busuu logo

Busuu Review: Comparing Its Features, Alternatives and Cost

Chad Emery March 30, 2021
9.1 TOTAL SCORE

Interesting lessons with a focus on communication

The Busuu app is a widely-used language app that can take you from complete beginner to fully conversational. The lesson format is similar to other apps like Duolingo and Babbel, but what makes Busuu stand out is the social aspect. As you complete lessons, you can submit speaking or writing exercises and native speakers correct them for you. Overall, the lessons are engaging and helpful and the exercises actually help you learn a language.

LANGOLY'S REVIEW 8.3

User Experience 9
Quality of Content 7.5
Features Available 8.5
Value for Money 8

USER REVIEWS 10

User Experience 10
Quality of Content 10
Features Available 10
Value for Money 10

PROS

  • Lessons cover useful topics
  • The content is engaging and helpful
  • Native speakers correct your exercises

CONS

  • The language certificates (A1-B2) aren’t official
  • Quality varies between languages
  • Lesson format is similar to other apps
Disclaimer: Langoly selects and reviews products independently. If you buy through affiliate links, we may earn commissions that help support our testing at no extra cost to you.

Languages Available on Busuu:

English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, Portuguese, Chinese, Japanese, Polish, Turkish, Russian, Arabic, Dutch

Busuu Overview

The Busuu language learning app has been around for a while, and there’s a good reason for that. It’s a comprehensive app that helps you improve all aspects of communication: speaking, reading, writing, and listening. It may not offer as many languages as some other apps like Mondly or Clozemaster, but the quality of its lessons and content is higher. Busuu partners with leading brands like Pearson, McGraw Hill, and El País to create excellent and engaging exercises.

Busuu logo. You can learn a language online with Busuu!

Busuu is great for complete beginners to intermediate language learners. If you aren’t sure what level you are at, you can take Busuu’s placement test. The app has an ambitious goal of helping you become fully conversational in your target language, and it does a pretty good job of it. It does have its limitations though. 

For example, even though native speakers correct your writing and speaking exercises, you don’t actually communicate with anyone. That’s why it may be a good idea to practice speaking with a native speaker using platforms like italki or Preply if fluency is your ultimate goal. Busuu can still help you build a solid foundation in your target language and improve your communication skills. Its price is competitive with most other language apps and the value it provides certainly justifies the price.

Busuu Price

The Busuu price ranges from $5.41-$13.99 per month, and it depends on how long your subscription is and which features you want to use. In general, the price of Busuu is competitive with other language apps like Babbel and Drops. A lot of language apps usually have a price somewhere in this range, but not all of them offer as many features as Busuu.

Busuu offers the first few lessons of a language for free. This can help you decide whether or not it’s a good fit for you. If you enjoy using it, you can choose between a Premium and Premium Plus subscription. Each of these subscriptions gives you access to the complete language courses, but Premium Plus includes a few extra features. Subscriptions are monthly, every six months, or yearly. Busuu does not currently offer a lifetime subscription.

Busuu price and cost comparison

A Busuu Premium subscription starts at $9.99 per month, but this price decreases if you choose a longer subscription. A yearly Busuu Premium subscription costs $69.96 ($5.83 per month) and a two-year subscription costs $129.84 ($5.41 per month)

A Busuu Premium Plus subscription costs $13.99 for one month, $79.92 (or $6.66 per month) for twelve months, and $137.76 (or $5.74 per month) for two years. To see whether or not the additional features that come with Busuu Premium Plus are worth it, you can sign up for it, and if you don’t find the extras worth it, Busuu has a 14-day refund policy.

Busuu Free vs Premium

Busuu offers a free version, but it’s very limited and serves as more of a “free trial” of its lessons. You can access the first few lessons in your chosen language course to get a feel for Busuu’s structure and see what it teaches. To access the full language course, you’ll need a Premium subscription. 

