Gone are the days when you had to travel far and wide to study a new language. Today, a smartphone app at your fingertips allows you to learn almost anything, anywhere, and anytime.
If you have searched for a language platform, you’ve probably heard of Busuu. With over 120 million users across over 160 countries, it is one of the popular language learning apps on the internet.
So what is Busuu all about? Can you really study a language via Busuu? And if yes, what language can you learn, and what are the benefits and drawbacks? Is it worth paying for?
I will answer these questions and cover all the aspects of my 2023 Busuu review below.
This review of Busuu is comprehensive, as I wanted to be as thorough as possible. So, if you’re short on time, use the table of contents to jump directly to the sections that interest you most. So, let’s get the ball rolling!
Table of Contents
- All About Busuu Language App
- How does it work?
- Advantages of Busuu
- Disadvantages of Busuu
- How much does Busuu cost? — Free Vs. Paid
- My Busuu Review: Average 3.2/5
All About Busuu Language App
Let’s find everything about this app in this Busuu review and whether it’s the right choice for you.
What is Busuu?
Busuu is an innovative language-learning platform that lets you learn languages at your own pace. It uses gamification to assist you in practicing a new language.
With Busuu, you can connect with thousands of native speakers and have one-on-one conversations in many languages. It also provides digital flashcards, a convenient tool for developing learners’ vocabulary.
It is available on the Web, iOS, and Android as expected. So the only thing you need to do is download the app, create an account and start learning.
It offers courses in 13 popular languages with custom, diverse, and ever-growing content.
They offer a freemium model. It means some introductory lessons are free to try. But be aware most sections need a paid subscription.
The History of Busuu
Bernhard Niesner and Adrian Hilti founded Busuu in 2008 in Madrid. The current headquarter is in London. Over the past 14 years, it has grown into a well-known and recognized global company in language learning.
They have named the brand after an endangered language called “Busuu.” It is almost extinct, and just eight people speak it in Cameroon.
The organization has also created lessons to learn Busuu on Busuu. Isn’t that fascinating?
Initially, in 2008, they started with a 100% free website. Later in 2009, it launched a premium membership for extra and all features. Finally, the mobile app came into existence in 2010.
After a decade, the platform has already developed a community of 120 million users.
Chegg, an American education technology company, acquired Busuu for $436 million (€385 million) on November 29, 2021. This deal is expected to close in early 2022.
Who can learn from Busuu? / Target audience
Whether you are looking for a new language to learn or need to brush up on your current skill set, Busuu can help you achieve your goals.
Busuu is useful for beginners to turn their skills into the intermediate level. It provides digital flashcards, and sentence structures. You can also practice with native speakers.
Most learners often try meaningless word games to study a language but end with nothing.
Busuu app is much better for them to learn more effectively with simple words and phrases.
A busy person maintaining a tight schedule can also use Busuu on the go with its interactive interface. By giving only 10 minutes to spare, you can set the app to small lessons per your daily timetable.
If you are too shy to speak with online language teachers or don’t have access to native speakers. In that case, you can use Busuu’s speech recognition tool.
What languages can you learn in Busuu?
At the time of writing, Busuu operates its courses in a few languages. 13 to be precise. But they put more focus on the content they offer.
You can pick between English, Arabic, Chinese, German, Spanish, Italian, French, Dutch, Polish, Russian, Portuguese, Turkish, and Japanese.
The options are fewer. But it has some of the most popular languages that an English speaker expects to study.
Design — UI and UX, and more
A well-structured design makes Busuu separate from other language learning platforms. With their top-notch dashboard, you can easily access the study plan. Plus, it guides you smoothly throughout the course.
The structure always tells the users where they are, what to do next, and how long it will take to reach the next milestone.
Busuu avoids cluttered and irrelevant lessons. Instead, it emphasizes building on what a user already has learned.
Plus, the organized design allows users to find the exercises more effectively by eliminating the tedious work of typing.
A learner has to select their desired answer from a list of options in most cases. A user needs to type two to three words, which is more straightforward than finding those words from a list.
Another outstanding feature of Busuu’s design is when a user must use special characters like letters with diacritical marks to find the notes on the screen. This makes studying flawless and prevents learners from being bored.
