Busuu vs Duolingo: Which Platform Wins?

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Written By Francesca Stephens

Founder of Linguatics. Passionate multilinguist.

In today’s article, we will compare two popular language-learning platforms: Busuu and Duolingo.

Duolingo is a superstar among language apps. It’s cool, simple, and practical.

At the first glance, Busuu looks quite similar. Short exercises, quizzes, visual aids…

However, there are some significant differences between the two platforms.

That said, we do have our favorite. After thoroughly looking at each platform’s features, structure, and content, we can say that one app is better than the other.

So, who would win in a Busuu vs Duolingo race?

Keep reading and find out!

Busuu vs Duolingo: Which Platform Wins?

Duolingo is arguably the most popular language app. In fact, it’s one of the most downloaded education apps in the world.

So Duolingo must be pretty special, right?

Well, that’s true but only to some extent.

Duolingo review

Busuu, on the other hand, isn’t the most popular program (in general), but the company has numerous awards and it definitely deserves the attention.

Busuu review

So, which is the better choice for you, Busuu or Duolingo?

For starters, let’s look at their prices and subscription plans.

Pricing and Plans

The good news is that both Duolingo and Busuu offer free plans.

However, there’s always a catch.

Duolingo perhaps became so popular because it’s accessible. You can use it for free – you just need to sign up and start learning.

But their Duolingo Plus version is much better.

With Duolingo Plus (which costs $7 per month), you’ll have unlimited Hearts (you can lose Hearts by answering incorrectly too many times) and unlimited test outs (you can complete a skill test to jump to the next level.)

Also, Duolingo Plus is ad-free, and you can use it offline.

Duolingo Plus

Busuu also has two tiers of service.

The free Busuu version, of course, has many limitations. But if you want to learn the basics, you’ll probably find it useful.

But if you’re more serious about learning a new language, you should opt for Busuu Premium.

The Premium membership gives you access to exclusive features. You’ll get access to more content, and you’ll be able to download and access lessons in offline mode.

But there’s also a Premium Plus subscription. It’s just a bit more expensive, and it will you the possibility to get feedback from the Busuu community (more on that later.)

With the Premium Plus membership, you’ll also get a personalized study plan and a Busuu Certificate for every level passed.

And you’ll get access to 13 languages.

So, let’s summarize. Busuu offers:

  • Basic free plan
  • Premium for $5.83 per month
  • Premium Plus for $6.67 per month

You should also keep an eye out for discounts and promotions.

Either way, Busuu offers a 14-day money-back guarantee if you change your mind.

Structure and Features

Busuu and Duolingo are also similar in terms of length and format.

They feature short exercises and quizzes, verbal practice, fill-in-the-blanks, multiple-choice questions, and so on.

However, Busuu also incorporates video clips, and that really makes a difference. Your learning process will simply feel more versatile and engaging, and you’ll memorize new words more easily.

Busuu lessons

Busuu lessons will provide you with fun facts. You’ll get cultural insights and some interesting information about the language. For example, you’ll learn differences in pronunciation in different parts of the country, etc.

Moreover, compared to Duolingo, Busuu puts emphasis on grammar. And that’s a good thing – if you want to reach proficiency levels, learning grammar is inevitable.

Busuu will also give you a study plan. If you opt for a Busuu Premium Plus subscription, you’ll get a personalized plan based on your needs, abilities, and goals.

One thing is for sure: Busuu will provide you with a well-rounded curriculum. Although it’s not perfect, it’s more thorough than some other platforms.

Busuu study plan

Exercises include reading and listening comprehension. You’ll have to read texts and then answer some questions.

And you’ll have the possibility to get feedback.

How does getting feedback on Busuu work?

Well, in terms of feedback, Busuu is slightly different than Duolingo. Its feedback system relies on the community. So, every time you do writing or recording exercises, you can submit your work and get feedback from fluent speakers.

You can also connect with people in real-time and have video or text conversations. That’s a great way to practice and improve your communication skills.

All things considered, if you want to build a solid foundation, Busuu is a great option.

