Duolingo vs Busuu

Busuu vs Duolingo: Which Language Learning App is Better?

Maria Claudia Alvarado Published on August 15, 2023
Busuu vs Duolingo

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If you want to learn a new language, finding high-quality resources to add to your study routine can be the key to fluency. If you are looking for an app to help you learn a foreign language, you have probably heard of Duolingo and Busuu. These are both popular language learning platforms that start you with the basics. But Busuu is definitely the stronger contender.

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Busuu Overview
Busuu is a language-learning app that helps you practice all the areas you need to become fluent: reading, writing, speaking, and listening. Busuu partners with established educational brands like Pearson and McGraw Hill, so all the content is high-quality and effective.
Busuu logo
Price $13.95/month
Free trial 7 days
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Both Busuu and Duolingo are popular language learning apps. Most users feel that they are similar due to their short and interactive lessons. But there are major differences in their features and how they help you learn a language. In this article, we will look at the pros and cons of both apps so you can make an informed choice.

Duolingo vs Busuu: A Quick Breakdown

Duolingo offers a long list of available languages that you can start studying for free. Busuu lets you choose your starting level and test your knowledge to find the best spot to begin your lessons. With Duolingo, you can complete different interactive exercises to learn a lot of vocabulary quickly. But with Busuu you can practice all your language skills and get immediate feedback from native speakers.

The table below shows you a direct comparison of Busuu and Duolingo based on the languages they offer, the price of their subscriptions, and their free trials.

39 languages14 languages
14-day free trial7-day free trial
Try NowTry Now

Duolingo vs Busuu: Cost Comparison

Busuu lets you try the first lessons of its language courses for free but, if you want to access all its features, you need to subscribe to its premium service. A Busuu Premium subscription gives you access to one language for $13.95 per month, but you can also buy 6 months for $50.70 ($8.45 per month) or 12 months for $58.38 ($4.78 per month). A Busuu Premium Plus subscription gives you access to all languages available on the app. Busuu offers a 7-day free trial so you can try it out before making a purchase.

Duolingo has a free plan, so you don’t need to buy a subscription to use it. However, if you want to get rid of the ads in between lessons or get unlimited hearts (or lives), you need to subscribe to Super Duolingo (previously called Duolingo Plus). A Super Duolingo subscription costs $12.99 per month or $83.99 per year for an annual subscription. you can also get a Family Plan for $119.99 ($9.99 per month) and share your subscription with family and friends. Duolingo also has a 14-day free trial available for Super Duolingo.

Even though the Busuu language app is more expensive than Duolingo, it can add a lot of value to your study routine. With Busuu, you can work on your reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills, which is rare with most language-learning apps. Busuu also has an active community of users that can give you feedback for your writing and speaking exercises. In comparison, a Super Duolingo subscription can do little for you besides getting rid of the ads. Based on the quality of its content and its features, I would pick Busuu over Duolingo.

If these two language learning apps aren’t for you, don’t fret. Here are some similar alternatives.

Busuu vs Duolingo: How They Work

Busuu and Duolingo are both language learning apps that you can use to take quick lessons in your free time. With the Busuu app, you can work on your writing, reading, listening, and speaking skills. The app focuses on grammar, teaches you to apply language in context, and has a community aspect that most apps lack. Duolingo uses gamified elements to make the language learning experience more fun and motivating. It has 39 language courses that you can complete for free and a structured lesson plan that you can use to start learning from scratch.

Take a look below at how these apps are rated across the web:

Apple Store4.74.7
Google Play4.64.6
Total Average Score3.64.5

How Duolingo Works

You can access the language courses on Duolingo for free. It offers a gamified experience to make learning fun and engaging. You can start as a complete beginner and use Duolingo’s structured lesson plan to learn a lot of vocabulary quickly. Every unit has 5-8 lessons, and you can complete a study session in a couple of minutes.

Duolingo lesson

In each lesson, you use different fill-in-the-blank and mix-and-match exercises to practice new vocabulary and phrases. Every time you complete a lesson, you win points and move up on the Leaderboard. Duolingo also has weekly and daily challenges you can use to compete against your friends. 

In its free version, you get five “hearts” (five chances to make mistakes), but you can also get unlimited mistakes if you subscribe to Duolingo’s premium service, Super Duolingo. Depending on the language you are learning, you can also find Duolingo stories and podcasts to help you practice your reading and listening skills. 

You can learn more about the app in this complete Duolingo review.

How Busuu Works

Busuu is a language learning app with comprehensive courses to help you work on all the skills you need to become fluent. You can follow Busuu’s structured lesson plan or test your knowledge to access more advanced content. There are 14 languages available with lessons for complete beginners up to advanced students.

busuu conversation exercise

In each Busuu lesson, you start by watching a short clip of a native speaker saying a phrase or word. Then, the app asks you to complete different fill-in-the-blank and speaking and listening exercises. As you move forward, Busuu explains how to apply the language and integrates cultural notes so you can understand all aspects. The features of Busuu also provide vocabulary and grammar reviews to strengthen the areas that still need work. 

Busuu also has an active language-learning community. You can ask questions and receive feedback on the language you are trying to learn. Vice versa, you can give corrections and help people who are learning your target language. The Busuu community is very active and it’s a unique feature of the app.

You can learn more about the app in this complete Busuu review.  

