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Babbel

*Est. $7.45/month and up
Reviewed
August 2012
by ConsumerSearch
Babbel

Best language software for mobile learners

Pros
  • Comprehensive method (reading, writing, listening, speaking)
  • Mobile-friendly, well-reviewed apps
  • Logical, straightforward interface
Cons
  • Only offers 7 full language courses

Babbel's online platform offers affordable, comprehensive language learning features, but users say its mobile apps are what make this company stand out. 

Bottom line

A favorite of on-the-go language learners. Babbel's web-only option and impressive apps make it an ideal choice for mobile users. While Babbel's content can't compete with heavyweights like Rosetta Stone or Tell Me More, reviewers and users say its interactive online lessons, excellent app, speech recognition and vocabulary lists make learning a foreign language both fun and achievable, without breaking the bank. Babbel offers full courses in seven languages and vocabulary-only courses in four languages. One cautionary note for Swedish students, however: many native speakers on message boards complain that some of the terms aren't accurate.

Setup

Simple, web-based software. Germany-based Babbel teaches only a handful of languages (most of them European) and offers three refreshingly simple pricing plans -- one, three or six months. You can also sign up for a single-lesson trial to get a taste of the content. It's a straightforward, standard process: once you pay you'll get a confirmation email and will need to set up a password. But many budding linguists instead vie for Babbel's cheap app, which offers many of the online services.

Interface

Babbel is so straightforward, you can't get lost. Babbel originally began as a social media site, and it still has an uncomplicated design with a strong community component. The site has just six sections listed in the header: home, courses, people, board, chat and messages. Babbel offers a terrific feature that lets customers choose the language of their interface. If you're looking for more of an immersion experience, this certainly can't hurt. Chat rooms are available in multiple languages.

Features

Mobile flexibility and a comprehensive method. Unlike other language-learning competitors that downplay grammar and writing, Babbel uses a truly comprehensive method of teaching. Conjugation, grammar, listening comprehension, writing and speaking lessons are all offered in engaging multimedia exercises. For example, a word and accompanying image pops up on the screen, and a native speaker pronounces it. You're then told to type the word on the page and repeat it into a microphone. This speech recognition technology (and scored feedback) is also available on Babbel's wildly popular app, which offers up to 3,000 vocabulary words and practical, interactive lessons. One top reviewer says it's the most powerful app on the market. There is also content tailored for travel and business.

Our Sources

1. The New York Times

Excellent This New York Times reviewer and language student heaps praise on Babbel for its features like engaging games and a substantial dictionary organized under practical topics. The reviewer's favorite feature is the app's progress tracker. By seamlessly integrating data between mobile devices and PCs, users can see how far they've come on any device.

Review: Powerful Tools for Learning a Language, or Several, Kit Eaton, July 25, 2012

2. Inc. magazine

Excellent Editors strongly recommend Babbel's mobile app, calling it "one of the best on the market for learning a foreign language." They like the speech recognition technology and intelligent review manager, which assigns exercises based on how the user performs on vocabulary tests.

Review: 5 Innovative Language-Learning Tools, Editors of Inc. magazine, Not dated

3. TheStreet.com

Very Good This is one of the few articles to address the language learning needs of businesses; Brain Scape Business, Babbel.com and Rosetta Stone are reviewed. The reviewer likes Babbel's "wide array of languages and similarly diverse testing, mobile and interactive tools."

Review: 4 Top Language Teaching Tools for Business, Jonathan Blum, Sept. 18, 2011

4. Wired

Good This comparative review from Wired.com recommends Rosetta Stone for story-based learners, Pimsleur for visual learners and Babbel and Mirai Language System's iStart apps "for the time-strapped." The reviewer does not appear to have tested any of the products.

Review: Use Apps to Learn a Foreign Language, Adrienne So, April 18, 2012

5. Expert Reviews (U.K.)

Good The reviewer gives Babbel a perfect score and applauds its range of resources and options, including fun exercises that cover everything from greetings to grammar. The writer also appreciates that lessons focus on multiple aspects of language learning -- including writing, comprehension, speaking and pronunciation.

Review: Babbel Review, David McKinnon, Feb. 17, 2011

6. TrustPilot.com

Good More than 100 users have posted reviews of Babbel on this site, which rates the tool 9.6 out of 10 overall. Users say they like the portability of Babbel's mobile apps and its focus on everyday terminology. One customer, a novice studying German, prefers Babbel to Rosetta Stone because Babbel better explains grammar and is cheaper.

Review: Babbel Reviews, Contributors to TrustPilot.com

7. Google Play

Good Thousands of users review Babbel's free Spanish app and rate it 4.7 out of 5 stars. Reviewers, who have a few small quibbles on tech issues, say it enables beginners to grasp the basics and helps intermediate-level learners brush up on their vocabulary.

Review: Learn Spanish with Babbel.com, Contributors to Google Play

Second Language Software Runners Up:

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Tell Me More *Est. $230 and up

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