If you’re in a quest to learn a foreign language, you’ve probably googled “easy ways to learn Spanish” or “how to learn Spanish fast” more times than you’d care to admit. Yes, we know that you’re trying your best, but only if there was an easier, faster way to learn Spanish through osmosis… 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? Let's have a look!
The little green bird is probably one of the most well-known polyglots of the web. Students can learn dozens of languages from Spanish to Hebrew, and it’s now starting to use teaching languages other than English - that is, you can learn English and French from Spanish.
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. After a few lessons, and like the song goes, “the thrill is gone”. 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 isn’t a bad app: on the contrary, 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.
Babbel is another very well-known language service. Using polyglot twin brothers as viral public relations, this app is known for its blog, videos and online content.
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.
Lingvist promises “language learning at light speed” and 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 commuting 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.
Different apps fulfill the needs of different learners, but they all have one thing in common: they are limited to previously programmed data and can't give you feedback. This makes them an unreliable option for those taking their language learning seriously. Here at Spanish Gurus, we pair you with native Spanish teachers who are trained in teaching Spanish and who you can have 1-on-1 lessons (or small group lessons) with.
If you have any other questions, the comment section below is open!