Babbel Russian Review: Does it live Up to Its Hype?

By Ari Helderman
December 16, 2022

Editor’s note: I no longer endorse Babbel. If you’re looking for an audio course that has more content and is specifically made for learning Russian: then you’re better of choosing Russianpod101 (free 7-day trial here). Feel free to continue reading this Babbel Russian review for more information.

If you haven’t been living under a stone, then you must have seen all the ads for a new language learning program called Babbel. The guy with the beard who speaks 11 languages. You might know him. Now, I’m always a tad skeptical on ads – so at first, I didn’t take Babbel serious. However, my curiosity got the best of me – and I decided to check out Babbel. So, if you’re curious too if/how Babbel can improve your Russian – then continue reading..

In the article I also explain how I learned Russian and which online courses I took.

Note: first we’ll shortly discuss what exactly babble is and what you’re going to get. Then we’ll see the main advantages and disadvantages of using the program. Finally, I’ll show you the 2 types of Russian learners that would benefit the most from following a course like Babbel.  Let’s continue to the Babbel Russian review.

Babbel Russian review

Babbel is an online Russian learning program. It’s subscription-based – and costs somewhere between $4.95 and $9.95. Some of you might be opposed to the subscription fee system – but in the case of Babbel I think it’s a very good idea (talk about that later).

It’s an online course and you can also do it on your phone. The great thing is that it offers a lot of explanation – especially in beginner lessons. Some other courses just throw you in without explaining much of the grammar and focus solely on drills. Babble does offer a good explanation of many concepts. Which is a great thing if you’re a beginner.

Watch this video where I tell you in Russian (with English subtitles) 9 reasons why Russian is actually easy to learn.

What Russian level can you expect to be after finishing Babbel Russian?

After finishing the Babbel Russian program, you’re going to be around level A1. Which means you can have simple conversations in Russian – but you won’t be reading poetry yet. Also, you’ll have learned a bit over 2.000 words, which is a great starting point.

Knowing around 2000+ words is enough to handle most conversations in Russian. Plus the words that Babbel teaches you are universally useful. Also, many of them work for the basics (such as introducing yourself), travelling, and simply getting around Russia.

Strong points of Babbel

Babbel does a lot of things right. But one thing I especially like is how they do a very good job at introducing the Russian language. The first lessons are great for understanding the fundamentals of the Russian language. And they gradually build on top of each other. Unfortunately, the later lessons stop having as much explanation (and become more vocabulary drills), but that isn’t necessary a bad thing.

#1 Short and concise lessons

Most lessons are around 10-15 minutes long. Some that govern broader topics are longer – but they’re mostly divided into 2 lessons. So they’re still of a bite-sized character. They are short and to the point. So you won’t be going on of a tangent into all sorts of unhelpful information. Some lessons contain a bit of cultural knowledge – but this is short and to the point as well.

#2 Words + pictures

If you can attach a picture to a word – then you’re going to remember it a thousand times better. So Babbel adds pictures to most vocabulary drills. Not only to words, but sometimes also to sentences. Which means that your vocabulary training will be particularly effective.

#3 Workouts for points and daily challenges

If you have trouble motivating yourself to do your daily language lessons, then Babbel might be for you. Since it’s an online program, you will have daily challenges that you can use to win points. So you can compare your progress easily with yourself. And try keeping up that streak of daily challenges!

#4 Focuses on relevant aspects

Some programs have you do endless repetition of whole sentences while you’re learning how to conjugate a specific verb. That’s alright once or twice. However, if you really want to drill down on that verb, then you only want to work on conjugating the verb. This is something that Babbel does extremely well.

Often, when doing a specific exercise for conjugation a verb (or practicing a new case), you will see the Russian and the English sentence. You’ll read the entire Russian phrase – except for the thing that you are learning. So you can focus on learning that specific aspect very quickly.

