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, or at least grammar and a touch of communication practice.
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?
Busuu review: a general look
Let’s start at the top. Busuu offers a handful of languages, including the most popular:
With just 12 languages, Busuu doesn’t offer nearly as much content as some of its competitors! To be fair, they make up for it in some other ways, but we’ll get there. Most beginner language learners, though, are usually more interested in Spanish, French, and maybe German, all of which are available.
Basically, you’ll choose your language, tell the program why you’re learning the language, your goal (A1-B2), and then you’ll make a commitment. You can change this commitment whenever you want, so don’t feel like this is a contract.
Now, this part really interests me for a few reasons. First of all, how many times have you wondered how long it will take you to learn a language? Well, theoretically, Busuu Premium has an answer for you! Operative word: theoretically. I’ll get into that in a sec.
But, as you can see, you’ll select what days you’ll be studying, for how long, and what your goal is. Again, this commitment isn’t sealed in gold, but it does give you an okay roadmap/plan for how to continue with your language learning studies (which is hard to find). When you select how many minutes per day you want to study, Busuu recommends 10 minutes.
At the same time, you can only select up to 30 minutes a day. If you don’t have much experience in language learning, you wouldn’t know that 10 minutes a day is kind of…weak. You’re not going to learn much, you’re just not. It’s definitely better than nothing, but you’re still not going to be making much headway, especially once you get past the basics.
It’s also worth noting that Busuu’s front page promises you can learn a language in just 10 minutes a day. Just like Duolingo‘s messaging of fluency in 5 minutes a day…it’s BS. It’s great for marketing, but it’s just wrong, and it’s one of the driving forces that make language learners give up.
30 minutes? Honestly, I feel like that’s the bare minimum. That’s pretty okay goal-setting (you don’t want to set your hopes too high when you’re motivated and excited because you’ll fail them when reality hits) but I do wish you could push that number a little bit higher.
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. That’s pretty good info to know, but just the same, they’re each only a few minutes long so you can stay motivated by how much you’re getting done.
You’ll start with flashcards to learn terms, and then Busuu will walk you through various practices like listening, filling in the blank, etc.
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. Then, once you submit it, you’ll be prompted to find language learning partners.
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.
All this makes Busuu Premium great for someone just starting out in the language because you’ll be walked through everything. Once you finish the lessons at each level you’ll be prompted to take a test in order to receive an official certificate.
This certificate is a cool thing that helps Busuu stand out from the rest. 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.
However, 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 legitimate industry, so this is more of a talking point/to give you an official pat on the back.
I do like how this offers you a goal to work towards. I find most language learners give up on their goals because they just don’t have any besides “being fluent”. Even if this certificate feels arbitrary, 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, and maybe, just maybe you can use it for more than just grammar lessons. You know how Busuu has you submit a writing/speaking activity after every lesson? Well, when you head on over to the Social tab, you can see all of your activities and get involved with the community (note that this section is only available to paid users).
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 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?
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.
So, yes, Busuu includes a bit of reading/writing/listening/speaking, but like every other resource out there, I would not recommend depending solely on it. Maybe you’ll find a good language partner, and maybe you’ll get a good handle on some grammar, but Busuu is simply a supplement, not the whole sh-bang.
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 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.
Busuu Premium review: paid perks
Busuu does provide most of its meat to all users, so what do you get if you pay for extra access? Well, I’ve already mentioned a couple: access to a live community where actual people will give you feedback on your writing/speaking, and the option to download lessons for offline use.
For the rest, though, I’ll let the Busuu website speak for itself.
Busuu Premium comes in 2 plans, and they’re both pretty reasonable. As always, the more of a commitment you make (12 months or 24 months), the cheaper each month will be, but those commitments also mean you’re shelling out a few hundred bucks at signup.
And no, Busuu does not offer free trials, but you do get 7 days to cancel your membership and get your money back, no questions asked. That’s a pretty reasonable deal, no?
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.
Cause, honestly, for all those reasons, Busuu Premiums is a great resource, and I’m glad it exists. I know that having a certain level achieved is important to me, so I definitely get where Busuu’s audience is coming from.
If you do go the Busuu route, make sure to keep up with your language skills (because grammar isn’t one of them!).