Busuu and Duolingo are two of the most popular language apps there are, so how do you make the choice when it comes to how to learn a language? In this post, let’s compare Busuu vs Duolingo, so you can make the best choice for your own language learning.
We’ll address each app’s flaws, where they shine, and which one is more likely to get your language learning where you want it to go.
Busuu vs Duolingo: languages
The following languages are available on both Busuu and Duolingo:
Busuu also offers English, and Duolingo’s list of languages is massive, so I’ll leave it to my Duolingo review.
Busuu vs Duolingo: finding your level
Both Duolingo and Busuu are appropriate for total beginners, and both honestly have similar systems. It may be surprising to see how Busuu has evolved to be easier and more addictive, like Duolingo has trained language learners to become.
Here’s Duolingo’s checkpoint test to fast-forward in your Learning Path.
And here’s Busuu’s version.
As you can see, Busuu isn’t actually very different from Duolingo. It’s smooth, easy, and focuses almost entirely on passive skills (i.e. learning to understand the gist of the language, not necessarily reproducing it).
This makes it a fairly easy transition for language learners who enjoy Duolingo, but are tired of the heavy gamification. Busuu does have some gamification, but the way that it’s implemented makes the process of learning a language smoother and more engaging, not just an addiction.
That said, what makes Duolingo and Busuu different?
Using your target language
The base core of learning languages on each language app is pretty similar. However, learning new words, grammar, and other concepts isn’t so hard – it’s using them that gets language learners stuck.
It’s very easy to present you with new information, but not so much to lead you to actively use and produce that information. Let me show you what I mean.
This feature of Duolingo, Stories, is the main way that they attempt to get you to use the language. These Stories are intertwined within the Learning Path, so you have to complete them when presented in order to continue to higher levels.
And even though it’s technically closer (I guess?) to real use of the language, it’s still pretty passive. You’re still tapping buttons, an activity you can do in the background of watching a movie or doing the dishes.
Here’s Busuu’s strategy for comparison.
The Busuu community is full of language learners who speak your target language natively, and use this skill to help critique your submissions and motivate you.
While you are prompted to submit something (whether it be an audio recording or a writing prompt, your decision) consistently after lessons, you don’t have to. I mean, obviously it’s a good idea, but you’re not going to be chastised if you just want to move on.
Suffice it to say, Busuu is much better for helping you to produce the language using the information they teach you.
What you’ll pay to access each language app
This comparison couldn’t be more simple (in theory): Duolingo is free, and Busuu is not.
Being free is very important to the Duolingo brand. While you can invest in a Premium membership, Duolingo states that they will never hide access to their content behind a paywall. Their goal is to make education free for all.
It’s the ads/gamification that is different with a Premium subscription, and many users claim that the Duolingo app becomes less and less usable for free members as time goes on. I personally can’t speak on that particular theory, but you should keep it in mind.
Busuu, on the other hand, is largely a paid app, and offers subscriptions from monthly to annually. You can see updated prices here. You can generally expect to pay $10-15 a month.
Duolingo or Busuu?
This is honestly a short review, but only because there’s not much to say about the difference between Busuu and Duolingo. Duolingo is addictive and surface-level, while Busuu is engaging and well-rounded.
This is one of those cases where the price point accurately reflects the quality of the service – if you’re willing to invest in your language learning just a little bit, Busuu will teach you exponentially more.
On the other hand, if you’d rather keep things fun, low-commitment, and flexible (this part being a reference to the sheer number of languages available to learn on Duolingo) Duolingo is excellent at keeping education accessible and consistent (many Duolingo users complain of addiction to their daily streak, despite not learning as much as they’d like).