Babbel vs. Duolingo

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Table of Contents

As the trend of learning languages through online learning apps hits an all-time high, the argument of Babbel vs. Duolingo has emerged. Which of these popular language learning apps are better?

Both are quite affordable and offer a lot of information to users, how do we decide which is the better choice? Should you pay for Babbel or choose the free option in Duolingo?

The biggest difference between the two apps is their approach to teaching. Babbel uses a more traditional approach while Duolingo modernizes their teaching method through gamification.

Summary: Compare Babbel vs. Duolingo and see which option is better for you.

Babbel vs. Duolingo - Our Pick

Bottom Line: After rigorous testing, we’ve discovered that this is one of the cases where free isn’t always better.

Even though Duolingo makes language learning fun, it doesn’t hold up to Babbel in terms of content, delivery, and overall learning.

Babbel Logo

Babbel vs. Duolingo Summary (2023)

Babbel Duolingo
Babbel Logo Duolingo Logo

Best For Best Overall Best for Learning via Games
One of Our Picks TG Recommended TG Recommended
1-Month $13.95 Free
3-Month $9.95 Free
12-Month $6.95 Free
Lifetime Access $249 Free
Free Trial 1st Lesson Free
Summary Review Review
Learn More

Keep reading to discover the process we used to decide whether Babbel or Duolingo were the better choice.

Babbel Review

TG Recommended

Babbel Logo

Score: 94

Best For

Not Recommended For

Babbel Feature Summary



Babbel falls into the same price range as other popular language apps but puts a ton of learning tools right at your fingertips.



The entire app is designed with flexibility in mind so everyone can learn at their own pace!



Babbel is formatted in a way to provide lessons quickly so learners are able to access it on-the-go without sacrificing the learning experience.

Babbel Pros and Cons


  • Babbel’s flexibility allows individuals to learn on-the-go without lessening the quality of the experience.
  • It’s extremely easy to get started with Babbel.
  • English translations are used frequently to improve the learning process.


  • Paid monthly subscription is required to access Babbel while Duolingo offers a free version, although it’s limited.
  • Babbel is catered to beginners so it might throw advanced learners off.

Babbel Summary

We’ll start comparing Babbel vs. Duolingo by diving deep into their features, starting with Babbel. By the time we’re done, you’ll be able to make an informed decision.

Babbel is a subscription-based learning app designed to teach new languages. At the time of writing this review, there are 14 languages on the Babbel app. One of the things we love about this app is its versatility. 

It’s designed in a way so that beginners can easily get started but also provides a way for those who are more advanced to move ahead a few levels.

Primarily though, Babbel seems to target beginners who are just getting started learning a new language. Its low pricing, extreme versatility, and diverse curriculum all make it easy to get started. This app can be used as a full-blown learning tool or just a simple way to learn new vocabulary words.

Babbel Unique Features

Features are the best way to decide whether Babbel or Duolingo is better.

Babbel’s features are focused on creating a learning structure that works for both beginners and advanced learners, although the advanced learning tools are quite limited. You can expect to learn words, sentence structure, and grammar skills when investing in this program. 

But naturally, each language is different so the quality of each lessen could vary. We have seen reports of less popular languages like Italian not having as much content as a popular one like Spanish.

The experience is about the same as you would expect with any language app though. Flashcards, ‘fill in the blank’ questions, and multiple choice questions are all used to move learners forward in the program. But these are found in most learning platforms. 

What sets Babbel above the rest is the quality of these lessons and the way they are presented.

Babbel is Better with Language Use

If you look through Duolingo’s reviews, you’ll find that one of the biggest complaints is that it’s not great with natural-sounding sentences and phrases. Babbel doesn’t run into this issue nearly as often. It’s more consistent and therefore, doesn’t disrupt the learning experience.

Develop Speaking Skills with Exercises

Babbel also provides verbal exercises utilizing the latest in voice recognition technology. It provides context to the phrases being used so you better understand these valuable lessons.

Babbel Provides Live Classes

While these live classes are much better than other language apps, they also cost you more money. They are not included in the standard subscription classes. However, they are also not a requirement. This is yet another way that Babbel provides a highly flexible experience. Live classes are limited to 6 users per class and each one is approximately one hour, but there are hundreds of classes available each week.

Babbel Price

Babbel provides a huge bang for your buck. You can expect to get access to a lot of valuable lessons without having to spend a fortune. In fact, Babbel is in the same price range as other language learning apps but it tends to top each of them in terms of content.

Price is also one of the main points of comparison when making the decision between Babbel or Duolingo, with the latter being free. But as you might imagine, free does have its caveats but we’ll dive deeper into Duolingo in just a bit.

Best Feature of Babbel – As we have repeated throughout this review, flexibility is what makes Babbel soar above its competition. Rather than dictate your direction (like Duolingo does), they allow you to choose the method in which you learn.

