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Can Busuu Actually Make You Fluent?

There’s a sickness in the “language learning app community” that has gotten to many of us, it’s this idea that there could be one app that could take us to fluency on its own.

While this dream will probably never come true, the idea of an excellent app that can help us to an unmeasurable degree is already here - it’s called Busuu.

Before I thought that maybe there was a big conspiracy, that these apps don’t want you to get too good at a language because then you won’t need them anymore, maybe it’s true…

But if that conspiracy exists, Busuu didn’t get the memo, because this app is the real deal. Let’s talk about what makes it so much better than its competition - Duolingo.

In this article, we’ll go over features, pros and cons, the Busuu certificates, and what other people have been saying about Busuu around the globe.

title that says "Busuu App Review"

Can Busuu Make You Fluent?

Busuu can certainly get you to an intermediate level, but fluency is about your ability to express yourself with ease. Although Busuu claims to teach up to the level C1 in Spanish for example, to gain the ability to speak like a C1, we need to practice with native speakers in real conversations.

What Busuu can do for you, is provide a guide of what to learn, and the rest will be your job to implement it into conversations with natives whenever you feel ready.

Recommended Materials To Use Alongside With Busuu

Just like any other learning materials, we can’t rely on them to teach us EVERYTHING. So, with that said, these are the apps that I would suggest to pair with Busuu to get fluent in your target language.

HelloTalk is a free language exchange app where you can find wonderful partners to practice your target language with. Of course, you have to find someone that you can get along well with and somebody willing to practice consistently.

However, if you want to save yourself time and energy, you can use Italki, a platform full of the best-priced tutors in the world. My jaw has literally dropped at the sight of 5-dollar (high-quality) tutor sessions from native speakers, it’s incredible!

Personally, I use the free version of Busuu, which means that every time I start a new lesson I have to watch a 15-second advertisement. Whenever the advertisement appears, I simply go over to CLOZEMASTER and do a lesson there.

This app is super simple, it basically just asks you to fill in a blank in a sentence with the correct word. This helps because it exposes you to many important words and sentences, helping you to acquire the language without much effort.

3 - YouTube (Comprehensible Input Channels)

I don’t know which language you’re learning, but I have found comprehensible input channels for the Georgian language, so they probably exist for your target language too!

These channels are designed so that although they don’t speak any English, you can understand the content through body movements, hand gestures, and context clues.

Comprehensible input is the key to language acquisition and if you haven’t experienced its power, give it a go and you’ll be shocked!

The Busuu Curriculum - The #1 Best I Have Tried

The Busuu curriculum is the #1 best-planned and most helpful of all language learning apps I have come across. One of my first articles on this website was a review of Duolingo, and I made a section where I mentioned all of the features that it was missing, and Busuu has them all!

Let’s dive deeper into their curriculum to see what makes it so impressive.

girl learning on her computer and taking notes

The Sentences They Choose To Show You - Gold or Garbage?

Okay, Duolingo is pretty infamous for their dumb sentences eh? Phrases like “I can’t go to the store because my dog ate my car.” While this might be funny, it isn’t exactly the type of sentence that we would classify “a priority” to learn.

Busuu, on the other hand, shows us extremely important and complex sentences and teaches us exactly what's going on in each of them concerning grammar, vocabulary, and cultural context.

Here are some sentence examples that I just pulled from the first lesson I clicked on:

  • “I used to love spending the holidays in the countryside”

  • “Every summer we went to my grandparents and spent a month there”

The Brilliant Pronunciation & Grammar Tips

Busuu gives tons of incredible tips including how to use grammatical tenses, and how to pronounce words. For example, I use Busuu to learn French, and for beginners, it’s a pretty hard language to pronounce decently.

For this reason when Busuu introduced the imperfect conjugation for Jouer (To play) and for “They” - which is Jouaient they explained how you pronounce those 5 vowels in a row.

In few words they said Don’t worry about this word too much, it’s just pronounced as “Juue” and not only were they correct, but it put me at ease. So when it comes to their explanations, they keep them concise and they help the learner a lot to not get overwhelmed.

Videos Of Native Speakers? Yes, Yes, Yes!

One big problem I have always had with Duolingo is that you never get to hear native speakers, and with Busuu - you will! I have already seen probably 40 videos with French speakers reciting a dialogue with the transcript provided.

This has already aided me in understanding YouTube videos from French speakers, and it has catapulted my comprehension level much quicker than Duolingo was able to.

picture of a man recording a youtube video talking to the camera

The Checkpoints/Exams And Their Effectiveness

The checkpoints are not only wonderful recaps of the lessons but they also help drill the spelling of words into our brains! Normally I fail the checkpoints on the first go, but I appreciate this because it forces me to truly understand the content before moving forward.

Of course, if this was Duolingo that would be a con, but because of Busuu’s amazing curriculum, I prefer to walk away knowing everything they tried to teach me.

Open-ended Questions From Busuu - My thoughts...

The open-ended questions in my opinion are the worst part about Busuu, and maybe you’ll agree when I tell you why. Personally, I’m all about natural acquisition, so whenever I am taught something, I don’t feel the need or the desire to practice it with natives right away.

