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Babbel Review

Sunday, December 5th

2021 Russian Lesson Reviews

Babbel Review 3.5 Star Rating

Babbel

3.5 Star Rating
  • Content for Newcomers and Beginners
  • 20-day money-back guarantee
  • Full sample lesson available for both levels of Russian

Babbel pops up in radio and TV ads everywhere. Across a wide range of available languages, this platform has earned more than 10,000 5-star ratings from happy users around the world.

Free full-length lesson - if you can find it

Want to try Babbel for learning Russian? They offer a full-length lesson for free - but they don't make it easy to find! (Probably because they'd rather you go ahead and buy a subscription) There's two ways to get there: either through the demo button on the "About Us'' page, or by going to the Babbel homepage and selecting Russian from the dropdown box. When you click on "Start Learning" , you'll answer a series of questions about your goals, the amount of time you expect to have on a daily basis for learning Russian, and why you're studying it in the first place. Enter your name and email address to create your free account; from your dashboard, you can then get to the free lesson.

Challenging to understand

Here's the short version, if you'd like an idea before signing up for that no-cost account. Babbel starts out with introducing you to some simple words in Russian, written in Cyrillic (not transliterated into the English alphabet), and then getting you familiar with the Cyrillic alphabet. By the end of the first lesson, you'll know how to say "yes" , "no" , "who" and "there" . That sample really didn't give us a good feel for how much content Babbel offers in each lesson or how well we'd know it by the time we reached the end of the Newcomer course. Would we have the opportunity to do any speaking practice? There wasn't any in the intro lesson at either the Newcomer or Beginner level. With no transliteration either, the exercises left us feeling like we were shooting in the dark a lot of the time.

Mostly beginning-level content

How far will Babbel take you in your Russian studies? Compared with the other languages they offer, not very far beyond a beginner level. There are 14 lessons in the Newcomer Course 1 series and 12 lessons in Course 2. When you move to the Beginner level, there are 8 total courses with anywhere from 11-16 lessons in each one.

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Costs

  • $13.95 for 1 month
  • $41.85 for 3 months (promo price of $27.16)
  • $83.70 for 6 months (promo price of $45.91)
  • $167.40 for 12 months (promo price of $75)

Your cost may vary

How much will you pay for a subscription to Babbel? That depends. We've interacted with the site many times, and it seems like each visit gives us a different pricing structure. The everyday cost for a membership is $13.95/month, $41.85 for three months, $83.70 for six months, and $167.40 for a year. But, there's almost always some kind of promotion in place: at the time of this review, there was a holiday discount that brought the 3-month price down to $27.16, the 6-month price to $45.91, and the full year price to $75. And, not long after signing up for a free account, we got an email offering three months for free with a three-month subscription. Do the math, though: paying $41.85 for a 3-month plan at regular price and then getting an extra three months is just slightly less than the discounted price of $45.91 for a 6-month plan.

20-day refund policy

No matter which plan you choose, you've got 20 days to decide if it lives up to your expectations and to request a refund if not. Beyond those 20 days, you're out of luck! That's actually one of the two biggest reasons we've seen customers complain about Babbel: they either didn't realize that it had such a small refund window, or they missed the reminder(s) about the automatic renewal and were charged for another subscription period. That's definitely not Babbel's fault, but that doesn't seem to stop people from getting mad about it.

Not as good in Russian as in other languages

We were surprised at how different the Russian lessons felt here, compared with other languages Babbel offers that we reviewed. Maybe it was the non-Roman alphabet or the fact that we didn't have any familiarity with the language at all, but most of the time Babbel had us feeling lost as we tried to use it to learn Russian. We still give it a better-than-average rating, because of the free lesson access, affordable pricing, and 20-day refund policy. However, we encourage you to try many different approaches to learning Russian before you settle on Babbel.

What’s the Best Way to Learn Russian?

If you're interested in learning the language, you likely already realize that it's going to be more challenging than some. First off, Russian uses a completely different alphabet, Cyrillic, from what you're using right now to read in English. Training your mind to recognize the new symbols and the sounds they make (or to make different sounds using letters that look similar between Cyrillc and the Roman alphabet) can take some time.

You'll also have to master a grammatical system that's quite different from English. Do you know the difference between the nominative case and the dative case? It's okay if you don't - because of the six cases used in Russian, we only use three in modern English.

