Busuu Review (2021) – Is It Worth Your Time?

In our Busuu review, you’ll learn everything you need to know about this language learning platform. For example, did you know that the main feature that sets this app apart from others is its substantial online community? This allows you to add friends, help them by correcting their mistakes, and get feedback on your own work from native speakers.

Keep reading to find out what’s so special about this platform, why so many people are recommending it, and whether or not it’s the right choice for you.

Pros & Cons

● Free and paid plans
● Affordable price
● Opportunity to give and receive feedback
● Short and structured lessons
● Good for beginners and advanced students
● Offline mode
● Small list of languages
● CEFR certificates available for only six languages

Pricing Plans

Busuu Premium

$9.99

Billed monthly
Offline mode
Grammar and vocabulary lessons
Practicing with native speakers

Busuu Premium Plus

$13.99

Billed monthly
Access to all languages
Personalized study plan
Receiving certificates

Founded in 2008, Busuu is one of the younger language learning platforms. But with more than 100 million users, it has quickly become one of the most-used language apps in the world.

The app got its name from Busuu, an endangered language spoken in Cameroon. Its founders, Bernhard Niesner and Adrian Hilti, first imagined it as an MBA project that got rejected. Not being discouraged, they continued work on this project, eventually turning it into a startup.

Features, Courses, and Materials

This is how Busuu works: it relies on numerous conversations to enable you to use your chosen language in real-life situations. Busuu’s method isn’t about just improving your vocabulary; it’s about getting you ready to actually use the language you’re learning.

The lessons on Busuu are divided into activities. If you want to move to the next one, you’ll have to complete your current activity first. The app also allows you to practice your vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation, track your learning progress, and correct other users’ mistakes (and vice versa).

There are four Busuu levels for each language: Beginner, Elementary, Intermediate, and Upper-Intermediate. What sets them apart? As you can assume, the Beginner level will teach you the basics – how to introduce yourself, order food and drinks, write simple texts, etc.

The Elementary level will allow you to engage in more extended conversations, while the Intermediate level will help you understand tricky words and sentences. Finally, the Upper-Intermediate level will teach you how to take part in longer conversations on various topics, write longer texts, and understand the grammar.

Busuu Certificate Review

Not every platform for learning languages gives its users some form of certification after finishing the courses. Owning a language certificate can help you in many ways. For example, you can put it in your resume or mention it in job interviews to improve your chances of being hired.

Busuu is one of the few platforms that award certificates to their students. The story began in 2015 when Busuu and McGraw-Hill Education became partners. Together, they created a certification for students who complete Busuu courses based on the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) standards.

The Busuu CEFR certificates are available for the following levels: A1 (Beginner), A2 (Elementary), B1 (Intermediate), and B2 (Upper-Intermediate). You can currently only get a certificate for six language courses: English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, and Portuguese.

How do you get the certificate?

You need to select your level (A1, A2, B1, or B2) first, and then you have to take the test. The test is divided into three categories: conversation, comprehension, and productive skills. After successfully finishing the test (it will take you about 15 minutes), you can either download the certificate or add it to your LinkedIn profile.

Now that you know what this platform offers, let’s talk about the app.

Busuu App Review

You can access Busuu in one of three ways:

  • Via your computer’s web browser (Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Microsoft Edge)
  • On your iPhone or iPad (via the official iOS app)
  • On your smartphone or tablet (via the official Android app)
  • If you use the mobile app, you don’t have to be connected to the internet to view the lessons. You just need to download them, and then you can access them offline whenever you want to.
  • There are some further benefits for app users, which we’ll discuss in the next section.

Busuu Android and iOS Review

Whether you’re accessing the service via the website or from the app, Busuu gives you a choice of 12 languages and four learning levels (from Beginner to Upper-Intermediate). The lessons include various games, gap-filling and translation exercises, pronunciation practices, and writing challenges. You can also track your own progress and the progress of other users you follow in your Profile section.

If you enjoy correcting other users’ mistakes, and you do it well, you’ll receive feedback in the form of thumbs up that will positively affect your on-site “reputation.”

