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Babbel Review

Friday, July 19th

2024 Italian Lesson Reviews

Babbel Review 4 Star Rating


4 Star Rating
  • Starts at $17.95/month for basic features, $99/month for live classes
  • Offers over 225 hours of Italian lessons
  • Provides both self-study and live class options
  • Covers levels A1 to B2
  • Includes literal translations in lessons
  • Uses spaced repetition for vocabulary retention
  • Live classes go as high as C1 level
  • Offers fun games for learning Italian
  • Acquired Toucan extension for vocabulary building
  • Offers a 20-day money-back guarantee

Babbel offers you over 225 hours of Italian lessons and is a popular choice with over 10 million subscriptions sold. The method they use is backed by researchers at Yale University and has been shown to help 75% of Babbel users reach their learning goals. You might have heard about them through podcast advertising.

Offers live classes or self-study

With Babbel, you have two excellent options for language learning. You can choose self-study, which offers lessons you can take at your pace. This includes exercises designed by over 150 language experts, real-life language tools, podcasts, videos, games, and planning tools to track your progress. Alternatively, you can opt for Babbel Live, where you can take online classes with real teachers while also having access to all self-study materials. What sets Babbel Live apart is the opportunity to practice speaking with top-rated teachers in small groups, with classes available throughout the day that you can book even at the last minute, with no hidden fees. With some Italian learning apps, you might feel like you're learning because you're progressing through the course and getting great scores, but you might never really test your speaking skills. With Babbel Live, you won't be able to avoid actually speaking or understanding Italian.

Covers A1 to B2

Babbel lets you explore courses by level or topic. By level, your learning journey can start from A1.1 (Newcomer) and progress to Upper Intermediate (B2), with around 8-11 courses each at the early levels. The last level, B2, only has one course with seven lessons, but that's okay. Once you reach this stage, you're probably ready to continue your Italian study by exploring other resources like books or holding real conversations with other Italian speakers. By topic, the lessons are organized into the categories of Grammar, Listening and Speaking, Countries and Traditions, Specials (things like idioms), and Words and Sentences (specifically those that come up in everyday life. And remember, you're not tied to a strict lesson progression with Babbel. Feel free to follow your curiosity.

Literal translations included in lessons

In a typical lesson with Babbel, you'll guess meanings of words from pictures and challenge yourself by choosing the missing word in a sentence. You'll also build words by clicking on letters or combinations of letters to spell them. Towards the end of a lesson, you'll fill in the blanks in a short simulated conversation between two Italian speakers that contains both familiar words and new words to help you learn from context. We like that literal translations are provided, so for example, "buongiorno" isn't just translated as "hello," but also as "good day," its literal meaning.

Best Italian Lessons

Review uses spaced repetition

In Babbel, you have the chance to choose how you want to review your lessons. Whether you prefer flashcards, listening, speaking, or writing, it's all up to you. (We're really glad to see the writing option, because a lot of platforms limit review to selecting from a word bank, which is basically like having hints on every question that you can't turn off.) Babbel's method for promoting vocabulary retention is "spaced repetition" . This means you'll see a new word or phrase more or less often depending on how well you know it.

Six stage progression

There are six stages in total. When you first learn a word, it's at Stage 1. Every time you review it correctly, it moves up a stage. If you get it right, you won't see it for a while, anywhere from 4 to 180 days, depending on the stage. But if you make a mistake, you'll see it again the next day. If you make more than one mistake, it drops a stage and you'll see it again right away. This way, the stuff you find easy moves up and you review it less, while the tougher stuff sticks around until you've got it down.

Live classes go as high as C1

You can attend 2 free live Italian classes with Babbel before you'll need to buy a Live subscription. By going to the Live tab you can see which classes are coming up and what skill level and module they belong to - we even spotted some that go as high as C1. The title tells you the topic ("Talk About Wellbeing and Health", "Organize an Evening Out", "Comprendere Variazioni Linguistiche Regionali" ) and a countdown to when the lesson starts. Don't worry about getting lost in the crowd - the lessons are capped at 6 students, which we think is a good number that should let the teacher give everyone equal attention. The lessons are 55 minutes each.

