ChatAndDuolingoare two of the mostpopularand well-known platforms for language learning.
Duolingo's popularity stems primarily from the fact that it is a "free" service, while Babbel is known for its viral marketing campaigns and TV ads.
I'm sure you've seen this bearded hipster who's featured in pretty much every Babbel ad.
I will address the main similarities and differencesim Detailin just a moment.
But let me start by saying that I'm usually not a fan of writing such comparisons (see myRosetta Stone gegen Duolingoreview for example). It's often like comparing apples and oranges when you take two different platforms with different missions and try to make comparisons.
I'm going to do it today anyway because people are asking.
TO UPDATE: I was bashed by the Duolingo forum trolls for my points below regarding: Duolingo's revenue model (which has changed) and was subsequently contacted by Duolingo for a correction.
Here is the email I received from Duolingo for clarification:
I work for Duolingo and wanted to reach out to you regarding your review of us vs. Babbel. Specifically, there is a factual error in the article that I would like to clarify that relates to our business model and translation crowdsourcing. While we did this earlywe stopped crowdsourcing translations a few years agoand have instead focused on monetization through ads and our Duolingo Plus subscription option, which is our biggest source of revenue.
If you could explain this to your readers, I would be very grateful.
I will update these points later when I have time.
To summarize the main differences:
- Duolingo is a "free" platform and its content is created by volunteers. It's not realfreialthough. You pay in another way (I will explain below).
- It has a premium paid option (Super Duolingo / Duolingo Plus) that removes ads and lets you download content for offline use. The Duolingo Plus price is $6.99 per month.
- The playful learning of Duolingo is addictive but has no real substance.
- Duolingo covers many different languages (33 at the time of writing – some of them in beta).
- Babbel is a paid SaaS (recurring subscription) product.
- It covers fewer languages than Duolingo (14 at the time of writing this article).
- Babbel has a professionally designed learning path and is more comprehensive (but less addictive than Duolingo).
- No one would have noticed Babbel if they hadn't made huge advertising investments over the past few years.
Babbel also includes some elements reminiscent ofRosetta Stone(although Rosetta Stone does it better).
Personally, I don't have much value from either Duolingo or Babbel and personally wouldn't rely on them to learn a language.
There are much higher onesquality language learning resourcesIn my opinion.
Duolingo - nothing is ever free!
So I assume the main reason you are comparing Duolingo to Babbel is that one is "free" and the other is not.
Babbel has a recurring fee.Duolingo costs nothing.
It makes perfect sense why people would choose what appears to be a free product over a paid one (even though Babbel is cheap).
But one thing I've been pointing out lately is the DuolingoIsnotfrei.
How Duolingo works:
Every time you go to their platform to learn a language and fill in exercises (fill in the blanks) and so on, your answers are actually shared and sold to big companies.
You don't even realize it, but you're translating content to be resold.
The man who invented Duolingo, Luis Von Ahn, is the same guy who created the CAPTCHA login quizzes.
It's a brilliant concept, to be fair - they show you some images and ask you to identify something in the images or write the text you see in an image and then your answer is used to authenticate you .
It's also sold to a company that wants your answer for whatever purpose.
Well, Duolingo works the same way.
You receive a service (language learning) and in exchange for your answers provided to companies, Duolingo receives a lot of money.
So really, Duolingo is just a front forCrowdsourced Translation.
Most people would have no problem with this model.
Some people might see it as a fair exchange (a service for a service).
But I have ethical concerns about it - I don't want anything of mine to be shared with people if I can't see the details or have control over them. I feel the same way about companies like Google and Facebook who benefit from your data and the information you voluntarily give them.
TO UPDATE: I've read some unconfirmed reports online suggesting that Duolingo has moved away from this model and instead of paid subscriptions to their premium service.
Not sure if this is correct or what the details are at this stage.
Duolingo's interface is a child's toy -by draft
I havewritten in detailabout the very clear trend of infantilization in UI.
Especially with voice apps.
Check out the UI (design) of the Duolingo website and app - it's a kid's toy. It's incredibly babyish and appeals to limited attention spans.
This is a general trend that we see across the board in design.
Duolingo uses cartoon awards, big sounds, and bright colors.
Babbel doesn't follow the UI infantilization trend quite as much - they look a lot more professional and "mature".
You may think this is a strange argument, but dumbing down interactive learningfor adultsis worrying.
Babbel – even a mediocre app can thrive with enough money
The problem I have with Babbel is that it is averymediocre platform (not bad, not great).
see myBabble reviewif you don't already know, where I explain it in detail.
But it's becoming a household name because of theAdvertisingit works - it literally isoverall.
I see it all over Google and social media (relevant ads because I do so much research on language content) and all over TV.
In fact, my wife, who knows very little about language learning trends, recently came up to me and asked me:
"Hey, did you use that Babbel app?"
She's seen it on TV so many times it stuck with her!
So the ads are working – they've done wonders for Babbel's brand awareness.
But here's the thing:
Babbel is not getting better knownbecause it's a great platform.
I usually judge a language resource by asking this question – has this product gained recognition on its own merits?
Is it unique enough to stand out and achieve organic reach?
Or is it only really good in advertising campaigns?
I made a very similar point aboveMichael Thomasnot long ago - it's a terrible product that had the benefit of being endorsed by Hollywood stars, which catapulted it to stardom.
It's not that Babbel is a bad app.
It's just not great.
I personally don't prefer either, but Babbel is clearly better than Duolingo
Duolingo and Babbel share some similarities in style but are completely different overall.
They both achieved success in two different ways:
- Duolingo has a thriving, organic community of loyal supporters who help build the platform and “evangelize” other people to the platform through Reddit and other social media.
- Babbel has grown into an advertising juggernaut with outside investments that have enabled it to draw widespread attention to its very boring, uninspired product.
Duolingo has an army of volunteers and supporters building it for free. It's not realfreialthough.
When a product is free, that usually means itOfare the product.
However, Duolingo's language coverage is impressive, and the gamified aspects are clever and fun (assuming you don't spend too much time on it).
Babbel has fewer languages, but does thembetterlike Duolingo.
You can tell that Babbel has put a lot of effort into hiring language experts to create real lessons.
While it's not free, the Babbel subscription has one30 days free trial.
The problem is that the platform is boring and doesn't feel inspiring.
I just don't get much value from the language courses at Duolingo or Babbel and would book more cheap sessionsitalki. However, if I had to choose one, it would be Babbel because it's developed by professionals and doesn't use my translations to sell to companies.
There's plenty toobetter language resourcesthat I have shared before.
What do you think of Duolingo and Babbel?
Share them below.
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