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 situation in which they were entirely immersed in the language. The competition was presented in Spanish, and the contestants were only allowed to speak Spanish. And with that, the 15-Hour Spanish Challenge was underway.
Challenge 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!).
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.
Challenge 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.
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.
Challenge 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. Keeping a conversation flowing during a date is hard enough in English, but doing it in a foreign language? Now, that’s a challenge! After the dates were concluded, it was time to reveal the winner of the 15-Hour Spanish Challenge. Watch the final video to find out who won the 15-Hour Spanish Challenge!
So how did Babbel’s app help the contestants prepare for the challenge?
- Interactive Dialogues — Fun, interactive dialogues gave contestants the confidence to speak Spanish with native speakers. The app’s integrated speech recognition technology helped them ace their pronunciation.
- Review Manager — With Babbel’s curated review sessions, contestants were able to reinforce what they were learning, helping them retain the information for the long term.
- Bite-Sized Lessons — 10-15 minute lessons allowed the contestants to learn on the go and at their own pace. Plus, Babbel syncs learning progress across devices, so they could easily pick up right where they left off.
Learning a language is about speaking a language, and with the help of Babbel, our novice challenge participants were able to have simple conversations in just 15 hours – and you can too!