But if you want an even more casual and game-like learning experience, you can try using Duolingo.

Duolingo is the most popular language app because it’s simple. And it’s free.

Duolingo language lessons

But that’s not the only reason. There are a ton of education apps on the market these days, and it’s not easy to stand out. But Duolingo managed to find the formula: affordability, simplicity, and originality.

Their recognizable, unique design might seem simple at first, but it’s actually very efficient. After all, the Duolingo app will make you motivated and eager to learn more.

In a way, the app is designed to make you complete levels and move forward. And when it comes to learning languages, that’s a good thing.

Duolingo offers a relaxed yet productive learning environment.

And everything has this engaging video game vibe.

Duolingo lessons are very short and simple, and they are based on translation. Some translations might be kind of weird though. Don’t be surprised if you come across a sentence that doesn’t make any sense.

But Duolingo describes that as a quirky sense of humor and lighthearted learning. So, despite the popular opinion, Duolingo seems to do that on purpose. Well, it’s true that people memorize weird things and information more easily.

However, this can be very discouraging and even frustrating for some learners. And that’s also understandable.

There are also some concerns about their crowd-sourced translation model. Apparently, while you’re doing Duolingo fill-in-the-blank exercises, you’re actually submitting translations and they’re partnering with other companies and selling them.

Duolingo outsourced its translation services for years, and according to some online sources, that’s why there are so many awkward sentences in there.

But despite all of these drawbacks, Duolingo has grown and changed over the years.

There are many different Duolingo sections now. There’s a Duolingo podcast, an active and fresh-looking Duolingo blog, and helpful Duolingo Stories.

Plus, you can attend live events and get in touch with fellow learners.

Duolingo has a strong community and, consequently, very loyal users.

But what will Duolingo teach you?

Levels and topics

Well, even though it’s popular and effective, Duolingo won’t help you build strong conversational skills.

It might be a good learning source if you want to expand your vocabulary and learn how to structure basic sentences. But that’s not enough, especially if you want to reach proficiency levels.

Busuu vs Duolingo

The app covers popular topics, but it’s not always like that. As we’ve already mentioned, you’ll come across some sentences and phrases you’ll never going to use.

So, Duolingo will teach you the basics and help you reach an intermediate level at best. But you’ll still have to do the extra work outside the app.

Speaking of levels, you go up a level every time you earn a certain amount of experience points. And at some point, Duolingo introduced Crown levels.

Crown Levels give you tougher exercises at higher levels. Now each skill begins at the introduction level (level 0) and when you complete all the lessons, the skill is leveled-up and the next row of skills is unlocked.

The point of the leveling-up system is to allow learners to see more challenging content without forcing them to go through it.

When you become a member of Busuu, you’ll first choose a level: Beginner A1, Elementary A2, Intermediate B1, or Upper Intermediate B2. They are based on the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR.)

Which levels does Busuu have

With Busuu, the CEFR is broken down into six stages, ranging from complete beginner to completely fluent.

However, the C1 course content is currently only available in English.

But even if you complete upper-intermediate (B2), you can consider yourself a fantastic speaker.

As it says on the Busuu website, completing Upper Intermediate B2 means you can:

  • discuss important issues that affect your life
  • understand the main point and important details in the news
  • take part in extended conversations on familiar and new topics
  • narrate or write a story
  • describe the plot of a film or a book

You just need to keep in mind that proficiency levels work differently when it comes to apps. The thing is, learning with an app has its advantages and drawbacks. One of the pitfalls is the fact that you’re probably going to lack guidance and direct feedback.

If you want to become a fluent speaker, you need to get in touch with a real teacher or combine apps and courses with private virtual classes.

But even though you shouldn’t have unrealistic expectations and goals, apps like Busuu are definitely a great learning source that will provide you with structure, useful tools, and motivation.

More importantly, content on Busuu is based on real-life scenarios.

And you can learn at your own pace. Study as much or as little as you want. 

What about design?

In short, Busuu looks great. It’s aesthetically pleasing and engaging.

At the same time, it won’t overwhelm you with unnecessary graphics or gamification elements. Yes, it’s a gamified app, but you’ll be focused on what really matters.

