Learning a new language can open up new worlds for you, and you don't need a pricey college degree just to learn one. How cool would it be to go to another country and not feel completely lost when asking where the nearest bathroom is?
Don't limit yourself to your comfort zone just because you're afraid of not knowing a language. Instead, empower yourself by learning new vocabulary, colloquialisms, and more.
Language Learning Software vs. Traditional Classroom Setting
As students, we have plenty of tools at our disposal when it comes to learning. In the past, the primary direction we'd take when learning anything was to sign up for a college class. While there is something to be said about a traditional class setting, it's not the solution for every learner. Their classes are at limited times, enrollment can cost hundreds of dollars, and they might not offer the curriculum to match your goals.
Say, for instance, that you want to travel to another country in a few months. Language classes might focus more on grammar structures and bookwork, making gradual strides toward language learning. In the case of travel, you'll want some practice with immersion strategies.
That said, there is something to say about learning another language in an in-person course. A classroom setting can be perfect for someone who:
- Has a flexible schedule
- Can attend the classes on a regular basis
- Wants in-person communication practice
- Has no budgetary limits
- Has time for classroom homework projects, group work, and more
- Prefers one-on-one teacher feedback
- Has no anxiety when practicing a new language with strangers
Some courses are offered late at night, so you can attend class after you get off work. However, you still need to be diligent in making it to each scheduled class, otherwise, you'll lose out on your investment.
For anyone who is a little more reserved, it's easy to fall back in a bigger classroom and avoid participation. Without your involvement, you'll miss out on the essential practice of speaking and listening. Even the most outgoing folks can feel hesitant to practice their new speaking skills with a room full of strangers, making a classroom setting intimidating for beginners.
Does this mean that you can't participate if you're shy? Not at all, but if you're inclined to step away from group interactions, you might benefit more from a language learning app that is objective, automated, and practiced in the comfort of your own home.
Eventually, you'll want to feel confident enough to practice with a human (after all, you're going to want to meet people from other countries), but group settings with strangers can be a huge hindrance when taking the first steps to learn.
Babbel can be perfect for someone who:
- Has a packed schedule
- Is always on the go
- Finds group sessions intimidating
- Wants affordable learning materials
- Always has their computer or phone on them
- Needs to learn key phrases quickly
- Wants to fill their commute or spare time with learning
Babbel can be used as a resource that supplements traditional classroom learning, as well as a tool that starts the groundwork for a new language. You don't have to spend thousands of dollars; in fact, Babbel is one of the most affordable language learning software services out there.
Rather than rigid grammatical practices that are learned without context, Babbel teaches users through the use of daily sayings and phrases that you'll hear any time you visit a different country. Knowing how to order a coffee will probably be more useful than how to conjugate the past perfect tense of "to have," and Babbel understands this.
Babbel is a language learning software that has made new languages accessible to anyone and everyone. You can access Babbel anywhere you are, removing the barriers of the classroom and giving users more flexibility. You're not getting a compromised version of a classroom language class — you're getting a new approach to language immersion.
Pros and Cons
As with every investment, be it time, energy, or money, you want to see where a product excels and some areas where it falls short. While Babbel is the apple of our eye in terms of value and accessibility, it can lack in other key areas.
- Easy to use on the go
- You decide your time commitment
- Learn useful phrases immediately
- Implements effective learning strategies
- No ad-lib conversational practice
- Limited selection of languages to choose from
- Structure is mostly fill-in-the-blank
We'll soon talk about the pros behind Babbel, but first, we want to dive into some explanation behind these downsides.
Ad-lib conversational practice can help intermediate to advanced learners step their game up, giving them the opportunity to work on different phrasing and apply their knowledge to real-life scenarios.
In this instance, you typically won't be able to substitute person-to-person discussions with software, and we are firm believers that café meet-ups and language exchange groups are extremely helpful for this.
We don't fault Babbel for not having this as part of their curriculum, because then you'd lose the flexibility and ease of the software. Maybe in a few years, we'll see AI fill in for accentuation practice, human reactions, and more, but everyday technology isn't quite there yet.
The fill-in-the-blank criticism also falls into this same category of not allowing a user to come up with their own words that can creatively solve a language puzzle. Most of Babbel's questions are answered by choosing a word from provided options, not allowing the learner to present vocabulary unprompted.
As far as the selection of languages goes, Babbel covers 14 different languages. You won't find Mandarin, Hindi, or Japanese on that list, which can be disappointing for anyone wanting to learn their different alphabets.
The Babbel Method
The experts at Babbel have integrated the freedom of a digital interface into tenured learning strategies. Babbel has combined communicative didactics, cognitivism, behaviorism, and constructivism to bring progressive lessons to prospective students.
