It’s no secret that Babbel’s courses are built by over 150 linguists, language experts, and teachers — in fact, we like to talk about them all the time. The video above features one of Babbel’s very own teachers, Ted Mentele, explaining the expertise behind the product. That said, I was curious to see how Babbel would stand up against some of the toughest critics of all: real-life teachers.
I interviewed four seasoned teachers to see what they thought of Babbel and to learn why they trust it to learn a language.
1. Babbel Offers A Good Balance Of Vocabulary And Grammar
It goes without saying that the best classes teach you a mixture of skills in a new language. After all, it’s not very useful to know lots of words without also knowing how to make sentences out of them. Vocabulary is key if you want to have a conversation in your new language — but you can’t forget about grammar. All of the teachers I spoke to stressed this fact.
Fiona Bruns, who’s been teaching literacy in primary schools for 17 years, said that she switched over to Babbel for learning Swedish because it teaches the structure of a language intuitively, without crowding the lessons with forgettable grammar rules. “Within the first 10 minutes, Babbel answered one of my biggest Swedish grammar questions: I couldn’t figure out why sometimes it was ett for a noun and sometimes en for a noun. It’s just so well set-up in Babbel, it really helped me understand the language.”
2. All Of Babbel’s Lessons Are Voiced By Native Speakers
For better or worse, an integral part of language learning is mastering the accent and pronunciation in your new language. That’s why Babbel only uses native speakers for all the in-app audio — they’re simply the best point of reference for your learning.
Unsurprisingly, teachers agree with us. Wendy Freer, who’s taught Modern Greek, English as a second language, and history, is using Babbel to learn Spanish: “Babbel’s dialogues are very good because you get to hear native speakers speaking at their normal conversational speed. If you want to understand real Spanish people when you get out there, that’s important!”
Meanwhile, Bibiana Nievas, who’s an English teacher with a master’s degree in Linguistics, also liked Babbel’s speech recognition software: “I find Babbel really good in terms of listening to someone say vocabulary and for me to be able to repeat it into the microphone.”
3. Review Is A Key Feature Of The Babbel App
If you think back to your school days, you can probably remember dozens (upon dozens) of times that your teachers told you the importance of review. That’s why it didn’t come as a shock when Freer mentioned the importance of Babbel’s Review Manager: “I particularly like the way Babbel reinforces your learning: It goes back and enables you to revise. That’s really important for older learners and adult learners because one of the hardest things as an adult is retaining vocabulary.”
Going back and looking at what you’ve learned is easily the most important factor in getting that information into your long-term memory. This is why language instructors — and Babbel’s own experts — are especially insistent on it.
4. Our Courses Fit With Every Motivation
Talking with each of the teachers, I was struck by how different their motivations were for learning a new language: Bruns is learning Swedish in order to connect with her Swedish niece, while Freer is studying Spanish to get more out of her holidays in Spain, and Nievas is learning French before she moves to Carcassonne, France. The last teacher I spoke with, Glenice Whitting, teaches memoir writing to adults (having published two books herself) and is learning German with Babbel in order to research and write about her German heritage.
Despite these major differences in their motivation to learn a new language, they all trust Babbel to give them the groundwork for the language and the relevant vocabulary for their needs. With courses for vacation, daily life, talking about your family, and even courses on history, politics and religion, Babbel empowers you to have dynamic, thoughtful and relevant conversations in your new language.
Bonus: Why Do These Teachers Think Language Learning Is Important?
At the end of each of my conversations with these teachers, I asked them the same question: “Why do you think it’s important for other people to learn languages?” — but I didn’t expect to hear the same response again and again. The resounding answer was: to get a better sense of your native language.
Teachers are some of the best-informed people about the cognitive and practical benefits of language learning. But, as an English teacher, Nievas saw an additional perk: the potential for another language to improve how you use your native language, and Bruns had a similar outlook: “When you learn another language, it makes you aware of the strengths and weaknesses of your first language, and just the character of your own language. When you try to understand something else, you keep comparing it to what you know.”
Anyone who’s started learning another language knows what an enriching and transformational experience it is, and we’re glad these teachers agree.