User portrait: Lenel, learns three languages with Babbel

Lenel speaks to Babbel about his “bucket list” and challenge to learn three languages.

This is the latest in our series of portraits of Babbel users – a snapshot of their lives and the reasons they are learning a new language. If you want to share your story with us, please leave a comment.


This month, we interviewed Lenel who lives Galway in Ireland, but is originally from the Philippines. Alongside his job in a fast-food restaurant, the 24-year-old is also a blogger. Using, he created a “bucket list” of things he wants to achieve during his lifetime. Over a year ago, he began a new challenge – learning Spanish, Italian and French. Lenel decided to accomplish his goal with Babbel, and wrote about the experience in his blog. In this portrait, he tells us more about the concept of a bucket list and why learning those languages is part of his life’s goals.

“You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough,” says Mae West. This quote inspired me to create a list of challenges I want to accomplish in my lifetime. I want to maximise every moment of my life, and at the end, I’d like to be able to say that I took my opportunity and made things happen. We all want to experience the exciting things life has to offer, despite the business of our lives and the necessity of focussing on our day-to-day goals. From visiting a new country, to trying new food or a new sport, this bucket list helps me to focus on the exciting things I want to try in my life.

Learning new things is really important to me – I learned how to change a flat tire recently, and that in itself was exciting. But my most challenging learning project is definitely learning French, Spanish and Italian all at the same time. I know it’s a difficult task and it will take me years to be fluent in all three of them, but it’s also extraordinarily exciting and I am very determined to achieve my goal. I think learning a language is the best way to discover and understand new cultures. The more I learn these languages, the more I feel it widens my perspectives.

Ireland’s a diverse country. It welcomes people from different parts of the world and English isn’t the only language I hear on an everyday basis. Especially working in a fast food restaurant where I interact with hundreds of customers every day. Hearing all these languages made me curious about learning them. I wanted to be able to talk to foreigners in their own language, and to better understand them.

It‘s hard for me to pinpoint a single reason that I want to learn these three languages. Aside from being so widely spoken, I think that these languages in particular will be a real boost to my employability. The biggest motivation, though, is that I really want to travel the world and to communicate with the people I meet along the way. Besides, I think that each of these languages has a specific charm. French is the most sophisticated of the Romance Languages – I like its harmony and the certain softness that it has. And Italian is known for being expressive and I’m fascinated by the gestures that go along with it.

Spanish is a little bit different for me. I’m from the Philippines, and for historical reasons, there are a huge number of Spanish words in our language. Having been exposed to these words since I was young, it’s actually a little easier for me to learn the pronunciation in Spanish than in the other two languages. That’s not what motivates me though – I’m really passionate about travelling and I want to explore the rich cultures that Hispanic countries have to offer.

Taken together, these reasons give me motivation to learn all three languages. And I’m making progress – I’ve already finished the beginner course for each. I try to learn with Babbel almost every single day, even if it’s just for a couple of minutes during my break. I find that’s enough to keep me determined and moving forward. I set goals and time limits, and aim to finish a whole course in each language every week. Then I stop to review and consolidate what I’ve learned.

This all may seem difficult, but it’s also very rewarding. I think learning a language should be part of everyone’s bucket list. Federico Fellini said it best: “a different language is a different vision of life”.