Like most Brits, I struggled to learn a second language in secondary school. Sure, picking German didn’t set me up for success, but it wasn’t just the language — it was also the classroom format. I didn’t understand the grammar, I thought the endless vocabulary lists were pointless and I didn’t get on with my teacher. As soon as I could drop it, I did — much to the relief of Fraulein Casset (who wasn’t even German!).
It was only in 2015 after I decided to move to Berlin that I started to regret my lackluster attempts to learn Deutsch. But with a fresh attitude motivated by real-world circumstances, I decided to take evening classes. This time, I told myself optimistically, this time I’ll do better. And I really believed it. For the first time in my adult life, I actually wanted to learn a new language.
I did learn German, in the end. But those evening classes didn’t have much to do with it — instead I learned German with Babbel. Here’s why I succeeded with Babbel when I couldn’t manage to learn in a classroom.
1. Babbel’s A Better Value For Your Money
My German classes cost £290 for 24 hours of lessons (and professional classes in the UK can cost quite a bit more). For reference, group learning typically comes to about £10 to £30 per hour.
Meanwhile, Babbel costs £4.75 per month for as many hours of lessons as you want. If you do one lesson per day, you end up paying only £0.16 per 15-minute lesson. Not to mention, you’ll save on the cost of transportation!
2. Babbel Gives You More Speaking Time
Because most people are busy working full-time, evening classes can be packed. One ambitious language learner and Babbel user, Wendy Freer, took it upon herself to learn a language in an evening class because she’s a teacher herself. Unfortunately, it didn’t go very well:
“It was a huge class — there were 50 people on the register, if you can believe it! If you got a chance to speak one sentence per lesson, you were doing well! So my experience of going to an evening class wasn’t good at all.”
On the other hand, virtually every exercise in a Babbel lesson requires you to speak and repeat, which means you get confident speaking fast. Better yet, all of Babbel’s dialogues are voiced by native speakers so you learn to pronounce your new language the right way from the beginning.
3. Choose The Topics You Care About
In a classroom, we’re taught grammar by looking at a table of verb endings and taught vocabulary through flashcards. Knowing the stand-alone French words for fruit and vegetables may come in handy at a supermarket checkout but certainly doesn’t do you any favors when you’re locked out of your rented holiday villa in Marseilles.
There are a million different reasons to learn a new language, each one unique to the individual. Perhaps you just want to learn a few Spanish phrases for your next holiday in Spain, or maybe you need to work on your father-of-the-groom speech like another Babbel learner, Dave Bottomley. Dave was able to use Babbel’s courses on relationships and emotions to really speak from the heart. Whatever your motivation, Babbel has courses to fit your needs.
4. Study At Your Own Pace
As mentioned above, Wendy took her evening class with 50 other people, and this really slowed down her progress. “Most of the other students were people who thought that you didn’t even have to turn up to class, and you didn’t have to do any work between lessons, so the pace was really slow,” she said.
Meanwhile, I had the opposite problem. Ten minutes into my German evening class and I realized that it doesn’t matter how old I am or how much I want to learn, grammar doesn’t make sense to me when presented in a table. Just as I’d almost got to grips with what the term “nominative” actually means, my teacher moved on and left me with half an understanding and a whole lot of questions.
Not with Babbel. Babbel held my hand through nominative, accusative, dative even genitive because I could go at my own pace through German grammar.
5. Learn In The Comfort Of Your Own Home
Here’s a scenario for you: It’s been a long day. Martin from accounting still hasn’t sent you that presentation and you’re on deadline. Nevertheless, you pack up your things and rush straight to your language class. You can put your work aside and concentrate on learning a nice, new language.
Ah — you forgot to pick up a snack. You’re now doomed to sit through the entire three-hour lesson enduring stomach rumbles so loud you can barely concentrate on your lesson. And you’re still going to have to finish that presentation when you get back home.
Or you go home, put your dinner on, have a cup of tea and enjoy your roast chicken in peace. After you’ve settled in, you can practice your language learning for as long or as little as you want.
So, what’s it to be? Babbel or evening classes?