In the world of language learning, free apps are increasingly common. Obviously, free things are always enticing. However, just because something is free does not mean it is necessarily good. Additionally, your learning could be hindered due to the nature of some of these free apps. In this post, we will talk about why it may be worth a small, one-time fee to purchase Babbel instead of using one of the many free language learning apps in the marketplace. Note: We will be discussing this topic in the context of schools, teachers, and students.
Babbel = No Intrusive Advertisements
Anybody who has ever used a free app on their phone is familiar with the ads that often plague your experience. Most people typically consider these ads as being acceptable considering they paid nothing for the app. However, in the context of education, it’s important to know that you have no control over the content of these ads. Some ads may be offensive or explicit and that is something that would not go over well in any K-12 setting. Additionally, these ads are disruptive and interrupt the learning process because they can break the student’s focus.
Who Does Quality Control?
Many of the free language apps have user-generated content for their lessons. This is a way for these developers to keep their overhead costs down and keep their app free. I think the user-generated approach is interesting and can provide people with fun opportunities to create content. However, this leads to a potential lack of quality control. While most apps likely enforce rules about being fluent in a language, it’s less likely they enforce the rules about having teaching experience or any sort of official education about language learning. This is often reflected in the lessons on these apps, where lessons seem disjointed and unrelated to each other.
Babbel is Designed by Language Experts
Babbel has a team of over 100 linguists and language teachers who focus on the creation of lessons so you can be sure you’re receiving quality lessons. Esteemed programs like Babbel ensure that lessons are cohesive and build upon previous lessons. Additionally, Babbel has a specific learning approach that is utilized every step of the way. This provides a framework in which they can create lessons with. This is an important step in maintaining consistency across lessons and ensuring you are learning the same way you’ve been learning from the start.
Is It Really Free? Paywalls
Some of the most popular free language learning apps have “gamified” language learning. What this means is that the user has a certain number of “lives.” When a user gets a question wrong, they lose a life. If they lose all their lives, they are no longer allowed to start new lessons. The user will naturally get a life back by waiting a certain amount of time or they can purchase new lives. Most apps regenerate a single life every hour. When a user runs out of lives, the app will often encourage them to pay real money to refill their lives, so they can keep learning. This concept is known as a “pay wall.” It is used to block the user from doing anything unless they spend money. If they don’t spend money, then they must put their learning on hold for an hour until they get another life. What if you’re practicing a concept that’s hard for you and you keep failing? Do you have to keep waiting for an hour to fine-tune your skills? Unless you’re willing to spend a few dollars to keep refilling your lives, then yes you will have to wait.
In the context of education, paywalls are obviously a non-starter. Students need to be able to keep learning whenever they want, at a pace that works for them. A large part of learning is failing and trying again. If a student is not allowed to try again after failing so many times, then how can they effectively learn the material? Paywalls have become increasingly popular in free mobile apps and it is highly likely any free language app you use will have such a system in place. This is probably the biggest reason schools and educators should use Babbel. Babbel has no such paywalls and the upfront cost is incredibly affordable, even for limited public-school budgets.
Hopefully, this post has helped highlight some of the benefits of using Babbel and revealed the downsides of using free language learning apps. While these apps certainly have their place, the classroom is not one of them. Schools should be looking at the most affordable, effective option that will maximize their student’s learning. Babbel fills that role perfectly.
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