Product: Babbel Language Courses
Overall Ranking: 90/100
Price: Subscriptions range in cost from $6.95 to $12.95 per month, depending on how many months you are paying for at a time.
Owners: Babbel was founded in 2007 by Markus Witte, Thomas Holl, and Lorenz Heine. The company currently employs about 350 people in 28 countries.
Babbel now offers online language courses for learning Danish, Dutch, English, French, German, Indonesian, Italian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, and Turkish. In addition, the Babbel interface itself can be customized for learners who currently speak English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish or Swedish. Courses can be studied online on your computer, or downloaded to your tablet or smart phone.
In each language you can choose from a wide variety of courses. If you are studying Spanish, for example, you can choose from 6 beginner, 4 intermediate, 6 grammar, 6 listening and speaking, 6 countries and traditions, 5 specials, and 31 words and sentences courses.
- To develop correct pronunciation, you have the opportunity to listen to and repeat words, phrases, and sentences spoken by native speakers. The first three listening and speaking courses focus on pronunciation. And, the rest of the courses allow checking your pronunciation via speech recognition as an option.
- Babbel employs a variety of types of exercises, such as: matching a word or phrase with a picture, filling in a blank by unscrambling letters, or reading a passage and answering questions to show whether you comprehended the reading.
- All of the questions offer immediate reinforcement if you were right or correction if you were not.
- I appreciate the emphasis on comprehension, more so than on translation.
- In the grammar courses, I like the way the grammatical forms are explained primarily in the target language and provide both examples and exercises to make sure you understand.
- The vocabulary tab is designed to review words and phrases with spaced repetition; the intervals between repetition increase as you consistently recall the word(s) or decrease for those you are having difficulty with.
- Lessons generally conclude with conversations which illustrate the lesson you’ve been working on.
- There is clearly an attempt to focus on common social situations.
- The Babbel program tracks your progress on individual courses and allows you to print out certificates for courses you complete. The home screen shows clearly your progress in your current course. However, if you are working on multiple courses simultaneously, you could be a bit lost.
- In addition, I appreciate that some of the lessons and courses offer insight into the traditions and culture of the countries in which your target language is spoken.
- There is not the true interactive audio discussion that comes with a live tutor.
- While lessons offer to repeat the questions you miss, they don’t really adjust to present additional work on those problematic areas.
- In the Spanish edition, despite their assurance that they focus more on Latin American Spanish, you cannot escape the Castilian vosotros
- Advancement is based on your own sense that you are ready for another course, rather than any clear testing/evaluation paradigm.
WHO IS IT FOR?
- I would say Babbel is appropriate for beginning through intermediate language students.
- One feature I appreciated was being able to try out lessons in various courses to figure out the best place to begin.
- The Babbel program itself is very intuitive. You really don’t need training to use it. And, if you hesitate in responding, it sometimes displays a pop-up box telling you what to do next.
- Babbel is also available via apps designed for both iOS and Android based tablets and smart phones.
- One interesting aspect of Babbel is the option to connect with the Babbel community via their social interface. You can invite people to become friends or search for those with high scores. There are discussion boards for introductions, travel, Q&A, and Help. You can also send private messages to your friends. And you can invite friends not using Babbel to try it out for one week free.
- Help is available via the Q&A or Help boards mentioned above, which are basically threaded discussion forums. Babbel also provides a very helpful and extensive FAQ page, as well as the ability to ask questions via contact form.
Babbel allows you to take one lesson in any course free. After that, you may continue on a subscription basis. Babbel charges for $12.95/mo, $26.85/3 mo, $44.70/6 mo, or $83.40/12 mo. You can also cancel within 20 days and get a complete refund. Learn a language w/Babbel, signup for a subscription as low as $6.95/month!
I like it! I have a feeling this program would be easy to stick to – a major consideration. The price seems appropriate and allows you to cancel and switch to another program after a time, rather than being locked into a major investment. Signup with Babbel Today and Get Your First Lesson Free.