This BulgarianPod101 Review is up-to-date as of March 16th, 2021. Please note that this review contains referral links, however we only recommend products that we have used and think are worthwhile.
So, you want to learn Bulgarian, but you aren’t sure which online language-learning course is right for you. Because Bulgarian tends to be more difficult for English speakers to learn, you want to find the most comprehensive program at the best price. You’re in the right place.
About 12 million people speak Bulgarian as a first or second language. The majority of those people live in Bulgaria. If you are trying to choose between learning programs, check out our unbiased review of BulgarianPod101.
BulgarianPod101 by Innovative Language, is an online program for learning to speak Bulgarian. It can be used as a stand-alone course for beginners or as a supplemental course for intermediate to advanced learners.
There are four monthly-subscription levels, and each levels has more features to enhance and support learning to speak Bulgarian.
The bulk of BulgarianPod101 is made of video lessons and podcast lessons. Most lessons are fairly quick and can be listened to or watched on your computer or mobile devices. You can also download lessons to watch at a later time or when internet service may not be available.
Additionally, BulgarianPod101 offers:
- Bite-sized lessons taught by native Bulgarian teachers
- 210+ hours of instruction
- Over 15 study tools including flashcards and custom word/phrase banks
- Guided learning pathways aligned with A1 of the CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference)
- New podcasts and videos added each week for variety
- One-on-one instruction (PremiumPLUS)
“This is easily one of the best (if not THE best) language learning courses I’ve used.” – Thomas Darnell
Good Points of BulgarianPod101
Pro #1: So. Much. Content.
One major pro that BulgarianPod101 holds over its competitors is the sheer amount of information it provides. Hundreds of hours of lessons, learning tools, downloadable lesson notes and assessments will keep you immersed in Bulgarian. New lessons and word/phrase lists are added every single week to make sure there is always new and relevant material.
Pro #2: Flexibility in Learning
Whether you choose to learn via the guided pathway over the long term or in various pathways in short spurts, you can customize the best plan for you. You have the ability to use the mobile app or desktop versions of the program, so you can truly take learning on-the-go. You are also able to decide when you should move on to the next level of expertise (absolute beginner to beginner), or if you need to continue more practice on your current level. Additionally, if you have business or travel coming up, you can quickly study over phrases suited just for those topics.
Pro #3: Authenticity & Cultural Exposure
With such a small language such as Bulgarian, it can be a real struggle to get enough exposure from native speakers and up-to-date culture if you’re not actually living in the country. Too often we rely on old fashioned textbooks and outdated lingo that no one hardly uses anymore. Thankfully, BulgarianPod101 has a massive emphasis on authentic language and culture, which I absolutely love about this platform. After all, why learn a language if not to soak up all the interesting culture and history?
All the voice actors on the platform are dedicated native speakers, including your 1-on-1 teacher (if you choose to go for this option). Plus, most lessons come with a bunch of fascinating cultural notes to really hit home the cultural nuances of the language – how it’s used in context and the social and societal norms in Bulgaria. Furthermore, many of the customizable lessons are carefully crafted to include current Bulgarian events, popular culture, and so-on. So you can be sure to get a truly immersive authentic experience of the language.
Pro #4: Skill Based Learning
While the whole customizable learning pathway approach might feel daunting at first, after a short while the benefits become quickly apparent. Everyone learns at different rates and improves each skill differently. Therefore, BulgarianPod101 allows you to improve whatever specific skill you need practice on at any time, whether it be listening, speaking, reading or writing.
You no longer have to follow the old boring linear approach that most teaching programs force you down – you can now focus on what you need to improve on most. Whilst this does come with the added discipline necessary to regulate your own learning and self-assessment, we do feel it is definitely a massive benefit of this platform, especially when used with the PremiumPLUS subscription with the added benefits of a tailor-made learning plan and teacher to guide you along your way.
Bad Points of BulgarianPod101
Con #1: Guided Pathway Feels Unstructured
Though the guided pathway to learning Bulgarian gives the idea you will be given a structured approach to the language, it feels like the lessons jump around. The Bulgarian Cyrillic alphabet, for example, is brought into each lesson, but the sounds of the letters are never explained in detail. Romanization accompanies Bulgarian so you know how to pronounce the words, but when you later come back to Cyrillic, you can feel completely lost.