These methods are designed to send you down the shortest path to holding a real-life conversation, all driven by core principles of language learning. Babbel divides this method into four key components:
- Real-life dialogues that train your ear for new vocabulary
- Each course is built on your native language and personal interests to make them more interesting
- Cognitive methods to lock vocabulary into your long-term memory
- Speech recognition and human voices to help you confidently practice conversational phrases
Spaced repetition that progresses with each lesson helps you retain what you've learned. Along with this, Babbel connects their lessons, building each one so that you can continually learn while using what you've already studied.
Babbel for Business
Babbel has stepped into the world of multilingual businesses with glowing reviews and effective teachings. They've curated an entire program specifically for businesses, so you can take charge of your professional development via a new language.
Whether you want to give your employees incentives to learn, incorporate Babbel into training, or impress new clients, Babbel has all the steps you can take to make you a better speaker in multiple languages.
With dozens of customers from all industries (think hotel, hospitality, NGO industries), Babbel has been proven to be an extremely practical solution to raising the standard for language learning.
The Steps You Take
Once you sign up with Babbel, you can either indicate which level you're at with this new language, or you can take a placement test. If you've taken classes in the past, you might want to take the placement test to see just where you fall in relation to Babbel's courses. This helps you better understand what else you need to focus on and keeps you from repeating subjects that you already know.
After determining your level, you'll start your lessons. Each lesson is connected to one another and incorporates writing, speaking, listening, and reading. As you take your lesson, you'll listen to native speakers talk to one another, and you'll be interactively using these conversations to guide your answers.
You can take the courses without a mic on your computer, but you'll gain essential speaking practice with a working microphone. With the speaking element, Babbel gauges your pronunciation throughout the lesson. You'll hear the pronunciation of a word and then you'll be asked to practice those same sounds.
Learning Languages On Mobile
Are you someone who has multiple devices? You don't have to worry about keeping track of your progress with Babbel across all devices — Babbel's mobile app seamlessly integrates your profile across all devices, updating your progress from one device to the next. This makes it incredibly easy to learn while commuting by train, while you're messing with your phone, or even if you have a few minutes on your computer. The ease at which Babbel connects you to new languages makes this program incredibly convenient.
One aspect of Babbel that we really love is the "More Courses" section. Here, you can stray from the lessons that are tailored to you and you can choose to learn different aspects of the language you've chosen. For instance, you can focus on business conversation in this new language, accelerating your professional dialogue quickly and effectively.
If you're someone who wants a refresher, you can find a refresher course here as well, along with grammar drills, listening/speaking practice, culture and traditions, and so much more.
The "More Courses" section adds dynamism to the lessons of Babbel, giving you the freedom to learn key words when you need them.
Review and Practice
For those of us who really did appreciate the "drills" portion of classroom learning, you'll enjoy the "Review" section of Babbel. Here, you can focus on the words that you've already practiced. You can complete exercises to help review the vocabulary that you've come across in each lesson, giving them a little more emphasis when you're feeling stuck.
You'll also find more practice exercises under the "More Courses" tab. This is the perfect complement to the conversational learning that Babbel focuses on most.
Choose Your Commitment
At the beginning of your learning experience, you'll be asked how many minutes per day you want to spend learning a new language. This is especially important for anyone who is tight on time and can only devote 15-30 minutes each night to their practice.
Babbel uses this to design their lessons for each user, ensuring that you get the most out of the small amount of time you have. You might not have time for an hour a day, but that shouldn't hold you back from still learning a new language. You can use their bite-sized lessons to review, practice, and memorize new vocabulary that just might come up in your next conversation.
Easily Find the Solutions
Babbel uses quiz-like tactics to help you learn, and instead of keep you stumped on a certain word, you can easily find the solution to each question. As you're completing each lesson, you'll see a "Help" button at the bottom of each screen.
This will give you a combination of ways to help you arrive at the right answer - whether it's through a clue, an unscrambled word in another language, or another strategy.
Babbel also helps break down grammatical rules in your native language, helping you gain foundational knowledge in your own language so you can see patterns and notice rules from the get-go.
While other language learning software stays away from using any native language explanations, this can be a great way for a learner to pick up a quick rule while learning on the go or just needing a to-the-point reminder of a certain grammar fix.
The Best Part: The Price
There are hundreds of reasons to start learning a new language, but with expensive classes and intimidating courses, you can find any excuse to not start. Babbel eliminates these obstacles and serves up accessible software that can be used anywhere that you are.
By sharing language learning resources at an affordable price point, Babbel is opening up the world of conversation to anyone who is motivated to learn.
The Goal is Real-Life Conversations
This software is designed to make you more confident as you learn a new language. It's meant for you to take what you learn and use it in daily conversations, hopefully motivating you to travel and experience new things. Its conversations are derived from what you'd hear when you step off the plane in a different country, giving their lessons invaluable use as you step out of your comfort zone.