Busuu Premium vs Premium Plus

Busuu offers two subscription levels: Premium and Premium Plus. A Premium Busuu subscription gives you access to one complete language course, as well as specialized grammar lessons, AI-powered vocabulary and content review, and the ability to use the app offline. 

A comparison of Busuu Premium vs Premium Plus

Premium Plus gives you access to all of these features, plus some additional ones. Instead of one language course, you can access all 12 Busuu language courses. It also includes a personalized study plan, official language tests from McGraw Hill, and feedback on your learning exercises from native speakers. The feedback from native speakers is a huge value, in my opinion.

Busuu Discount or Voucher

You will automatically receive a discount on your Busuu subscription if you purchase a 12- or 24-month subscription. These discounts range from 42% to 46% off for the Premium subscription and 19% to 59% off for the Premium Plus subscription.

In addition, Busuu offers a student discount if you have an International Student Identity Card. The Busuu student discount is currently 30% off of a Premium or Premium Plus subscription. You just need to verify your ISIC website to take advantage of its voucher.

Busuu Free Trial and Refund

Busuu doesn’t offer a free trial, but there are still ways you can experience the Busuu app and decide whether or not it’s a good fit for you. Anyone can access the first few lessons of the Busuu language courses for free. The structure of the lessons is pretty consistent throughout, so these free lessons will give you an idea of what the entire Busuu language course is like.

A Busuu free lesson

If you want to try the additional Busuu features to see if a Premium or Premium Plus subscription is worth it, you can subscribe. This will give you full access to the app and you can try out every feature. If you decide you don’t like it, Busuu offers a 14-day money-back guarantee. As long as you notify the company you want to cancel your subscription within 14 days of your purchase, you can get your money back. 

Busuu Review: Getting Started

Getting started with the Busuu language app is simple and straightforward. To sign up for a free Busuu account, you just visit the Busuu website or download the app. It’s available for both iOS and Android devices. 

Once you’re using the app, setting up your account is straightforward. Busuu asks some introductory questions about which language(s) you want to learn, why you want to learn them, and then you can choose your level or take the placement test. Then you start with the lessons! 

Each lesson starts by teaching you the vocabulary you’ll be using. The flashcards have the phrase in your target language, a translation, an audio clip of a native speaker pronouncing the phrase, and an example sentence.

Busuu lesson vocabulary screenshot

After you’re familiar with the vocabulary, you complete several different exercises to practice using them. These exercises include filling in the blank, pronunciation practice, word identification, and more. One of the most helpful exercises is the conversational practice. These start once you have a foundation in the language, and they’re great for improving your listening skills.

A conversation exercise in the Busuu language app

After you complete these exercises, Busuu asks you an open-ended question. You can answer it by writing or speaking, whichever you prefer. If you’re a Premium Plus subscriber, native speakers of your target language will review your response and give you feedback. This is an awesome feature. I submitted several responses to these questions while I was testing the app, and the feedback was helpful, accurate, and quick!

Busuu Languages

Busuu offers a total of 12 languages: English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, Portuguese, Chinese, Japanese, Polish, Turkish, Russian, and Arabic. In the free and Premium versions of the app, you can study one language course. With a Premium Plus subscription, you have access to all the language courses and can study multiple languages at the same time. Not all language courses are the same in Busuu though, so here’s a quick review of some of the most popular ones.

Busuu Spanish Review

Because it’s one of the most spoken languages in the world, the Busuu Spanish course is quite extensive. There’s a lot of content available to study and it’s all useful and practical. The lessons take you from complete newcomer to fully conversational, and you’ll practice reading, writing, speaking, and listening throughout the course. While the lessons and exercises are similar to other apps, the amount and quality of content in the Busuu Spanish course makes it stand out from other Spanish apps.

