Babbel Review

by | Nov 9, 2014 | English, Product Reviews

Babbel’s beginner’s course promises to provide an easy introduction to Russian where you can quickly learn the Russian alphabet and gain an understanding of the most important ideas. The beginner’s course was the only course available for Russian where you can learn up to Level A1 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFRL).

Babbel offers its courses as a smartphone app and as a web based desktop platform. Their courses are subscription based and access to one language course costs €59.40/year (access can also be bought for €9.95/month). Currently, the courses are available for learning English, French, Spanish, Italian, German, Portuguese, Turkish, Dutch, Polish, Indonesian, Danish, Norwegian and Swedish.

I chose the Russian desktop version to review Babbel. Babbel claims that you should reach Level A1 of the CEFRL (the lowest benchmark). So what was my experience with Babbel?

Click to watch my video review from my YouTube channel!

The Method

The Babbel interface for Russian features 3 course options: Beginner’s (main course), Specials (cognate words), and Words and Sentences (vocabulary training). The beginner’s course teaches the Russian alphabet, greetings and introductions, and other basic and useful phrases.

The new letters in the alphabet are introduced gradually so the material that you are exposed to has clearly been careful selected. The course functions as a series of multiple choice questions using images where the words are spoken by native speakers. T

The images chosen were culturally relevant in general and there are plenty of linguistic explanations which clarify new material as it’s introduced.

Strengths

1. Intuitive content – the course was carefully structured so as to make the learning natural and accumulative.

Babbel example

Screenshot of a Babbel Lesson Interface

Babbel Russian example

An example of a comprehension task

2. Sleek interface – the platform is aesthetically attractive and has a simple easy-to-use layout.

3. Cultural information – many cultural explanations that are linguistically relevant to Russian are provided.

Weakness

1. Vocabulary section – many of the expressions are either not necessary or very complex for a beginner to Russian.

2. Voice recognition – it does not give precise feedback on where the sounds are being made in the mouth which would help a lot for correction of pronunciation errors.

3. Limited content – the course for Russian for very basic (A1) so you reach the end quickly and need another product to continue even if the beginner’s course does live up to its promises.

Conclusion

So would I recommend buying Babbel?

The beginner’s course is designed to help you reach A1 CEFRL (the most basic level of Russian) and it certainly will get you there if you follow the course. That said there is a disconnect between this goal and the vocabulary that is taught in the Words and Sentences section, which is much more advanced.

As you will only reach A1 level, it definitely should be used in addition to other basic courses (for example, I personally like Michel Thomas and Pimsleur or perhaps Assimil).

Overall, I give Babbel the thumbs up! 😀

Babbel Russian Cover

Basic greeting in Russian

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