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Busuu vs. Duolingo: Which Language App is Better?

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Busuu vs. Duolingo: Which Language App is Better?

Key Points

  • Busuu and Duolingo are popular language-learning apps.
  • Busuu offers 14 languages and includes grammar instructions, while Duolingo offers 45 languages and focuses on gamified learning.
  • Busuu allows users to receive feedback from native speakers, while Duolingo has a less straightforward community feature.
  • Both apps have free versions, but Busuu’s Premium membership offers more comprehensive features and costs between $7 and $14 per month, while Duolingo’s premium plan costs between $7 and $30 per month.

Whether you want to become fluent in a new language or just learn its basics, a high-quality language-learning app can be the key to success. These online platforms use practical exercises and sometimes feedback from communities to help you hone your reading, writing, and speech skills.

Choosing the right app from the myriad of options can be challenging. If you’re not quite sure what to look for in a language app, this in-depth comparison between Busuu and Duolingo might help you figure out which of the two is right for you.

Let’s dive right in!

Busuu vs. Duolingo: Side-by-Side Comparison

BusuuDuolingo
Year of Release20082012
Best for…Students and people looking for a comprehensive foreign language coursePeople who are curious about learning a new language
AvailabilityWeb, Android, iOSWeb, iOS, Android, Windows (phones and Windows 8 and 10 devices), Google Glass, Android Wear
Number of Languages1445
Lesson TypesInteractive vocabulary and grammar lessons, voice recording, speech recognition, grammar instructions, and tipsInteractive vocabulary and grammar lessons, voice recording, speech recognition
Practice TimeAround 10 minutes per day5 to 20 minutes per day
Community Feedback?YesNo
Basic Version CostFreeFree
Premium Version CostAround $7 to $14 per monthAround $7 to $30 per month

Busuu vs. Duolingo: What’s the Difference?

While there are numerous language learning apps out there, Busuu and Duolingo are two of the most popular.

Busuu, named after an endangered language spoken in Cameroon, was launched in 2008 in Madrid as a free web-based language learning platform. It was initially developed for self-paced language studies, and in 2009, the company introduced a Premium membership designed to provide students with access to more advanced features. In 2010, Busuu launched a mobile app, which is now used by millions of people worldwide.

In the past decade, the platform evolved, and it now includes Busuu for Organizations, which is a language learning platform for schools and businesses. The original app still exists, and individuals around the world can use it to learn or improve their language skills.

Duolingo is four years younger than Busuu, but it is one of the most recognized language-learning apps worldwide. This popular app was developed by a Carnegie Mellon University professor and one of his post-graduate students and was initially released in Pittsburgh at the end of 2009 as a private beta version.

The app was only made available to the public in 2012 and became popular thanks to its viral videos shared on social media. Similar to Busuu, Duolingo now provides a standard app for individual users as well as plans for schools and businesses.

Availability

Both Busuu and Duolingo are available to users worldwide, but the latter is compatible with more operating systems. You can use Duolingo on a laptop or desktop computer running Windows 8 or a later edition, on an Android, iOS, or Windows mobile device, but also on Android wearables and Google Glass. Moreover, you can access the Duolingo web app from your browser.

Busuu doesn’t offer the same versatility. You can access the web app from your browser or install the mobile app on Android and iOS devices, but that’s it. Sure, these options satisfy most users, but Duolingo still leads in this category.

Duolingo takes a gamified approach to language learning.

Languages and Lesson Types

Duolingo also wins when it comes to the number of languages you can learn. This platform currently offers courses in 45 languages, and it will likely add more options in the future. Busuu might be named after an endangered language, but it includes fewer options for students — 14, to be precise.

Both apps include the most popular languages, such as Spanish, French, Dutch, German, Italian, Arabic, Chinese, and Japanese, to name just a few, but Duolingo gives you the possibility to learn languages spoken by small communities, such as Navajo, and even dead languages, including Latin.

However, while Busuu might not have lots of languages, it stands out as far as the lessons are concerned.

When subscribing, the app prompts you to choose your fluency level in your target language. Considering the app’s Spanish origins, Busuu’s courses are rated according to the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) from A1 (beginner) to B2 (upper intermediate).

Based on your selection, the lessons include reading, writing, and speaking exercises. Voice recording and speech recognition features allow you to complete pronunciation tasks, and the app also provides grammar instructions and tips.

Duolingo offers a more gamified experience developed to make language learning more interactive and fun. However, most lessons are limited to filling blank spaces, mixing and matching words to translate phrases (either in your native or target language), and some speech exercises. This app offers few to no grammar instructions.

Lesson Duration

Completing a lesson on either Duolingo or Busuu can take anywhere from five to 20 minutes, depending on your proficiency level and the difficulty of the course. A difference between the apps is that Duolingo prompts users to choose their desired lesson duration per day.

