Home Tech Babbel vs Duolingo – What Are The Differences?

Babbel vs Duolingo – What Are The Differences?

So, you have decided to learn a new language but are confused about which platform you should go with? Well, if that is something you are confused about, grab a cup of coffee and stay connected with this article as here I am going to thoroughly compare and review Babbel vs Duolingo, two of the most popular online language learning platforms.

At the end of this article, I am also going to share my personal opinion on which of these online language learning platforms would be the perfect choice for you. So, don’t forget to skip anything.

Babbel and Duolingo are the two most popular platforms for learning languages online. Both of them are great and offer some really amazing features. This makes it very difficult to say that one of these is much better than the other. In the end, the best online language learning platform will be the one that fulfills all your requirements.

To help you in that, we will compare Babbel vs Duolingo from multiple aspects such as pricing, overview, language options, their main focus, and a few other things. This will give you an understanding of which of these platforms will be the right choice for you.

So, let’s start this comparison with the basic overview of Babbel vs Duolingo.

Babbel vs Duolingo – Overview


Babbel is an online subscription-based language learning platform that was founded back in August 2007 in Germany. However, it made its online presence in January 2008. The platform is managed by Lesson Nine GmbH, with headquarters based in Berlin.

It aims to offer a balance between thoroughness and cost-effectiveness. Babbel costs somewhere between $80-150 for yearly subscriptions, which is comparatively much cheaper than other known platforms like Rosetta Stone and others.

Babbel vs Duolingo

The platform mainly focuses on beginners and intermediate learners. The lessons typically begin with teaching single words and then move forward to the short phrases and entire sentences. Once you learn the basics of the language, you can move forward to grammar courses, vocabulary lessons, and more.

After completing a course, Babbel immerses you in the conversations based on the courses that you have learned. It will teach you how you can use your learnings in real-life scenarios, especially when talking with native speakers.

Learn a new language your way. With Babbel.

However, the biggest disadvantage of using Babbel is that the free version is very limited. The free version only lets you access the initial lesson of the course. But since it is the only disadvantage of the platform, it easily overpowers the advantages of the platform.

Download the App on Google Play Store

Download the App on Apple App Store


Duolingo is arguably the most popular language-learning platform for a good reason. It was founded back in 2011 in the United States with the sole aim of making education free for everyone. The main idea behind creating this e-learning platform came into the mind of Luis von Ahn, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburg.

At that time, Luis von Ahn had just sold his second company, reCAPTCHA, to Google. After that, he decided to work on Duolingo with one of his postgraduate students, Severin Hacker.

When they started working on this project, it was founded by Luis von Ahn’s MacArthur Fellowship and a National Science Foundation grant.

Babbel vs Duolingo 1Initially, they planned to keep Duolingo as a nonprofit project, but later they realized that this nonprofit model isn’t sustainable. Then they introduced the freemium model that comes with advertisements. This allows people to use Duolingo completely for free for as long as they want without any restrictions.

But if you want to help the organization or get rid of the advertisements, you can opt for the premium plan that will cost you around $80 a year. There is something more about the free plan that we will later discuss in this article, where we will thoroughly discuss the pricing model of both of these platforms.

However, the free model is actually a significant reason why Duolingo has the biggest user base compared to other language learning platforms. One thing I like to mention here about Duolingo is that the lessons are relatively random compared to Babbel. That’s not a major deal-breaker, but it is one thing that you should keep in mind.

Duolingo in Three Words: Free, Fun & Effective

Download the App on Google Play Store

Download the App on Apple App Store

Babbel vs Duolingo – Language Options

The number of languages one platform offers can be a key factor for people who travel very often or want to learn multiple languages. Though in the end, it depends on what languages you prefer to learn but still, it is a key thing to keep in mind.

Starting with Babbel, so, the platform currently offers 14 languages. These languages include Dutch, Danish, English, French, German, Indonesian, Italian, Norwegian, Polish, Russian, Brazilian Portuguese, Swedish, Turkish, and Spanish.

These languages pair look pretty solid, but when compared with Duolingo, it appears pretty weak. For example, Duolingo offers you to learn over 37 different languages for English speakers with 106 different language pairs. This means, that even if you are not a native English speaker, there will be so many language pairs you can opt for.