And video clips are a huge advantage, especially if you’re a visual learner.

Duolingo, on the other hand, has a recognizable, iconic design.

Duo the owl is an Internet star, and you can always count on it for motivation.

Benefits

Now, let’s discuss the most important benefits of each platform.

What makes Busuu better than Duolingo?

As we just mentioned, Busuu video clips of native speakers are one of the app’s advantages.

In fact, the whole app is more versatile and thorough than Duolingo.

Grammar lessons are more detailed than Duolingo, and you’ll get cultural insights and fun facts about the language you’re learning.

Another huge difference is Busuu’s feedback system. You can get valuable feedback from fluent and native speakers, and that can be really helpful.

It’s important to get direct feedback and work on your weaknesses, especially when it comes to speaking skills and pronunciation.

But did you know that Busuu also offers live tutoring?

Busuu live tutoring

You can have one-on-one virtual lessons with the support of a teacher or a small group of learners in 45-minute lessons. You can also choose a teacher and time that suits you.

And joining live classes is even more effective than getting feedback from the community. With live lessons, you’ll get immediate feedback, and you’ll be able to ask questions and improve your communication skills significantly.

Last but not least, Busuu also has an AI-powered Smart Review.

In their review section, you can review your vocabulary and grammar concepts. The Grammar Review contains two sections: a reference explaining the rules, and a practice to test your understanding.

Their AI-powered algorithm predicts which topics will be more difficult for you based on your native language, the complexity of the topic, and your performance. 

And what makes Duolingo better than Busuu?

For starters, Duolingo covers more languages. There are currently 19 languages to choose from, including some fictional languages like Klingon and High Valyrian.

High Valyrian on Duolingo

It also uses speech recognition technology. It’s not as sophisticated as some other engines (like the one Rocket Languages uses), but you’ll going to get immediate feedback and learn how to pronounce words. And that’s, of course, a crucial part of learning a new language.

But Duolingo also has many extra resources. It has a reputation for being a simple app with translations, but it actually offers a lot more. From the Duolingo podcast to Duolingo Stories, there are many useful and interesting sections for you to explore.

All things considered, it’s a cool app with an active community that will make you feel involved and motivated.

It’s also very convenient as you can learn on the go. That way, you can easily incorporate language learning into your daily routine, even if you have a busy schedule.

But what do other users say about Duolingo and Busuu?

What Do Users Say?

Busuu has thousands of reviews on Trustpilot. And most of them are positive.

People generally believe that Busuu is a great app for conversational practice. Many users also like the community aspect.

However, there are some bad reviews as well, and some learners think it’s too overwhelming. But that only means that the program has a lot of content and that it’s generally more serious than some other language apps.

And we can take Duolingo as an example. Duolingo lessons are far from overwhelming. And that’s what user reviews usually say – people enjoy Duolingo’s fun features and simple format.

Many users made a complaint about incorrect translations and unnatural sentences. They find it silly or discouraging.

At the end of the day, it all depends on your preferences and learning style. What works for you might not work for someone else.

Nevertheless, it’s a good idea to check users’ reviews because you might come across some important details. But you need to be careful – people have different expectations and unique learning habits.

Final Verdict

In the end, it’s important to choose an app that fits your goals and learning style.

And you need to enjoy it. Otherwise, you will probably give it up after a few lessons.

Learning a new language is a slow process. Language apps like Duolingo and Busuu can make it faster though. They are designed to teach you a foreign language in a quick and effective way.

Nonetheless, you should set attainable, short-term goals. And you need to be patient.

If you practice regularly and follow the suggested path, you’ll see the results in no time.

With Duolingo, you’ll have a lot of fun along the way. And you’ll be able to learn something new every day.

But if you want to take your language learning more seriously, you should opt for Busuu.

Busuu is a more complete online course. Their lessons are thoughtfully crafted, and they will help you build conversational skills.

So, in today’s Busuu vs Duolingo race, the gold medal goes to Busuu.

Either way, we hope this article helped you make the right decision!