Whether you’re heading to your next destination and want to be better at speaking to locals, or you want to pad your resume with language skills, it’s never a bad idea to invest your time in learning a language.
But what’s the best way to do this?
Busuu is a language learning app that we investigated. Keep reading for a comprehensive Busuu review to help you determine if it’s worth the investment.
What is Busuu?
Busuu is a top language learning app that promises to help users learn a language four times faster than competitor apps. According to the app, 22 hours on Busuu is the equivalent of one semester of traditional classes. You can earn certificates from McGraw Hill, the textbook company, providing proof of your ability to use a language.
What makes Busuu different from other language learning apps is that, on their pro accounts, the courses are goal-oriented using personalized study plans. Busuu also offers the chance to connect with native speakers through voice messaging and courses are all taught by native speakers. Our Busuu review has discovered that Busuu focuses on grammar and vocab, which can lead to a more in-depth mastery of a language.
Busuu currently offers 12 languages and the number of languages you can learn depends on your plan (more on this later!).
Busuu has won a variety of awards for its take on language learning.
Both the Google Play Store and the App Store awarded Bussu with Editors’ Choice and App of the Year awards respectively. The British Council, an organization specializing in international cultural and educational opportunities, awarded the app with the Innovation 2020 award. Busuu has been featured in The Independent, Conde Nast Traveler, Forbes, Business Insider, and PC Mag, all singing praises for this innovative language learning app.
Finally, although not awards, the reviews for Busuu are well worth mentioning! Trustpilot is notoriously hard to keep a high rating on, due mostly to the fact that it’s typically disgruntled customers writing a review. If you head to Busuu’s Trustpilot page, you’ll find that the app has 4.2 stars out of 5, and over 11,000 reviews, most of them good. We noticed that those who do have something negative to say, get a response from the Busuu team directing them on how to follow up and fix the issue.
Only good things to say so far, and we haven’t even gotten into the bulk of the Busuu review.
Busuu and Sustainable Travel: What’s the Connection?
Now that you know more about what Busuu is, you might be wondering what the connection is between a language learning app and sustainable travel, the focus here at Hidden Lemur.
When we talk about sustainable travel, we mean all areas of environmental, social, and cultural preservation associated with traveling around the globe. Sustainable travelers go slowly and take time to really interact and get to know locals. It is these locals, after all, that make the trip worth taking. We believe in showing local people the respect that they deserve by doing our very best to speak their language, even if it’s only being able to say “hello”, “please” and “thank you”. By showing respect to the people and places we visit we foster ongoing positivity around tourism and the impact it has on certain communities.
Busuu Review: The Nitty Gritty
With an overview of what Busuu is and the praises awarded to it, it’s time to get into the nitty-gritty.
Who is Busuu for?
Busuu has designed its app in such a way that it’s ideal for most people.
For those who want to learn a language but need help with accountability, Busuu will help keep you motivated. Plus, playing for a premium plan is a great way to kick yourself into action. The investment encourages you to stay engaged in the process. When compared to a degree or in-person classes, their monthly and annual membership prices for more advanced plans are very affordable.
Busuu is fantastic for travelers who want to brush up on their language skills for their next destination. Because Busuu lets you set goals, you can focus more on learning general words and phrases that will be useful for your travel.
For professionals, Busuu is a great way to increase your skillset, both giving you something to add to your resume and skills that can be used in international settings.
Finally, Busuu is a great choice for language students who need extra practice and want to interact with native speakers. For those who perhaps studied a language in school but want to brush up, the app is a great place to do so.
How Does Busuu Work?
In our review of Busuu, we discovered that Busuu is easy to set up and use. Start by downloading the app which is available on the App Store and in Google Play. You can start with the free tier and upgrade from there or choose a premium plan from the start. Once you have your plan, you can pick your language.
For those with a premium plan, you’ll be able to set goals for yourself using the My Goal feature. You can let Busuu know if you want to take a longer time to achieve a more in-depth knowledge of the language, or if you want a basic understanding of a language so you can use a few words on your next trip.
Also on premium, you’ll then get the chance to design a Study Plan. Busuu’s Study Plan is a feature that helps you meet your unique language learning goals. You’ll be able to set how often you want to study and a date for when you want to reach your goal. You’ll also get personalized updates on your progress and reminders when it’s time to study.
Once you have all of this setup, you’ll be directed through courses designed to help you meet your needs. Each lesson has a clear structure and you’re able to review lessons throughout without having to take the full thing again. On the free plan, you’ll use mostly digital flashcards to practice words and aren’t able to define your goals or a study plan, so the premium plans really take the cake here.
We can’t give you a comprehensive Busuu review without going into pricing. Busuu offers three plans: the Basic plan which is free, the Premium plan which is €9.99 per month, and the Premium Plus which is €10.99 per month. Prices do drop significantly if you’re willing to make a year-long commitment, and even more so if you’re ready to commit to two years. If you pay for 24 months upfront, the Premium plan becomes €5.41 per month, and Premium Plus becomes €6.24 per month.
With pricing out of the way, let’s dive into the specifics of each plan.
On Busuu Basic, you can choose one language to learn. Most of the learning is done through digital flashcards and you don’t have access to a personalized study plan, McGraw Hill certifications, offline mode, grammar lessons, AI-powered review for refreshers, or feedback from native speakers. Unfortunately, Busuu’s free plan isn’t much to work with when compared to other free language learning apps like DuoLingo which offer more interactive features for free.