The supported languages include Spanish, French, Japanese, German, Korean, Italian, Chinese, Hindi, Russian, Arabic, Turkish, Portuguese, Dutch, Latin, Swedish, Vietnamese, Irish, Greek, Polish, Norwegian (Bokmal), Hebrew, Indonesian, Hawaiian, Danish, Finnish, Romanian, High Valarian, Welsh, Czech, Scottish Gaelic, Yiddish, Ukrainian, Swahili, Hungarian, Klingon, Navajo, and Esperanto.

Obviously, some of these are not actually native languages, for example, Esperanto, Klingon, and High Valarian, but you can still learn them, which is a great thing. Some languages, such as Navajo, Klingon, Hungarian, and Yiddish, are still under development and available for Beta only.

If you look closely at the languages offered by Babbel, you will notice that it lacks popular Asian languages. In comparison, Duolingo supports most Asian languages. This makes Duolingo a better choice for those who are planning to master Asian languages.

And yeah, overall, even though Babbel supports a wide range of languages, Duolingo is a clear winner when it comes to the number of languages offered by these platforms. So, if you are planning to learn multiple languages, you know which is the better option for you.

Babbel vs Duolingo – Learning Experience

Learning experience, or if you call it, how the lessons are prepared, is another important thing to look for.

Starting with Babbel

This platform focuses on teaching the language in a very traditional manner. Using Babbel feels like you are sitting in a classroom and attending lectures. This is not a bad thing, especially if you want to become a master of a language.

This means Babbel takes the time to explain grammar, words, and other things and how they will be used more explicitly in the real world. Personally, I like this method as it helps make it easier to have a deeper understanding of the language.

Typically, Babbel lessons start with teaching you the very basic stuff, such as single words. Once you learn them, it quickly shifts to introducing short phrases and entire sentences. Once you complete this basic stuff, Babbel will dive you into conversations using what you’ve learned.

Babbel vs Duolingo 3

These conversations will include some real-life examples of how you can apply these phrases, sentences, and expressions while talking to native speakers. This is also a great thing about Babbel that it focuses more on conversational languages that you might use in the real world instead of teaching you sentences that you will never use in your life.

All of Babbel’s lessons are designed and created by real language teachers and language experts across the globe. These lessons are designed to help you make quick progress in just a few minutes a day. Typical Babbel lessons range between 10-20 minutes.

Each lesson is designed to strengthen your skills in four elements of language that include reading, writing, speaking, and listening. Babbel takes you through a range of exercises that include filling in the blanks, speaking exercises, and more that feature a combination of cultural and grammatical tips that can help you become better with the language.

One thing that I really like about Babbel is that it lets you choose what you want to learn. For example, there are different types of courses designed for different purposes. If you have learned a language before, you can go with the Refresher course that will help you memorize everything you have learned lately.

On the flip side, we have Duolingo

The learning on Duolingo starts with setting up daily goals. You need to go to the website, select the language you want to learn, and your daily study goal of how many minutes you are going to spend learning that language every day.

This looks pretty odd yet compelling that you have to commit to using the app every single day before even taking a lesson. If you are serious, then this is really going to help you form a habit. I will suggest starting with 5-10 minutes a day, and when you feel comfortable, you can go with the higher numbers.

Babbel vs Duolingo 2

The lessons on Duolingo are comparatively short and satisfying. On average, the length of lessons ranges between three to five minutes. Duolingo primarily focuses on memorizing and translating new sentences.

It takes you through the language skill tree, where it starts your teaching with the very basics and then quickly shifts to the more advanced lessons organized by topics. The platform mainly emphasizes helping you learn individual vocabulary words used in various contexts and expressions, ranging from simple and practical conversations to more goofy and outlandish situations.

The major difference between Duolingo and Babbel is that the lessons on Duolingo are mainly created using Artificial Intelligence instead of real human teachers. Therefore, sometimes you will prepare for sentences that might never apply in the real world.

One more thing to note here is that Duolingo primarily focuses on teaching language, not on teaching cultural tips or contexts. It is not a big deal, but having detailed knowledge about these things can help you become better with the language.

Even though grammar explanations do pop up from time to time, it comes only in small doses. Therefore, if you are the one who prefers to learn systematically, this shallowness might disappoint you. Sometimes, your lessons will move further without explaining why your answer was right or wrong.

