Busuu is an amazing language resource and should be in every language learners toolbox.
It is simple, easy to understand, thorough, and fun, plus Busuu has tons of awesome, extra features!
As mentioned on my language resources page and on my top 5 language resources article, Busuu is one of my personal all-time favorite language learning resources. (I have been using it since 2013!!)
In this article, I will share how Busuu works, if the premium membership is worth it (spoiler: it is!), and go over all all of the features they offer (some fairly new features as well!).
Important to note: I am not affiliated with or sponsored by Busuu in any way. This is my honest opinion and I genuinely do just love them this much!!
What Is Busuu and How does it work?
Busuu is a website and app that aims to teach you languages from an absolute beginner A0/A1 level up to the advanced B2 level. (This is based on CEFR levels)
In 2016, Busuu worked with a research team from City University of New York & the University of South Carolina to conduct a study about how efficient Busuu is. That study found that 22 hours of Busuu Premium are equivalent to one college semester of language learning. (more on premium vs. free below!)
I definitely agree with their findings. Busuu presents the lessons in a great way and they cover a huge array of topics in a number of languages.
As of right now, they offer English, French, Italian, Portuguese, Chinese, Japanese, Polish, Turkish, Russian, Arabic, and Dutch.
(I’m still holding out hope that maybe one day they will expand to more languages like Korean, but only time will tell…)
Once you select the language you want to learn, you can then select which course you want to take.
They always offer a complete course taking you to an advanced B2 level, but depending on the language, they also offer extra courses!
Those range from travel, business, or pronunciation courses to learning a language with their podcast or with articles and videos.
All of the ‘complete courses’ work in the same way. They have a number of lessons leading up to finishing one CEFR level. If you have a premium membership, you can also take a McGraw Hill certification test at the end of each level. (More on this below!)
The number of lessons in each level of a course vary greatly. Some may have just 30 lessons in a particular level and others may have 100!
I find the lessons to be spaced very nicely, regarding the CEFR level. I have never been too confused or left feeling like a lesson was too easy based on where it was in the course.
Once you click on the lesson you want to do, it will tell you roughly how long it will take (such a small, but incredibly helpful feature!), as well as what it will entail.
Lessons are typically 5-15 minutes and contain 2-4 separate parts. Each part of the main lesson focuses on something unique. This may be vocabulary training, a dialogue, writing, a little quiz, etc.
As seen above, lesson 42 in the complete Spanish course has 3 parts and is roughly 10 minutes.
The blue is free for anyone on Busuu to use. Here, it is introducing and training vocab (the first icon) and then a short dialogue using said vocab (the second icon).
The orange is for premium members only and is a special grammatical add-on with this lesson. Normally, you will have one of these every lesson or every few lessons.
Sometimes, however, there will be an entire lesson about a specific grammatical topic that will only be for premium members.
They still have grammatical lessons with the free version, but it will typically be an introduction and basic lesson, rather than a more in-depth lesson.
This brings us to our next point…
Free Vs. Paid – Is Busuu Premium worth it?
As mentioned, I have used Busuu since 2013. April 5th, 2013, to be exact.
I upgraded to a premium membership on April 17th, 2013 and have never looked back.
I think the premium membership is well worth it and is very cheap when weighed with the benefits.
(And this is coming from someone whose primary question when looking into a language resource in 2013 was: “Is it free?“. Not “How effective is it?” or “What are the benefits?“. Not a good mindset by the way)
Below is an image showing the benefits of the premium membership and the price per month when purchasing a 12 month package.
Busuu also offers a pay-per-month package and a 24 month package. The 12 and 24 month packages are to be paid in full each 12 or 24 months, respectively.
The monthly package costs the most per month and I would not recommend it. You are spending a lot more money in the long run and learning a language takes time.
I’ll admit that I sometimes go for a monthly package when I know I can complete most of/all of something in a couple of months, but this is not the case with Busuu.
With Busuu, you can really enjoy the benefits for your whole life, as a language learner.
You can learn new languages or keep up to date with your already learned languages. They are always updating and adding fresh content and features and it is genuinely an amazing and worthwhile long-term investment.
