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Babbel Spanish Review
Our detailed and comprehensive review of Babbel Spanish, where we break down everything that matters
Whether you’re just trying to brush up the Spanish you learned in high school for an upcoming trip to Costa Rica, or gain total fluency for a move overseas, a lot of people turn to Babbel. They are one of the most popular language learning programs in the world, but the question is always the same: does their program work? In this detailed review, our expert team (including a linguist) breaks down everything you need to know about the Babbel Spanish app, including how the program is structured, how effective the lessons are, our thoughts, and much more.
As this is a pretty long and detailed review, above find handy jump-to links for convenience.
Babbel Spanish Video Review
In the video above, TPI team member John breaks down the major pros and cons of the Babbel Spanish program. For more detail, be sure to continue reading our full written review below.
Babbel Spanish Cost
To set the stage for our thoughts, let’s quickly cover pricing. Babbel offers four different subscription options to choose from: a month-by-month plan, which costs $14 per month, a 3-month plan which costs around $30 ($10 per month), a 6-month plan that costs around $50 ($8.50 per month), and finally a 12-month plan, which is the best value at around $7 per month.
When you stack this pricing up against competitors like Rosetta Stone and Pimsleur, Babbel is actually more affordable by roughly $2 to $12 per month on average, depending on which subscription option you go with. So from a cost perspective, Babbel is definitely a solid value and gets two thumbs up.
In addition, Babbel also offers a 20-day money back guarantee so you can always test the waters before fully committing. It’s not exactly a free trial, but it is a nice insurance policy if you end up not liking their course.
How The Babbel Spanish Program Works
Now that pricing is out of the way, let’s dive into the meat and potatoes of this review – our evaluation of the actual Babbel Spanish program. And to do this, let’s start with how the program is structured.
Essentially, there are different learning levels that focus on broad topics, and within each level, there are 2 to 6 courses. Then within each course, there are 5 to 15 lessons that each take around 10 to 15 minutes to complete. That’s the structure of their program from a bird’s eye view.
To use an example, one of the beginner levels is named “Daily Life.” Within this level, there are 4 courses, the first of which is named “Meet The Neighbors.” Then within this course there are 7 different lessons to complete before you move on to the next course.
All told there are 275 hours of lessons across all of the different levels and courses. It is a lot, but the nice thing with Babbel is that you can jump around from level to level or course to course. You’re not forced to follow a strict progression through the material, which can be a time saver if you feel like you’ve mastered an area.
Breakdown of The Spanish Lessons
So now that you know how the program is structured, let’s dive into what the lessons themselves are actually like. And I’ll start by saying this: they’re very short. As mentioned above, each one is only about 10 to 15 minutes long, and they go by super fast. This is generally so because each lesson is made up of several quick-hit, interactive drills and exercises.
For the first two minutes of the lesson, you might be listening to new words or phrases and then repeating them back through your microphone. Then the lesson will quickly transition into a digital flashcards drill for a few minutes, followed by a short grammatical or conjugation lesson. Then you’ll move into a drill to reconstruct words or phrases by using your keyboard, and afterwards you might be asked to complete a fill-in-the-blank exercise by following a mock conversation.
It’s just a very fast moving, blended approach, which I really appreciate. I like how Babbel throws the same content at you in a variety of different ways, which really forces you to interact with the material. And as a result, you really don’t get bored.
Babbel does a great job holding your attention and making the learning process sort of fun. So from the perspective of overall lesson quality, I have to give Babbel props here. I definitely prefer the variety and quick-hit, engaging format of their lessons to those from competitors like Rosetta Stone, which kind of hit you over the head with the same type of exercise over and over again.
Babbel Spanish Live Classes
It is also worth noting that Babbel does offer live classes. To be clear, these classes are not included in Babbel’s standard subscription – you have to pay extra.
But in short, the company offers hundreds of small-group live classes per week across all different learning levels. Each class is capped at just 6 students per class, so they actually do fill up sort of fast and you have to reserve your spot. Though I would just mention that most seem to be available right up until an hour or two before the time of the class.
Each class is typically 60 minutes long and covers all sorts of different topics, from learning about holidays, to architecture, to painting in Spain. It really does vary widely and you can go down some serious rabbit holes.
But the nice thing is that 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. As mentioned, I didn’t have any real issue with this.
Overall, I’m just a big fan of these live classes. If you’ve got the time, they’re a fantastic way to dive deeper into specific subjects, interact with others using the program, and learn from experienced teachers.
What We Like About Babbel Spanish
So now that I’ve covered cost and you know how the program works, let’s get into what I like about Babbel’s Spanish app after thoroughly testing the program.
Diverse, Quick-Hit Exercises
I already touched on this, but I love the diversity of Babbel’s exercises and the swift, interactive nature of the lessons. With lessons that take just 10 to 15 minutes to complete, it’s easy to knock one out each day before bed, on your lunch break, or whenever you can squeeze it in. It is very manageable.
Plus, the diversity of drills makes it sort of fun. I never once got bored while using the program. Not to mention, diversity of drills and exercises helps with material retention.
I really like how Babbel encourages you to regularly review – it’s all about repetition, repetition, repetition. Essentially, everyday or every time you sign in, you’re pushed to review the words or phrases you’ve already learned in previous lessons.
And what’s cool here is that Babbel gives you the choice of how you want to review. You can choose between flashcards, listening, speaking or writing, which I was a big fan of. So if you feel you’re weak in any particular area, you can hammer practice exercises until you gain more confidence. Overall, the review sessions are a great tool.
More Translations Than Other Language Learning Apps
My third major pro of this program is the fact that the Babbel lessons include English directions and translations. Babbel will even give you hints in English if you’re struggling in a drill or exercise.
