the short, interactive format of their lessons.
Additionally, I really like how they mix grammar content into the course. Plus, their mobile app and digital platform are about the best in the industry.
Yes, I do have a few small complaints with the Babbel Italian program, but by and large, I think this is a highly effective program that should work for pretty much anyone looking to achieve a beginner to intermediate understanding of Italian.
Not to mention, it’s just hard to argue with the price tag. Babbel is one most affordable options on the market. So overall, I would highly recommend going with Babbel to learn Italian.
If you are looking to learn Italian, Babbel is one of the better language apps on the market. Their digital platform is fun and easy to use, the lessons are quick and engaging, and the overall teaching framework is thoughtfully designed.
Is Babbel Italian worth it?
In our team’s opinion, yes, Babbel Italian is worth it. While not the most comprehensive Italian language app we’ve reviewed, there are plenty of perks with Babbel, including low cost, quick lessons, and an engaging curriculum.
How much is Babbel Italian?
You can purchase access to Babbel Italian in a number of ways. Their monthly subscriptions plans range from $7 up to $14 per month, depending on how much you want to prepay, and there is also a lifetime plan for around $200-$300.