Often, the exercises include multiple-choice questions, and occasionally, you will be asked to type the answer or speak the answer using the app’s voice recognition software. For this reason, I like Babbel a bit more, as the more you type or speak, the better you become and form a deep understanding of the language.

Unlike Babbel, you cannot skip a course or a lesson in Duolingo. You have to complete a module to unlock the new ones. However, the most interesting thing about Duolingo is that there is an element of danger involved.

Other than that, there are leaderboards where you compete with other users who are on a similar level. The more time you spend and the more you learn, you will graduate to the higher leaderboard with even more committed learners.

Lastly, there is a streak system similar to Snapchat. Whenever you complete a daily goal, it will be counted in your streak, and once you skip a day, the streak will start from number one.

So, overall, if we compare both Babbel and Duolingo in terms of the learning experience, I would prefer to go with Babbel because of the thorough explanations and systematically designed courses. Plus, the fact that Babbel primarily emphasizes more on teaching conversational phrases makes it a great choice.

You may like to read our guide on the 11 Best Alternative Apps like Airbnb For Best Travel Deals.

Babbel vs Duolingo – Business Models

This is one of the sections where Duolingo and Babbel have some fundamental differences. Babbel features a simple monthly subscription-based model where you need to pay a flat monthly fee to access the courses offered by Babbel.

On the other hand, Duolingo claims to be 100% free. But is it really free? The short answer is nope.

There are different ways Duolingo monetizes the platform, and one of them is very suspicious. So, let’s start with that one –

1. Your Data

Every time you go to Duolingo and complete exercises such as filling in the blanks and so on, those answers are actually recorded and sold to major corporations such as CNN, Buzzfeed, and more. However, we don’t know why these companies buy the translation, but it is what it is.

To be frank, I have no problems with this model, and it seems like a fair deal as they are not selling any of my personal data online. But I know people who have ethical concerns over it. I don’t have much problem with this concept because Google and Facebook collect way more data than Duolingo.

2. Advertisements

Duolingo relies a lot on advertisements as a big majority of Duolingo users use the free service. As a recent report, Duolingo is working with companies like Airbnb that pay over $250K per week to run their ad campaigns.

3. Certification Tests

Duolingo also introduced the certification tests that allow you to test your skills and receive a certification of accomplishment in exchange. These certifications usually cost around $20 or more, which is inexpensive for learners.

4. Premium Subscription

Duolingo never had a premium tier until April 2017. That’s when the company decided to introduce a premium subscription service that costs $9.99 a month and lets users have an ad-free experience along with getting the ability to make lessons offline.

So, these are the few ways Duolingo monetizes the platform. Even though the platform looks suspicious for the data privacy, I personally have no issues with that. The free plan is really amazing for people who cannot afford to pay for the premium membership but still want to learn new languages.

Babbel vs Duolingo – Ease of use

The website version of both of these platforms is quite easy to use. You need no technical knowledge to get on board. All you need to do is hop on the platform, select what you want, and start your learning journey. Babbel takes you through an extra step where it asks you to opt for a premium subscription.

However, when it comes to mobile applications, there is a significant difference that you can notice. While both the platforms offer smartphone apps for both iOS and Android devices, the app of Duolingo looks much sleeker and easier to use.

Even though the UI of Duolingo looks kind of babyish as Duolingo employs cartoon awards, big noises, bright colors, and other stuff across the user interface, it still appears much more appealing since this childish UI is the general trend.

On the other hand, the user interface of Babbel looks a lot more professional and adult. Although the user interface is subjective, Babbel’s UI looks amazing and professional on the desktop. But when it comes to mobile applications, the app is quite glitchy.

I have often noticed that most of the lessons that I have completed on my smartphone device haven’t been saved across my Babbel account. Another thing to remember is that the longer grammar explanations don’t really work on small-sized smartphones’ screens.

However, that doesn’t mean that Duolingo is a one-sided winner here. One of the biggest issues with the Duolingo mobile application is that the app sends a hefty amount of notifications on a daily basis until you achieve your daily goal. If you stay consistent with the app, you won’t have any problem with it, but if you skip a couple of days, your notification panel will be flooded with the notifications.

Babbel vs Duolingo – Pros and Cons

So, here we will be talking about the pros and cons of both of these platforms.

