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Duolingo Spanish vs Babbel Spanish

Our detailed comparison to help you choose between Babbel or Duolingo for learning Spanish

Lucía Jiménez
Lucía Jiménez
International Language Expert & Tutor
Lucía is based in Madrid, Spain and is fluent in Spanish, English, and Italian. She has over 10 years of experience tutoring international students in all three languages, both in-person and online. Her learning philosophy is rooted in ditching books and getting in-depth conversational practice.

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In This Article

Whether you want to learn Spanish in order to communicate better with friends or co-workers, or you simply need to learn a few words or phrases for an upcoming trip to Mexico City, people often have a difficult time choosing between Babbel and Duolingo. In this comparison, we take a look at the pros and cons of each language learning app to make your decision a little easier.

Editor’s Choice
Babbel Language App


  • Multiple Subscription Options
  • Money Back Guarantee
Our Score
  • Lessons are much more comprehensive than Duolingo’s
  • Quick and accurate speech recognition technology
  • More in-depth verbal practice exercises than Duolingo’s
  • Helpful, easy to understand grammar explanations
  • Routine review sessions for material retention
  • Live Spanish classes available
  • No free Spanish course like Duolingo
  • We wish the program had more of a game-like feel

Why Babbel Is Better Than Duolingo For Learning Spanish

In order to keep this article narrowly focused on how these two language apps directly compare, rather than providing a general overview of each Spanish course, I’m instead going to focus on the key areas where I see each company being better than the other.

In other words, I’m going to highlight the strengths of each Spanish app. So with that in mind, let’s start with the Babbel Spanish program. I have Babbel beating Duolingo in five key areas.

Verbal Practice Exercises

In my opinion, Babbel offers much more comprehensive and useful verbal practice exercises than Duolingo. Honestly, with Duolingo, you’re sort of just asked to repeat phrases and sentences in a vacuum.

In other words, there’s never any real context. However, with the Babbel practice exercises, it’s much more contextual and deliberate.

Babbel Spanish drill
Babbel offers more in-depth verbal practice exercises

For example, Babbel will actually place you in the middle of a conversation, explain the situation and setting, and then have you complete the dialogue. I personally think that this is a much more effective learning framework than simply repeating words and phrases.

Listening Comprehension

It’s the same story with listening comprehension as it is with verbal practice.

Not only are the Babbel audio exercises more frequent and thorough than those from Duolingo, but I also like that following each drill or exercise, Babbel actually repeats the phrase or sentence you’re drilling on, while Duolingo just makes a little chime sound, shows a little cartoon motion graphic, and then moves on.

Essentially, over the course of each lesson, day, and week, Babbel exposes your ears to Spanish much more than Duolingo, which really reinforces the new vocabulary you’re learning in an auditory medium.

Natural, Everyday Language

Babbel also does a better job with natural language usage. If that doesn’t make sense, to put it differently, Babbel’s lessons teach you phrases and sentences that are actually useful.

With Duolingo, sometimes it just seems like they throw random words and phrases together. For example, just a couple of days ago I got a practice drill that stated “I have many potatoes, but no bedroom” (i.e. nonsense).

And yes, I’ve seen the Duolingo super fans on reddit say that this is by design as some sort of learning trick, but I just don’t buy it. A big portion of language acquisition is using recycled language chunks and common phrases, so learning through bizarre sentence combinations just doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.

Therefore, I think the fact that the Babbel lessons utilize logical, everyday phrases and sentences is a good thing.

Grammar Explanations

Babbel does a better job with grammar instruction in my opinion. The company includes grammar “building block” lessons throughout their coursework which cover important topics such as pronouns, verbs in the past tense, and modals.

Babbel Spanish grammar
Example grammar topics from Babbel

And just to be clear, these are not long, dense grammar sessions. Instead, they are short, direct, and very digestible, which I think is extremely important during the early stages of language acquisition. You never want to overload new learners with overly detailed explanations, and Babbel does a really good job of balancing this.