TG Recommended

Babbel Logo

Score: 94

Bottom Line

Babbel has catered its learning process to accommodate just about every imaginable goal.

It’s a powerfully flexible learning tool that puts everything you need right at your fingertips. All of this at an affordable price.

Duolingo Review

TG Recommended

Duolingo Logo

Score: 89

Best For

Not Recommended For

Duolingo Feature Summary



Duolingo has a free version but it comes with some limitations that will quickly sacrifice the learning experience.



Duolingo doesn’t seem to possess the features of a powerhouse language learning app like Babbel.



The modern approach of gamification makes for a fun learning experience.

Duolingo Pros and Cons


  • Duolingo’s gamification approach makes learning fun and exciting, modernizing in a way where learning feels rewarding.
  • Duolingo offers a free version that doesn’t lock actual content behind paywalls.
  • A guided approach that is perfect for beginners.


  • Free version penalizes mistakes by putting a daily cap on them.
  • Proper grammar is not a priority of the learning experience.

Duolingo Summary

Moving on in the whole Duolingo vs. Babbel debate, let’s dive deeper into the popular language learning app, Duolingo.

Duolingo’s goals are quite obvious the moment you access their platform – accessibility. They have designed their app to be accessible to as many people as possible. But their rigid learning structure creates a bit of a roadblock for advanced learners who don’t need to go through the beginning steps.

It doesn’t seem to be designed for advanced users anyway. Duolingo takes each user on a journey where each step is planned out and no deviation is allowed. This does have some advantages though since it creates a roadmap for beginners.

If you already have experience in the language, then you might find Duolingo’s approach too tedious.

Duolingo Unique Features

The next step of the Duolingo vs. Babbel debate takes us to Duolingo’s features. What sets it apart from its competition?

Duolingo puts its main focus on gamification and they have developed their entire app around that approach. Learning gives users experience points as if they were playing a game.

Just like in many other games, learners are placed into leagues based on their experience points. You’ll also get virtual currency to use within the app.

All of this is designed to motivate a consistent learning experience. But does this achieve the ultimate learning goal of a language app? Yes and no. But let’s dive deeper into some of the other unique features offered on the Duolingo app.

It’s Free

We all love seeing the word “free” but then we quickly discover that free doesn’t necessarily mean no cost. Duolingo has a free version with the option to upgrade. That’s cool, but how much will the free version hold you back?

For starters, the free version is plastered with ads that distract from the learning experience. While this might not seem bad, it can break your focus at the most inopportune moments.

The big issue with the free version comes from its gamification focus. Each user gets hearts which are basically life points. Every time a question is answered incorrectly, the person loses a heart. Once these hearts run out, the learner either has to stop for the day or go back to retake old lessons to get those hearts back. Paid users are granted an unlimited number of hearts.

The final limitation is that free users only have a finite number of “test outs.” What this means is that learners are able to bypass a specific lesson by taking a short quiz. This allows them to “test out” of that lesson, but they can only do this a limited number of times. Paid users don’t have this limitation.

Lots of Extra Resources

Duolingo offers a lot of resources that work well alongside of their app. These resources include access to short stories designed to sharpen reading skills, forums to connect with individuals who share the same learning goals, a really good podcast, and a dictionary for quick translation of words.

These are all amazing resources and definitely the most positive feature of Duolingo. Before you ask, yes these resources are also available to free members.

Duolingo Price

We just touched on Duplingo’s free model so this section will focus on the paid subscription model. Clocking in at $6.99 per month, Duolingo Plus provides several benefits.

There are no distracting ads for paid members. That might not seem like a huge benefit, but I can tell you with certainty that those ads are highly distracting and take away from the learning experience.

Another cool feature is that all of Duolingo’s content is available offline for paid members. This is a nice quality of life feature for times when you might not have the best access to internet.

Unlimited hearts and “test outs” is the last benefit we’ll mention. This is a huge benefit for advanced users who want to skip to more advanced lessons.

The paid version is only worth the money if you are an advanced learner or are easily distracted by ads. If neither apply to you, then it’s recommended that you just stick with the free option.

Best Feature of Duolingo – The way Duolingo makes learning fun by applying gaming principles is a great feature that helps motivate users to grind through the more difficult phases of learning a language.

TG Recommended

Duolingo Logo

Score: 89

Bottom Line

Alone, Duolingo seems like a solid app but when we’re talking about Babbel vs. Duolingo, the latter falls short in just about every category.

Even though Duolingo is free, it comes with a lot of drawbacks. However, avid gamers will probably enjoy this app more than Babbel.

Dave Evangelisti
Dave is our founder and CEO. He has 20+ years of experience in the testing and test prep industry.