- Over 1000 lessons delivered in bite-sized lessons
- Covers 4 stages of CEFR, from A1 to B2 level
- Available on iOS, Android, Web, Offline mode
- Available languages: As of Dec 2019 – 12 Languages – Chinese, Japanese, Arabic, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Polish, Turkish, and English
Busuu boasts one of the biggest community-driven language learning platforms. It currently offers 12 different languages to over 90 million users worldwide. Active on the market since 2008, its obscure name comes from the endangered Busuu language in Cameroon.
Recent AI advancements on advanced grammar sections have given more credibility to its position in the market. Other advanced features such as offline mode, McGraw-Hill Education certification and an adaptive Vocabulary Trainer have created a full learning package.
Busuu is perfect for both beginners and users looking to reach an advanced level, as the course offers interaction with native speakers, both verbally and written. However, be prepared to pay for some extra privileges. The free version is very limited to what it offers the user, and the apps best features are only available on the premium plans.
Interesting Language Topics
The lessons themselves have all been designed to help you achieve fluency in a language and keep you engaged. First, you learn the basic vocabulary and grammar, and then your conversation and writing skills are put into practice. As each lesson is designed around useful real-life topics, it is very practical for your language learning overall. Video and picture prompt also help you to think about the topic as you are learning the language. This features all help with your confidence as you progress.
The language platform uses AI technology, and these technological advancements include personalised study plans and speech recognition software.
Busuu excels in the language skills section, as it gives you the opportunity to improve all the skills you need to learn and become fluent in a language. Covering all the aspects of listening, reading, speaking and writing when learning a new language, it is one of the best for this on the market. This language education is done with a mixture of exercise types, topics and situations so you can practice your language skills.
Lesson Format & Activities
At the last count, Basuu has over 1,000 lessons created by expert in-house linguists. Each lesson is broken down into several activities. These activities are represented as circles in each unit. A unit can contain several different activities. Lessons are completed by passing each activity and unit inside each lesson. This is achieved by scoring at least 75%. Once this is done the circle for each activity is filled. The percentage score in the lesson view will change to 100% when all activities have been passed.
However, you do not need to pass an activity to progress through the course. In effect, you can move on to any area in the course without completing the ones before it. This can be a negative learning experience for impatient people who may get stuck on an activity and decide to move on. Or for curious people who can be easily distracted.
Language Levels and CEFR Status
One of the highlights of Busuu is its partnership with McGraw-Hill Education in 2015. They have worked together to create certification that is officially recognised. The different levels of CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference) that are tested are A1, A2, B1 and B2 levels. After passing a test, the students receive an official certificate from McGraw-Hill Education.
Although CEFR covers six learning stages, it is certainly an accolade to Busuu that they can cover the first four stages of CEFR. These four stages relate to the following areas on the course:
A1 – Beginner Level
You can introduce yourself, order food and drink, ask simple questions on certain topics and write short communications.
A2 – Elementary Level
Describe people, make plans, understand simple written communications and conversation, start to have longer conversations.
B1 – Intermediate Level
Describe different forms of entertainment, express in an emotional way, understand familiar TV programs, have deeper conversations and answer questions.
B2 – Upper Intermediate Level
Discuss important life issues, understand news at a deeper level and take part in longer conversations and be able to write a story.
Currently, this is only available for the English, French, Spanish and German courses and over time this is something that Busuu will offer with their other languages.
Another string in the bow that is Basuu is its access to connect with over 90 million other learners and native speakers. This global community gives you instant feedback on both written and spoken lessons. Because there are so many active users, you can have your spoken or written communication corrected very quickly. This can help you improve your pronunciation and take your language learning to the next level.
Busuu for Business
There is a special section that is dedicated to companies, school and universities. This is a relatively new concept which was started in May 2016. It allows them to measure the progress of a student. Also, classrooms can be created by instructors, and they can invite students to the curriculum at Basuu, and monitor their progress on an interactive dashboard.
Companies such as Puma and DHL have already taken advantage of this system for their employees.
The User Interface and the overall design of Busuu is relatively user-friendly and looks more professional than some other language learning programmes on the market. The app is also very quick and responsive.
The Dashboard is very clear and organised, which means you can easily see where you are in the course and what you will be moving on to next. You are also sent a progress report every week, which highlights what you have achieved in the past seven days.
The social engagement is second to none, and this healthy engagement can make the whole experience fun. The mixture of different types of lessons spices it up with native conversations, exercises, games, quizzes, self-reviews etc.
When you first start using the programme, you need to go through a “placement test”. This is quite common in the industry and helps to determine your level and where you should start on the course. Advisable not to try and fool the AI here and answer truthfully to avoid being given the wrong level to start.
Busuu also regularly measures its language learning methodology. In 2016 they made a study with the City University of New York & the University of South Carolina. The study determined that if you used Busuu Premium it was the same as language learning at a college for one semester. The study further discovered that everybody who used Bussu for 26 hours was able to improve.
Busuu is available on the web or via mobile so you can choose to learn on either platform. The premium version gives you the extra option of using the offline mode. Handy if you end up being somewhere without an internet connection.
Point to note here about using the premium versions. If you decide to cancel your subscription, double-check that is has been cancelled. Busuu has had a lot of bad press due to unclear renewal traps or refunds not being processed properly. It seems they have not made it clear for the user in the past but are trying to rectify this problem.
The free version of Basuu is very limited, using flashcards to help you with your vocabulary. You may learn a language, albeit slowly, you will ultimately be missing out on the excellent features of the two paid membership options.
Premium membership for casual users costs €5.83 per month and grants you access to Offline Mode and the golden ticket Conversations section with native speakers.
With premium, you can also learn all the available languages, get official certificates, review your vocabulary and set up a Study Plan.
Premium Plus Membership
There is also a Premium Plus Membership option for serious users that want to speak fluently. This is €6.66 per month.
Basuu allows you the opportunity to learn a language to an advanced level. With its easy access to native speakers, you can enhance your listening, reading, speaking and writing skills. All crucial areas to enable you to learn a language properly.
On the downside, the free version is very limited with its features and only covers one language. This is very poor when you compare it to other free language learning platforms on the market.
However, if you are new to learning a language or are looking for a language platform that improves your language skills, it could be a solid option for you. Consider spending the money for one of the premium versions, so you can benefit from the native language interaction and certification options.
Pros & Cons
|Native speaker interaction||Not many features in the free version|
|Topical format that aids learning||Free version only covers one language|
|Helps build all language learning skills||New AI grammar review only available for iOS users|
|McGraw-Hill Education Certification||Bad customer service reviews|
The further I advance in the unit, the worse the audio gets which makes it difficult to understand the correct pronunciation. Also disabling notifications is not possible.
The program seems to be done very well but as you proceed in the course you immediately have to pay, otherwise you can’t continue. With Duolingo being free, I would appreciate more free content. This seems a bit sneaky to me.
I enjoy Busuu
Great app, that I thoroughly recommend to all language learners! It comes in small bite-size lessons that are easily to digest. Just wish there would be more languages!