Pimsleur vs Babbel: Which Platform Wins?

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Written By Francesca Stephens

Founder of Linguatics. Passionate multilinguist.

Pimsleur and Babbel are among the most popular language learning platforms.

And in terms of popularity and structure, they are very similar.

Therefore, it’s not so easy to pick the winner between the two.

But in today’s Pimsleur vs Babbel comparison article, we will focus on their unique features and highlights.

And then you’ll be able to determine which platform is a better option for you!

If you’re strapped for time, here’s a brief conclusion on the Pimsleur vs Babbel debate…

The overall main difference between the two is that Pimsleur’s main focus is on oral language skills which help learners improve their overall conversation skills. On the other hand, Babbel’s main focus is on grammar and writing skills.

Pimsleur vs Babbel Review

Launched in 2007, Babbel became one of the most successful language apps.

And it’s so popular for a good reason – it’s effective, well-designed, and easy to use.

Babbel review

Pimsleur has also been around for a while now.

In fact, Pimsleur language programs have been on the market in various forms since 1963.

Over the years, Pimsleur has become a popular and practical online program for learning languages.

Pimsleur review

In our opinion, both Pimsleur and Babbel are fantastic platforms.

If you want to learn a new language, you won’t be disappointed with either of them.

However, there are some important differences  that make each program slightly better for a specific type of learner.

Let’s take a look at their pricing and membership plans first.

Pricing and Plans

Babbel offers several subscription plans to choose from:

  • 1 month for $10.50
  • 3 months for $31
  • 6 months for $63
  • 12 months $126

But you should keep an eye out for promotions and discounts. Babbel offers special deals and discounts very often.

You can also get the Babbel lifetime subscription, but you can opt for these monthly subscriptions if you don’t wish to commit to a long-term deal.

They also offer a free trial and a 20-day money-back guarantee.

Pimsleur offers monthly subscriptions too.

You can choose from:

  • Pimsleur Premium for $19.95/month
  • Pimsleur All Access Plan for $20.95/month

If you opt for the All Access Plan, you’ll get access to all the languages. You can easily switch between the languages. And you’ll get all the features that the Premium plan has but more on that later.

And there’s a 7-day free trial option.

Nevertheless, in terms of pricing, it seems like Babbel is a more affordable option.

But it’s important to see what you get with each subscription. So, let’s take a look at the content and features of each platform.

Structure and Features

As we mentioned earlier, Babbel is one of the most popular language-learning apps for a good reason.

Essentially, Babbel is a mix of short lessons, exercises, and drills.

It features fill-in-the-blank exercises, flashcards, grammar lessons, repeating words, and so on. It’s a little bit of everything.

Babbel lessons review

Each Babbel lesson is about 10 to 15 minutes long. So, the app will help you incorporate language learning into your daily routine, and that’s really important.

After all, language apps are designed to help you gain language skills in a quick and convenient way. You can learn anytime, anywhere. And with Babbel’s bite-sized lessons, you can make progress literally every day.

Babbel currently offers 14 languages: Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese (Brazilian), Polish, Russian, Dutch, Turkish, Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, Indonesian, and English.

Languages are divided into subjects and more specific courses. You can choose a learning path that suits you, but you can always change it if you want to. With the Babbel subscription, you’ll have access to all the courses for the language you’re learning.

But before you start with your lessons, Babbel will ask you a couple of questions to create your learning profile. Therefore, you’ll find the content you need more easily.

Generally speaking, Babbel is very user-friendly and easy to navigate. You won’t have to waste time figuring out how everything works.

Plus, it’s based on an effective method.

The Babbel method is centered around natural conversations, cultural insights, native pronunciation, and proven cognitive techniques.

Pimsleur vs Babbel

As they say on the Babbel website, it’s the shortest path to real-life conversations.

So, unlike many other apps, Babbel will help you develop conversational skills.

The platform also puts emphasis on grammar, practical vocabulary, and cultural facts.

But it won’t overwhelm you with long, complicated explanations of grammatical concepts. Babbel incorporates grammar in a very elegant, comprehensible way.

And if you want to go beyond vocab and grammar and have live virtual lessons, there’s Babbel Live. You can join live group classes and learn in a friendly and productive environment.

Getting started with Babbel Live is fairly easy. There are hundreds of classes offered each week, and you just need to find a perfect slot. You can choose what works best for you based on your level and interest.

Babbel live lessons

On the Babbel website, you can also find the Babbel video section, Babbel Magazine, and Babbel Podcasts.

All of these sections will allow you to immerse yourself in the language even more.

Overall, Babbel is a well-rounded and comprehensive language app. But after a while, it can get a bit repetitive.

But despite the app’s drawbacks, Babbel is a great resource for learning vocabulary and grammar.

Additionally, it will provide you with fun facts and insights about the culture of the language you’re learning.

And how does Pimsleur work?

Well, in terms of structure and format, there are many similarities.

The program is also based on audio lessons and exercises. It features reading drills, speed games, flashcards, quizzes, and so on.  

Pimsleur’s lessons are a bit longer though. It will take you around 30 minutes to complete them.

Lessons usually start with audio exercises. A moderator will take you through a native conversation and explain everything. So, it’s like a guided conversation.

As you progress, the moderator will start to phase out more and more.

And everything is centered around the Pimsleur Method. As it says on their website, it’s a ‘scientifically proven set of principles designed to take a learner directly to the heart of the language, eliminating noise, confusion, and information overload.’

Pimsleur method

The essential part of the Pimsleur Method is graduated interval recall. It’s an effective memory technique based on recalling new words at specific time intervals. So, it’s a variation of spaced repetition system.

The principle of anticipation is another important element of Pimsleur’s philosophy. Pimsleur is using it by systematically asking for understanding and pausing for a response.

It’s focused on core vocabulary and organic learning. Every new word or concept is given within the context of a conversation or exchange. And they made sure not to give you too much information at once.

All of this might sound a bit complicated, but it’s really not. Pimsleur is a user-friendly, simple program that will help you learn in an easy and engaging way.

It’s full of visual aids and graphics, and it’s very easy to navigate.

Pimsleur lessons review

The Saved Vocab is also a useful feature. You can easily add or remove items and see them in alphabetical order later on.

Pimsleur also has very clear course descriptions so you can know what to expect.

Pimsleur has a wider selection of languages than Babbel.

Pimsleur offers around 50 languages. There are really all kinds of languages and dialects, from Castilian Spanish to Croatian.

It also offers English courses for speakers of different nationalities; English for Italian speakers, Vietnamese speakers, Haitian speakers, and so on.

As you can see, both platforms are well-structured, versatile, and effective.

However, Babbel is slightly more complete. It’s focused on grammar, reading, and writing lessons, whereas Pimsleur puts emphasis on speaking. 

But what will Pimsleur and Babbel actually teach you? Will either of them make you a fluent speaker?

Levels and Topics

Babbel perhaps won’t make you a fluent speaker, but it will definitely put you on the right track.

The app uses speech recognition technology so you’ll be able to work on your pronunciation.

And you’ll expand your vocabulary significantly. You’ll learn practical vocabulary useful for traveling and real-life situations.

You’ll master basic grammar as well.

In other words, Babbel will teach you how to communicate about a variety of topics and help you understand how the language works.

Pimsleur vs Babbel: which platform wins?

Babbel lessons are also categorized by sections. They are different for every language, but the most popular languages feature Special courses, Words and Sentences, Grammar, Countries and Traditions, and so on. 

In terms of leveling, Babbel’s program is divided into Stages. There are six Stages in total – Stage 1 will provide you with a completely new piece of vocabulary and in Stage 6, you’ll have it in your long-term memory.

But when it comes to learning levels, Babbel uses CEFR, the Common European Framework of Reference for Language. You can take their placement test to find your learning level.

With Babbel, you can receive certificates for up to B2 level in English.

To jog your memory, at the B2 level you should understand:

  • Main ideas of complex text
  • Standard spoken language
  • Texts with a broad reading vocabulary

But you should bear in mind that language-learning apps can’t yield results in the same way as hiring a private teacher or going to a language school. You need to have self-discipline and motivation.