Now, I know some companies out there like Rosetta Stone believe in 100% language immersion. They believe no English is the way to go. However, in my experience, I’ve found that the use of English for directions and translations can be helpful.
Let’s face it, in today’s day and age, it seems like people are used to the convenience of having the answer right at their fingertips if they get hung up on a particular phrase or sentence.
So at the end of the day, I can see the argument both ways (immersion vs translation), but I ultimately appreciated the limited use of English to help keep the lessons moving and ease frustrations.
I like that Babbel incorporates grammar content and exercises into its lessons, which is something that not all language learning courses do. But they don’t hit you over the head with it. Babbel doesn’t bog you down with dense, boring grammatical principles because, honestly, sometimes I actually think that can do more harm than good.
Instead, they integrate grammar instruction into their lessons in a very subtle and efficient way. For example, one grammar exercise might include just a quick one-to-two sentence explanation in English regarding adjectives vs adverbs, and then you participate by filling in blanks in example sentences.
And then as you get to more complex topics like verb conjugation, you’ll be asked to straight up type-in correct translations. But again, the Babbel program is always right there to provide hints and tips to ensure you understand. It’s just a very effective means of incorporating grammar without killing you.
I love Babbel’s digital platform and interface across both desktop and their mobile app. It’s a very polished and professional interface that meets modern expectations.
It’s fast, everything is laid out in a logical manner, and it’s super easy to navigate. I had no complaints whatsoever. In addition, I really like the calendar tool that Babbel includes. You can set how many lessons you’d like to complete per week and then track your progress to keep yourself organized.
Ok, now that we’ve talked about what we like about Babbel Spanish, let’s switch sides to the things I don’t like.
Lacks Emphasis On Speaking Skills
Babbel doesn’t develop your conversation skills as well as some other language learning programs I’ve used (such as Rocket Spanish). Yes, there are drills and exercises that require you to speak and practice your pronunciation (some through voice recognition on a microphone), but verbal practice just doesn’t seem to be as much of a priority for Babbel as it is with other Spanish courses out there.
I will say, however, that Babbel’s voice recognition technology is pretty good. Of course, it’s never going to be a 1-to-1 substitute for speaking with an actual human being, and it’s not perfect. There were instances where I’d be prompted to repeat a word or phrase, and when I knew I was pronouncing it correctly it would tell me I was wrong, and there was times when I knew I was wrong and the software would tell me I was right.
But still, all things considered, Babbel’s voice recognition tech is pretty darn good (at least better than Duolingo’s). I guess my real gripe here is that I just wish Babbel placed a little more emphasis on speaking within their lessons and review sessions. I believe output – actually speaking and talking – is crucial for successful language acquisition.
With that said though, if you really want to hone your speaking skills, there are other companies out there where you can get matched up with a live coach or tutor to help you practice your verbal skills (like iTalki for example). These types of services could be a nice, cheap supplement to the Babbel core curriculum.
Not Great For Advanced Learners
In short, Babbel is not great for advanced learners. This Spanish program is really more geared towards newbie to intermediate learners. The lessons just really don’t progress into the advanced or mastery realm.
Babbel is great for getting the foundation down and learning enough to get by, but I would just say don’t expect to be a master of the Spanish language by the end of the program. In other words, you’re not going to be able to become a licensed translator or something, where you have to be certified fluent at an advanced level.
You’ll have a great intermediate grasp of the language and can hold down elementary conversation while travelling or talking with friends. But that’s likely it.
Think of Babbel as more like a college degree. The program will point you in the right direction and give you a solid knowledge base, but if you really want to get the most out of your degree and become an expert, you’ll need to do some extra studying on your own and get critical experience. That’s the best way to look at it.
Pricey Live Classes
As mentioned, I like Babbel’s live classes, but they are a little pricey. Again, I love that Babbel offers these for students – they offer cool insights into cultural things and it’s a fun way to get some bonus learning in. But there’s no beating around the bush, it’s a little expensive.
The Babbel Spanish live subscription costs between $50 and $100 per month, depending on which package you go with. 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, but realistically, I’m just not sure how many people have the time to jump into these classes in addition to completing the regular lessons and practice work.
Instead, I think the better way to go if you do want live instruction is to schedule a tutoring or coaching session two or three times per month. For reference, with companies like iTalki you can find experienced tutors for less than $10 per hour.
Verdict: Babbel Spanish App
All in all, I was very impressed with Babbel’s Spanish program. I love the diversity of their drills and exercises, and the interactive nature of their lessons. It made learning pretty fun and it seemed to work well for language acquisition. I also like that they include English directions and translations to help keep lessons moving and prevent frustration, which is always prevalent when learning a new language. In addition, I thought Babbel’s subtle grammar instruction throughout was a nice touch, and the user interface is top-notch as well.
Yes, I do have a few minor grievances with the Babbel Spanish app, but by and large, I think this is a highly effective program that should get the job done for most anyone looking to gain an elementary to intermediate understanding of Spanish. Plus, it’s just plain hard to argue with the price tag – Babbel is one most affordable options on the market. Overall, I wouldn’t hesitate to go with Babbel.
Babbel offers their language learning program under a subscription model. Monthly plans start at $14 per month, and go down from there depending on what length of subscription you purchase. Their 12 month plan is roughly $7 per month.
Is Babbel good for Spanish?
After a full review of the Babbel Spanish course, in our team’s opinion, we do think this language learning program is good. Their combination of swift and diverse exercises and drills is effective for learning Spanish.
How long does it take to learn Spanish with Babbel?
If you stick with the Babbel activity calendar and suggested study plan, and complete of all your assigned lessons, you can expect to obtain an intermediate level of Spanish fluency in just 3-4 months.