Busuu Spanish course review

The Busuu Spanish courses include Complete Spanish (beginner, intermediate, and advanced lessons), Spanish for Travel (learning important words and phrases), Learn Spanish with El País (specialized audio and video content to improve your comprehension skills), and All About Spanish. All About Spanish is Busuu’s language and culture podcast about everything Spanish.

Busuu French Review

Like Spanish, French is also one of the most spoken languages in the world. When you learn French with Busuu, it can help you gain a deeper knowledge of the language and improve your communication skills. There are a wide variety of French lessons available in Busuu, and they cover everything you’ll need to know to get through daily life. The French courses are helpful for beginner and intermediate learners and will greatly improve your vocabulary and grammar.  It’s definitely one of the better French apps.

Busuu French course review

Busuu offers four different French courses. Complete French is a more structured course that teaches you the fundamentals of the language and has beginner, intermediate, and advanced lessons. The French Pronunciation course helps you improve your speaking skills and speak confidently. French for Travel is perfect if you’re going to travel to a French-speaking country and need to learn how to navigate in the language. Busuu also offers a French for Business course, which helps you master essential workplace French.

Busuu Chinese Review

The Busuu Chinese course is more limited than other popular courses like French and Spanish. It doesn’t offer as many supplementary courses either. However, the Complete Chinese course can still help you learn some basics of the language. The quality of lessons is similar to Busuu’s other language courses, but there are some major downfalls in the Chinese course. That’s why it may be better to use Chinese apps that specialize in the language.

Busuu doesn’t teach you how to write Chinese characters. You’ll need to use another Chinese app to do that. It also alternates between pinyin and traditional characters, which can be confusing. Overall, it can teach you some beginner concepts, but there are many better apps out there for learning Chinese.

Busuu Chinese course review

Busuu Chinese only offers the Complete Chinese course and the Chinese for Travel course. While the Complete Chinese course covers a lot of content, the Chinese for Travel course is extremely limited. There are only 9 lessons and they only cover very basic phrases. 

Busuu Arabic Review

The Busuu Arabic course teaches Modern Standard Arabic. Compared to other Arabic language apps, Busuu’s Arabic lessons are more varied and cover a lot of different topics. Busuu guides you through the different levels in a logical way and helps improve most of your communication skills. It’s important to note that you won’t learn to write Arabic with Busuu, which is one of the main downfalls of the course. The course is still a great way to learn the fundamentals of Arabic and communicate from your first lesson though.

Busuu Arabic course review

Busuu has a Complete Arabic course for learning the fundamentals of the language and an Arabic for Travel course, which is helpful for quickly learning useful phrases. Overall, the lessons and practice exercises are similar to other Arabic apps, but the variety is what makes Busuu stand out.

Busuu Russian Review

The Busuu Russian course teaches you useful and practical grammar and vocabulary. Its lessons cover a wide variety of topics, and your speaking, listening, and reading skills can greatly improve with Busuu. However, like other non-Latin languages, you don’t learn to write in Russian with Busuu (although you do learn the alphabet). You’ll need to use other Russian apps to practice writing. Overall, Busuu Russian is pretty comprehensive and can help you communicate effectively in a short period of time.

Busuu Russian course review

Busuu offers two different courses for Russian: Complete Russian and Russian for Travel. The Complete Russian course is more structured and helps you build vocabulary and learn enough grammar to become conversational. The Russian for Travel course covers more basic words and phrases you’ll need if you’re traveling. But it won’t help you learn much of the language.

Busuu Review: Overall Learning Experience

Using the Busuu language learning app was a positive experience overall. The flow of the app is smooth and easy to follow and the lesson content is useful, practical, and helpful. What I liked most about the lessons is that they’re short and don’t take long to complete. This helps you focus on mastering the topics quickly and efficiently. Longer lessons, like the ones in LinguaLift, can sometimes be a little overwhelming for casual language learners (but helpful if you’re serious about learning a language). 