The UX (user experience) and UI (user interface) are pretty appealing and easy to understand. Also, the modern, creative, and minimal layout gives an engaging and knockout involvement.
Busuu app vs Busuu web
With its beautiful design and user-friendly interface, the Busuu app equips its user with the opportunity of learning while he is on the move or during his relaxation period.
If you are studying on a computer, it is even better. The web version has a fantastic keyboard control system to quickly move through lessons.
Compared to the web version, one may sometimes find the Busuu app a little loopy as there are repetitions of things (only minor).
Under the paid subscriptions, you get a unique chance to download the lessons and use the resources whenever required.
How does it work?
Busuu language app is simple to use.
First, visit the Busuu website, download the app, and create a free account. Besides the desktop version, it’s available for Android and iOS devices.
After registration, setting up your account is effortless.
First, you’ll need to answer questions about which language you want to learn and why, about your goals, and your rhythm. You also specify the time you can give and the days you prefer.
Finally, sign up with your email address. The process will take less than a minute.
Before starting, it offers a preliminary test to assess the user’s level.
This measures your existing skills and allows you to skip some initial tasks and jump to your current ability. As a result, you avoid some repetition of their known exercises.
The levels are (Beginner A1, Elementary A2, Intermediate B1, Upper Intermediate B2).
They are grouped per the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR). It specifies an individual’s language ability.
For example, suppose someone performed well and answered most of the questions. In that scenario, one may start directly from the Intermediate B1 level.
The number of reviews and studies at each level varies.
For instance, Japanese A1 has 117 lessons and some review tests. In contrast, B1 and B2 have fewer studies and exams.
The placement test isn’t compulsory. However, you can still answer about your previous learning experience. And based on that, you can choose the level you’re hoping to achieve.
I am personally not convinced with their placement test. Just 2-3 correct or wrong answers put you in a higher or lower level. It also doesn’t really check your actual skill. So it is not something I would recommend taking seriously.
All the information you provide helps create a customized study plan and suggests a starting point for your language journey.
It also tells how long it will take to complete the course. But only paying customers can access this feature.
Finally, you can begin the lessons!
Types of activities and lessons
This is the core part of the LMS (learning management system). In this section, all the course materials are available for the users.
Each lesson starts with a vocabulary drill and covers writing, reading, speaking, and spelling exercises through different activities.
For example, match the following, fill in the blanks, identify words, gap filling, easy audio listening tasks, and word puzzles, to name a few.
The flashcards have example sentences, audio clips in your native tongue, and meaning in your target language. This makes users more comfortable with the language.
Busuu includes various exercises based on spaced repetition. This helps users memorize the words with ease. These exercises are so well created that they never bore the learner.
Once you cover the beginner’s content, you can use conversational lessons to improve your listening skills through good-quality audio.
The realistic and natural simulated conversation practice is one of the most exciting features of Busuu’s exercises.
This feature is so lifelike that one may feel conversed about daily chores. Quizzes are also available to assess your understanding.
Another exciting thing is that Busuu will ask the users to write or record some answers and post them in the community.
Busuu can help you find a native language speaker and provide you with corrections and comments. Their feedback can help you improve your language skills.
At the beginning of the journey to Busuu, they did not allow third-party content in their courses. But with time, they realized the usefulness of integrating third-party content to make learners feel lively and energetic.
Busuu integrated The Economist and The New York Times, two reputed newspapers in 2019, as their third-party content supplier. As a result, it enables English learners to study real-life situations through articles or videos.
Advantages of Busuu
Here are some of the apparent benefits.
1. Well-customized study plan
Learning a new language is always challenging. And to earn success, one needs time, regular practice, and motivation to study.
Here, Busuu helps learners with well-customizable study plans.
For example, a few minutes daily may not be enough when one has lots of free time, an early goal, or a complex language.
You may need to spend lots of time regularly to learn it effectively.
Plus, because of your personal and work schedule, you may like to choose which day, at what hours, and how long you would like to learn.
Busuu shines on that.
You can create a study plan that is more relevant to your life. For starters, it allows you to set a goal and determine how frequently you want to study. Then it informs you when you will achieve your target.
The tailor-made notification also reminds you to complete it on a specific day and time. This nifty feature guides the users throughout the learning process.
