One of the problems with online language training sites is that the content is ridiculous, and the user interface usually is unintuitive and plain ugly. (Online) language programs come and go, but usually never really take off. The guys at Berlin based Babbel have made an interesting attempt to finally create an appealing way to learn languages. The program offers English Spanish, French, German and Italian.
The language training program offers some new learning approaches, think of interactive word-n-picture matching and describing images. All words have spoken audio to get an idea for pronunciation. The site tracks (signup) your progress, and reminds you what to review.
For my review, I subscribed for (advanced) Spanish. The site has a big amount of words to learn, displayed in categories like Birthdays, Furniture and Traveling. Looking at the wordlists, I have to say that the site would fit best for people that are beginning to learn a language. I guess the site can use its funding to cover a wider level of students. Also, the site is great for memorizing words, but it would be great if there was a way to learn the grammar.
The company was originally funded by the four founders but received VC funding from VC Fonds Berlin. When I asked about the funding details, Thomas replied: “The only thing I can say that each of our investor is bringing a six-digit Euro amount into the company.”
The site offers great and free language training, and the good news is that more features can be expected with the new funding! Also, they actually have name that you won’t forget that quick.
A showcase of the new features with descriptions and screenshots are available at http://www.babbel.com/ENG/tutorials
Other language learning programs that we reviewed: