Babbel Vs Duolingo in 2020: Best language learning app?

Learning a language has never been easier than before. We have the ability to use awesome language learning apps and websites such as Duolingo and Babbel.

When learning a language online, many people gravitate to the best-reviewed app or website.

This review of Babbel Vs Duolingo will help you understand which one would best suit you to learn a foreign language.

Here are the key differences between the two platforms:

  • Duolingo is a free resource and is best suited for casual learners or those who are complete beginners. If you like to try out different languages at no cost than this app is perfect for you.
  • Babbel is a ‘step up’ from Duolingo. It is a paid resource and entails detailed content and explanations. This is for more serious language learners that want to improve their everyday conversation.

I recommend both of these platforms however, it is entirely circumstantial. It depends what language you are learning, how much commitment you want to put in and the type of interface you are looking for. You must question yourself: how serious am I learning a new language?

Overview of Duolingo and Babbel

Before we deep dive into the specifics of these foreign language learning platforms, let us gain a holistic view on Duolingo and Babbel:

Duolingo:

  • Price: Free
  • Difficulty: Aimed at beginners (Easy)
  • Interactiveness: Low-Medium
  • Languages: 31 languages available for English speakers
  • Focus: Vocabulary and Grammar
  • Available on: Mobile and Desktop

 

Babbel:

  • Price: $12.95/month – $80/year (Babbel does a lot of sales and promotions)
  • Difficulty: Aimed at upper beginners (Easy – Medium)
  • Interactiveness: Medium
  • Languages: 14 languages
  • Focus: Sentence Structure
  • Available on: Mobile and Desktop

Duolingo Review

Duolingo is one of the biggest and free platforms to learn a new language. Many people love using Duolingo because it is entirely free, it’s interface is user-friendly and there are many languages to choose from.

Duolingo Course

Duolingo is sorted by different skills where you pass numerous checkpoints in order to finish the course.

Duolingo Checkpoint

The goal is to finish all of the mini-courses and to achieve and maintain a golden status. When you achieve a golden status, Duolingo suggests that you have an optimal amount of knowledge.

Within each ‘skill’ are mini-courses to complete. Once you complete these courses the skill will be colored, indicating that you have completed the skill.

Each course has “tips and notes” which are readily available on the desktop version, however, on mobile, it can be a little harder to come by. The “tips and notes” sections are super helpful and you should read this before commencing your skills.

Duolingo goals are a great way to keep you motivated and on track with your language learning journey. Set your daily goals from ‘basic’ to ‘insane’ mode. The insane mode is very insane (heads up)!

Duolingo Mode

Duolingo Discussion

One of Duolingo’s best features is the Discussion page. The forum is a great way to interact with fellow learners and talk about topics in your chosen language.

Most forums are moderated and have questions answered by the administrators/moderators that created the course themselves.

Use the forums to your advantage and ask questions and try and write a few sentences in your target language. It is an awesome way to start utilizing the language for beginners.

Duolingo Discussion

Duolingo Labs

Duolingo labs showcase experimental projects for language learners to try out and give feedback on. This feature is awesome for those who want to try something a little different.

Duolingo Lab

The Duolingo stories feature is more for intermediate – advanced readers, but don’t let this stop you from trying it out.

This feature is fairly new, so only 4 languages are supported at this moment.

Pros and Cons of Duolingo

ProsCons
  • Free
  • Easy setup
  • Fun and gamified
  • Focus on vocabulary
  • Great for total beginners
  • Many languages to choose from
  • The voice is automated
  • Few explanations
  • Weird and unnatural sentences are used
  • Desktop vs. mobile interface is quite different

Breakdown of Pros and Cons

 

Pros

Duolingo is completely free, so this is great for those on a budget or those who do not want to spend any money. Once you enter the app or website, it is easy to set up and you can get started straight away.

The interface is gamified and fun, so you won’t feel bored after playing it for a while. The gamified aspects of this platform it what reels in millions of people to play every day.

Duolingo is perfect for those who are starting out from scratch and want to build their vocabulary and grammar in a easier way in comparison to a text book.

The best thing about Duolingo is that there are so many languages to choose from. The better thing is that you don’t have to be a native English speaker to use this app. Duolingo supports other languages to learn. For example if your native language is Spanish and you want to learn French, Duolingo has got it for you.

Cons

With all good things, there’s always got to be a few bad stuff. Duolingo’s interface is amazing for its non-existent price tag but there are a few disadvantages using it.

The voice that talks back to you is a robot. This doesn’t help at all with hearing the pronunciation of the words. The voice can sound very unnatural and messy.