Another aspect I really enjoyed was the community of Busuu users around the world. Every time I completed a writing or speaking exercise, it only took a couple of minutes for a native speaker to review it and give me feedback. Busuu has a huge number of users, so I guess it’s not that surprising, but I still thought this was cool.

One feature of Busuu I didn’t find useful was the language certificates. Once you reach certain points in your language course (and if you’re a Premium Plus subscriber), you can take a test to receive official certificates from Busuu and McGraw to confirm your level. These certificates range from A1 to B2 on the CEFR scale, but they aren’t recognized in any official capacity. They’re just an added feature of the app though and certainly don’t take anything away from the quality of the content.

Busuu Review: Areas of Improvement

Using Busuu can make language learning easy. Its courses, lessons, and practice exercises are comprehensive and cover every topic you need to know in order to be conversational. That doesn’t mean it’s a perfect app. Even though most of Busuu’s courses are high quality and offer a lot of value, some of them may not be worth the price, like Chinese and Arabic. These courses don’t teach you how to write in the target language, and that’s a skill that simply shouldn’t be ignored. There are other apps that can help you learn how to write in non-Latin scripts, but that would be an additional cost on top of Busuu.

Also, Busuu’s lessons are short and manageable. This is usually positive because learning a lot all at once can be overwhelming. However, the lessons are almost too short. It’s easy to complete four or five lessons in about 10-15 minutes. It’s great to cover a lot of topics in a short amount of time, but remembering all of the content can be difficult.

Busuu Review: Alternatives & Competitors

Busuu is one of the better language apps on the market, but it’s definitely not the best. Before you choose to use Busuu, you should consider some of its alternatives and competitors. Apps like Duolingo and Babbel have similar course structures but don’t have the social aspect. Clozemaster can build your vocabulary a lot faster, but won’t teach you any grammar. LinguaLift can teach you grammar and writing but isn’t as engaging as other Busuu alternatives like Rosetta Stone. If you’re looking for immersion, FluentU is much better than Busuu. All in all, it’s best to think about what you want to focus on, what format helps you learn best, and how quickly you want to learn your target language.

Busuu vs Duolingo

Duolingo homepage

Comparing Busuu vs Duolingo is common since both apps offer extensive language courses and both apps also have a free version. There are some key differences between the two though. Busuu is more flexible and lets you choose which topics you want to study. Duolingo is more rigid in what you study and the content is less useful. Busuu also has a social aspect that Duolingo lacks. If you’re interested, you can read the full Duolingo review.

Busuu vs Babbel

Babbel App homepage

Busuu vs Babbel is a common comparison because both apps are popular. There are some differences you should be aware of when you’re choosing between the two. Babbel is similar to both Busuu and Duolingo in its structure, but where it really stands out is the quality of its courses. Linguists specifically design each course for the language it teaches, so the Chinese course is completely different than the Spanish course, for example. While this is a plus, some language courses are lacking, so using Babbel may not be a good option. You can check out this Babbel review to learn more.

Busuu vs Rosetta Stone

Rosetta Stone App Homepage

Rosetta Stone is one of the most well-known language apps, and for good reason. It has been around for a long time and has evolved its courses to meet the changing needs of language learners. The course structure in Busuu and Rosetta Stone is similar, but the approach is completely different. Busuu has a lot of descriptions and explanations in your native language instead of your target language. Rosetta Stone completely immerses you and only uses your target language. It also doesn’t explain grammar like Busuu does. This can be a pro or con depending on what your preferences are. You can read this Rosetta Stone review to learn more.

Busuu vs Memrise

Memrise language app homepage

Choosing between Busuu vs Memrise comes down to what you want in your language app. Memrise focuses on building your vocabulary and helping you learn basic conversations. Busuu, on the other hand, helps you build a more solid foundation and covers more advanced topics. In addition, the social aspect of Busuu will help you communicate more easily with native speakers, but Memrise may teach you more specialized vocabulary. You can read more about Memrise in this review.