Duolingo: Pros and Cons

Duolingo stands out from its competitors for being a free app with a large list of languages available. You can switch between the 39 language courses and learn as many as you want at the same time. Duolingo even features some rare languages that you will probably not find on many other apps, like Xhosa, Tagalog, and Zulu. Users can even study fictional languages like High Valyrian and Klingon, which can be really fun!

The Duolingo app has many gamified features that make using it entertaining. There are weekly and daily challenges to motivate you, and you can compete with or against your friends. Every time you move up in the Leaderboard, you receive a “medal” and get closer to competing in Duolingo’s Tournament with some of the most competitive users. In general, Duolingo has many interactive features to make your language learning experience different.

Duolingo homepage

But some areas of improvement are impossible to ignore, like the use of unnatural phrases or mistranslations. While Duolingo lessons can help you explore a language for free, many users have reported running into weirdly phrased sentences and words applied out of their context. This might not be as noticeable if you are a complete beginner with no previous knowledge of the language, but it can be frustrating and confusing if you are using Duolingo in combination with other tools and see the language used in a contradictory manner.

Duolingo also repeats many of its words and phrases too often. Spaced repetition has proven to be an effective method to learn a new language, but the frequency at which you see the vocabulary used again can make you feel like you are memorizing rather than practicing. This also isn’t helpful for more advanced students that want to make the best out of their study time.  

Busuu: Pros and Cons

Busuu provides comprehensive language courses that can develop all the skills you need to become fluent in your target language. The app has a heavy focus on grammar and vocabulary, but it also provides explanations and reviews to ensure that you truly understand how to apply the language to sound polite or express emotion. This way, you can sound natural and/or formal if the situation requires it.

One of Busuu’s main features is that you can share your exercises with native speakers of the languages you are trying to learn, and have them correct them and give you feedback. Busuu’s community is very involved, and you will get comments soon after you submit your exercises for correction. You can also help other people by revising their work in return. Many apps don’t have this feature, but I think it’s a great way to practice reading, writing, and grammar while interacting with native speakers and language students from all around the globe. 

busuu russian lesson

However, there are still some areas of improvement. Busuu is a great tool to start learning a different language, but there isn’t much variety in its catalog of courses at the moment. Many other apps strive to offer more language options, which can make Busuu seem like it’s falling behind. While Duolingo has 39 languages available for English speakers, Busuu only offers 14 languages.

While Busuu does offer a voice recognition tool, it takes a long time to process the audio and can glitch and interrupt your lesson. Since one of the reasons why users are interested in using Busuu is because they can get immediate feedback for their pronunciation, having a buggy voice recognition tool can be quite disappointing and frustrating. This error might be due to recent updates, but it’s something for Busuu to keep in mind in the future.

Duolingo or Busuu: The Final Verdict

Duolingo and Busuu both have similar language learning content with quick lessons you can complete anywhhere. But Busuu’s content has a higher quality than Duolingo’s language courses. Duolingo can help you explore a new language and decide if you’d like to commit to more thorough resources. However, there are many gaps in the learning experience and pesky mistranslations that need to be fixed for Duolingo to be considered more than an introductory tool.

On the other hand, Busuu offers a community aspect that many apps overlook. You’d usually have to pay for a personal tutor or pay extra if you want to get immediate feedback, but Busuu lets users interact and help each other, which is a great way to learn languages from native speakers on the go. Busuu also lets you practice skills that you won’t be able to practice with many other apps, like writing and reading. The app also has thorough grammar notes to explain how to use language in context, which makes it an effective language-learning tool and the winner of this match.  

Busuu or Duolingo: FAQ

Is Duolingo better than Busuu?

Duolingo is a good app that offers basic vocabulary for any language, but Busuu’s content is better in helping you become fluent. Like Busuu, Duolingo has quick lessons that you can complete in a couple of minutes. But Busuu’s content has a higher quality and you can learn how to apply the language in the context of different cultural scenarios. You can use Duolingo to learn a lot of words quickly, but you probably won’t sound as natural as you would with Busuu.

Can you become fluent from Busuu?

Busuu has comprehensive language courses that can help you develop all areas of language learning, but using it as a stand-alone app is not enough if you want to become fluent. To become fluent, you need to be able to speak like a native speaker. While Busuu lets you share your speaking exercises with native speakers to get immediate feedback, it can’t replace real-life conversation. You can use Busuu in combination with tutoring platforms like italki or Preply if you want to become fluent.

Can you become fluent with Duolingo?

Duolingo is a useful app to learn vocabulary for free, but it won’t make you fluent. The app doesn’t have any written practice, which is a skill you need to develop if you want to reach fluency. Still, there are many authentic language resources you can find online for free, like videos, news articles, and blogs.

Is Busuu worth paying for?

If you are looking for an app with features that can help you work on all areas of language, Busuu is worth paying for. You can practice writing and reading, which is something most apps overlook. The app also lets you submit your speaking and writing exercises for revision, so you can get immediate feedback from native speakers all around the world.

Maria Claudia Alvarado

Maria Alvarado is a content writer and translator from Lima, Peru. She graduated from the Savannah College of Arts and Design in 2017 with a Bachelor’s degree in Writing. She is fluent in Spanish and English, has intermediate knowledge of French and German, and is learning Japanese. She hopes to bring consciousness about the importance of language learning through her articles and aspires to learn as many languages as possible.

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