The sentences and words that are used at times can seems very strange and unnatural. Take a look at this example:

Duolingo unnatural sentences

Will, you ever use that sentence? I mean seriously…?

Duolingo provides fewer explanations, it can sometimes be hard to understand what you are doing and for what reason. Although there is the “tips and tricks” section, sometimes that is not enough. This is where Duolingo fails to interact with its users.

In conjunction, the desktop and mobile versions are quite different from one another. So you may experience something completely different depending on what platform you use.

I found that using the desktop version provides you with my information that is more readily accessible.

Babbel Review

Babbel is nowhere to the scale of Duolingo in terms of the number of people that use it. However, it has been praised as one of the most affordable language learning platforms.

Depending on what plan you buy, you can purchase a Babbel subscription from as little as $6.95/month. Another great thing is that Babbel runs many promotions and sales, so you can always find a sweet deal by using a coupon code. I recommend looking up coupon codes in Google or look for recent Youtube videos about Babbel that offer a code.

In comparison to the 31 languages, Duolingo offers, Babbels only has 14 languages that you can pick from.

At the time of this post, Babbel offers learning experiences for German, Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, Swedish, Turkish, Dutch, Polish, Indonesian, Russian, Danish, Norwegian and English.

I have previously used Babbel for a 3-monthly period to learn Swedish. I can say that the Swedish course only had courses from beginner to intermediate.

Be wary when purchasing Babbel and note the number of courses offered before purchasing a yearly subscription.

To give you an idea, I managed to finish the beginner to intermediate courses within 3 months. Make sure you check out reviews for Babbel in your target language and see if they offer beyond beginner courses.

Babbel Course

The interface is similar to Duolingo and it is easy to navigate.

Babbel is set out with beginner to advanced courses. Although, I would not recommend starting out as an absolute beginner on Babbel. A little prior knowledge of the language would be beneficial before starting.

If you are serious about using Babbel and you are a complete beginner, use Duolingo first as a base then use Babbel. Having that base vocabulary and very basic sentence structure won’t let you become confused early on.

The course itself is awesome. The explanations are clear, are easy to catch on and very detailed. Each module you go through, your hand is held so you won’t feel out of place.

The content of the course is good. I found that by the end of completing the course I was able to understand most sentence structure and why it is formatted that way. I already knew the majority of the words, however, I did notice a boost in my vocabulary and grammar.

Babbel Games

Babbel does have more features, including a bunch of mini-games to test your knowledge. You can test your knowledge on vocabulary that you’ve learned, grammar and sentence structure.

Pros and Cons of Babbel



Pros

Cons

  • Low Price
  • Good explanations
  • Easy to use
  • Native voices used
  • Less popular languages have fewer content
  • No community forum
  • Doesn’t develop conversation skills


Pros

Babbel is set at a low price, so it is affordable for most budgets. What you get to access is worth the price tag.

The best thing about Babbel is the explanations they provide. Unlike Duolingo, there is a pop-up along the lesson to help you understand the content better. You can also access all the tips and tricks separately on another page.

Babbel is super easy to use, anyone will be able to navigate its interface. Another great thing about Babbel is that they use a variety of native speakers to voice the words and sentences. Unlike Duolingo, you will be able to understand the true pronunciation of words.

Cons

Unfortunately, less popular languages have less content. I did find this with the Swedish course. As previously mentioned I finished the Swedish Babbel within 3 months.

There was a fair bit of content and lessons to go through, however, if I got a 6-month plan, I would have no new content to go through.

If you pick a more popular language such as French or Spanish, there will be lots of content to go through. However, it is unfair for the price you are paying you to receive fewer lessons and content than some other languages.

There is no community feeling in Babbel nor is there not a community forum. However, you can use Duolingo or other communities in Discords, Reddit and many more.

Although Babbel is a ‘step up’ from Duolingo, you still won’t be able to develop conversations skills as you thought you might. Babbel does dive deep into explanations and gives examples of sentences, however, Babbel does not focus on everyday conversations as much as it should.

Conclusion: Which language learning software is better?

Neither is better or worse in my opinion. Both have advantages and disadvantages that make both a great platform for new language learners.

If you are undecided for which one to go for, I suggest using Duolingo first to get your bearings and understand the complete basics of your chosen language. I would then use Babbel next to further improve your language skills.

Remember, you cannot advance in a language without using different resources. Make sure you are using Youtube, Netflix, Spotify, and other resources to supplement your language learning.

To further your language studies, you need to listen and immerse yourself your target language. This is very hard if you are not in the country of the spoken language. Don’t fear though! Studies suggest you can get better at a foreign language simply by listening to it, without speaking it yourself.

You can check out our successful habits of a language learner that is proven to set you up for language learning success.