Busuu vs Mondly

Mondly App Homepage

Busuu and Mondly have a similar structure but completely different user experiences. Mondly places a huge emphasis on learning statistics and tracking your progress, while Busuu focuses more on completing the exercises. Mondly is a good option if you like to see how much and how effectively you’re learning, but Busuu is the better option if you like to learn a wider variety of material. Busuu’s content is superior to Mondly, but the technology behind Mondly is second to none. If you’re interested in Mondly, you can learn more about it here.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Busuu better than Duolingo?

Busuu is far better than Duolingo in terms of lesson content and user experience. While Duolingo offers a free version, it has a lot of ads that interrupt your learning process. Busuu also offers a free version that allows you to test out the first few lessons of a course, so it’s worth trying along with Duolingo. Another aspect of Busuu that makes it better than Duolingo is the social aspect. Native speakers review your writing and speaking exercises and give you feedback. Duolingo doesn’t offer anything like this.

Is Busuu completely free?

You can access the first few lessons of the Busuu language courses completely free. However, to access the full language courses and additional features, you need to pay for a subscription. Busuu Premium and Premium Plus subscriptions range from $5.41 to $13.99 per month.

Is Busuu worth the money?

If you use Busuu every day and take advantage of all of its features, it is definitely worth the money. The only thing you need to remember is that the quality of Busuu courses depends on the language you’re learning. It’s a great app to learn more common languages like Spanish and French, but its Chinese, Arabic, and Russian courses aren’t as comprehensive. If these are the languages you want to learn, Busuu may not be worth the money.

Which is better, Busuu or Babbel?

The course structure in Busuu and Babbel are somewhat similar, but the breadth of content available in Busuu is generally better than Babbel. Busuu will probably help you become conversational more quickly, too. Babbel creates a specialized course for each language, and Busuu simply translates most of its course content into different languages. If you’re looking to gain a deeper linguistic and cultural understanding of your target language, Babbel is your best choice.

Does Busuu make you fluent?

Busuu has lessons that can help you achieve a B2 level in your target language. According to the CEFR, B2 speakers can understand complex texts, talk to native speakers without much difficulty, and express their opinions clearly and accurately on a wide range of topics. Based on this description and Busuu’s course content, Busuu can make you fluent if you complete its language courses.

Is Busuu good for Spanish?

Busuu is an excellent option to learn Spanish. Its Complete Spanish course is full of useful vocabulary and topics that will help you become conversational. It also partners with El País, a Spanish newspaper, to produce video and audio content that improve your comprehension skills. Because it helps you enhance all communication skills (reading, writing, listening, and speaking) and provides a lot of practice exercises to continually improve, Busuu is a good choice for learning Spanish.

Is Busuu good for French?

Busuu is very good for learning French. It has its core Complete French course, as well as supplementary courses that teach specialized French. These courses consist of French for Travel, French Pronunciation, and French for Business. Busuu not only teaches you the basics of French but by offering specialized courses, you can achieve a higher level of French fluency with Busuu than with most other language apps.

About This Busuu Review

This is an independent Busuu review. Busuu did not sponsor this review and Langoly has no affiliation with the company. To test the app, I explored several different Busuu language courses to compare their quality and quantity of content. I used the app’s additional features to understand how they enhanced (or didn’t) the language learning process, and I studied the additional content provided by Busuu’s partners, El País and McGraw Hill.

Chad Emery

Chad started Langoly to help others learn and teach languages more effectively. He's a language enthusiast and loves reviewing language learning and teaching resources. In his free time, he's an avid traveler and loves running in new places.

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1 Comment

  • I’ve been doing the Busuu free French lessons for a couple weeks, and so far, I love it. The lessons are well-organized, enjoyable and diverse, and of a manageable size, not too long, so that you can digest what you’ve learned. Once I run out of the free lessons, I will probably subscribe for at least a month or two to unlock the rest of the lessons.