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Busuu vs Duolingo
Busuu vs Duolingo is, fortunately, a pretty easy comparison because they’re built for 2 very different kinds of language learners. The problem is that unless you’ve personally tried them both, there’s no way for you to know that. Enter me!
That being said, let’s compare Busuu vs Duolingo so you can decide which resource will be more helpful for you when it comes to achieving your personal language learning goals.
First things first: think about your goals. And you don’t even have to have a concrete goal just yet, but think about whether or not you’re interested in dedicating any significant time to learning a language, or whether or not you want to have a conversation in your second language.
Once you have that answered, read on!
Busuu vs Duolingo: languages
Second things first: make sure you actually want to learn one of the languages that Duolingo vs Busuu has to offer! The following languages are available on both apps:
The only other language you can find on Busuu is English. And, if you’re reading this, that’s probably not helpful for you anyways.
And, of course, Duolingo also offers a ton of other languages. Like, a lot:
At first glance, this might make Duolingo seem like the obvious “winner”. However, there’s a lot more to it than how many different languages they have available to study.
The thing you need to think about, and the reason for this post, is understanding what parts of the language you can study, and how much you want to study.
Busuu vs Duolingo: the content
Alrighty tighty, let’s discuss what these two resources actually have to offer you as a language learner. Let’s start with the crowd favorite that you’ve probably tried already: Duolingo.
If you’re not yet familiar with Duolingo, the app is based on what they call ‘Duolingo trees’. It’s a tree of 5-minute, highly gamified lessons that take you through the basics grammar points (and some vocab) of your language. Duolingo is very fun, very rewarding, and very easy.
The amount you can learn on Duolingo depends entirely on the language you’re studying. Some Duolingo trees, like Spanish and French, are incredibly extensive and can really help you develop a high-quality understanding of the language.
Others, like Finnish, are much more simple and don’t have as much content to them, at least not yet. A good way to estimate how much you’ll learn in any language is to see how many checkpoints there are; a language with only 2-3 checkpoints is not going to be as high quality as one with 8-9.
Duolingo lessons are built for language learners who are not too intermediate or advanced. You don’t have to be a beginner coming in at zero (you can test out of checkpoints and go right to the material that you don’t already know), but definitely not for those with an advanced understanding of the language.
To keep your interest, all of these lessons include fun sound effects, low-pressure lessons, and a cute little owl that pokes you every day to get your practice in. As you continue through your lessons, you’re reminded to refresh your memory every once in a while, but once your tree is done, it’s done.
Duolingo has also recently expanded to include a touch of immersion as well, which I go more in-depth about in my Duolingo review. For example, Duolingo has podcasts for French and Spanish learners, and “Stories” for a few more languages on top of that. Head to that link for more info on how to use Duolingo effectively.
Busuu, on the other hand, is a completely different animal right from the start. I mean, the first thing you do is set yourself up with a goal. You’re asked the CEFR level you want to reach (A1-B2 [note that it doesn’t reach advanced levels]), and how often you want to study.
Right here, you can clearly see a totally different mindset. Although I highly recommend you take this plan summary with a slight grain of salt, even just the study time is different – where Duolingo claims fluency from 5 minutes a day, Busuu knows that 10 minutes of study a day will still take you a few years to reach your goal. And that’s on marketing!
The maximum daily goal you’re able to set is 30 minutes, but you’re free to continue to study as long as you want after that 30 minutes.
Then, once you get to the practice itself, Busuu is much more clear about what its lessons entail, how long they will take to complete and at what level you should consider yourself to be if you’re completing them. I’d say the lessons are about as long as the Duolingo lessons, maybe a tad longer.
At the end of each of these lessons, you’ll be prompted to practice either speaking or writing to Busuu’s dedicated community of native speakers, which I talk about in my Busuu review. And, if you want to get more practice outside of these lessons, you’re free to jump right into the community and get as much practice as you want.
