German-born Babbel has commanded a visible perch in the skyline of individualized language learning services since 2008, when it laid its own web foundation to great acclaim. Geared toward low-to-middle-level vocab prodigals and adult newbie linguaphiles (including, marketably, jetsetters), this combo iOS/Android mobile and web app offers many thousands of hours of sharp, self-paced, slide-based lessons for studying 14 different languages. Babbelers complete focused listening, speaking, reading, and writing comprehension exercises that range from beginner's grammar up to more elaborate, culturally relevant subject topics and idiomatic speech. The service boasts a social facet to supplement these lessons, too: language natives and novices can communicate with each other over direct messaging and a range of forums. That Babbel occurs in multiple display languages lends to the vibrancy of this social environment and its exchanges, all while contributing to the service's growing international appeal.
Babbel's slide-model ease, coupled with its heavily audio- and image-based contextualizations, bring this service to life in a way that any language newcomer can appreciate. Multilingual reviews suggest a wide user base and an incredibly rich social experience to keep this service both well-rounded and on point. Speaking and listening functions in Babbel are also very engaging, as are the frequent translations that appear alongside verbalized foreign language texts—all of which keeps Babbelers interested in learning. And there are so many lessons with such rich content that boredom, or content exhaustion, could never be an issue with this service.
Cost is indeed a factor. Despite the reasonable fees (as low as $9.99 on mobile for a term-limited full run of Babbel) and the consider content available before a purchase is required, any mobile language-learning service that bricks a paywall these days could easily alienate itself from the cost-conscious markets of its free, but still robust, competitors. And where is the Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, or Korean? Babbel, which boasts 14 languages at present (including Turkish and Indonesian), might still need to diversify further.
You’ve probably met a large number of language learning tools on your way to proficiency. This is just one of those tools. That said, this could be the tool for you. Why not give it a whirl? You might love it as much as other users seem to, and satisfying your tastes might be worth the fee.
Image: Babbel logo via Wikimedia Commons