I recently realized I’m spending more time fiddling with language learning apps than I am playing with my Sims games, despite I’m sticking solely to Spanish.
I have tried DuoLingo, Rosetta Stone, Memrise, Babbel, Mondly, and the newest to my experiences, Busuu. Of them, DuoLingo, Rosetta Stone, and Busuu are the only ones I stick consistently with, though Busuu replaced RS for me because I got a bit lost when I finished all the plans RS offers. Seems I prefer being led than being in a sandbox when it comes to learning.
I liked Babbel, but their voice recognition is awful. I tested with other apps. My phone isn’t the problem. Changing the sensitivity doesn’t help. Babbel‘s mic apparently finicky, and that’s it.
Annoyingly, Busuu is a paid learning site, as most of them are (this is one of the biggest reasons DuoLingo is extremely popular), so I purchased a monthly subscription ($10) to try it out, and cancelled so it won’t auto-renew. Price aside, I found it some conspicuous similarities to Duo. Leaderboards, scores, a daily goal, cuteness. However, it does something for DuoLingo doesn’t: challenge me.
A complaint I made in my last post about language apps is that DuoLingo isn’t hard for me, despite supposedly being on level 14 at the time. I’m now at level 24 and it’s still not difficult. Apparently, the levels are meaningless, and only in relation to how many XP points a user has collected. Level 25 is the highest and happens at thirty thousand points, which I’m very close to. At this point, I use Duo only to keep up my streak. I still learn some things, but it really is little more than a game for kids in my eyes.
Busuu, on the other hand, has shown me just how little I learned from Duo. Their placement test puts me at A2, which is apparently elementary school level and let me skip the first section (A1, beginner), yet I feel like I’m below that. While Busuu has text exercises, it seems to be more audio-based. You’re expected to listen to dialogue first, and answer questions about it, and there are very few hints. Mercifully, Busuu does not have a penalty system (hearts), so mistakes don’t frustrate me as much. It also seems to be more focused on giving examples that are applicable to everyday life versus the often silly sentences Duo uses.
However, I don’t intend to continue paying for Busuu at the moment, so after my subscription expires, it seems I’ll return to Duo and RS. While I like Busuu more than Duo, I don’t think any app or site is worth consistently paying money or a high price. Even as much as I like RS, I don’t think it was worth $200 (lifetime subscription). Of course, education in general is a business, but that’s a different subject entirely, and one I refuse to dive into.