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Busuu is one of the more popular language learning resources out there, and for good reason! Busuu free and Busuu Premium both have tons to offer someone who wants a solid handle on a foreign language.
However, just like the competition, Busuu Premium is not for everyone, so don’t go forking over your cash just yet. Busuu Premium (and even free) is really great for a specific brand of language learner – is it you? And if it is, will you do just fine with free Busuu, or is it worth it for you to go Premium?
Is Busuu free? Is Busuu good? Is Busuu worth it? Let’s take this Busuu review to discuss.
Busuu review: a general look
Let’s start at the top. Busuu offers a handful of languages, including the most popular:
With 12 languages, Busuu has something to offer many languages; the more common foreign languages, as well as a couple other fun ones for the more adventurous. From this list, I can tell that while Busuu isn’t going to offer a textbook-level of depth, it’ll probably be enough for most language learners who want to have a solid level of education in their target language.
To start, you’ll choose your language, tell the program why you’re learning the language, your goal (A1-B2, or total beginner to high-intermediate), and then you’ll make a study plan. This study plan can be helpful for plotting out a language journey using Busuu, with that journey ending in a Busuu certificate, which we’ll talk about below. This can be very helpful to get into the mindset of long-term language learning, for those of us who just need a small touch of planning.
Busuu actually provides you with a fairly reasonable time frame for achieving the level you want to achieve if you’re starting from zero!
You’ll select what days you’ll be studying, for how long, and what your goal is. Fortunately, this goal can be changed at any time, which is important. Any goal that you set for language learning needs to be flexible for real life, which never goes as expected. But, it can provide you with almost a skeleton of expectations to go bye. This gets two thumbs up from me!
One thing that kind of bothers me though: you can only select up to 30 minutes a day. That can be a lot for some language learners, but for others it’s definitely not. While I’m not one to judge a language learner based on their study schedule/how long they’re studying per day (literally, it doesn’t matter; 5 minutes a day is always better than 0 minutes a day), I do wish Busuu would give you the option to commit to more time per day. There are definitely some folks that will consistently put in an hour a day, so that should be included here.
Once you’ve finished setting your goals, you’ll be sent to your dashboard.
As you can see, all of your content is separated by level, which is cool. When you click into each lesson, you can see what it includes, as well as how long it’ll take you to complete it. This is great for those days when you literally only have 5 minutes to get in some practice – instead of worrying about not having enough time, you can just get through a lesson and call it a day. That’s something I love about LingoDeer, too!
You’ll start with flashcards to learn terms, and then Busuu will walk you through various practices like listening, filling in the blank, etc. These varying ways of learning, plus the smooth, modern content, keeps things interesting instead of monotonous.
Then, at the end of every lesson, you’ll have to complete a speaking or writing exercise, which is awesome. And instead of your speaking exercises being analyzed by speech recognition software (which usually doesn’t actually work), it’ll be submitted to Busuu’s community, for review by a native speaker. Once you submit it, you’ll be prompted to find language learning partners in the Busuu community for yourself.
This is a cool way to not only get you actively producing the language but also to motivate you to make emotional connections with it, which is an awesome motivator. The combination of structured lessons and real-life humans makes Busuu really unique among language learning resources – you really just gotta make the effort to find someone who is also open to connecting with other learners!
All this makes Busuu Premium great for someone just starting out in the language because you’ll be walked through everything; basic grammar, useful phrases, and hopefully even some friendships to check in with you. Once you finish the lessons at each level you’ll be prompted to take a test in order to receive an official Busuu certificate.
This certificate is another cool thing that helps Busuu stand out from the rest. If you’re not familiar with McGraw-Hill Education, it’s a company that creates things like textbooks. It’s an interesting partnership that definitely does legitimize Busuu beyond just being a fun app.
However, don’t think this is more than it actually is. If you want to frame it and hang it up on your wall, great. If you want to be able to put it on your resume for a non-related job (just to look like a more valuable candidate), awesome.
But if your goal is to get a job in anything to do with translating or teaching the language, this certificate won’t hold water. It’s not recognized by any foreign language industry, so this is more of a talking point/to give you an official pat on the back.
Nonetheless, I do like how this offers you a goal to work towards. Many language learners struggle because they don’t set any goal besides “fluency” (big no-no!). Even if this certificate feels arbitrary to me, it might give you the motivation you need to keep studying and keep improving. And if it does, Busuu’s done its job.
Getting fluent with Busuu Premium
Busuu Premium is a really great resource that covers language learning at pretty much every angle. If you use all the options available within Busuu, you’ll walk away with a pretty high-quality education – that means EVERY angle, which includes being active within the Busuu community. The app itself as the learning and the content covered, and they provide language learners with ample opportunity to form those real-life connections.
You can take a look at those who are learning your native language, correct them, and (hopefully) find yourself a language exchange! When you click to the Friends tab, Busuu will suggest people who speak the language you’re learning and are learning the language you speak.
Or, if you don’t really want to form any relationships, you can just put your work out into the world and get some corrections. This won’t be quite as effective, but it is an option for those who have connections outside of the Busuu community.
This section of Busuu isn’t perfect, though. If you want to see corrections on the activities you completed in the lessons themselves, you won’t find them here. Nope, you’ll have to go to the upper right-hand corner and check your notifications.
Am I being nit-picky? If I am, so be it. It did take me a minute to find the work I’d already done, and I’d rather focus on the language itself, y’know? Having all of the human-based stuff in one place would be just a touch more convenient for me.
And, last but not least, we have a whole tab dedicated to reviewing! Here you’ll find all the concepts you’ve studied and can make sure you’re keeping up. It’s a nice little addition – it seems to base your confidence in these words/concepts on how often you get them right or wrong, which is fair – but it’s no Anki.
Using the Busuu app
As you can probably tell, most of my experience with Busuu was on a desktop. However, after taking a look at the Busuu app…I almost feel like I was missing out a bit! The Busuu app is beautiful and very user-friendly, definitely built to be played with on your commute.
And, if you’re a Busuu Premium user (which I will talk about more in a little bit), you have the option to download lessons to your phone so you don’t have to worry about a shoddy connection getting the way of your study time.
The mobile interface is honestly gorgeous. Plus, remember my gripe on having a hard time finding corrections on my work? The mobile app has that section in a much more convenient place: on the bottom toolbar, with the rest of the icons.
Would be nice to carry this setup over to desktop, but at least it’s there.
Busuu Free vs Busuu Premium
Busuu does provide its own content to all free users, though it’s limited to a single language. In my opinion, depending on the free stuff can be effective as long as you have your own structure and your own connections to native speakers with whom you can practice using the language actively.
However, if you need more of a one-stop-shop, Premiums and Premium Plus are excellent options: the live community, feedback from native speakers, downloadable lessons, the Study Plan, etc.
Busuu Premium comes in 3 plans, and they’re all pretty reasonable. As always, the more of a commitment you make (monthly, annually, or biannually), the cheaper each month will be, but those commitments also mean you’re shelling out a few hundred bucks at signup.
While Busuu doesn’t offer a free trial, they do offer a 14-day money-back guarantee, which is great. Basically, you can make the financial commitment, but if you find that it’s not actually helpful to you long-term (like getting a gym membership for New Years to try to motivate you to work out), there’s very little risk involved.
Is Busuu Premium for you?
At the end of the day, this is a pretty personal decision. However, when making that decision, make sure you know who it’s for. Busuu Premium seems to be built to be more for resume-builders, goal-oriented learners, and learners who can take some constructive criticism. If that’s you, I’d say the Busuu price is probably worth it, especially with that Busuu community. I’ve heard great things about it from its users!
Otherwise, if you already have the paid features and don’t need as much hand-holding to do what you need to do to stick to language learning long-term, Busuu free can also be great!
All that being said, Busuu Premium can be a highly effective way to learn a language if you genuinely enjoy the method, and feel motivated to engage with the platform consistently. If you do want to give a Busuu subscription a shot, click here!