Babbel Review: Here’s why I don’t like it.

Babbel review: Babbel has grown to be one of the biggest online language course providers. In this post I share why I don't like it.

Babbel is a very affordable online language course provider, that features familiar quiz-style course elements combined with exercises, pronunciation and grammar trainers as well as vocabulary practice tools.

They offer English speakers 13 languages to pick from, with each subscription being purchased separately. You can also learn English with Babbel from Spanish, French, German, Italian, Swedish, and Portuguese.

Babbel Review Index

Babbel Lessons

The lessons are typical quiz-style, which remind me a lot of the styles used on Duolingo and Rosetta Stone.

Seems like this is somewhat of a standard in online language courses these days.

The amount of lessons per language seems to vary tremendously.

At the time of this review Danish had 70 lessons in the main course series, but only at beginner level.

When I checked out the French counterpart there were at least double the amount of beginner lessons, plus double the amount of that again in intermediate lessons.

One can only hope they will add to all their languages as they go along.

babbel review

Since their free trial is restricted to just one lesson, unfortunately this is everything you'll see as a trial member. You'd have to pay to unlock the other teaching elements, which is a shame.

I would've liked to see them display what else Babbel does other than just this vocabulary, picture-matching quiz-style learning – maybe there isn't more?

Audio Recording Quality

As I was testing out their Danish course (they offer the first lesson free to try for all their languages) I was not super impressed with the quality of the Danish recordings. It sounded very artificial.

To me the most important feature of any language learning tool or course is that the lesson materials are not only of the highest possible quality, but also that they reflect reality.

It's definitely a native speaker, but I just don't like how the recordings are extremely dragged out. Like saying “Goooooood mooorning” instead of what normal people might actually say on the street.

Since it's spaced repetition there's really no point in offering a slowed down, over-exaggerated version of the language – this is only a unnecessary detour to actual fluency (hah!).

Of course I only tested 1 module of 1 language, so I can't say if it's a trend or just the Danish an unfortunate stand-alone incident.

Languages Available on Babbel

Spanish, French, German, Italian, Brazilian Portuguese, Dutch, Swedish, Turkish, Danish, Russian, Norwegian, Polish.

All courses are taught in English, except English which you can learn from 6 languages.

What Does Babbel Cost?

Babbel is a pretty affordable service, costing between $6.95 to $12.95 per month (per language).

The price you get is dependent on how long upfront you commit for. Check out the prices in euro here.

babbel online language course

Check out Babbel

What I like

  • A good amount of content to dig into even for the smaller languages
  • Easy to use interface both on desktop and mobile
  • Relatively cheap
  • Variety of learning options

What I don't like

  • I'm bored to death after the first lesson
  • Gamification is overrated, and Duolingo offers pretty much the same experience for free.
  • Possibly unnatural recordings
  • Way less content on some courses compared to others
  • No content for upper intermediate and beyond
  • Babbel is clearly copy-and-paste and scale instead of producing high quality original content for each course.

Babbel Review Conclusion

Is Babbel worth it?

For me it wasn't. However, they have millions of users so maybe it will be right for you?

Babbel offers nice little quiz-style courses at extremely affordable prices. For your investment you get real recordings and access to a handful of learning options and tools to help you learn better.

The problem is that you get this for free with Duolingo, so why pay for it with Babbel?

This gets a pass from me, unless you're a really visual learner who enjoys the quiz-style courses, and you spot a good deal for Babbel I wouldn't recommend it.

Check out Babbel

Babbel Alternatives

  • I recommend LanguagePod101/LanguageClass101 – they offer audio courses for 35+ different languages and I think that method is way more exciting than the Babbel format. It's similarly priced too.
  • Duolingo – does pretty much the same as Babbel. The big advantage is that it's free. The downside is that the audio is machine generated which is not ideal. However you do get a lot of lessons in the app, and apart from a few ads it's completely free to use.
  • Consider using apps such as Memrise or Clozemaster. They will give you a similar learning curve, and are both free to use for basic features. They don't have quizzes with pictures, but you learn fast nonetheless.

This has been my babbel review. Check out my other reviews.

Summary
Review Date
Reviewed Item
Babbel Online Language Courses
Author Rating
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<3?
  • Jhonatan Felipe Gutierrez Gome says:

    I just wanted to add my opinion here in case someone’s interested in babbel. I’d say, go for it, at least try one month or something like that, I decided to do it and I don’t regret it, I mostly agree with the points the author made and at the beggining the style of learning that they use is pretty boring yeah but at least for me it has worked a lot, I noticed that my grammar was definitely better and that I was able to understand a lot more in french which motivated me to keep using it, even though I steel feel like the lessons are not too fun hahaha I just use it because I feel like I’m really learning, maybe it’s just me.

    • Kris Broholm says:

      Sorry for missing this comment earlier! You’re definitely right. Just because I found it boring does not mean that everyone will, give it a shot and if you like it keep going! 🙂

    • AugustineThomas says:

      You don’t feel like you’re learning, you believe you’re learning.

  • Stacie Stevens Markham says:

    I’d love to learn french. I’m curious…I am very much a kinisthetic learner. I only learn by doing and lots of repetition. I tried the first lesson with babbel and i was impressed because it’s not often that I find any teaching material for any reason that bases it’s teaching style on repetition. Yet, they did. So which course would you say caters the most to kinesthetic learning? If anything I just said makes any sense at all!

