Hello! I hope you are all good and well. Today, I’m going to talk about Language Learning with Babbel Live.
How I got in touch with Babbel content
Especially if you live in Germany or if you know the Superpolyglot Bros, there is a good chance that you know the language learning company Babbel already. Their headquarters are in Berlin, Germany. For ages, they have a language learning app. Right now, you can learn around 13 languages with that app.
In the first years of language learning as a university student, I often used the Babbel magazine and the videos from Babbel on Youtube. They talked about languages and language learning and I was intrigued! I tried to consume all the language learning tipps that existed online. With the Superpolyglot Bros, two people that definitely knew how to learn languages created and presented content for Babbel. Maybe the first article that I found from them was the one about their twin story of language learning: https://de.babbel.com/de/magazine/polyglot-bros-rivalen
A while ago, Babbel started a new rubric. It’s called Babbel Live and basically consist of language classes. There is no need to book a whole course for 10 or 12 weeks, but you can book as many single classes as you want. They offer single classes on a diverse range of topics and learning levels (for English, German, French, Italian and Spanish).
In 2022, I found Babbel Live
So, that’s the background story. Now, let’s skip to 2022. This year, several things happened. First of all, I’ve found the Babbel Live program and I was intrigued. My problem with things like language learning apps as the one from Babbel or Duolingo or others, was, that I needed some way to talk to people as well. I can’t just learn a language through an app if there is no real human interaction included. And while I couldn’t afford paying for an app that wouldn’t bring me human interaction (because additionally pay a language class would be too expensive), Babbel Live would bring me language teaching and interaction and in addition it would bring access to the Babbel app. It sounded amazing! Thus, I started one month unlimited access to all the language classes that Babbel offered. Who knows me, knows that if they offer access to classes in 5 languages I will give my best to test them all. Obviously, German is my home language, so no need to go to German classes. But for my level in English, Spanish, Italian and French, I could find classes that fitted. Officially, they offer classes between A1 and C1. At some point, the English teachers told me that the content might be a bit too easy for me. Well, yeah, I guess writing a blog or working in English in academia might be a good way to work further on my English.
Just the right content for my language journey
Depending on how many people booked one class, those classes are 1-on-1 classes or classes for up to 6 students. That means, if you are lucky, you get a lot of space to ask all your questions or discuss the parts of the topic that you love most. I had several Spanish C1 classes on feminism and activism where I could talk about my own experience in an NGO and about my linguistic work on non-binary language in Romance languages. The teacher was very nice and interested in what I talked about. This was really helpful for me, because this way, I could train talking about the exact things that I would talk about in my everyday live anyway. Just this way, I got the chance to do it in Spanish.
For Italian and French, I tried classes in different levels around A2, B1 and B2. There was a lot of talking about travelling, everyday life, house cleaning, work and all those things. For the classes on lower learning levels, they often find more people to book a class, so it was less usual for me getting 1-on-1 classes there in comparison to the Spanish C1 classes. Still, I remember having had a huge conversation in French about linguistics and my study program and another time I had a class where we talked a lot about being a language teacher.
As a costumer of Babbel Live, you can choose the level of your class, the topic, and the teacher. Obviously, not every teacher is available at every time but if there is a teacher where you know that you liked how they teach, you can look out for more classes with them or evade someone whose classes you didn’t like.
We need to talk… A lot
The classes are focused on talking. They try to get you to talk as much as possible. In the material, they always have some bits of vocabulary fitting to the topic, then some bits of grammar and using the grammar and then a part to start speaking more freely. I’m not much of a speaker when it comes to people that I don’t know and content that I can’t control. While I love language learning, I struggle often with getting myself to speak to people. This is not getting better in the context of speaking another language. For certain contexts, I got over this. I give linguistic talks at conferences, and I participated in summer programs and studied abroad in Portugal. So, I had opportunities to grow and get over my fears. But there are still contexts where the insecurities come back (ask my friends from political contexts. They never heard me giving a speech, not even in German). So, this program of Babbel Live really challenged me to get back to speak Italian and French and have conversations in it. It was always a mixture of looking forward to the next class and loving to be able to improve my knowledge and struggle because I didn’t want to talk. (Yes, I might be a bit too honest with you about my internal feelings. But I talk about it anyway. I know that I can handle this stuff when it’s important, so, no worries.)
For every class, Babbel also recommends certain chapters of the Babbel App and the podcast that could fit to the classes’ topic. You also get the material, i.e., the slides, beforehand. In other words: You can prepare yourself for the class if you want to. It’s not needed but if you want to make as much out of the class as possible, this is a nice way to do that. It’s important to hear and read and use words and expressions as often as possible to let them sink in. So, it depends on you, your learning style, and the time that you have free for doing this kind of stuff.
It’s always time and money
One big issue that I had and that’s why I only tried the program for one month was the price. The price fits the content that is provided and the unlimited access for a month or several months is worth the money it costs, definitely. It’s just that you have to have that kind of money to use on this. It’s getting cheaper, by the way, if you pay for several months in a pack. And the other thing is as obvious as it is not Babbel’s fault: You need to have time to do the classes and maybe prepare them if you want to.
Another thing: In the same month in which I tested the Babbel Live classes, I also had one class of Romanian via Italki. As Italki is just a platform that allows teachers offer their services while Babbel creates a more formal framework around the classes of the freelance teachers and their classes, it seems to be easier for Italki to offer classes in way more languages. I might write a bit more about Italki and their offers another time. What I wanted to mention here: Of course, Babbel can’t offer classes for all languages. I like that they offer, e.g., Portuguese on their app but I wish they would offer it on Babbel Live too.
I’m a freelance German teacher for Babbel now!
Now, let me skip a bit further to the present. As you might now, I’m a language teacher myself. Some time ago, I looked for open positions as a freelance teacher at several institutions. I was mainly looking for opportunities to teach online. On this occasion, I saw that Babbel was looking for freelance teachers for German. So, I applied. Some time went by and now I am a freelance Babbel Live German teacher! I give online classes on several levels and topics. The classes are focused on using the language that is to be learnt as much as possible. Sometimes, I use other languages such as English or French to help the students but depending on their level, we are able to solve all the problems and to discuss their questions solely by talking in German to each other. It’s amazing!
On a sidenote: I’ve started to use affiliate links so that my website finances itself. If you are interested in testing Babbel Live out, you can use this affiliate link: