Babbel is an online language course. It combines writing, listening and practicing in a single interface available both online (via the website) and offline (via the app).
This all looks very promising, but is it worth it? Let’s see!
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How are courses organized?
When you first use Babbel, you discover courses for all levels. The website uses the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages to divide lessons by level of difficulty.
Courses go from A1 (beginner) to B1 (intermediate). There are no courses for higher levels at the moment.
Here is how each course is organized :
- Vocabulary : you learn individual words, you then have exercises to help you remember them.
- Dialogue : You listen and read a dialogue with missing words, you have to find the missing words and complete the dialogue.
- Grammar lesson : grammar explanations about the dialogue.
- Review : you review everything you just learnt.
Each lesson lasts roughly 15 minutes, depending on your speed and the time you decide to spend on it. This is very practical for people who don’t have much time to learn French, but understand the importance of daily practice.
The vocabulary is useful and dialogues sound realistic. The pronunciation is also very good.
The games such as finding the missing words, or putting words in the right orders can be fun. But I can’t help but wonder if they aren’t just a waste of time.
I also find that too much time is spent learning individual words rather than sentence.
This makes sense at first, but can make it harder to know how to use the words later on.
Fortunately, the presence of dialogues make this a minor problem. It would be nice to have the possibility to skip the memorizing words part and directly use dialogues.
The grammar lessons are easy to understand and the exercises allow you to check if you understood well.
Babbel pronunciation practice
Babbel includes pronunciation lessons. These lessons explain you how to pronounce French words the right way.
You can also record your voice and compare your pronunciation. This app also evaluates your voice, but I would be careful using this function as the evaluation is not necessarily perfect.
Reading and writing practice
Babbel gives you the opportunity to practice reading and writing.
In these lessons, you can be asked to listen to a dialogue or a sentence and write the missing words you hear.
This is very cool for people who need to practice listening and writing, but also get used to the right way to write and pronounce French words.
The review manager is based on a Spaced Repetition System, everyday you can review the words you are about to forget just before your forget them.
This is one of the most effective way to memorize vocabulary and a tool I highly recommend you to use if you choose to use Babbel.
Should you buy Babbel?
It all depends on how you like to learn French. I find that Babbel focuses too much on words and games.
However, you may very well enjoy that. And the community behind Babbel is amazing and can play a major role in your progress. For example, you can easily find someone to speak French with and ask questions to other native speakers learning with Babbel.
If you like to feel that you are part of a community and enjoy learning French with games, Babbel is a good choice. If you prefer a more direct approach where you simply listen to dialogues and learn from them, I recommend French Together instead.