How do you create a scientifically-proven language learning app? At Babbel, our product is powered by a team of over 150 linguists, language experts and teachers working together in our Berlin office. It’s probably one of the most multilingual places on Earth: Not only does this team cover the 14 Babbel languages, but our experts also speak 20 other languages and dialects, including Thai, Mandarin, Icelandic, and even Tongan! And they’re all learning more languages, of course.
We know that these experts are the most qualified people to get you conversational in a new language. So how do they design our courses with this goal in mind? Let’s take a look.
1. They Design Courses With Real-World Conversation In Mind
If you think back to your previous language learning experiences, you can probably easily recall having to construct basically useless sentences — like Ted’s “Three bears are eating spaghetti out of a boot” example in the video. Generations of language learners know the predicament of being able to successfully construct semi-functional sentences, while still struggling to complete basic daily tasks.
At Babbel, we believe the focus of language learning should be on real-life conversations, so we avoid drilling abstract grammar and vocabulary. After completing the first course you’ll be able to introduce yourself, talk about where you’re from, how you’re doing, and say what you’d like to drink. Just think of what you’ll be able to accomplish in a month of study!
2. All Of Our Lessons Are Voiced By Native Speakers
Because we want you to be able to actually use the language you’re studying, our experts make a point to have all of the dialogues and trainers in our lessons voiced by native speakers. They know how essential it is to hear the language as it’s really spoken. Sure, a computer can approximate the sounds of a language, but it can’t replicate the accent, rhythm and flow of a native speaker.
More than that, our teaching experts and linguists know that you need to have practice speaking the language before you get out in the real world. For that reason, we include voice-recognition software to check your pronunciation. You’ll have the opportunity to repeat every new piece of vocabulary that’s introduced (and you can turn this feature off, too, so you can practice while on the go).
3. Our Experts Know The Importance Of Review
In a previous interview with Karoline Schnur, one of our language experts, Karoline explained why review is an important part of our app: “We have repetition built into the lessons with different exercises and different contexts so that you make connections in your brain.” While you might first encounter a certain set of vocabulary in the beginner courses, these words will continue to pop up in later dialogue practices.
The Babbel app also has a Review Manager that’s designed solely for repeating information and getting it into your long-term memory. Our approach comes from psychology and is based on time intervals for repeating information. When using Babbel, you’ll notice that items are available for review in the days and weeks after the initial lesson. The rationale? Karoline explained, “If you keep getting an item correct, the time until you see it again expands. After all those steps are done, we say, ‘OK, this is in your long-term memory.’” In this way, Babbel isn’t just helping you memorize vocabulary, but really learn a language.
4. Our 15 Minute Lessons Easily Fit Into Your Schedule
The most common excuse we hear for not learning a new language is: “I just don’t have enough time.”
People are busy nowadays, and we get it: Your weekly schedule is undoubtedly filled with countless meetings or classes, errands to be run, gatherings of family and friends, travel plans, and hobbies perched precariously on top of one another. Our experts have this schedule in mind when they craft our courses: Each lesson is designed to take you only 10-15 minutes, so they’re ideal for filling the commute, a quiet lunchtime break, or that well-deserved bit of time to yourself.
5. Our App Is Proven To Be Effective By Multiple Universities
We love talking about the effectiveness of our app, and we love when universities and researchers validate our craftsmanship. For instance: A study conducted by researchers at the City University of New York and the University of South Carolina showed that beginners learning Spanish only need an average of 15 hours of study with Babbel to cover the requirements for one college semester. Just this year, a study conducted by researchers at Michigan State University showed that virtually all participants made a measurable gain in their ability to communicate orally in Spanish when studying with Babbel. Now that’s a real honor!