    • Kris Broholm says:

      Hi Stacie, I’d say if you enjoy Babbel keep using it 🙂 Duolingo also uses a similar method, where they mix up the various exercises in every module so it doesn’t get too boring and would suit a kinisthetic learner better than say, purely doing flashcards. Best of luck in your journey towards fluency in french!

  • rj says:

    Its obvious you have checked out other courses. Its real neccessary for me to know Spanish(basic) by next year to help with some international developments. If there was one course you would recommend, (cost not an issue) what would it be?

    • Kris Broholm says:

      I’d say the most powerful way to learn Spanish is with private 1 on 1 lessons. I’ve reviewed a service called Baselang recently where you can get unlimited lessons on a monthly subscription – it’s great value for money and you definitely learn quickly if you schedule a lesson a day.

      For off-lesson learning I would look to Memrise or Duolingo, and perhaps a guided textbook like Teach Yourself, Colloquial or similar just so you get some paper learning as well.

      For your phone to learn while moving or commuting I would consider SpanishPod101 Michel Thomas Spanish, or even Rocket Languages. Just to get some exposure to Spanish at your level and onwards.

      Hope that helps!

    • Tanya says:

      I love Fluenz.

  • Chris Malan says:

    I’m with Babbel at the moment, learning Spanish. There are a few serious shortcomings. First, they pile on review questions every day. There is no way to limit the review questions, and there are often duplicates or triplicates in the same bunch. Secondly, they don’t take care with their questions. The English to be translated to Spanish is often misleading. E.g. in one question they have ‘we have to find’ and the Spanish translation they want is ‘we have to look for.’ The pronunciation of some of the people used is often very poor. At the moment there is a woman talking extremely fast. There is one woman with a nice voice, talking clearly and at a reasonable pace. I wish they would use her for everything.

    Babbel just doesn’t pay enough attention to detail. Consequently, the experience with them is frustrating. It’s easy to spot mistakes which should not be there. I’m always upset by carelessness.

  • A says:

    Can you switch the language you are learning within a year’s subscription?

    • Kris Broholm says:

      I’m not sure! You buy a subscription for a language, so unless they’d do you that extra service manually I don’t think it would work out of the box!

    • Samuel says:

      Several times I have switched between Portuguese and Spanish as my main language and the Babbel team have changed on my account extremely quickly!

  • IkeaFan says:

    I would like to learn swedish.Any advice is more than welcome.

  • rick says:

    i have just started with babbel for italian. On lesson 3 or 4 .. i cant remember which lesson where they have a quiz on regular and irregular verbs. i defy whether there is 5% of english speaking population that have even a rough idea what these are in the english language. learning a language starts like a baby … why are they focusing on dangling participles , regular and irregular verbs… not the way to learn a language in my opinion. too much focus on speaking the language grammatically correct… that comes later

  • JR says:

    Why don’t you offer Greek?

  • Maggie says:

    Babbel is absolutely not worth the money when places like Duolingo exist. My list of annoyances:
    1. The Dutch course(which is the one I’m doing) has a Flemish woman mispronouncing articles and words.
    2. The price for all courses is the same while some have vastly more material than others. It just doesn’t seem fair and it’s not like they are catching them up at a reasonable pace. Over the last 8 months they managed to add one section(on food, lol) to the Dutch course.
    3. They try to keep their vocabulary lessons well-structured and thus pump in words that are simply a bad idea for beginner courses. Why is “gill” one of the 1300 words I’ve learned so far? What kind of A2 level conversation revolves around fish parts?! About 20% of the words are put in purely for aesthetic purposes and not usefulness.
    4. There is no wiggle room on answers. As we all know, multiple words can mean the same thing but, no, you have to give them the exact specific word they are looking for even if it’s not entirely correct.
    Save your money and buy an actual textbook or a language-specific course that will give you a real certificate when you complete it.

    • Helene says:

      Hi Maggie,
      I am also trying to learn dutch have you found other online resources that are helpful in this pursuit?

  • Angry person says:

    AAAAHHHHHHHHHHH This had had me tearing my hair out I could not find my way through the website with it’s little choice of options, I had so sign up three times because it wasn’t working and now I have to pay £10 for a month because I want to learn (and people wonder why people now days seem far less intelligent) and I know I’m not one to speak about intelligence but that’s because I clearly can’t afford it.

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  • Irina Hakobyan says:

    Dear Babbel friends,
    I’m learning Italian with you for over 3 years now and used to enjoy it right up until you “upgraded” the courses and released a new version of those. Honestly, I feel like I’m being “fooled”, I’m losing any motivation now going through the courses as they lost the clear structure and the charm completely. Yes, you made the lessons shorter, but they are overloaded with grammar rules of a brief nature with a poor explanations and examples, there is no gradual development from lesson to lesson, i.e. no progress from easy basic phrases to more complex sentences and texts, no visible trend throughout the course. Seems like everything in thrown into one pot. Beginners level lessons contain texts, dialog samples and phrases for a rather advanced language users. Not to mention that the texts lost the “Italian chic and flavour” and humor, and became rather dull and pointless. Please, pretty please, reconsider going back to the original format of your Italian classes, especially texts and dialog.
    Thanks.

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