The 24 month package is the best price per month and offers, therefore, the best bang for your buck.
As you can see, the benefits include:
- Learning more than one language (with the premium plus package)
- Creating a study plan with Busuu to help achieve your goals (with the premium plus package)
- Taking a McGraw Hill certification test (typically about 30 questions at the end of each level) and getting the official result certificate (with the premium plus package)
- Creating and submitting audio (from the lessons) to be corrected by natives and using the community features (with the premium plus package)
- Access to downloading the lessons for offline use
- Access to special grammar lessons to accompany the regular lessons
- Vocab review of the vocabulary you learn in each lesson
Below, I talk about each feature more in-depth!
I would recommend the 24 or 12 month premium plus package.
I personally think if you are going to pay at all, the premium plus is the much, much better option. The plus membership offers the most and the best features.
Lastly, it is doubtful that anybody would regret purchasing Busuu premium plus, however if you do, all packages have a 14 day full refund policy! So if for some reason you dont like Busuu or it just isnt a good fit at the moment, you can cancel it with no issues.
Overall, Busuu is a great resource and offers a LOT with their premium membership. I do not think it is wasteful or too pricey – in fact, I find it quite cheap and incredibly useful.
What are all the Busuu Premium features?
As we talked about above, you get tons of extra features in the premium and premium plus memberships.
I think they are more than worth it, but keep reading to see what exactly each feature entails and find out if its a good fit for you!
Personalized study plan:
When you create a personalized study plan with Busuu, they first ask you what your main goal in learning your target language is.
As you can see above, there are a few options you can choose from.
The next question they ask you is what level you want to achieve. They explain the CEFR levels a bit and you can select anywhere from A1-B2.
Next, you select which days of the week you wish to learn, what time of the day you wish to learn, and if you give them permission to send you notifications.
Lastly, you select how many minutes you want to study per day. They suggest 10 minutes. You are allowed to go up to 30 minutes, though you can always study more.
Taking all of this into account, Busuu then creates your plan and, best of all, gives you an idea of what date you should reach your goal by, based on your plan.
As you can see below, based on my current level in Spanish on Busuu (roughly A2/B1) as of January 6th, 2022, I should be able to finish B2 and understand most of a movie or show by the end of April, 2022.
This is, of course, if I stay on track for my goal every day.
Overall, I really like this feature and I am happy I have access to it, but I don’t think it is worth paying for on its own.
I am very glad it is included in my premium plus membership though! It is worth paying for, when taken into account with the other features.
I find it very nice to start a new language and then get an estimate of how long it might take you to achieve your goals. Due to having a concrete goal, I find I work harder and better. I often want to surpass the goal in less time and this encourages me a lot.
(P.S – read about how to make efficient and great language learning goals in this article!)
All in all, I believe this is a very helpful little feature (but should probably just be included in the free version, tbh). It will certainly help you out and keep you on track!
McGraw Hill certifications:
As a language learner, you have probably heard of McGraw Hill. They are a massive educational company based in the US. They create and publish tons of language learning books – many you have likely used or seen before!
Therefore, this certification is not a small, internal thing, but rather a decent certification that might help you in life!
I personally used my German B2 certification back in 2017 to help me get a visa in Germany. I also used it to skip some ‘mandatory’ German classes for my job in Germany as well.
It will likely not be accepted for higher education and more formal or official purposes, but it can help in some situations!
The tests are generally 20-40 questions (depending on the language and level) and go over everything in the Busuu level you are testing for.
You also do not need to complete a level first to “qualify” to take the test – you can test and get a certificate for any level, at any time!
I had studied German with an italki tutor for a while and not as often on Busuu and I ended up testing for the next level before completing any of it. I passed and got my certificate per email that same day.
As a feature included for every language with the premium plus membership, I think it is a great benefit!
Community feedback and audio recordings:
This is my favorite feature on Busuu and my top reason for wanting the premium plus.
I think this feature alone is reason enough to get the premium plus membership.
In certain lessons, you have the ability to talk or write about a related topic at the end. For example, in the introductory lessons, you will often be asked to introduce yourself and talk about yourself.
