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Babbel Russian Review
Determine whether Babbel Russian is right for you in this detailed review
If your goal is to become fluent in Russian, there are several routes you can take. You can hire a professional Russian tutor, take an immersion trip, attend live classes, or sign up for a Russian language app. In this article, we take a close look at the last option. We analyze the pros and cons of the Babbel Russian program (a very popular app) so you can see whether it is a good match for your budget and learning style.
To help you navigate this detailed review, we have included jump-to links above for your convenience.
How The Babbel Russian Course Works
When you first sign up for Babbel, the company will ask you a few different questions that touch on your experience with the Russian language, how much time per day you have to dedicate towards learning, and what your ultimate goal is.
From there, you can then pick a learning path based on either your current skill level, or thematic topics like work or travel. For most people, I assume you’ll just want to start at the newcomer level, unless you happened to take some Russian classes in high school or you have a specific topic in mind.
In any event, there are around 2 to 8 courses per level, and breaking it down even further, within each course, there are 10 to 15 lessons to complete. That’s the Babbel Russian course in a nutshell—you have levels, courses, and then lessons (like a pyramid).
The Babbel Russian Learning Method
As far learning method goes, unlike other Russian language apps that skew more towards one type of lesson format (e.g., the Pimsleur Russian course is very audio centric), the Babbel Russian course is much more balanced.
Their lessons help develop both your receptive and expressive language skills (i.e., listening, reading, writing, and speaking, as well as grammar). The drills within the Babbel lessons touch on all these different skills.
To ensure you don’t lose what you learn in the standard lessons, Babbel regularly prompts you to complete review sessions, so that the Russian vocabulary you are introduced to moves from your short term memory to your long term memory.
Babbel believes that a holistic approach packaged in a short, engaging lesson format coupled with consistent reinforcement is the most effective way to learn Russian. And I tend to agree.
Babbel Russian Price
Next, let’s quickly talk about cost and how Babbel compares to other language apps.
Babbel offers four different subscription options: month-to-month for $18, a three-month plan for $45, a six-month plan for $80, and an annual plan for $105. In other words, you’re looking at around $8 to $18 per month depending on which plan you select.
Alternatively, if you don’t want to deal with a monthly payment, Babbel also offers a one-time purchase lifetime option that costs around $350.
Putting this in perspective, Babbel isn’t the cheapest app we’ve reviewed, but it’s also not the most expensive either. It sort of lands in the middle. Babbel is more expensive than Duolingo and Mondly, but cheaper than the likes of Pimsleur and Rocket Languages.
Strengths of The Babbel Russian App
Now that you know how Babbel Russian works and how much it costs, let’s get into the pros and cons, starting with the positive aspects of this program.
Engaging Lesson Format
The first highlight is Babbel’s short, diverse lesson format, which really helps to keep you active and engaged.
First, our team likes that the lessons incorporate aspects of reading, writing, listening, and speaking. This helps keep the learning process fresh and fun.
Then second, each lesson only takes around 10 minutes to complete, which is ideal if you are a busy professional or parent.
This way you can quickly knock out lessons during your lunch break, or while you are waiting to pick your kids up from school, for example. As a result, you always feel like you’re making progress in your language learning journey, which helps keep you motivated.
Flexible Review Sessions
We mentioned the Babbel review sessions earlier in this review, but what we didn’t mention is that Babbel gives you the choice of how you want to review. You can choose between flashcards, listening, speaking, or writing.
As such, say you’re weak in a particular area. Let’s use writing as an example. You can select that option and really hone in on that skill set until you start improving.
Russian Grammar Instruction
Next, I’d like to highlight Babbel’s grammar instruction. To be clear, grammar is a sensitive subject among language experts. Some linguists don’t like the idea of any grammar instruction whatsoever, while others believe it is necessary to really build your foundational understanding of the language.
Well, the good news is that Babbel sort of splits the difference. The company doesn’t hit you over the head with long, boring textbook-style definitions, but they also don’t leave you hanging either.
In my opinion, Babbel threads the needle perfectly. The company subtly integrates short, concise grammar explanations and insights into their curriculum so that you can get a feel for basic Russian grammar rules.
Babbel’s Speech Software
We have tested dozens of different speech software tools at this point, and we collectively agree that Babbel’s is near the top of the list. It’s easy-to-use, quick, and accurate.
That way as you complete the various verbal practice drills within lessons, you can continue to refine your pronunciation to sound like a true local.
Modern Digital Platform
Lastly, we’d like to give a shoutout to Babbel’s digital platform and mobile app. The user experience is flat out awesome. The company’s user interface is modern and intuitive.
Overall, our team was very impressed. We think it’s easily one of the best language apps on the market from a user experience standpoint.
Weaknesses of The Babbel Russian App
Now that the positives are out of the way, let’s turn the tables and look at the things that our team does not like about Babbel’s Russian program.
Verbal Practice Drills Could Be Improved
While I generally like the company’s speech recognition technology, I do wish the verbal practice exercises themselves were more advanced.
They’re just sort of basic. You’re really just asked to repeat words, phrases and sentences immediately after listening to them without context.
Instead, we wish Babbel offered users the chance to use the language spontaneously and under pressure like you would in the real world. We think this this type of verbal practice is ultimately much more effective.
For example, within the Rocket Russian program, you have the opportunity to participate in simulated conversations with fluent Russian speakers.
Another negative is that there is no video component within the Babbel lessons, and even the use of visuals (i.e., images and graphics) is fairly limited.
Therefore, if you’re more of a visual learner, take note of this. If you process information best through visual means, then maybe a program like LingoPie or Memrise would be a better fit. Also, the Rosetta Stone Russian program would also be an option as their lessons are built around imagery.
No Live Russian Classes
Lastly, it’s kind of a bummer that Babbel doesn’t offer live Russian classes like they do for their Spanish, German, French, and Italian students. We think these classes are an excellent way for you to connect and practice with learners at the same level as yourself, and pickup useful insights from experienced teachers.
Verdict: Is Babbel Good For Learning Russian?
In the end, we do think Babbel is a solid app to learn Russian. Sure, we have a few minor grievances with the program, such as the fact that there is no video component within lessons, or that the verbal practice drills are somewhat elementary, but by and large, we think this is an extremely effective course to learn Russian.
We really like Babbel’s short, diverse lesson format, their flexible review sessions, accurate speech software, and streamlined grammar instruction. All in all, we think the Babbel Russian program is an excellent fit for beginners; however, we would just caution that the course doesn’t progress past the CEFR A2 level.
Therefore, once you reach an intermediate level of fluency, you’ll likely have to look elsewhere if you want to keep progressing towards an advanced level.
No, the Babbel Russian course is not free. However, the company does offer a free lesson so you can see whether you like Babbel before purchasing.
How much is Babbel Russian?
Babbel offers several different subscription options. The monthly plans cost anywhere between $8 and $18 per month, and the lifetime plan costs around $350.
How many levels are in the Babbel Russian course?
There are two levels within the Babbel Russian course (Newcomer A1 and Beginner A2). Within each level, there are 2-8 courses, and within each course, there are around 12 lessons on average.
How long does it take to learn Russian with Babbel?
It will take you more than 100 hours to complete the Babbel Russian course. By the end, expect to reach a pre-intermediate level of fluency.
Is Babbel Russian worth it?
Yes, after using and testing out the Babbel program, our team believes that the Babbel Russian course is worth it. The monthly subscription plans are very affordable, and the company’s learning framework is very effective.