This post is sponsored by Babbel.
Is Babbel worth it? Yes! I have used Babbel for years and I believe it is definitely worth the cost.
The benefits are substantial. Lessons are easy to follow and learn, and the review reinforces what I learned in previous lessons. It is easy to use on your browser or via the Babbel app on your phone. Plus, Babbel offers a mix of online lessons and courses live-streamed on the Babbel website and the app.
The livestream lessons are a great option to enhance your language study. These lessons are appealing for the following reasons:
- Classes are offered on many dates and times to fit your schedule
- There are a number of different teachers with a wide range of teaching styles
- The small class size (limited to six students) means you’ll receive personal attention
But, the livestream classes in your target language aren’t identified by skill level. Read on to learn more about my experience and why I think it’s something Babbel could improve.
Babbel makes it easy to learn a new language. I live in Arizona, where speaking Spanish is a definite plus. (I’m not alone — the company says Babbel for Spanish is the most popular language across its platform.)
For me, learning a second language has both career and personal benefits. Many employers pay a premium for workers fluent in two or more languages.
And, as we travelers know, international travel is always a little easier if you speak the local language.
Our Favorite Babbel Features
- The online application breaks down language learning into easily digestible lessons that take 15 to 20 minutes each.
- Language learners move through the courses at their own pace. So you can choose to complete a lesson on a quick break or set aside an hour and run through several in a row.
- Learning languages through video, audio, games, podcasts and images, Babbel reinforces the short lessons with quick quizzes, reviews and supporting materials. I’ve found that it’s possible to pick up essential phrases and words very quickly.
- There is even a new version of the old-fashioned flashcards that make use of a memory trick called spaced repetition — the cards flash at intervals that are spaced out in a way designed to transfer vocabulary into your long-term memory.
- Babbel teaches you real-life phrases that you can start using immediately.
- Every learner is different and Babbel understands that, which is why you’ll have a personalized learning path whether you are a beginner, intermediate or advanced learner.
What Languages Does Babbel Teach?
Babbel offers language study in the following languages:
- Portuguese (Brazilian)
Even better, Babbel tailors the learning experience for your native language. The company says it does that because your native language influences how you learn a foreign language. For example, English speakers learn Spanish in a different way than French speakers do.
How Babbel Works
Let’s start this Babbel review at the beginning: Signing up for a language course is more than just filling in the blanks. Babbel walks you through a series of questions to help you find the right program to meet your personal needs.
The quick and easy quiz asks about your current knowledge and reasons for taking the course, and it helps to define personal expectations. Babbel claims that 75 percent of its students achieve their goals. The system encourages at least 15 minutes daily to get through the 30-plus lessons towards a goal.
Your learning style and age also help refine the learning program Babbel will offer you.
Once all of that is done, you create an account and step up for a placement quiz.
Finding the Correct Babbel Level
The screenshot below shows the Babbel self-assessment tool. Here, we learn that I am progressing but I am not quite skilled enough yet to order a meal at a restaurant.
Babbel asks for your confidence level with the language you want to learn. A quick series of questions determines which level of lessons — there are beginner levels, intermediate levels and advanced levels — will be the starting point for your Babbel course. Then the app lets you take the first lesson for free before you have to provide your payment information.
There are multiple Babbel subscription plans requiring commitments from a one-month subscription to a lifetime subscription. Buying multiple months saves you on the per-month price. For example, the Babbel cost in May 2023 was $14.95 for a one-month subscription. A six-month subscription is $11.15 per month, a 25% savings.
Note that while prices are listed in monthly costs, the subscription costs are paid in full when you sign up. The company also offers a 20-day money-back guarantee. Just write to customer service within that 20-day window to get a full refund.
Babbel Lessons on the Language Learning App
As you can see in the screenshot above, Babbel keeps it simple. In each lesson, you’ll see a clear image displayed with minimal wording, forming either a short phrase or naming the objects depicted.
Teaching the French word “clothes,” for example, shows clothing lying about and the terms “les vêtements.” Clicking on the image plays a native speaker saying the words in French, and clicking on the microphone lets you repeat the words. Say it wrong, and you’ll be given the audio example and asked to repeat it until your pronunciation is correct.
This rhythm runs throughout the learning modules, making it easy to pick up phrases and use the language in the real world. After all, that’s the purpose of taking the course.
Babbel Live Classroom Lessons
Live classes, a subscription add-on, are available at all hours of the day and night and can be easily booked through the app, as the screenshot below shows.
My package came with the ability to check out two livestream classes for free. It’s a huge advantage to the program. Babbel offers a long list of classes throughout the day. The French “Order in a Restaurant” class runs 25 times a week, from 6 in the morning until 11 at night.
As I mentioned earlier, it is these live lessons that I wish Babbel would rate by skill level. I signed up for a live class because I thought it would be a good learning tool to get to my beginning Spanish basics quickly. I joined the class a few minutes early and, in chatting with the instructor, I learned that this class was for advanced students or intermediate Spanish speakers with good vocabulary.
At the time, my Spanish vocabulary was limited to cerveza, tostadas, buenos dias, tacos and burritos. I wasted my credit. When learning my capabilities, the instructor said that various instructors have been asking Babbel to assign skill levels to the live lessons.
I contacted support and was told they would reinstate the credit.
Other Features of Babbel
The mobile app lets you take on (without extra charge) games, quizzes and reviews beyond what you learn in the lesson. Favorite (or challenging) phrases can be saved so you can return later to practice your listening skills and pronunciation, running through the words and phrases.
Exploring these options lets you change your course level if the lessons are too easy or more challenging than you had expected. You can also fine-tune courses to meet your specific needs.
You’d want to be in the “travel” course mode when traveling to a country. If you plan on attending an international conference, you might want the “conversational” course mode.
Bottom Line: Is Babbel Worth it?
Yes! I have progressed greatly in my language fluency and I like that the lessons can be pegged to your personal learning style, your language ability and even the reason you’re trying to learn the language.
A travel writer and photographer in Phoenix, Arizona, U.S., Eric Jay Toll has been writing for She Buys Travel from its earliest days. Specializing in the American West and outdoor adventures, Eric also treks in Mexico and Canada, and forays into Europe. He lives with his dog, Chaco, who occasionally joins road trips and camp outs, but tends to be a Downtown Diva.