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Babbel vs. Duolingo: What Are The Differences?

“Babbel is one of the stalwarts of the online language-learning sphere.”

“Babbel exceeds expectations, delivering high-quality, self-paced courses.”

“Exceptionally good site”

When it comes to learning a new language with an app, you want to choose the product that fits your needs best. Choosing a language learning app means considering your own wants and needs — like your learning style, your schedule, your ability and budget, to name a few.

Both Babbel and Duolingo have their strengths, their similarities and their significant differences. Read on to learn more about which app might be the right one for you on your language learning journey.

   

 

How Babbel Works

Babbel is designed for language learners who want to have a conversation in their target language quickly and effectively. Lesson content is focused on real-life application — like knowing your coffee order, or how to greet people in different settings.

phone and tablet showing babbel lesson

How To Use Babbel: The Typical Babbel Lesson

Babbel lessons begin by teaching you single words and then quickly introducing short phrases and entire sentences. Once you’ve practiced these phrases, Babbel immerses you in a conversation using what you've learned, showing you real-life examples of how to apply these phrases and expressions in actual situations with native speakers. Babbel’s lesson content is created by real language teachers and experts from around the world, and designed to help you make quick progress in just a few minutes every day. Each lesson strengthens your skills in the four elements of language learning: reading, writing, listening and speaking. A combination of matching, fill-in-the-blank and speaking exercises are mixed in with cultural and grammar tips that bring the language into context.

Other Babbel Features And Functionality

Almost every lesson features a simulated real-life dialogue that lets you apply what you’ve learned in a conversation, just like one you’d have with actual speakers of the language.

Babbel uses audio recordings from real native speakers in each of its lessons. That means you’ll hear natural pronunciation in the language you’re learning at every step, strengthening your speaking skills and helping you to hone your accent.

Babbel also features a personalized review manager that learns which words you struggle with, and offers multiple ways to improve, including speaking and writing practice.

Lessons take about 10 to 15 minutes to complete, and with both desktop and mobile versions of the app, you can take your lessons wherever you go and download them for offline use.

Babbel users can also explore thousands of articles about their target language, including articles about language tips, tricks, facts and stats on Babbel Magazine and language podcasts produced by Babbel. Users can also connect with language experts for live tutoring sessions through the Babbel Live platform to accelerate their learning.

   

How Duolingo Works

Duolingo is built around a gamified model of language learning, meaning that users earn rewards and achievements, build streaks and compete on leaderboards along their learning journey. This is particularly appealing for people who need a lot of external motivation in their language learning and who want to treat language learning as more of a game.

How To Use Duolingo: The Typical Duolingo Lesson

Duolingo takes users through a language skills tree, starting with the very basics and progressing to more advanced lessons organized by topics. It focuses on helping you learn individual vocabulary words used in a variety of contexts that range from simple and practical to more goofy and outlandish. Most lessons are created using artificial intelligence (AI), not human teachers, so sometimes you’ll practice silly sentences that don’t apply to real life situations. Duolingo’s language learning method also focuses only on the language itself and not on the cultural tips and contexts in which the language is used.

Other Duolingo Features And Functionality

Duolingo uses text-to-speech software in its lessons instead of recordings of real native speakers, meaning learners miss out on the intonation and pronunciation cues that are important for being understood.

   

Babbel vs. Duolingo: Similarities

  • Both Babbel and Duolingo offer a portable and mobile learning experience you can take with you in your pocket.
  • Both apps have lessons that take about 10 to 20 minutes to complete, making for a learning experience that’s intended to be consistent, interactive and fit into your schedule with ease.
  • Babbel and Duolingo both introduce learners to simple words and basics of a language to build a foundation before introducing more advanced topics.
  • The apps both utilize the concept of spaced repetition to bring information back in short bursts so you remember it better later on.

 

Babbel vs. Duolingo: Differences

  • Babbel offers an entirely ad-free experience, keeping the focus on learning. Duolingo’s free version is supported by selling ads to advertisers and displaying ads in the app — which can be distracting for learners.
  • Duolingo features cartoon characters and a flashy, colorful look that’s more suited for children and younger learners. Babbel’s design is oriented towards more serious, adult learners who want a more straightforward approach to language learning without the extra gamification.
  • Babbel emphasizes teaching you cultural and grammar tips about the language you’re learning — like regional differences in usage or how your target language’s grammar is different from that of your native language — instead of just vocabulary and how to use words in sentences. Duolingo’s lessons are often not as advanced enough to tackle important cultural nuance and real-life examples.

   

Business Model: How Do Babbel And Duolingo Make Money?