2. Robust AI-based grammar review
Grammar is one of the most critical factors in learning a new language. Without that, it is tricky to frame sentences.
At the request of the users, Busuu has launched the world’s first Artificial Intelligence-powered grammar learning tool, i.e., “Grammar Review.”
The team designed to make learning grammar in Busuu even more straightforward. They have created it based on intelligent machine learning algorithms.
Practicing grammar can take one’s linguistic talents to the next level. And this isn’t boring, but more fun and practical.
This feature also enables users to preserve their learned rules and practice them frequently. In addition, it enhances a person’s skill by focusing more on their weak points.
3. Social Community
The “Social” feature is considered the best feature of Busuu. Busuu is the most notable social medium for language learning, with a vast and growing community.
Users can easily find native people with their targeted language in this large community. The users then post their sentences on the platform in written and recorded form.
And then, the native speakers give their feedback on the sentences and suggest corrections for them. This encourages the users. And it is a great way to develop both the writing and listening skills of the users.
The unique feature of building a social community makes users feel native while speaking with a native person of a particular language.
The classical system of learning a language in a closed classroom with uninteresting lectures makes learning the language difficult. But, Busuu teaches the students to interact with different people and to feel better.
4. Interactivity increase engagement
It is easy to read the site, thanks to its aesthetics. Suppose you stop a lesson and come back again later. Then, you can see helpful graphics like a progress bar and your completion percentage.
Besides, if you struggle with a specific lesson, you get to finish the exercises again until you get it right.
Unlike the other language platforms, Busuu has a well-integrated and flawless keyboard system for the web version.
Crawling with a mouse for a long time is not always preferred by users. Thus, this is an excellent feature for users.
Busuu’s intuitive design offers plenty of easy-to-understand graphics, puzzles, translation, exercises, and much more to dive deep into your target language.
They explained the topics easily, and you can check your skills with interactive quizzes. This makes it an exciting learning experience.
Certificates encourage learners to achieve their goals. Unfortunately, the free version does not provide any documents.
But the premium plus plan offers certificates in English, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian.
McGraw-Hill Education, one of the world’s largest and most reputable educational organizations, partnered with Busuu in 2015. Since then, Busuu has provided certification through its collaboration.
To get a certificate, a user must appear on a test that mainly comprises comprehension, dialogue, and productive skills. It measures your understanding of the core topics in A1, A2, B1, or B2, as per CEFR levels.
Once you pass the examination, McGraw-Hill Education will issue you a certificate of completion. But remember, these certificates (A1-B2) aren’t official.
Disadvantages of Busuu
As with everything, there are also some obvious shortcomings.
1. Limited language
Busuu offers courses in only 13 languages. Although these are popular, they need to add more languages for their building community.
For example, they don’t have some well-known languages like Hindi, Korean, Persian, Bahasa, etc.
Another problem is that Busuu only offers a single language in the free version. Thus, it creates a problem for those who want to develop their skills in more than one language.
They can emphasize developing courses in more languages and preserve dying and less common languages.
For example, in 2010, Busuu created a short course on the endangered language Busuu. They need to build more studies like that.
2. Erratic feedback
Nothing is error-free in this world. But it seems errors are more frequent.
The feedback system of Busuu allows users to communicate with other people. Still, sometimes it leads to some inconsistent results.
For example, many native speakers may provide erratic comments and give false impressions to the learners.
Busuu developed a feedback system to provide comfort for the users. Still, this kind of missing information may lead to wrong things.
It needs to develop a well-structured filtering system and monitor its performance.
The review section mirrors one’s learning in Busuu’s system. Users can find their strengths and weaknesses by reviewing the learned lessons in this feature.
But sometimes, the review may appear monotonous for the users as they face repetitions.
They try their best to support their community by gathering reports on the prevailing problems from the users via an email. But this system takes a while for the correction approach.
It would be better if they provided a report or problem discussion section. This will fasten the correction procedure and avoid delays in the entire process.
3. Busuu is not suitable for advanced learners
The user interface and the course contents are beginner-friendly. Still, as you develop their skills throughout the learning process, you might find the courses not helpful later.
More content must be added for upper-intermediate and advanced learners who have already crossed the lower-intermediate level.