We searched for an introductory pathway for absolute beginners and thought we had it with Absolute Beginners BASICS. However, the information in this pathway was very similar to Level One Bulgarian. It seems knowing at least some of the Cyrillic alphabet beforehand is an asset.
Con #2: Lessons can be Monotonous
The bane of any language-learning program is boredom. Unfortunately, it is easy to get bored during BulgarianPod101 lessons. The instructors sometimes take too long with pronunciation or explanations, so we found ourselves drifting off and missing out on key information. There is no type of reward system beyond personal progress reports to keep students motivated. So, serious students will simply have to push past this issue.
Con #3: Too much English!
Whilst the conversational style and added banter of the videos do make it more interesting, I didn’t like the unnecessary amount of English used to explain everything, though this might be more of a personal pet peeve of mine more than anything. The level of English used does seem to drop off rather dramatically, however, when you get onto the higher levels.
Main Features of BulgarianPod101
You will be taken to your BulgarianPod101 dashboard immediately after logging on. This is where you can check your progress, add or remove learning pathways, see the latest news, and find all your learning tools. Additionally, you can upgrade your membership or adjust your expertise level here. Your dashboard is essentially the control center of everything you may need to access in BulgarianPod101.
Learning pathways are accessible through your dashboard. You can choose the guided pathways which align with each level’s CEFR scale (beginner, intermediate, etc.), or you can choose from a variety of theme-based pathways including Must Know Bulgarian Slang and Phrases and Must Know Bulgarian Social Media Posts. This allows you to choose how much and in what way you want to learn Bulgarian.
Video and Audio Lessons
Audio and video lessons are very similar in structure and are anywhere from three to 15 minutes in duration. We felt it was easier to practice pronouncing Bulgarian words when you can watch the instructors on video. The instructors begin by giving you a dialogue or set of words in regular-speed Bulgarian, then in slow-speed Bulgarian, and finally in English. This gives you the opportunity to practice speaking with them.
Some instructors are naturally more engaging than others, and that’s a bonus. The Romanization of Bulgarian helps with pronunciation, but it isn’t exact. Following along with the lesson notes as you are listening to podcasts or watching videos is highly recommended.
Lesson Notes and Transcripts
The lesson notes give you important grammar information about the dialogue, and the transcripts are a word-for-word copy of the lesson. You can download and print these notes to keep. Follow along with the lesson notes while listening/watching the lesson for greater understanding.
Quizzes and Assignments
Multiple-choice quizzes are available after each lesson in each pathway for Premium and PremiumPLUS subscribers. These quizzes can help you determine whether you truly understood the information in the previous lesson or if you should repeat it. PremiumPLUS subscribers also have the option of instructor-graded assignments after various lessons.
Bulgarian Resources Centre
Here you can find a wide range of bonus resources, all included in the free trial version. We found the pronunciation section most useful, which includes a full breakdown of the Bulgarian alphabet and how to pronounce each of the letters. There’s also some background information about the language and benefits of studying Bulgarian to help keep you motivated. Finally, there’s some handy grammar tips and links to the mobile applications.
Word of the day emails
A free complimentary service to constantly keep building your vocabulary and help you stay motivated.
Vocabulary and Grammar Tools
Spaced-Repetition Flash Cards. Flash cards either show a picture, a word in English, or a word in Bulgarian. Make your guess and click to show the answer, which will also be pronounced in Bulgarian for you. Then, you can mark whether you were correct or incorrect. Incorrect answers will appear more frequently in your flashcards.
Vocabulary/Phrase Lists. Vocabulary and phrase lists are broken down into various sections such as Common Leisure Activities and Small-talk Phrases. This is where you have to option to record your own pronunciation and compare it to the instructor’s. You can listen to the words in English and Bulgarian.
Word/Phrase Bank. When you come across words or phrases you want to keep close, store them in your personal word bank. This allows quick access to useful phrases and words or for reference and study.
Bulgarian Dictionary. Enter an English or Bulgarian word into the dictionary tool to find out its equivalent in the other language. The dictionary will also pull up other words with the same letter combinations in case you aren’t certain of the spelling. For example, entering “cat” will also bring up words like “vacation.”