All apps, products and services require a certain amount of money to keep operating. To avoid needing to depend on donations, free apps like Duolingo rely on a couple different sources of revenue to stay afloat.

One of them is advertisements, which you’ve likely seen if you’ve ever used a free app. The more time an app can get you to spend looking at ads, the more companies are willing to pay to advertise on the app. This means it’s in the best interest of apps that are displaying these ads to keep you on the app for longer so that you’re exposed to more ads as you learn.

In 2017, Duolingo started offering a premium subscription called Duolingo Plus through which users can experience ad-free learning with offline access, among a few other features.

Duolingo also offers a paid language certification test similar to the TOEFL or the IELTS.

The main way Babbel makes money is through the company’s subscription model, through which users pay for access to language learning content for a certain amount of time. Babbel also earns revenue through programs like Babbel Travel and Babbel for Business.

   

Pricing: How Much Do Babbel And Duolingo Cost?

Babbel subscription prices range between $6 - $13 per month, depending on the subscription length purchased. There are many Babbel discount promo codes available that can reduce the price of select Babbel subscriptions and that are verified by the company itself.

Duolingo famously offers a free, limited product, supported by ads. This free product limits the amount users can learn every day and limits some other features and functionality. But those looking for an ad-free learning experience and a few advanced features might want a premium Duolingo Plus subscription, which costs anywhere from about $7 to $10 per month based on the type of subscription.

   

Babbel vs. Duolingo: What The Reviews Say

Babbel Reviews: What Our Users Say About Babbel

“This is a fun and easy way to learn a new language while maintaining a busy schedule. Thank you, Babbel.” - Lisa

I am loving my experience with Babbel. The lessons are systematic and build on each other. There is lots of positive feedback and encouragement... I would highly recommend Babbel to anyone interested in learning any one of the languages they offer.” - Mavis

“Babbel makes learning Spanish fun. The varied learning styles are incorporated into one program that has a cohesive theme and intriguing storylines that keep you coming back. Also, because you're able to track your progress and get instant feedback with vocabulary and pronunciation and spelling, etc., you're aware of the effectiveness of the program. At the end of each lesson, you want to go right onto the next one!” - Douglas

Duolingo Reviews: What Users Say About Duolingo

“You're not going to learn more than the basics and there are some weird sentences but it's the practice that's important. If you use this in conjunction with a dictionary, you should be able to work out for yourself how to put together new sentences and become more fluent. A phrasebook may be useful too.” - Jude

“It really depends what you want. Do you want to be able to go to a country, speak the language with some confidence, be able to deal with everyday situations like losing a credit card, not getting your room cleaned, asking where the best beach is and being... understood AND understanding the answer? If so DO NOT waste time on Duolingo.” - Juliet

“The app provides little to no explanation or teaching on each topic. You learn inefficiently mainly by struggling through the lesson and by sheer repetition. There are some tips provided for each lesson but these are very basic and only pertain to some of the points introduced in each lesson.” - Kevin

 

Many reviewers also say that after months of using Duolingo, their proficiency in the language they’re learning hasn’t improved much, if at all. Though they had learned a handful of basic terms and phrases, they weren’t able to use them in conversations, especially without helpful tips and explanations about the language they were learning.

And even if some users were able to learn the individual elements of conversation through the app, when it came to putting them together spontaneously in actual situations, their ability to actually remember what they had learned came up short: “I knew I had seen all the pieces in Duolingo’s sentences. But I was utterly unable to recall them and pull them together… Given a bunch of words to choose from, I could correctly assemble impressive communiqués. But without a prompt, I was as speechless in even the most basic situations as any boorish American tourist. And this in spite of 70-plus hours of study.”

   

woman on laptop completing babbel lesson

Babbel vs. Duolingo: Which Is Better For Me?

Obviously we’re a little biased on which app is a better choice. Thankfully, you don’t have to take us at our word — we have millions of users all over the world who give us feedback on what they love about Babbel every day. Here are some of the most common reasons people choose Babbel over other apps like Duolingo:

  • Academic studies prove Babbel really works. A recent CUNY study cites that 15 hours of using Babbel’s app is equivalent to a college semester of Spanish. In a 2019 Yale study, every single person using Babbel improved their oral proficiency in 3 months.
  • Lessons are created using tried and true methods from people and experts who have actual experience teaching and learning languages. What you learn is modern, relevant and based on real-life language.
  • Babbel lessons represent all types of people, relationships and real life situations you’ll need to know in order to communicate in another language — wherever you go and in whatever context you find yourself.
  • Babbel was the first language app ever, and we’ve earned the trust and love of millions of users. We have thousands of Babbel reviews from happy learners all across the world.

 

But don’t just take it from us; try your first lesson free!