Let’s talk about the app’s interface now. What does the Busuu app look like? When you enter the app, you’ll see five categories: Learn, Review, Social, Notification, and Me. Each category covers different actions.

If you want to see the list of your lessons, enter the Learn category. To review what you’ve learned so far, click on the Review icon. The Social icon is where you’ll see all your Busuu friends, the Notification icon informs you if you have any new messages, and the Me section is reserved for your profile information and settings.

After we’ve discussed the basics of the app, let’s learn more about the languages.

Busuu Language Review

Busuu is not known for its vast list of languages. As mentioned, there are only 12 languages you can learn using this platform. They include Arabic, Turkish, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Chinese, Polish, Russian, Spanish, Portuguese, and English. When choosing a language, you’ll have two options: you can choose the level you think is right for you (Beginner, Elementary, Intermediate, or Upper-Intermediate), or you can take the placement test. Based on your score, the app will suggest the most suitable level for you.

The Busuu language learning concept is based on lessons presented in the form of various topics (like introduction, numbers, etc.) that include sections like quizzes and vocabulary. At the beginning of every lesson, you’ll learn the vocabulary, and toward the end of it, you’ll get to practice what you’ve learned. The exercises include many tasks, like deciding if a claim is true or false, filling the gaps with the correct words, repeating, and translating.

Let’s learn more about the most popular languages on the platform. What are the advantages and disadvantages of each course, and what can you expect when learning a language on Busuu?

Busuu Review of Spanish

There are two Spanish courses to choose from: Complete Spanish and Spanish for Travel. The first one focuses on speaking, listening, reading, and writing. In short, you’ll learn the vocabulary and grammar rules. The second course focuses on the basics of the language. As the name suggests, it’s a course you should take if you plan to travel to Spain.

At the end of each lesson, you’ll also get some cultural tips that can be very helpful. For example, when you want to say “Good evening” in Spanish, you’ll have to use the word noche, which means night, since there is no word for “evening” in Spanish. You’ll thus say “Buenas noches” for both evening and night.

Busuu English Review

The English language offers three courses: Complete English, English for Business, and English for Travel.

Complete English will teach you the grammar rules, pronunciation, and the most-used expressions (for example, “don’t put all your eggs in one basket” or “to steal someone’s thunder”) to help you learn the basics of the language.

English for Business is a course created for entrepreneurs who need to learn English for business purposes. Here you’ll learn different work-related phrases, practice writing emails, and simulate talking with the customers.

Finally, English for Travel is a course you should take if you’re planning a trip to the US. The lessons include various videos and reading material from The New York Times and The Economist.

Busuu French Review

Like English, the French courses are divided into three programs: Complete French, French for Business, and French for Travel.

The first course deals with the basics of the French language (grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation), the second is intended for entrepreneurs, and the last one is created for travelers. No matter which of these courses you choose, you can also record your voice and ask other users to correct your pronunciation. The same option is available for writing tasks.

After finishing one of the French courses, you can receive a CEFR certification, which you’ll be able to download (in PDF format) or post directly to your LinkedIn profile.

Busuu Chinese Review

There are two courses for the Chinese language on Busuu: Complete Chinese and Chinese for Travel.

In both these courses, you’ll find many topics that deal with grammar, vocabulary, and pinyin (the romanized version of the Chinese writing system). During the lessons, you’ll be able to switch from Chinese characters to pinyin as you please.

The four learning levels have a different number of lessons: the Beginner level has 20 lessons, Elementary has 15, Intermediate has 12, and the Upper-Intermediate level has only 11 lessons.

Don’t forget to view the cultural tips as there are many differences between Western and Eastern cultures. Learning these can be very useful, especially if you’re planning a trip to China.

Busuu Japanese Review

The Japanese course is divided into three programs: Hiragana and Katakana, Complete Japanese, and Japanese for Travel.

All the lessons across these programs use three approaches to teaching the language. The first involves pictures accompanied by words with English translation, while the second focuses on conversation. In it, native speakers will use the words you’ve just learned and put them into context, making them easier to understand.

Finally, the third approach will test your knowledge. You’ll also learn how to read Hiragana and Katakana, Japanese writing systems. Beginners will have a lot more to do since there are 57 lessons for A1 students, as opposed to just 15 for A2, 14 for B1, and 11 for B2 students.