This right here is another big difference between Duolingo vs Busuu. Duolingo does have a few bits of immersion for different languages, but they’re on a whole different part of the Duolingo site/app, and you’re not really heavily pressured to get that practice in. The podcasts and stories are lightly suggested, at best.
Busuu, on the other hand, prompts you to practice these skills after every lesson. Like, your lessons aren’t marked as complete until you do them. Like I said, your prompts are also submitted to live humans, which Duolingo doesn’t really do.
This is very helpful when it comes to growing within your language learning journey and developing relationships with those who speak the language.
The closest thing that Duolingo has to this is the Duolingo forum, however that’s more for asking questions/sharing resources than it is meeting native speakers and getting your stuff corrected.
Busuu vs Duolingo: price points
The prices between Busuu vs Duolingo also make a difference as to which one will work best for you. For one, the Duolingo price is totally free, and they state that it will always be free forever.
Duolingo does offer a new monthly option that doesn’t effect free users (don’t worry!); Duolingo plus costs $7-13/month, depending on whether you pay monthly, six-monthly, or annually.
The big difference is getting rid of ads and having access to Duolingo offline. Other than that, free users aren’t missing out on anything, which makes Duolingo perfect for tight budgets and those low-key learners that should be using Duolingo to begin with.
Is Busuu free? This one’s more of a matter of “you get what you pay for”, I think. If you don’t have the resources for a membership you can access their vocabulary lists, but that’s it. Everything else is stuck behind a paywall.
That’s not to say that Busuu doesn’t come at a reasonable price, because it does! Honestly, if you’re using it 4-5 times a week, the Busuu Premium cost of $10-15 a month isn’t ridiculous. If you can find some room for it in your budget, there are definitely worse things to spend that money on!
Busuu vs Duolingo
So after all that, the Busuu vs Duolingo boils down to what kind of language learner each resource is built for. Understanding this will really help you push your language learning journey forward because you won’t be wasting your time and money on tools that aren’t meant for you.
Everybody always starts with Duolingo for 2 major reasons. First, they’ve done their marketing well enough to be the app you download when you decide to learn a new language. Seriously, whenever someone asks a Facebook group of people how to start learning a new language, somebody always recommends Duolingo.
The second major reason is that it’s free. It’s no risk! It can be hard to convince language learners to drop a few bucks on a language learning tool, especially when they’re just starting out.
So who is Duolingo really for? Duolingo is best for low-key language learners. If you’re more interested in lightly dabbling in a whole bunch of languages in your downtime, then there is absolutely nothing wrong with using this platform. In fact, it’ll be exactly what you need.
Also considering the unreliability in how much Duolingo has to offer in any of its languages, it’s important to consider how far you want your language learning app to take you.
Busuu, however, is a better option for you language learners who want to commit more seriously to your language. If you want to deep-dive into grammar and start building a network of native speakers to practice with, Busuu’s great.
As you can tell from the very first look at Busuu, where they analyze how long it should take you to reach a specific goal that you’re interested in achieving, this program is meant for much more serious learners. And that is represented in both the content and the price tag.
You can learn all the grammar you’ll ever need from Busuu, from beginning to advanced. On top of that, you can find the native-speaking friends you need to help push your communication skills forward (’cause that can be real hard to find!).
Duolingo or Busuu?
If you get one thing from this post (and even this entire site), it’s how important it is to understand where you want to go with your language learning. Anybody can start an account on Duolingo (and everybody always does), but tons and tons of language learners fail because Duolingo isn’t right for everybody.
But is Busuu better than Duolingo? The answer to that question depends on you and what you want to get out of your language learning, as well as if the Busuu price is in your budget.
Give paid resources like the Busuu app a shot, because they might be exactly what you’re looking for. Whether you go for Busuu or Duolingo, all you can do is be aware of what you’re learning and how you’re learning it.
If you do want to give Busuu a shot, click here for my Busuu Spanish review!
Or, if Duolingo is more your jam, click here!