If only there was an easy and fast way to learn Spanish… Hard truth: there isn’t. What you may have found in your searches, however, are several apps dedicated to learning languages. Duolingo vs Babbel vs Lingvist, which is better? What are they good and bad at? And which one is for you? Let’s have a look!
What made it truly popular, however, was the gamified learning process. Every lesson is a game and there are “levels” that you must pass to unlock more lessons. You can also create a nickname, add friends and earn “lingots”, a virtual coin that only exists in the game.
The game, of course, makes it more addictive… in the beginning. Ultimately, users will get tired of the game, which means it is not a sustainable way to learn the language. Learners may feel like they’ve lost pieces of the puzzle, because several language skills are not trained (such as speaking) and some rules remain unexplained. As the days go by and you don’t log on Duolingo, you also lose access to the lessons you’d already earned, so you can’t revise.
Duolingo is good: it uses gamification in a smart way that stimulates learners. But we don’t believe it’s enough to learn the language, and aspiring speakers eventually lose their interest. We do recommend Duolingo as a hobby or game for those already learning, and that’s why Spanish Gurus can be integrated with Duolingo.
- Gamification helps some people keep motivation
- Allows you to compete with friends
- Very easy to use native app
- By taking an initial test, you can jump levels if you’re not a total beginner
- Speaking is not trained
- The speaking voice is a bot
- No human interaction
- Free version is littered with ads
Unlike Duolingo, there aren’t several levels that you must pass to proceed your studies. Languages are split into beginner and intermediate levels and grammar courses or, in some cases, themes (e.g. “Marketing English”). Classes are varied and include vocabulary lessons, idioms, colloquialisms and sayings.
On the downside, Babbel is not free. They offer different plans for subscribers (at 3 or 6 months or 1 year) - the longer you subscribe, the lower the monthly cost. Users also point out that they must self-correct their writing tasks and that there’s no way to slow down audio so as to hear each syllable.
Overall, we would recommend Babbel for advanced learners who are in it for the long run and available to commit for several months or even years.
- Voices are not robots and have natural intonation.
- Attempts to mimic real world conversations.
- Complete course selection includes reviewing grammar, specific topics of interest.
- If you only want to learn Spanish, great! but if you’re like me and like to get familiar with different languages, you’ll have to download a different app. Not good.
- Ability to check your pronunciation but it doesn’t work every time.
- Not many courses are free.
- The course selection is messy (unless you want to pick and choose your learning path instead of having the best proven path chosen for you, like in Duolingo).
Lingvist promises “language learning at the speed of light”, but it has fewer course options - only four languages so far, French, Russian, Spanish and German.
Lingvist is well known for its exercises using memory cards, which are helpful to acquire more vocabulary and may be used by all learners, from beginners to pros. Another plus is that it uses not only academic texts but also jokes and sentences common in daily life.
A major setback, however, is that it seems to fail in mobile. Most users reportedly found the desktop version better, and that’s probably a no-no if you’re planning on using an app to practice during your commute or work breaks. We also found that some reading exercises were a bit challenging, and you’ll probably need a dictionary at hand to complete them.
- Near perfect speaking recognition.
- Good course organization creates a learning path that flows easily.
- In depth grammar lessons, great for those who are serious about learning Spanish or practising.
- Perhaps too technical. Not everyone wants to know what a Relative Superlative is.
- Sadly, all the courses are paid.
Different apps fulfill the needs of different learners, but they all have one thing in common: they can't give you feedback, don’t provide many answers, if at all. This makes them an unreliable option for those taking their language learning seriously. So if your goal is to learn Spanish, here at Spanish Gurus, we pair you with native Spanish teachers who are trained in teaching Spanish and who you can have Spanish group lessons with or private Spanish lessons.
If you have any other questions, the comment section below is open!