You can choose to study five, 10, 15, or 20 minutes daily, even though the selection doesn’t limit the amount of time you can spend in the app. Busuu doesn’t prompt you to select how much you want to study each day, but lessons shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes to complete.

Both Busuu and Duolingo divide their courses into various units, but the number of units in each course can vary from less than 10 to over 200.

Community

Learning a new language on your own might not give you the confidence to use that language in real life, regardless of how fun or interactive the lessons are. This is where the help of communities steps in — and Busuu has the upper hand.

During lessons, this platform gives you the possibility to share your responses to exercises with the community and receive feedback directly from native speakers. The nice thing is that you can send off both written and spoken Conversation exercises, so you can receive real help with pronunciation.

Duolingo also had a community, but you can’t upload your responses or ask questions anymore. The company closed its forums in 2022, and you can now only read old questions and answers published in the Sentence Discussion forum.

Free vs. Premium Versions

Busuu and Duolingo were born as free language learning apps, and they both maintained their free versions. You can install any of these apps and start learning right away without paying a membership fee. However, Premium accounts come with advantages.

In Busuu’s case, the Premium plan includes access to all of the app’s content and features across all platforms, a personalized study plan, fast feedback from native speakers, AI-powered review sessions, and comprehensive grammar lessons. Premium members can also download the lessons for offline study and take official language tests from McGraw Hill.

Duolingo’s premium plan, called Super Duolingo, includes unlimited hearts so that mistakes won’t slow you down, mistake reviews, personalized lessons to correct those mistakes, no ads, and unlimited attempts at Legendary challenges. Currently, the app only offers an official test and certification for the English language.

After March 2023, Duolingo also includes Duolingo Max. Offered as an upgrade to the Super plan, the Max membership introduces special AI features that use the GPT-4 technology to personalize and improve your learning experience.

Duolingo Max: How much is it? Is it any good?
Launched in March 2023, Duolingo Max brings upgrades to the Super Duolingo membership plan.

Cost

As mentioned, both Busuu and Duolingo are free to use. If you want more from your app, you can opt for a Premium membership.

A Busuu membership can cost you between $7 and $14 per month, depending on the plan type. Monthly roll-on plans are the most expensive. You can save with a 6-month or 12-month membership, but these plans are typically billed in advance (every six months or annually).

Duolingo has a similar system, but it is slightly more expensive. You could pay anywhere from $7 to $30 per month, depending on the plan type.

Busuu vs. Duolingo: 5 Must-Know Facts

  • Busuu is a Spanish language learning app launched in 2008. Currently, it offers courses in 14 languages.
  • Duolingo is an American language-learning app launched in 2012. It currently offers courses in 45 languages.
  • Both apps use interactive lessons, but Busuu is more oriented towards classroom learning, whereas Duolingo is a more gamified app.
  • Busuu Premium members can take official language tests and earn certification upon course completion.
  • Busuu has a community where students can share their learning experiences and provide or receive feedback, while Duolingo no longer has an active community feature.

Busuu vs. Duolingo: Is Busuu Better than Duolingo?

Both Busuu and Duolingo apps have their own strengths and downsides. Busuu is better than Duolingo if you want to become proficient in your target language. This app’s lessons are better structured and include grammar instructions. You can receive feedback from native speakers and, if you opt for a Premium membership, get personalized study plans. However, the app includes a low number of languages.

If you’re only curious about learning a new language, Duolingo might be the better option. This app is incredibly fun to use and includes game-like challenges that can motivate you. The lessons aren’t as thorough as Busuu’s, and you won’t receive as much feedback either, but you get to learn a wider number of languages. While Duolingo might not turn you into a proficient speaker of your target language, it is a good app to learn some basics.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you become fluent with Duolingo?

While Duolingo is a great app for learning the basics of a new language, it doesn’t offer real speaking practice and human interaction. For these reasons, you generally can’t become fluent with Duolingo alone.

Is Busuu completely free?

Yes, the basic version of Busuu is completely free. However, this version doesn’t offer access to grammar lessons, and you can’t receive a certificate upon course completion. For a more comprehensive learning experience, you should subscribe to a Premium plan.

Is Duolingo no longer free?

Like Busuu, Duolingo’s basic version is completely free. The app also offers paid membership plans.

Is Busuu worth the money?

Busuu Premium is worth the money if you want to supplement your language lessons or go beyond the basic stuff on the app. However, even if a Premium membership allows you to earn a certificate upon course completion, it could still be insufficient if you want to become fluent.

How much Duolingo should I do a day?

It depends on your purpose. If you mostly use the app for fun, you can spend as little or as much time as you want going through the various exercises. If you want to improve your language skills, you should spend at least 15 minutes per day in the app. The same is true for Busuu.

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