Forget about fluency; even reaching an advanced level is wishful thinking. You won’t get anywhere nearby using apps like Busuu.
This isn’t specifically negative for this app, but this is true for nearly all online language learning.
Their A1, A2, B1, and B2 levels aren’t the same as CEFR-based French DELF, Spanish DELE, CAPLE Portuguese, German Zertifikat Deutsch, or Italian CILS.
The quality of the test varies significantly.
If you want to learn advanced, consider a language institute or find a teacher. You can also gain from other resources like books, audio, podcasts, and video lessons.
4. More useful for English speakers
As an English speaker, you have plenty of choices.
What if you want to learn Korean as a Japanese speaker or dive into Spanish as a Hindi native?
Unfortunately, you are out of luck!
You can pick 12 languages, but your primary language is English.
The app focuses mainly on English speakers who want to learn another language. However, speakers of other languages who wish to study non-English are left with little to no option.
Perhaps they don’t have enough resources, and making these programs will be massive.
Whatever the case, the possibilities of a non-English speaker are awful.
How much does Busuu cost? — Free Vs. Paid
Pricing is one of the critical points when someone chooses an app. Both free and paid subscriptions are available in Busuu.
You understand the elementary things you hear or use in daily talk with a free subscription. Thus, it is suitable for the absolute beginner.
While you may not learn as much in the free version as you do on Duolingo or Anki, you will get a basic knowledge of your target language.
Busuu offers paid plans (premium and premium plus) for three months, 12 months, and 24 months.
For example, the cost is €5.83/month and €6.66/month for the premium plus. This fee is possible when you opt for a 12-month plan.
The cost varies slightly as per the plan and duration you pick.
If you are unhappy, you may cancel your subscription anytime, as they give a 14-day money-back guarantee.
The following table shows the comparison between free and paid programs.
Is Busuu Premium worth the money?
The free plan is pretty restricted, and most benefits are in the paid premium plan. You also do not access all course materials and the best features. Here is the list.
- Learn up to 12 languages compared to only 1 in the free option.
- Create a personalized study plan as per your schedule and goal.
- Earn a certificate with official tests from McGraw Hill.
- You can get feedback from native speakers of the community.
- Learn anywhere with offline mode.
- You can construct sentences confidently with grammar lessons.
- With their AI-powered review, you can retain most of what you have already studied.
As you can see, these paid subscriptions have many impressive features. The cost is also reasonable if we compare it with other popular platforms and the quality of services.
You can start with basic stuff in the free one. Then, once you are confident that it can help you learn more or better, you can consider purchasing one of the premium versions.
My Busuu Review: Average 3.2/5
Learning a new thing is always tricky, especially in a language.
Many online platforms (web and app) help a person learn a new language. But selecting a good one that suits you from the list is more complicated.
Busuu can be a good choice for learners, with its aesthetically pleasing design and excellent features. The content quality is also beneficial and interactive.
The free version of Busuu provides a glimpse of its beauty. But this isn’t enough to learn anything meaningful.
If you want to reach your language destiny, consider Busuu premium for quality learning, or if you aim to go beyond the basic stuff. It is worth the money if you plan to try an app.
Speaking a language is crucial for being fluent in any language. This is another notable feature of Busuu, which enables its users to practice speaking as much as possible.
To get the maximum benefit from this app, try the social community option more and more. That is why Busuu is more valuable for serious learners who want to achieve their desired goals.
But don’t expect to achieve anything like B2 or advanced ability.
To learn a language, you must interact with real people. For example, face-to-face sessions with a teacher or immersion. This app can also complement a course taken by a language school.
There are scopes for improvement. Like adding more languages and lessons, improving quality, and better feedback systems.
Plus, it doesn’t focus much on pronunciation, listening, and reading comprehension exercises.
Some people will also find low-quality translations in some languages and similarities with apps like Memrise, Babel, or Duolingo. So, these are some drawbacks of online learning.
But overall, Busuu won’t disappoint much and is worth the try.
The free version of Busuu doesn’t offer anything meaningful. The premium provides quality learning with many top-notch features. Still, it is worth the money with some drawbacks as mentioned above. By considering everything, I’m giving a rating of 3.2/5, i.e., “Average.”
Let me know if you have questions about my Busuu review. You can also express your thoughts in the comment section below!