Best Italian Lessons

Fun games to learn Italian

Some of the Italian language extras offered by Babbel are the podcasts we mentioned earlier and a couple of games, like "Phrase Maze" where you need to get sentences correct to help a professor, or "Word Trax" where you spell the word before a train runs off a track. You can also explore the Babbel magazine, which is full of articles about language, culture, and learning. It's a great way to immerse yourself in the language while also having fun.

Starts at $17.95 a month for basic features

Babbel is a bit costly compared to other apps you could use, even on the plan that doesn't include Babbel Live.

  • For all languages, a 1-month plan costs $17.95.
  • If you want to learn for a longer period, you can opt for a 3-month plan at $15.25 per month, a 6-month plan at $13.45 per month, or a 12-month plan at $8.95 per month.
  • If you're dedicated to learning languages for life, you can choose the Lifetime plan for a one-time payment of $349.

Babbel Live is $99 a month

Keep in mind, these prices don't include Babbel Live, which lets you take unlimited classes with real teachers and access everything the app has. Live has its own prices:

  • 1 month: $99
  • 3 months: $70 per month
  • 6 months: $60 per month
  • 12 months: $50 per month

Toucan extension for desktop acquired by Babbel

Recently, Babbel acquired the Toucan browser extension, which helps you, the language learner, to build and remember new vocabulary while you're browsing the web. This way, you can practice and see the words you're learning in the context of sentences, making them more meaningful. Toucan isn't just about memorization like flashcards; it's about seeing and using words in context. The tool even tracks which translations you've seen and how well you do on quizzes to help phase out words you know and bring in new ones. You can download Toucan on Chrome and Microsoft Edge web stores.

Best Italian Lessons

Learning with a tutor might be better

A 20-day money-back guarantee applies to all of Babbel's plans. Unfortunately, the price tag on Babbel Live makes us wonder if they have the best value for live Italian lessons. You might find that learning one-on-one with a tutor is a better use of your money than being one of six in a lesson on a topic that might or might not align with what you need to be learning at that moment.

Not the best fit for most people

Babbel's concept is cool - live lessons that you can join last-minute are definitely something you won't see often. While Babbel's core lessons are not as shallow as one particularly well-known competitor, we don't think these self-study lessons stand out much. They don't go as deep as some other services in our review, particularly on grammar. We also miss the native speaker videos some platforms have built into the lessons. Babbel Live just might be worth it for you if you're really committed to learning Italian and willing to do one of these calls multiple times a week, but for most people, we think Babbel could be too expensive to be practical. Still, for the wide range of features and learning tools it offers, Babbel's Italian lessons earn a solid rating from us.

Where Can You Find the Best Italian Lessons?

Learning any new language opens up a world of opportunities, and Italian, with its rich history, captivating culture, and melodious rhythm, is no exception. Learning Italian online has become an increasingly popular choice for people around the globe, thanks to the convenience, flexibility, and variety of resources available at their fingertips.

It's no wonder that learning Italian online has surged in popularity. You've got plenty of options to fit just how you like to learn. If you prefer to learn by listening and getting the hang of how Italian sounds, there are programs made just for that. They help you get used to the language's rhythm and pronunciation. And if you love games, there are fun platforms where you can learn new words and grammar through play, earning points and badges along the way.

The Best Italian Lessons Compare Italian Lessons Compare Italian Lesson Reviews What are the best Italian Lessons Best Italian Lesson Reviews