This is then sent into the community. With each audio recording or text you send, they give you the option to give feedback on others, as well. This is shown in the image below. It is a good practice to give feedback for one (or more) for each one you put out.
Community members will comment on your post and give you tips, tricks, and corrections.
They can even send their own audio recording in response, if needed! This is incredibly helpful, as sometimes my pronunciation if off and I don’t really know how to correct it. This was particularly beneficial for my German and those tricky umlaut sounds!
(P.S – to read about how to master any language’s pronunciation, check out this article!)
Overall, this feature is amazing. I am a massive fan and think it skyrockets your language level when taken advantage of.
Downloading lessons for offline use:
This feature is fairly self-explanatory.
You can download any lessons for offline use and they will act the same as if they were online. The videos, audio, texts, etc., will all show up perfectly!
I use this very often as I typically study on the train on my way to work or school. I will often download a batch of 10-20 lessons on Sunday and just go through them during that week.
This is a great feature to have access to. It can definitely help you study more efficiently if you don’t always have access to internet, but still want an interactive, fun, and thorough lesson!
Access to grammar lessons:
This is the other feature that I love and think makes the premium plans well worth it.
The free version of Busuu does talk about grammar points fairly often, but it is typically a fairly basic lesson.
For example, with the preterite and imperfect verb forms in Spanish, the free version will cover the basics and regular verbs in a lesson or two, but the premium and premium plus will give you much more in-depth lessons (several!) with more usage examples, as well as info about irregular forms.
I find these lessons to be very well made and very clear, as all Busuu lessons. I think the small fee for a premium or premium plus membership is nothing, compared to how helpful this feature is!
The last feature included in the premium and premium plus memberships is the ability to review vocabulary.
This review is done via spaced repetition.
It will show you if your words are weak (new, often incorrectly guessed, or in desperate need of review), medium (not correctly guessed enough, or just time for another review), or strong (well reviewed and not in need of a refresh).
You can see all of the words you have learned, mark any favorites, and filter by what ‘level’ words you want to look at.
You all know how much I love Memrise for learning vocab (it is, after all, listed in my top 5 language learning resources!), but I really enjoy this feature.
With other lesson based sites, I often have to create my own vocab lists or find them on a site like Memrise. With Busuu, its all included.
I still prefer Memrise for learning vocab in general, but I like that I dont need to use another site to practice.
I also like that Busuu uses the words in phrases and sentences and also gives audio recordings of those words and phrases/sentences.
So when you learn a word or review it, you can see and hear many examples of it. It really helps you learn effectively!
This is a fairly new feature that Busuu is pushing out. They are offering group or private lessons!
They only offer group lessons in Spanish and English as of early January, 2022, but they have plans to roll out more languages soon.
Private lessons are offered in all languages!
As you can see above, the group lessons are based on the lessons you learn in the main course of your target language. You can choose the level you want to practice in, as well.
The lessons seem to be 45 minutes with a max of 5 students.
The private lessons are scheduled a bit different. You select the date and time you want to learn and you are then shown teachers who are available. These are 30 minutes and are available for learners of any level (from “complete beginner” to C1/C2).
You can also select if you want your private lesson to be a custom lesson (whatever you wish to go over) or a structured lesson (based on the Busuu course curriculum).
As of January 6th, 2022, prices are as follows:
For 5 private lessons with “expert tutors”, you are looking at $56.99 (about $11.50 per lesson).
For 8 group lessons, you are looking at $54.99 (almost $7 per lesson).
You can select smaller bundles (even single lessons) or larger bundles, as well.
These are not bad prices. They are comparable to
I think we will see the price and overall organization of this tutoring feature on Busuu fluctuate a bit in the future, as it is so new, but for now it could be a good option.
I think if you are someone who loves Busuu and benefits from group lessons, it can be a great option! If you are someone who prefers 1-on-1 lessons, I would recommend italki.
Have you tried out Busuu yet? I am curious to hear what you think and what your favorite language resource is!
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travelling sisters says
Thank you so much! 🙂