Busuu Arabic Review

You can learn the Modern Standard Arabic dialect on Busuu by choosing one of the two courses: Complete Arabic and Arabic for Travel.

The first option is best for people who want to learn how to speak Arabic. The second is a better choice for those who want to travel to an Arabic-speaking country and only need to learn the basics of the language.

Each lesson relies on vocabulary, conversation practices, and writing exercises. Premium users can get additional benefits: they can download the grammar guide in PDF format, listen to various podcasts in Arabic, and learn how to write Arabic letters.

Next in our Busuu learning review, we’ll focus on the usability of this platform.

Ease of Use

Busuu uses two primary colors: white and blue. If you know anything about color psychology, you know that blue is often linked to stability, calmness, and confidence. These two colors go hand-in-hand with the intuitive interface. The mobile app is user-friendly and easy to navigate. If you visit the Busuu website, you’ll be able to find all the relevant information about the languages and course prices.

Busuu Pricing and Plans

There are two options Busuu users can choose from: they can use the app for free or opt for a paid subscription.

You’ll obviously face many limitations if you decide to choose the free option. Namely, you’ll only be able to choose one language and access it without any of the benefits (like getting feedback from other users, playing quizzes, etc.). On the other hand, if you choose a paid plan, you’ll get to use all these and other features Busuu offers.

So is Busuu free? Yes. Is the free option enough, though? It depends on your goals. If you plan to learn every aspect of any language on the platform, then no. You’ll only be able to see how the app works, but you won’t have access to many useful features.

However, if you only want a preview of what you’ll be getting when you decide to buy the app, then you should pick the free plan. What about a paid plan? Why should you choose it, and is it worth your money?

Busuu Premium Review

Busuu offers two paid subscription tiers: Premium and Premium Plus. The Premium plan costs $9.99 per month, $69.99 for 12 months, and $119.99 for 24 months. With this plan, you can use the app in offline mode, take grammar and vocabulary lessons, and practice your pronunciation with native speakers.

Busuu’s Premium Plus plan is more expensive at $13.99 per month, $88.99 for 12 months, and $179.99 for 24 months. You get all the Premium features, plus the opportunity to learn all 12 languages, create your own study plan, and receive a certificate. Both Premium plans are often discounted (even up to 50%), so look for discount codes and special offers before you subscribe.

Busuu Pro Review

What is Busuu Pro, and how is it related to this learning platform? In 2016 Busuu launched a new platform called Busuu Pro. The platform is primarily intended for universities, schools, and big companies that want to create virtual classrooms. That’s why Busuu is one of the best language learning software.

These schools, universities, and firms can then invite their students or employees into the classroom and follow their progress accordingly. Business owners can also help their employees learn how to speak different languages by encouraging them to work as part of a multilingual team.

Another point we need to address in this Busuu review is one seemingly outrageous claim its creators make on the app’s website. In it, they say that studying a language at a university for one semester is equivalent to just 22 hours spent studying the same language on Busuu. They’re basing this claim on a study they conducted in 2016, which we’re about to look into. What kind of study are we talking about, and what were its findings? Let’s learn more.

Busuu for College Review

For this study, Busuu gathered 144 students and gave them the assignment to learn Spanish using their platform. The students were allowed to use Busuu as their sole Spanish language resource, and they had to study at least two hours per week. After two months of monitoring the students’ results, the researchers made some interesting findings. Namely, 42% of the participants had made progress equivalent to a whole semester’s worth of learning Spanish, and some had moved up by two or even three semesters.

Their main takeaway was this: if you want to learn Spanish quickly, 22 hours of learning on Busuu will help you achieve the same results as taking a semester-long university course. In a Busuu review thread on Reddit, several users agreed that Busuu is a great platform for Spanish language enthusiasts, especially when used regularly.

Refund Policy

Busuu has a two-week refund policy for its users.

However, this only applies to first-time subscribers. If your subscription has already been renewed automatically, you can cancel it, but you won’t receive a refund. So how can you cancel your subscription?