Italian Lesson FAQ

As many as 85 million people speak Italian as their native language. Besides Italy, it is an official language in Switzerland, San Marino and Vatican City, and Italian has official minority language status in Croatia and Slovenia.
Yes, but the one you'll learn and hear spoken most widely is the Tuscan dialect. Anywhere you travel in Italy, you'll be understood if you speak in the Italian commonly taught in schools and used in Italian media. But, with more than 30 regional variations of Italian, some of which are mutually understandable and some that are not, don't panic if you venture into Sicily or the wine region and find yourself struggling to grasp what's being said!
Good news: Italian is one of the easiest languages for English speakers to learn! Because English borrowed from Romance languages (like Italian, Spanish and French), people studying Italian find a lot of familiar words and grammatical concepts. If you put in the time and effort, you should have no problem speaking Italian as fluently as you like.
Start with the type of vocabulary you'll need for your intended use of Italian: travel, business, family history research, and so on, Italian uses gender for nouns, so memorize which ones are masculine and which are feminine (because it doesn't always make sense!). Another great tip for studying any language is to watch movies and TV shows with the captions on: you'll pick up accents, phrases and even some slang without even realizing it!
Italian is a fun, popular language, but that doesn't mean you'll be able to find in-person classes near you. On the other hand, online lessons are plentiful and you can study whenever (and wherever) you prefer, at a price that is almost always much less than tuition for a college course.
Fortunately, the Italian alphabet is the same as English, with the exception of accented vowels. If you're using a smartphone, holding down the base letter (a, e, i, o u) will usually pop up all of the available options for accents. On a computer, you can use an online Italian keyboard that lets you click on accented letters, or you may be able to use keyboard shortcuts.
They're surprisingly affordable. You can find month-to-month subscription plans for anywhere from $6 to $25, depending on the platform and features, or one-time purchases for under $250 for multiple levels of Italian lessons in one package. Either way, you'll be able to learn Italian for much less than you'd pay for a college course.
Yes, sometimes. If you're on a monthly subscription, you can usually cancel future payments with no penalty but you might not get your money back for previous months. With one-off purchases, you often have a 30- or 60-day trial period in which you can request a refund if you're not satisfied with your Italian lessons. We always suggest that interested students look for sample lessons or free trials; most platforms want you to know exactly what you're getting beforehand, so that you can choose the Italian lessons that are the right match for your goals and your learning style.
Compare the Best Reviews

Continued from above...

If you're someone who likes a clear and structured plan, there are courses that mix video lessons, quizzes, and even writing tasks. This way, you can get better at reading, writing, speaking, and listening to Italian, all in a balanced way.

Prefer talking to real people? You can connect with native Italian speakers through tutoring services. They can talk with you in real time, which is a great way to learn how people actually use the language and learn more about Italian culture.

Whether you're drawn to Italy's enchanting cities, passionate about its cuisine, an admirer of its contributions to art and music, or simply looking to connect with family roots, learning Italian can enrich your life in myriad ways.

Imagine strolling through the cobbled streets of Rome, ordering gelato in flawless Italian, or enjoying the operas of Verdi and Puccini in their original language. Or perhaps you're an avid cook, eager to dive into authentic Italian recipe books without the crutch of translations. Learning Italian can also be a stepping stone in your career, especially if you're involved in fashion, architecture, or the culinary arts, industries in which Italy holds a prestigious position. Moreover, for those with Italian heritage, learning Italian could be a bridge to understanding your ancestry and connecting with relatives in a more meaningful way.

When comparing the process of learning Italian to other Romance languages, like Spanish, there are a few unique aspects you might encounter. Italian's pronunciation is often more straightforward than a language like French, with most letters having a consistent sound, which can make speaking it a bit easier for beginners.

However, Italian has its share of challenges, such as the use of gendered nouns and a plethora of verb conjugations, aspects that are also present but differ slightly in Spanish. The musicality of Italian, with its emphasis on the flow and melody of speech, offers a distinct learning curve but can be incredibly rewarding to master.

Not sure where to start? Think about these things as you weigh your options:

  • Your starting point. Are you brand new to Italian or do you know a bit already? Pick lessons that match where you're at.
  • How you like to learn. Do you prefer using apps, listening to audio, or sitting down at your computer? Choose a format that fits your routine and how you learn best.
  • What skills do you want to focus on. Do you want to get better at talking and listening, or are you more into reading and writing? Or maybe you want to work on everything! Knowing this will help you choose the right lessons.
  • Different Italian accents. Some programs might teach a specific regional accent in addition to the standard Italian that's used all over Italy. Italy's full of different accents, but everyone understands standard Italian.
  • Cost. Some lessons are free, while others cost money either upfront or through a subscription. Think about what you're willing to spend and what you get from free versus paid lessons.
  • What other learners say. Look for reviews from people who've used the lessons before. Their experiences can tell you how effective the lessons are and how quickly you might learn.

To steer you towards the best Italian lessons that align with your goals and preferred learning style, our team at Top Consumer Reviews has evaluated today's leading options and provided honest feedback on what each one offers. So, what are you waiting for? Start your Italian learning journey today!

The Best Reviews of Italian Lessons