#5 Russian keyboard is included

A benefit of the online thig is that the Russian keyboard is included in the lessons. That means that you won’t have to install it yourself. You can just click the letters that are presented on the screen. Might be a bit slower than full-on typing. But as you saw in the previous paragraph – you won’t have to do too much typing.

Click here to sign up for Babbel Russian!

Weak points of Babbel

#1 Requires internet connection

Nowadays most people have internet everywhere. But still, I don’t like to be dependent on my internet connection when I’m learning Russian. What if you’re travelling to Russian and want a quick update on some lessons? You probably won’t have your normal connection there. (and I’m always wary of public hotspots).

#2 Doesn’t go much further after beginner stages

Remember what I said that babble does a good job at explaining the beginnings of the Russian language. Well, that goes away after you reach A1 level. Maybe they’ve updated the lessons. But there is a good thing in this anyway. Since you are paying for monthly use – you probably don’t want to take a a year + to finish the course. No, it would be better to see if you can do the entire course in 1-2 months. That way you will learn a lot of Russian for just $10-$20!

2 Types of people that can get the most out of Babbel Russian

To make things a little clearer in this Babel Russian review, I’ve added this section so you can see which 2 types of people would benefit the most from using this program. See if you can identify:

  • People who are completely new to Russian – if you’ve never learned any Russian before, then Babbel makes a perfect introduction to the language. It works, teaches a lot of useful things, and does so in an effective manner.
  • People who are following Russian classes (to get to level A1) and want extra fast progress – if you’re currently following Russian classes to get to A1 level, then babble is the perfect companion for your lessons. It will go at about the same pace of your class and you will be able to surprise your teacher with how fast your progressing. And compared to the price of language classes, Babel is very, very cheap.

How much does Babbel Russian cost?

As we discussed before in this Babbel Russian review – it’s an online subscription model, so it’s not good if you want to learn Russian for free. So you’ll be paying a specific amount per month. Here is a screenshot of their pricing plans as of 20 March 2018.

babbel russian review

Note: prices may differ a little bit depending from where you are living. For example, from the Netherlands everything is around $1 cheaper per month. Don’t know why this is, but it won’t make a big difference anyway.

I recommend you start off with the 3 months program. It’s likely enough to get you through the entire program. At least, if you put in some daily effort. If you’re a bit slower and plan to practice a couple lessons per week, then you might pick the 6 months one. Or – just take the 1-month plan to see if you like Babbel or not.

As I said before – I recommend the 3 months one. Simply because Babbel doesn’t yet have enough content to really warrant a year subscription per se. But it’s the perfect deadline for getting you to A1 level. After all, you’re only going to have 3 months to get there – so you won’t be procrastinating or putting off learning. Learning with a deadline is always very effective, and with the subscription model you can artificially create that deadline for yourself!

Babbel Russian review conclusion

I hope you enjoyed reading this Babbel Russian review. In the end, I’d say that Babbel is a great resource for beginners who want to get over that hurdle of starting to speak some Russian. For those who can already hold their own in a Russian conversation – Babbel might help you review some of the basics, but don’t expect too much from it.

So if you’re a beginner Russian learner, then Babbel can save you a lot of time and money. Then click here to sign up for Babbel & start learning Russian effectively and easily!

P.S. Enjoyed reading this Babbel Review? But prefer a course that focuses specifically on Russian? Then check out Russianpod101. They have more content and you’ll learn Russian faster. Oh, did I mention that you can check out all their courses for just $1 the first month? Sign up here through this link and when you get the introductory mail: choose the $1 Russianpod101 offer. You’ll get access to the best of their materials for just $1. And there’s a 60 day money-back guarantee, so there’s no risk whatsoever. Click here to sign up for Russianpod101 and start learning Russian with ease!

About the Author

My name is Ari Helderman and I help people learn Russian through videos and blog posts where I share my experience.   I have been learning Russian since 2016. I often get mistaken for a native speaker these days, so I've learned a thing or two about what works and what doesn't if you want to speak Russian well.

Ari Helderman