Pros of Babbel:-

  • Babbel offers thorough explanations of grammar which helps you have a better understanding of the language.
  • Babbel strikes a good balance between the fun and thoroughness of the lessons. With Babbel, you will never feel you are missing out on something.
  • It doesn’t matter whether you are a beginner, intermediate, or someone with prior knowledge of the language you are planning to learn. Babbel lets you skip as many lessons as you want, select the module that suits your needs well, and overall gives you the ability to choose what you want to learn and whatnot.
  • The notifications and the emails of the platform are not too overwhelming like Duolingo. The platform gives you the flexibility to learn at your own pace. Unlike Duolingo, Babbel lets you set whether you want to get reminded to study and, if yes, the timing.
  • Babbel gives you detailed information about your answers, such as why your answer was right or wrong. This is really a great feature as it helps you learn the fastest way possible and allows you to correct and learn from your mistakes right away.

Cons of Babbel:-

  • Even though Babbel is quite inexpensive, the fact that there is no free tier should be considered a disadvantage of the platform, especially when comparing it with Duolingo.
  • Babbel allows you to learn 14 different languages, but almost all are European. Babbel lacks Asian languages, which is a major disadvantage of the platform. Obviously, if you are not interested in learning Asian languages, this will certainly not be an issue for you.
  • The desktop version of Babbel is exceptionally awesome, but when it comes to the mobile app, it is pretty glitchy. If you are looking for a language learning app for your phone, Babbel probably isn’t the right choice for you.
  • Even though I like the detailed grammar explanations, not everyone enjoys reading them. Most people want to learn new languages so that they can communicate with native speakers, and getting into grammatical stuff increases the duration of learning the language.
  • Many people find Babbel’s lessons a bit on the boring side. They enjoy the game-like element that Duolingo offers.

Pros of Duolingo:-

  • Duolingo has plenty of features that keep you addicted, which helps you make a sustainable learning routine. For example, when you complete your daily goals, it counts in the streak, and when you skip a day, the streak starts from one.
  • Duolingo has comparatively smaller lessons and exercises that merely take three to five minutes to complete. So, even if you have a busy day, you can open the app during your lunch or dinner and complete lessons to keep your streak going.
  • If you are planning to visit a country and want to learn the basics of the language, Duolingo is great for you. This is because Duolingo doesn’t dive into the massive list of rules of that language. Instead, it teaches you the basics that you can apply in your day-to-day conversations.
  • Duolingo owns loads of resources and spin-off tools that can help you in your language learning journey. For example, you can use tools like Tiny Cards or listen to podcasts or join the Duolingo Language Forum to ask questions from fellow learners and experts.
  • The free version of Duolingo offers you complete access to the platform features and lessons without any limitations. This is a solid reason people consider joining Duolingo instead of other language learning platforms.
  • Duolingo allows you to learn over 37 different languages, and there are over 106 different language courses available.

Cons of Duolingo:-

  • Duolingo isn’t designed for those who want to master any language. It is well suited for beginners and low intermediate learners.
  • One of the major disadvantages of Duolingo is that most lectures are designed with the help of Artificial Intelligence. Therefore, it forces you to practice sentences that you might never use in the real world.
  • You cannot skip any Duolingo lessons even if you are well aware of that topic.
  • I feel Duolingo lessons are quite inefficient, and even after spending months, you will have a very little understanding of the language.

Babbel vs Duolingo – Which one is better?

So, this was the question we started this article with, and even after comparing Babbel vs Duolingo thoroughly, we can never have a clear winner.

Even though there are many categories where Duolingo is beating Babbel with a slight margin, overall, I feel Babbel is a better choice to learn a new language, especially if you want to have a thorough understanding of the language.

The main reason for this is that the Babbel helps you gain more tangible grammatical, pronunciation, and vocabulary skills than Duolingo. But Babbel offers a very limited number of languages, and the courses are comparatively more rigorous than Duolingo. These can be the deal breaker so consider these before joining Babbel.

However, I am not saying that Duolingo is just a waste of time. Duolingo has some excellent features that include data-based adaptive lessons, incentives, a colorful user interface, and most importantly, the lifetime free version. Plus, Duolingo’s approach to making a daily habit of low-intensity, low-effort learning is much better than getting fed up with complicated stuff and learning nothing at all.

With that said, here I am wrapping up the article. I hope it was helpful to you. If you have any questions on Babbel vs Duolingo, feel free to shoot them in the comment section below. Our team will try to answer all your queries ASAP.