2000 Core Word List
When learning a new language, I always go straight for the most commonly used words – why waste your time on the words people rarely use? Thankfully BulgarianPod101 has a dedicated section for the most commonly used words in Bulgarian. In this section you’ll find over 2000 words that can be filtered by category and added to your personal word bank. You can also select only the top 100, 200, 300 words etc. to break the list down into more manageable chunks.
Who is BulgarianPod101 Good For?
Designed to be an absolute beginner to intermediate course, BulgarianPod101 is ideal for busy, working adults who have little free time. Most lessons are quick and can be fitted into waiting times, commutes, or lunch breaks.
BulgarianPod101 is also ideal for casual learners who simply want to pick up a few phrases to get by in travel or business. On the other hand, you will find the guided course to be the building blocks leading to fluency.
Additionally, BulgarianPod101 can supplement any Bulgarian language learning class. Both adults and teens can benefit from the learning tools and extra lessons when using it in addition to a class.
Given that BulgarianPod101 at its core is a podcast and video learning platform, I highly recommend it to anyone who specifically wants to pick up their listening skills. The immersive experience of listening to several different speaking styles and accents, along with role plays and a wealth of real life applications makes BulgarianPod101 an excellent resource for anyone looking for that unique authentic learning experience to understand what’s going on around them. The complementary transcripts, lesson notes, grammar points and vocabulary lists, provides everything needed to really boost your listening skills. The ability to record and playback your own pronunciation, and the varied and diverse array of lessons covering the other language skills is an added bonus.
There are three monthly subscription levels and a free lifetime account. Your free account includes the first three lessons in each learning pathway with new material added each week. Upgrade at any time to Basic, Premium, or PremiumPLUS to add more of the features included in this BulgariandPod101 review. Keep in mind that if you subscribe for a longer period of time, the monthly price decreases.
They also offer a very generous 60-day money back guarantee if for any reason you are not satisfied with the purchase, and you can cancel at any time.
Basic Monthly Subscription
$8 >> Check Price With Our Discount
The Basic plan includes access on both your computer and mobile app. You will get full access to the lesson library, downloadable lesson notes and 100 core Bulgarian words and phrases.
Premium Monthly Subscription
$25 >> Check Price With Our Discount
In addition to the features listed under the Basic plan, the Premium plan includes HD video, lesson quizzes, flashcards, word bank, and the Bulgarian dictionary. Try this plan for free for your first seven days after signing up.
Premium PLUS Monthly Subscription
$47 >> Check Price With Our Discount
The PremiumPLUS plan gives you access to your own personal instructor. You will be able to ask questions, and a personalized learning plan will be developed according to your interests. Assignments are hand-graded, and you will receive feedback on your progress. We recommend this plan to serious students who are brand new to learning Bulgarian.
In our research, we were able to find very little among structured language-learning courses for Bulgarian. There are multitudes of amateur videos purporting to teach Bulgarian and textbooks that can be purchased. Most of the bigger names in language software did not offer Bulgarian as an option.
When compared to other well established language learning platforms such as Rosetta Stone, BulgarianPod101 comes out on top as being far more affordable and more effective (plus Rosetta Stone don’t offer Bulgarian…)
Loecsen was the only online option to learn Bulgarian for free. However, most of this site was geared for teaching phrases for travel in Bulgaria and not for use as a comprehensive learning course.
Finally there’s always the more traditional route – there’s some great textbooks out there, such as Intensive Bulgarian by Ronnell Alexander which provides a very thorough and systematic breakdown of Bulgarian grammar. Complete with exercises, the complicated verb system and complex rules for word order are explained in great detail. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to work through a textbook such as this one alongside BulgarianPod101 to balance the listening practice with a more structured approach.
BulgarianPod101 Review: Final Thoughts
All in all, BulgarianPod101 is one of very few online learning resources for this rather difficult language. We feel it is a comprehensive program that will not leave you wanting for more material. For serious students of Bulgarian, BulgarianPod101 is the best choice available to really improve your Bulgarian language skills in an enjoyable and productive way.
If you prefer a more tailored and customizable approach to language learning, and like me you get bored easily and like to jump around several different subjects at once, then BulgarianPod101 is the right choice for you. With a focus on natural dialogues, alongside in-depth explanations of important grammar, vocabulary, and interesting cultural information, you’ll find nothing else quite like it on the market.
Additionally, you can use our coupon code and extend your subscription length to get a deal off the monthly price. This makes it affordable for both serious and casual students alike.