In your account, you’ll see the Subscription option. Click on it, choose Cancel, and follow the prompts to complete the process. If you subscribed via PayPal, log in to your PayPal account, click on the Settings icon, and then go to Payments. Under Manage Pre-Approved Payments, click on the Cancel icon right next to Busuu.

If you’re using the Busuu app on Android, enter your Google Play account and search for the My Subscriptions icon. Tap on it, and then tap on the Busuu icon to cancel. For iOS users, the process is slightly different. On your iPhone or iPad, tap on Settings, then tap your name, and then go to Subscriptions, which is where you’ll find Busuu. Tap on it, and then tap on the Cancel Subscription button.

Online Ratings

Many users complain about the poor quality of the Busuu support for customers. According to most complaints, the major problem is that the subscription renews automatically without any prior notice or notification, which would give users time to cancel it before being billed. Putting that aside, Busuu has good online ratings overall. For example, as of this writing, Trustpilot gives the platform 4.1 out of 5 stars based on 8,300 user reviews.

Busuu Alternative

As you know, Busuu is just one of many online platforms dedicated to learning foreign languages. Some of them are cheaper than others, but that’s not the only thing that sets them apart. While some platforms focus more on using playful learning methods (like games, quizzes, and videos) to make the lessons more engaging, others place more value on grammar, pronunciation, and conversation practices.

In this section, we’ll take a closer look at Duolingo, Babbel, Rosetta Stone, and Italki as some of the best alternatives to Busuu.

Busuu vs. Duolingo

Both platforms have a similar learning approach that uses short and fun lessons. They also offer placement tests, and both are a great stepping stone for beginners. The main thing that sets them apart is the price.

Duolingo has an unlimited free version, while Busuu’s free plan is limited to just the basic features. So should this be the reason to choose Duolingo?

If you’re focused on learning the basics of the language, yes. But if you’re planning to improve your skills and go beyond the basic level, you should choose Busuu. Unlike Duolingo, Busuu allows you to receive feedback from other users, and its exercises are more thorough.

Busuu vs. Babbel

In terms of the number of languages available, there’s no big difference between these two platforms: Babbel offers 14 languages, while Busuu offers 12. However, Busuu has a better-structured learning plan that allows you to track your progress more easily.

The main difference between the two is the way you can practice what you’ve learned. On Babbel, you practice new words with the help of an AI assistant, while on Busuu, you can engage in real conversations with other users to get feedback. This is especially helpful when you want to master various dialects.

Lastly, Babbel is a bit more expensive. The Premium plan there costs $13 per month, compared to Busuu’s Premium plan, which costs $9.99 per month (check out our Babbel review to know more).

Busuu vs. Rosetta Stone

The most important feature that sets these two platforms apart is the subscription plan. Duolingo has a free and paid plan, while Pimsleur doesn’t offer a free plan.

Duolingo is known for its short, gamified courses and numerous quizzes that test your knowledge. The platform also includes rewards like virtual coins you get for consecutive days of learning, which should give you an incentive to keep practicing every day.

Compared to Pimsleur’s 30-minute lessons, Duolingo’s lessons don’t have a time limit, which might make them sound like a better option. However, it’s not likely that you’ll become a fluent speaker without proper speaking practice, and Duolingo is far behind Pimsleur in that aspect.

Busuu vs. Italki

With Italki, you can learn a new language with the help of a tutor. Its main focus is connecting students with native teachers. You can also become a tutor yourself on this platform. Busuu, on the other hand, has a big online community that helps you connect with other users, make friends, and give and receive feedback.

If you’re a fan of virtual classrooms and prefer to have a real teacher, choose Italki. But if you’d rather have structured, gamified lessons, and you want to learn the basics of the language in order to travel, Busuu may be a better choice.

Busuu Review – Final Verdict

As we’ve outlined in this review, Busuu has a great reputation, and it’s regarded as one of the best language learning platforms. If the limited number of available languages doesn’t bother you, and if you enjoy short and fun lessons, give it a go and see if it fits your needs.

The prices are affordable, and you can become part of a substantial online community by using the perks this platform offers. If you don’t like what you see, you can always cancel your first-time subscription within two weeks and get a full refund. You can look for language courses on other online learning platforms, as well.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)