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

Russian Lesson FAQ

A lot! Estimates range from 150-250 million people around the globe who speak Russian as their first language. It's one of the six official languages designated by the UN (along with Arabic, Mandarin Chinese, English, French and Spanish), the most spoken native language in Europe, and the most geographically widespread language in all of Eurasia. Russian is the official language of Russia (of course), Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan, and widely used in most of the former USSR nations.
Yes, but with few exceptions, Russian speakers all understand each other. People often refer to the "literary language" of Russian, used in all major cities throughout Russia. Beyond that, you'll find regional accents and vocabulary - but the type of Russian you'll learn in any class will be the commonly-accepted one.
We'll be honest: it's challenging! From the Cyrillic alphabet to grammatical differences, Russian is quite different from English, and we don't really borrow enough vocabulary from Russian for it to be familiar as we learn it. It's not quite as hard as Arabic, Japanese or Chinese (according to the US State Department, anyway!), and if you work diligently and consistently, you should be able to learn as much Russian as you like.
You have to start by learning the Cyrillic alphabet. It's got 33 letters, some of which are familiar from our Latin alphabet, and some that will be completely new - and most of which won't be pronounced the same as what you use in English! From there, basic vocabulary will help you with day-to-day needs like asking for directions or buying things in the market, but shape your learning according to how you plan to use Russian (on vacation, in business, and so on).
Unless you live in a college town, it might be your only option! Russian lessons aren't easy to come by in person, so going with an online platform ensures that you can learn when and where you like, for as long as you wish. They're also much more affordable than college tuition!
If you're studying Russian online, you will need to enable the language on your computer. Search for the steps you'll have to take on your operating system (PC or Mac). Otherwise, there are online Russian keyboard sites where you can copy-paste characters one by one (but that will get a little tedious).
They're quite affordable. You can choose between two options: monthly subscriptions or one-time purchase. Most month-to-month plans are less than $25/month, while one-off Russian lesson packages are anywhere from $50 to $700. All of the Russian lesson programs we found were much cheaper than paying for a semester of college tuition!
That varies. For monthly subscriptions, you may be able to cancel your recurring payments without a refund of what you paid previously. If you buy a package of Russian lessons (online, CDs), you may be protected by a 30- or 60-day satisfaction guarantee. Be sure to understand the terms of any Russian language platform you're considering before you make your purchase, and take advantage of any free lesson samples or trial periods the service offers.
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Continued from above...

Feeling discouraged? Don't be! Russian is ranked as a Level III language by the US State Department, marking it merely as a "hard" language and not as difficult as Level IV languages like Arabic or Chinese. Whew! And with the right type of Russian lessons, you could find yourself reading, writing, understanding and speaking the language more fluently than you imagined.

So, what makes a Russian language program the "right type" ? Some of that depends on you. Do you learn best by reading detailed explanations of grammar or by learning useful words and phrases in context? Do you like your learning to feel like playing games or do you prefer a more straightforward, traditional approach? If you're not sure about the answers to any of those questions, that's fine: most Russian lessons have a free lesson or give you limited access to the platform so you can try it for yourself. Put a few providers to the test and see which ones keep coming to mind - or which approach helps what you've learned to "stick" the best!

Generally speaking, there are a few factors that can make a particular system for learning Russian better than another. Those include:

  • Ease of Use. How intuitive is it to move through each lesson, and from one topic to another? Is it clear what you're supposed to learn next? The more comfortable you are with the app, materials, or however the Russian lessons are delivered, the more likely you are to stick with it and keep making progress.
  • Value. Some Russian lessons involve a monthly or yearly subscription, while others have a one-time cost. How much will you get for what you pay? Will you have enough content to keep you busy for as long as you intend to study the language? Does your paid membership or one-off fee add a significant number of features or materials beyond what the service may offer for free?
  • Refund Policy. If you purchase a long-term subscription or pay for an entire program upfront, can you get your money back if it doesn't live up to your expectations?
  • Reputation. Have other people been successful using the service to learn Russian?

TopConsumerReviews.com has evaluated and ranked today's top resources for learning Russian online. We're confident that this information will help you choose the Russian lessons that will boost your fluency in no time!

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