And the most popular Pimsleur courses have 5 levels.

So, the Spanish course can take you to an intermediate level of speaking and understanding. At level 5, you’ll learn to speak more in-depth about your personal life and emotional state and be able to structure complex sentences.

And every course will teach you common phrases, greetings, practical vocabulary, pronunciation, and cultural differences.

Pimsleur is focused on speaking and listening, so you will undoubtedly improve your communication skills.

And you’ll learn how to communicate in a clear way and tackle different areas of life, from personal life to political topics. Of course, travel situations are covered as well.

What About Design?

In terms of aesthetics, both platforms look great. They are full of graphics and visual aids, and they look very fresh.

They boast a really clean interface and they are easy to navigate.

Pimsleur maybe has a slightly simpler interface. Otherwise, both platforms have great design and they’re a good choice for visual learners.

Benefits

As you can see, both platforms have great features.

So, let’s try to focus on their highlights.

For starters, Babbel turned out to be a cheaper option. In fact, the app offers great value for money.

And it offers slightly more features than Pimsleur.

There’s a Babbel magazine, Babbel podcasts, and Babbel’s top-notch live classes (Babbel Live).

Joining live language classes will make you feel involved and motivated. And with Babbel’s unlimited plan, you can decide when and how often you want to learn. 

Babbel lessons are also much shorter and they have more variety in terms of drills and exercises.

They also include more detailed grammar explanations. At the same time, the app won’t overwhelm you with too much grammar. Everything is perfectly intertwined.

Babbel app

Babbel also uses short stories to show you how your newly acquired vocabulary works in real-life situations.

It has a helpful pronunciation feature.

And it uses effective methods to help you retain what you learn. Spaced repetition system is a very popular method, and a very effective one too.

In short, Babbel is a convenient and affordable way to learn a new language.

But Pimsleur is very practical too. Perhaps even more than Babbel – it even has a driving mode so you can take lessons while you’re driving safely.

Moreover, audio lessons can be streamed or downloaded for offline use.

Another thing that distinguishes Pimsleur from Babbel is the selection of languages.

With more than 50 languages, Pimsleur is arguably one of the best websites to find a less popular language or dialect. You can learn Ukrainian, Swahili, Dari Persian, Icelandic… you name it.

Overall, Pimsleur is a very practical and effective program that will surely help you a lot on your learning journey. It will provide you with structure, useful tools, and engaging lessons.

It will introduce you to practical vocabulary, cultural differences, and key grammar concepts.

You’ll also work on your pronunciation by practicing individual sounds.

And it’s quite fast-paced, despite the fact that Pimsleur’s lessons are longer than Babbel’s. But the program promises to teach you a new language in 30 days.

Pimsleur language program

Pimsleur and Babbel evidently have many similarities. However, it seems like Pimsleur has a primary focus on oral language skills whereas Babbel pays attention to grammar and writing (in addition to listening and speaking exercises.)

And what do user reviews say about Pimsleur and Babbel?

What Do Users Say?

People are generally very satisfied with Pimsleur. They find it effective, simple, and useful for learning vocabulary.

Some bad reviews refer to Pimsleur’s customer service.

The situation with Babbel is quite similar – some bad reviews are focused on their customer service, and other people pointed out Babbel’s effectiveness, simplicity, and ease of use.

Final Verdict

At the end of the day, it all comes down to your goals and preferences.

Both Pimsleur and Babbel are reliable, popular platforms that can take your language skills to another level.

However, they do have some important differences that can help you determine which program is a better option for you.

For example, Pimsleur has more languages and it’s more portable and flexible.

But if you’re looking for a more affordable option and shorter lessons, then Babbel is the way to go.

Babbel has a focus on all the main language skills and repetition, and Pimsleur is generally more fast-paced. So, if you want to learn a new language as quickly as possible, you should opt for Pimsleur.

But in our opinion, you can’t go wrong with either Babbel or Pimsleur.

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