Babbel Review: After a Year, Does it Really Work?


There are more than 80 articles here on this blog and very few of them are product reviews. I only review things that have actually made my life better in some substantial way, or to provide information that my readers will find useful. This post contains affiliate links and I receive a small affiliate payment if you make a purchase after clicking on my links. After subscribing to Babbel for a full year, I’m writing this Babbel review to share my experience and to help my readers decide if it is something they want to try.

I am fascinated by human potential

What can humans do if we develop our perception or cognition? What kind of superpowers are dormant, just waiting for us to unlock our abilities? My lofty aspirations for what is possible can probably be traced back to the “we only use 10% of our brain” idea. However, modern brain imaging technology has debunked this idea, and it is now known as the 10% myth.

But even if we are already using all of our brain to navigate life, that doesn’t mean that we can’t  improve our thinking. That was my motive for learning another language using the Babbel app. There are many benefits of learning a foreign language, including improved memory and enhanced decision making. Research has also shown that it increases the ability to multitask and sharpens perception (specifically the ability to notice irrelevant or deceptive information in our surroundings). 

For some mysterious reason, I feel compelled to learn Russian. Partly because learning a completely different alphabet intrigues me . . . surely this increases the challenge. But I was born in Poland and speak Polish fluently, and there’s a bit of overlap with grammar and vocabulary, which gives me a bit of a head start. It would be much more useful to learn Spanish as I live in California, but we can’t always be super practical in life, that would get boring.

At one point during my year of using Babbel to learn a foreign language, I was also doing CrossFit several times a week and taking a Master Class on negotiation taught by a former FBI hostage negotiator. Then I wondered if I wasn’t somehow in training to become a secret agent and I just didn’t know it yet . . .

But I digress. I decided to write this Babbel review after subscribing for a whole year, so I would have enough time to evaluate the results. And overall, I’m super satisfied with the Babbel app for the price. I’m not going to suddenly switch keyboards here and finish this article in fluent Russian, I’m not that good yet. But for $85 a year (about $7 a month) it is definitely worth it, even if I skip a few weeks here and there (which happens). 

The method the app uses is very effective. Even if I get super busy and don’t use the app for a month or so, I retain everything I’ve learned so far. It feels like the language is getting hard wired directly into my brain somehow, there isn’t any need to study or memorize in that way that I recall cramming for tests in college. The lessons just build on themselves in a way that is both intuitive and very effective. 

I will mention in this Babbel review that I do think a full year subscription is the way to go, unless you have time to devote to several lessons per day. For me, each lesson takes about 15 minutes. And if I don’t score well on a lesson, I take the same one again the next day. I don’t know if I would still retain as much if I was doing the lessons faster, it might be worth an experiment. I did just renew my subscription for one more year, so I might try getting through more than just a few lessons per week this time around.

Overall, the Babbel app is easy to use and makes learning a foreign language fun. I’m impressed that something so challenging can be broken down into such a simple and engaging process. So does Babbel really work? In my experience so far, yes.