Learning with Babbel develops Spanish speaking, vocabulary and grammar skills

  • New findings show that less than 10 hours learning with Babbel leads to measurable improvement in second language conversational ability

Babbel, the world’s top-grossing language learning app, today released results of an academic study, “Learning Spanish with Babbel1 conducted in collaboration with a research team at Michigan State University (MSU). The study evaluated the effectiveness of Babbel’s pedagogical method, providing empirical evidence that learning with Babbel leads to improved speaking ability in a second language.

After learning Spanish with Babbel over approximately 12 weeks, nearly all participants who completed the study made statistically significant gains in oral proficiency, grammar knowledge, and / or vocabulary knowledge. Furthermore, both true novices and more experienced Spanish learners made gains via using the app.

“On the whole, learners in this study increased their oral proficiency, as measured by an improvement on a well-established and valid speaking test, the Oral Proficiency Interview,” commented Dr. Shawn Loewen, the study’s lead investigator and Professor of Second Language Studies at Michigan State University. “These results establish that using Babbel can facilitate the development of oral communication skills, and not just grammar and vocabulary acquisition, as a previous study had demonstrated. Despite the fact that millions globally are already using language learning apps, there is a lack of published research on their impact on speaking skills. This robust and methodologically rigorous study therefore makes an important contribution to the field.”

The study could provide a model for how language learning apps can work with applied linguists and second language acquisition experts to establish the efficacy of their pedagogical methods.The approximately 12-week study consisted of 85 MSU undergraduate students, 54 of whom completed all study procedures. Participants studied Spanish on Babbel as often as they liked and had free choice of which Babbel Spanish lessons and courses to access. Overall, 59% of study participants measurably improved their oral proficiency. 97% of study participants who logged a minimum of 10 hours with Babbel saw better test scores on grammar and vocabulary tests and 73% became better speakers.

“Babbel’s mission is to get learners speaking their new language right away, and empirical studies like this provide transparency regarding our app’s efficacy in doing exactly that,” said Babbel CEO U.S. Julie Hansen. “Particularly telling are the meaningful development in functional communication skills - the ability to express something complex that learners weren’t able to before. We now have further proof that Babbel’s method allows for true, conversational connection without a huge level of time invested.”

For a in-depth overview of how study participants’ speaking ability and grammar and vocabulary skills improved after using the app, please see the white paper Learning Spanish with Babbel: Oral Proficiency Outcomes in App-Based Foreign Language Learning.

Loewen, S., Isbell, D. & Sporn, Z. (2018). Learning Spanish with Babbel: Oral Proficiency Outcomes in App-Based Foreign Language Learning

About Babbel

Babbel develops and operates an ecosystem of interconnected online language learning experiences and is driven by the purpose of creating mutual understanding through language. This means building products that help people connect and communicate across cultures. The Babbel App, Babbel Live, Babbel Podcasts and Babbel for Business products focus on using a new language in the real world, in real situations, with real people. And it works: Studies by linguists from institutions such as Michigan State University, Yale University and the City University of New York demonstrated the efficacy of Babbel’s language learning methods.

The key is a blend of humanity and technology. Babbel offers more than 60,000 lessons across 15 languages, hand-crafted by nearly 200 didactics experts, with user behaviors continuously analyzed to shape and tweak the learner experience. This results in constantly adapting, interactive content with live classes, games, podcasts and videos that make understanding a new language easy, from Spanish to Indonesian.

Because Babbel is for everyone, its team is as diverse as its content. From its headquarters in Berlin and its U.S. office in New York, 1000 people from more than 80 nationalities represent the backgrounds, characteristics and perspectives that make all humans unique. Babbel sold over 15 million subscriptions by creating a true connection with users.

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