Babbel is one of the more famous language learning programs available online. They have been around for a while and it shows. I remember seeing several different ads for it on TV when I was younger. It seems that the campaign was quite successful - it certainly made an impression on me to start learning a new language. However, you can imagine my disappointment when I was intending to study Chinese only for it to not be available on Babbel. I am over it now, but it really made me think why is Chinese, not available on Babbel?
Chinese is one of, if not the most spoken languages worldwide. Why would Babbel not have it available? When looking into this question, I already had a few theories in mind. The usual suspects - not enough demand or too obscure - definitely do not apply here, so it must be something else.
Quality is very important for language learning programs. If there are any significant mistakes found, then the credibility of their whole catalog would be called into question. Also, just imagine visiting China and finding out that the Chinese you learned was not accurate. I would be both embarrassed and pretty angry.
Knowing this, a company like Babbel likely employs very high standards for the programs. This means that developing new ones and making them available by taking a long time. For something as complex as Chinese, which is by some measures the hardest language to learn, this process makes takes even longer.
As we touched upon above, Chinese is one of the more difficult languages to learn. The characters, tones, and cultural differences all combine to make something that is almost completely foreign (no pun intended) to English speakers. As such, designing the Chinese language program may just not be worth it.
The return they could expect on such a project may not be worth it in their eyes. I would imagine many people would be interested in learning Chinese however, but they likely know more than I do about the numbers. Either way, it is a shame to see such a glaring hole in their line up of available language courses.
It is possible that the higher-ups at Babbel looked at what is already available and just decided it was not worth the investment. Again, Chinese is a rather popular language to learn due to its prominence and impact on employability. A search for ‘Learn Chinese’ online will bring up hundreds, if not thousands of different options.
This possibility, together with the two mentioned above, may have all played a role in the decision not to offer Chinese on Babbel. Really, it seems like an oversight. However, there are some alternatives to Babbel for those looking to learn Chinese.
I am glad you asked. There is one very obvious recommendation that can be made here, and that is the Ling Chinese app. Ling uses native Chinese speakers to help you learn Chinese, just like it will sound in the country.
Through the gamification of learning, it also makes the whole process much more engaging. You can see yourself progress as you make your way through the different topics and tests that come along with it.
Then there is the chatbot feature that simulates conversations and makes for great practicing your Chinese language skills. For an introvert like me, it helps to build up my courage to eventually feel confident enough to use it when out and about.
While these mobile apps do share a common goal of making language learning fun and accessible, what sets Ling apart is the focus on practical vocabulary, sentences, and phrases that you will use in everyday speech.
This one is actually a part of the same family as Ling. Simply Learn Chinese is a phrasebook in app form, giving you all the benefits that come with that. You can listen to the words and phrases being spoken by native Chinese speakers, along with the Chinese and phonetic spellings of the words.
It makes for a great companion both when practicing and when you are in China. It makes use of flashcards and the spaced repetition learning technique that is said to really improve language learning.
It may not be the top choice if you want a deep understanding of the language but helps you start out with pronunciation and basic grammar like word order.
There are quite a few different apps and websites that work great with helping you to learn Chinese. Each one goes about its own way to replace the hole made by the lack of Chinese on Babbel. Ultimately, it is a case of finding which option works best for your case.
Like we said before, it is good to make a language learning plan and mix things up if you are serious about learning Chinese. If you are just looking for a more casual experience to learn a few phrases before traveling, then apps might be the best option for you.
If you were hoping to learn Chinese with Babbel, you are out of luck. While there is an impressive number of other languages available, you will need to look elsewhere for your Chinese learning fix. The Ling Chinese app is a great alternative to Babbel where you can learn Chinese in a fun and engaging way. It is well worth it - the language has over one billion speakers and is a highly sought after skill for a number of industries.