With Duolingo, grammar instruction really isn’t a priority. Duolingo simply provides high level grammar coverage in guidebooks that are more of an afterthought within their coursework (similar to how Rosetta Stone treats grammar).

Extra Spanish Resources

Lastly, Babbel offers more resources and tools than Duolingo for learning Spanish. They offer games, podcasts, a digital magazine, live lessons, and other fun little extras.

For me, when you want a break from the main lesson work, but still want to spend a little time learning Spanish, the extras are a great way to stay engaged and learn while having some fun. This is something that Duolingo doesn’t really offer.

Duolingo Language App


  • Free Version Available
  • 40+ Languages
Our Score
  • Duolingo offers a free Spanish plan (Babbel does not)
  • Short lesson format works great for busy people
  • Duolingo does a great job of making the learning process fun
  • Variety of practice drills and exercises keeps users engaged
  • Free version has limitations
  • Grammar instruction not a priority
  • Lessons could use more in-depth conversational practice
  • Practice exercises include use of unnatural language

Why Duolingo Is Better Than Babbel For Learning Spanish

Now that we’ve discussed Babbel’s strengths, let’s cover what Duolingo has to offer. Unfortunately, I have Duolingo beating Babbel Spanish in just two categories.

Duolingo Offers A Free Plan

First up, let’s cover the difference in cost. I mean, it’s kind of hard to argue with free. The Duolingo Spanish program literally doesn’t cost a cent if you use the free version, and it gives you most all of the benefits of the full program.

However, what I’ll say on this topic is that the free version did kind of drive me crazy, and after using Super Duolingo, it is way better. I say that because the free version includes annoying ads, puts caps on your daily mistakes, and even restricts navigability, so I would suggest upgrading to the Super plan if you can afford it.

Plus, the Duolingo paid Super plan isn’t too costly at just $84 per year (or $120 per year for the family plan). That breaks down to only $7/month.

In comparison, Babbel is more in the $8/month to $15/month range. So bottom line, if you stick with the free version of Duolingo, then obviously there’s a significant cost advantage here, and even if you upgrade to Super Duolingo, they still have a slight pricing edge over Babbel Spanish by a couple dollars per month.

Fun Learning Experience

My one other pro for Duolingo Spanish, and it’s another important one, is the fun factor. In my opinion, Duolingo does a better job than Babbel of making the language learning process fun.

They set up their app to have a game-like feel, and it doesn’t even really resemble an educational tool. It’s more like a questing game.

You earn XP points as you progress through the course, you can team up with other learners, you use “gems” to purchase additional features, and you can compete in leagues.

Duolingo Spanish lesson
Duolingo makes the learning process fun and exciting

Not to mention, Duolingo does a really good job of enticing you to keep your daily streak alive.

Overall, it’s just a fun, exciting environment for learning Spanish and you won’t have a problem sticking with it.

Verdict: Babbel or Duolingo To Learn Spanish?

Time to answer the big question—should you choose Babbel or Duolingo to help you learn Spanish?

Although I like the fact that Duolingo offers a free version and they do a really good job of making the learning process fun, at the end of the day, if you’re trying to pick just one app to learn Spanish, I don’t think it’s even close—the clear answer is Babbel.

Babbel provides a much more well-rounded and effective Spanish course from top to bottom. They pretty much beat Duolingo in every category that we grade Spanish language apps on: verbal practice exercises, grammar instruction, exposure to audio, everything. So if you’re serious about learning Spanish, I would suggest Babbel as the way to go.

How is Duolingo Spanish different from Babbel Spanish?

Although the Duolingo and Babbel Spanish apps may appear similar on the surface, there are actually several important differences. The most notable difference is that the audio and verbal practice exercises from Babbel are much more detailed and comprehensive.

Which is better for Spanish, Babbel or Duolingo?

After testing the Spanish programs from both companies, our team agrees that Babbel offers the more well-rounded and effective Spanish course overall.

Will I learn Spanish faster with Duolingo or Babbel?

Given that the Babbel Spanish lessons are more in-depth than Duolingo’s in a variety of ways, our team would say that you will most likely learn Spanish faster with Babbel.

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