In 2007, the language experts at Babbel set out to make language learning easy, effective, and accessible to everyone. Fast-forward ten years and the four founders have multiplied into over four-hundred language enthusiasts — among them linguists, teachers, polyglots and content creators — who produce courses for fourteen different foreign languages from seven different native languages. That’s ninety-eight combinations of individually tailored courses. So how’s it working out?
The numbers speak for themselves: over 1,000,000 people choose to learn a language with Babbel, and that number continues to grow.
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But why have the Babbel apps proved so popular? Here are our top five reasons:
1. The People
From a rabble of language enthusiasts working in a loft in the Kreuzberg neighborhood of Berlin, Babbel HQ has since evolved to house a broad range of experts united by the common goal of creating the best language learning tools possible. That may all sound rather, um… lofty, but as Alphabet’s Eric Schmidt said, such overt ambition possesses a strong force of attraction.
For a company that requires specialists in ninety-eight language combinations, this force of attraction is integral to finding the right people, whether it’s a Spanish linguist who can design a course in Polish, or a graphic designer who can help localize the look and feel across seven display languages.
This imperative of multilingual, intercultural expertise has endowed the company with a truly unique topography of skills, and an unrivaled potential for innovation within the world of language learning.
2. The Product AND The Service
App-based learning carries a few inherent advantages. It’s convenient: you have your smartphone by your side at all times, fully-charged and ready to guide you through the labyrinth of contemporary life, from the gentle tap of the snooze in the morning to the emoji-peppered goodnight-message you compose for a loved one in the evening.
Using your smartphone to learn a language makes it easy to fit your lessons into your daily routine. They also only last 15-20 mins each!
Furthermore, an online product can be constantly improved and updated, blurring the distinction between product and service. A Babbel learner’s progress is measured, and the difficult parts of courses are optimized to ensure information is conveyed as effectively as possible. Yes, all that German grammar may sometimes seem complicated, and yes, some of those French words don’t look anything like they sound, but that’s exactly where Babbel comes in handy: it prides itself on making the complicated simple.
3. The Learners
All of the 1,000,000+ learners have their own story — their own reason for learning a new language. As Babbel is in frequent contact with them, some truly inspiring tales have emerged. Gianni, for example, is probably our oldest learner at the age of 102. He’s an Italian technophile who has long used Skype to communicate with his daughter in New York, and who likes to practice his English with his great-granddaughter’s nanny. Cecilia is also Italian, but has lived abroad for many years, and speaks multiple languages. She’s now using Babbel to learn German with a view to moving to Berlin in the next few years.
Babbel’s employees (we call ourselves Babbelonians) are also keen Babbelers. We’ve taken part in numerous challenges like the one above to see how much we can learn within a given period of time, whether that be Turkish in seven days, or French in a working week…
4. The Magazine
The Babbel Magazine was founded in 2014 with the aim of promoting entertaining, educational articles, artwork and video on the topics of language and culture.
The magazine is written in seven different languages — English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and Swedish — and is visited on average by over ten million people every month.
The editorial team now consists of thirteen people from eight different countries, and you can read about anything from the coolest slang in different countries to book and movie reviews to the science of language acquisition. If this sounds like your cup of tea, then you can easily register with Babbel and receive all the latest updates from our magazine.
5. The Future
Artificial intelligence, virtual reality, augmented reality… Science fiction is rapidly becoming science reality. The education industry has often lagged behind other industries, such as gaming and travel, in adopting and developing new digital technologies. Babbel aims to change this — driving innovation in order to keep education in step and simultaneously addressing the soaring trend toward informal, self-guided learning that is the hallmark of the Information Age.