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Can These Beginners Learn Spanish In 15 Hours?

After studying Spanish with Babbel for just 15 hours, 3 Americans face off in a series of challenges to see how much they learned.

Learning a new language in just 15 hours sounds too good to be true. Impossible, even. We were cautiously optimistic when a university study found that complete beginners only need 15 hours of studying with Babbel to learn the equivalent of a full college semester of Spanish. So we decided to test it out for ourselves.

We challenged three beginners — Jenna, Jordan and Deb — to study Spanish with Babbel for 15 hours, and then threw them into a series of situations in which they were entirely immersed in the language. Every competition was presented in Spanish, and the contestants were only allowed to speak Spanish. And with that, the 15-Hour Spanish Challenge was underway. How did the contestants fare under pressure? And who was crowned the winner? Watch the videos to get in on the action.

Episode 1: The Spanish Supermarket


The first challenge started with a bang, as our contestants were forced out of their comfort zones and into the aisles of a Brooklyn supermarket. Under a strict time limit, they were tasked with finding a Spanish-speaking shopper and asking them for the ingredients to their favorite recipe (all in Spanish, of course!). Then they had to locate the ingredients and put them in their shopping cart before time ran out. The contestant to get the most correct ingredients in their cart would be the winner.

All three contestants were able to find a Spanish speaker quickly, but some recipes were more complicated than others. How much of what their shopper was saying did they really understand? Apparently, quite a bit. As soon as the ingredients were listed off, our contestants were dashing through the aisles, searching for the correct items. The comprehension level was surprisingly high for the first challenge, and all three contestants did a nice job. But when the buzzer went off, only one person had all the correct ingredients in their cart. Check out the video above to see who it was.

Episode 2: The Flamenco Class


After surviving the supermarket challenge, the contestants were ready for their second mission: take a Flamenco dance class taught entirely in Spanish and learn some specific choreography. This challenge tested their listening and comprehension skills, as well as their ability to ask questions and to critique each other in Spanish. Again, Jordan, Deb and Jenna surprised us with their willingness to dive right in and give the challenge their all.

As you’ll see in the video, Deb asked several questions during the dance lesson, and judging by the look on Jenna’s face, she wasn’t expecting Deb to take such initiative. That was the moment when you could feel the competition intensifying. When it was time to perform the combination in front of their opponents and the dance instructor, the contestants really shined. Even the instructor, Tatiana, was impressed with their Spanish comprehension and dance moves. But when it came time for critiques, who was judged most harshly? Watch the video above!

Episode 3: The Blind Date


The third and final challenge was one the contestants never saw coming. We matched each contestant with a fluent Spanish speaker and sent them on a blind date. During the date, they had to maintain the conversation entirely in Spanish (bonus points if they were able to flirt a little in the process). Keeping a conversation flowing during a date is hard enough in English, but doing it in a foreign language? Now, that’s a challenge!

Unsurprisingly, the dates were awkward at first as the contestants navigated both their new language and a conversation with a total stranger/potential love interest. But once the ice was broken, things went relatively smoothly. All three couples seemed to hit it off eventually, but one couple actually left together!

After the dates were concluded, it was time to reveal the winner of the 15-Hour Spanish Challenge. Babbel’s SVP of Marketing for the U.S. Deepa Miglani gave each contestant feedback on what they did well during the three challenges and where they showed room for improvement. Then she announced the winner — "The contestant who was able to carry out full conversations with relative ease."

Watch the final video to find out who won the 15-Hour Spanish Challenge!

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