August 16, 2011 | by Ben Crawford
Busuu is a language learning app which helps users dive right into a multitude of languages with a nice interface. The app certainly won’t replace classes, but it’s a good start for learning a few of the languages it supports.
The interface of Busuu is simple and quick. You can jump straight into a course, continue your course, review your mistakes, or go to busuu.com to take part in its community. There are two beginner courses (A1, A2) and two intermediate courses (B1, B2). Each course has five free lessons with an extra 32 that you can pay $4.26 for per course ($17.04 total). The free courses have all the same features and seem to be randomly picked so you’re not getting cheated with easy or difficult lessons for free.
I tried the Spanish version since I already know Spanish, and I was pretty satisfied with the overall experience. It begins easy enough with common, necessary vocab in A1 to active and passive verbs in B2. Each of the lessons has three parts in the form of pictures, a conversation, then a review. Every part of the lesson is voiced by a native speaker (even though the Spanish man sounded like he had a lisp) which lets you hear how the language is spoken.
I also tried Russian which I’ve never tried to learn, and I have to say it would be impossible with only this app. Languages that are phonetic work here because you can see and understand what the speaker is saying and why he says it that way. With Russian or French or anything that isn’t phonetic or doesn’t use the same alphabet, you aren’t able to understand which letters make what sounds or what the different accents are for.
The conversation section was very short with only three questions you have to answer, and the review at the end of each lesson was also a little too easy without a solid reinforcement of the words you were supposed to have learned. I don’t know how much you could actually learn as a pure beginner from this app as there are too many things you need to know before diving into a language like this.
But, if you already have a base for any of these languages, this app is a great reinforcement for basic vocabulary and phrases you might need while traveling or when you’re brushing up for vacation. It’s very nice to be able to hear a native speaker, and there are tons of nouns, adjectives, and adverbs that you will need to know. Noticeably absent from the free version though are the basic verbs and conjugations which is absolutely the number one thing you have to know about different languages.
The fact that this app has a web community and multiple lessons from beginner to intermediate is a good sign, and if you need to brush up on any languages you began learning in high school or college, this is a good app to have.