With Busuu Premium, you’ll still only have access to one language, but you’ll have access to Offline Mode. In this mode, you can download your lessons ahead of time so that you can learn anywhere. A quick refresher before you land in your next destination? Offline Mode is there to help! You’ll also get access to an AI-powered review of grammar lessons. The AI will track which items you have trouble with and give you more practice on those. However, on Busuu Premium, you still don’t have access to a personalized study plan, certificates, or conversations with native speakers.
For just a Euro more you can access all of Busuu’s features. You’ll be able to learn all twelve languages on Busuu if you so desire and download them at any time. You’ll be able to receive official McGraw hill certificates, get a personalized study plan, talk with native speakers, and more.
Busuu has designed their pricing strategy in a clever way, and if you want to learn a language, or two, Busuu’s Premium Plus plan is the best option.
Busuu Language App Pros
Now that you know what Busuu is, why we’re talking about it, and what the plans look like, let’s take a closer look at the pros of this language learning app.
Overall, the app is beautifully designed and easy to use. New users will have no trouble navigating and figuring out how to get started. Convenient prompts help premium users set up study plans and create goals. The study plans and goals are also incredible benefits of the app that really allow a customized user experience and set Busuu apart from other language learning apps.
Busuu also gets a check in the pro column for its placement tests. Users who already have a grasp of a language may not want to start from the beginning and Busuu’s placement tests help learners determine what lesson they should start from.
One thing that many language learning apps lack is the human connection. Learning a language through an automated app is one thing, but when arriving in a new destination many people find that due to local dialects, slang, and the speed at which locals speak, the skills that had been acquired are useless. Busuu does a great job at addressing these issues by connecting users to native speakers. Users can send each other voice messages for practice. Additionally, writing lessons are corrected by native speakers.
For those who want an even more personalized experience, Busuu also offers Busuu Live, a personal tutoring service where you’ll work with a coach who has created tailored 30-minute lessons. It does cost an extra fee, but if you want to learn a language more quickly, it’s great to have the option integrated into the app.
Offline mode is another huge benefit of Busuu. When you can download your language learning courses, there’s no excuse to not meet your study goals!
Another pro of Busuu is the focus on cultural content. You’ll learn from real-life situations like listening to train station announcements or reading information at tourist attractions. There are also cultural insights added into lessons so not only will you learn the language, but you’ll learn a little something else about the culture as you do.
Finally, Busuu provides a focus on grammar that many apps lack. Convenient charts make it easy to see when to use a certain word or ending and the AI automation helps you review these.
Busuu Language App Cons
As great as Busuu is, we can’t provide a comprehensive review without addressing the Busuu cons as well.
First and foremost, the app only offers twelve languages. When compared with apps like Duolingo which offers 106 languages, this is a bit of a shame, but as the app was only developed in 2008, we can only expect them to grow their offering.
Next, because corrections to writing exercises are made by native speakers, this can sometimes mean that issues of conflicting dialects arise. While one reviewer may use a certain word for a dish, you may have learned a different dialect that taught you otherwise. For this reason, it’s important to keep in mind that it is a learning experience so don’t get discouraged if your answer is marked as incorrect.
Another Busuu con is the lack of voice recognition software offered by other language learning apps. While on some apps part of the lessons include speaking a phrase out loud and being assessed by the AI, Busuu does not yet have this feature. There is the option of sending voice messages with native speakers, but some users may find this intimidating and therefore not use the feature. Hopefully, at some point in the near future, Busuu will offer additional opportunities to practice speaking.
Can You Become Fluent with Busuu?
Fluency in any language is difficult to achieve and requires not just the ability to identify words but to speak and understand meanings beyond what is actually being said. Busuu is one of the best language apps to get a firm foundation for a language, but to become fluent you’ll really need to connect with native speakers on a daily basis to practice speaking the language and to fully understand cultural contexts.
Alternatives to Busuu?
With so many options for language learning apps and courses, it can be hard to know which is best. Hidden Lemur has a couple of great guides for How to Overcome Language Barriers While Traveling and other Language Learning Tools. If you’re still feeling a bit uncertain about investing in Busuu, here are a few other options that are worth comparing.
Rosetta Stone has long been around and is often seen as the premier language learning app and software. Rosetta Stone is more expensive than Busuu, however, it does have additional features such as its signature TruACCENT speech recognition software that helps you learn pronunciation. While Busuu’s focus is on connection with and review by native speakers they offer different approaches to language learning.
Duolingo, Google’s free language learning software, is a top choice for many language learners. While Busuu offers a more traditional approach to language learning through feedback on writing and pronunciation if you speak with other users, Duolingo takes a more game-like approach. Duolingo is great for those who want a quick few minutes of language learning, while Busuu takes a more in-depth approach.
FluentU is a lesser-known language learning app whose approach to language learning is done via videos more than anything else. They have great use of real-world videos like music videos, movie clips, news stories, and more. After watching the videos you’ll take a quiz to see how much you picked up on. If you’re a visual learner, FluentU is a great option.
Finally, Babbel is another great language learning website with short and engaging lessons. With the distractions that come from being on a phone, it’s often nicer to work on a website which is where Babbel succeeds. There are more subscription plans than Busuu.
Busuu Review Final Thoughts: Is it Worth Paying for Busuu?
Yes, if you’re serious about learning a language for any reason, Busuu’s Premium Plus plan is a fantastic place to start and is well worth the investment. Claim your 10% discount here.
Disclaimer: Hey reader! Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means that if you make a purchase using any of these links, we’ll earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Hidden Lemur is committed to promoting sustainable travel, and we only partner with brands that we believe contribute positively to that cause.