For me this seems too soon, however, Busuu every once and a while will make you either speak into your microphone and answer questions in the target language, or it will make you write the answer.

Once you have spoken or written your answer, it is sent out to the community so that natives can tell you what you're doing wrong - and you can’t skip these.

I know this has its benefits, but personally, I like to choose when I bring myself out of my comfort zone, and this feels a bit forced and unwanted - let me know what you think in the comments of this post.

The Pros Of Busuu

  • Wonderful curriculum full of important words, phrases, and grammar lessons

  • Audio & video clips of native speakers

  • Amazing tips that help us better understand the lessons

  • A pretty yet simple interface

  • Lessons tailored to your level that can help you reach B2 (Fluency)

  • A community of great people that will help correct your exercises

  • 12 languages available

The Cons Of Busuu

  • 15-second ads appear for every lesson (free version)

  • Open-ended questions might make you uncomfortable

Busuu Certificates? What? Why? & How?

Busuu Certificates are awarded by McGraw-Hill Education and are widely recognized due to their following of the internationally accepted Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR). So is the Busuu certificate worth getting? - Depending on your goals, heck yeah it is!

However, it also depends on which language you are learning with Busuu, currently, the certificates are only available for learners of:

  • English

  • Spanish

  • French

  • German

  • Italian

  • Portuguese

Busuu Q&A

In this section, we’ll go over some commonly asked questions about Busuu, and we’ll respond to them with information given to us by Busuu and Busuu’s users. Let’s jump into it!

picture of a bunch of people with their hands up to ask questions

What's Busuu’s Refund Policy?

If you pay for the premium and you’re not satisfied within the first 14 days, you can contact them and they will give you a full refund. So there's no risk in trying the premium to see if it's worth it for you!

What Languages Does Busuu Offer?

Busuu offers 14 languages in total, including: English, Spanish, French, Dutch, German, Italian, Portuguese, Chinese, Russian, Japanese, Arabic, Turkish, Polish, and Korean.

Is Busuu Premium Worth The Money?

Busuu offers two premium memberships, the “Premium” and the “Premium Plus” which have some tiny distinctions. The difference is that with the Premium Plus, you receive a personalized study plan and the official CEFR certificates.

It’s worth it for users who have the extra $10 a month and don’t want to be disturbed by ads.

Is Busuu Better Than Duolingo?

Busuu is definitely better than Duolingo if we’re asking “Which app teaches you more?”

Unfortunately, Duolingo doesn’t provide video or audio clips of native speakers, it doesn’t have as many visuals with the vocabulary you learn, and Duo's curriculum is slow and dragged out.

Busuu also provides you a simple path to getting certified for your level in the language, whereas Duolingo simply doesn’t.

What Do Others Say About The Busuu App?

Enough from me, let’s scour the internet together and see what others think about the Busuu app. We’ll hear praise, complaints, and “mehs” from Reddit's finest. Let’s see what they have to say!

Opinion #1 - I like it...

I got the Premium Plus membership the other day since it was such a good price (I had it on my phone a while ago and decided to download it again…maybe that’s why I got a promotional email for a good price?) I don’t know yet enough to compare to Babbel…so far I REALLY like the interface and occasional videos. Some of the languages have pronunciation and travel lessons as well. Starting on German with it; I do like the placement test and study plans it offers.

Opinion #2 - Do NOT get premium

Do NOT get premium without reading about their auto-renewal policies.. I got fleeced by Busuu and deeply regret signing up with them.

Opinion #3 - Depends on the language...

It depends on the language that you're trying to study. It's miles ahead of Duolingo, at the very least. But you should also look at Speakly and LingoDeer.

Opinion #4 - It's was more useful than Duolingo

I've been using Busuu to learn Spanish, and I think it's been pretty helpful. I feel like it's way more thorough and useful than Duolingo, and the interaction with native speakers is a great feature.

I started from 0 in the fall and a month or so ago I reached halfway between A2 and B1, according to Busuu's progress indicator. I did stall out a bit at that point - I feel like the individual lessons are a little longer on average at this level, and it's a little harder to sit down for the required chunk of time, plus I've shifted my balance a little more towards watching Spanish YouTube content and chatting on HelloTalk. But I feel like Busuu was a big part of the progress I've made so far.

Conclusion: Can Busuu Make You Fluent?

The answer to the big question is - of course not, but it can get you extremely far if you use it correctly. The thing is, no app, no program, nothing on its own can make us reach fluency.

We need to diversify our study materials, for example, during my daily study sessions, I use 6 methods that encompass all skills - Reading, Writing, Speaking, and Listening.

Although Busuu cannot make you fluent on its own, it’s an extremely powerful application, and it might even be the best in existence right now! Let us all know in the comments below if you have already given it a try, what did you think about it?

If you’re looking for ways to diversify your study materials, check out this article I wrote on all of the “13 Methods That I Use To Study Languages.”

Keep progressing and you’ll get fluent sooner than you think, your friend,

- Ben


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