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How Babbel Turned the Tide on My Language Learning Misadventures

Italy

I have a confession. It’s not something of which I am proud and generally a topic that I try to tuck away neatly in the back of my mind, but here I go.

Despite being a travel influencer, I have always had some difficulty learning other languages (why didn’t I find easy-to-use, easy-to-learn Babbel earlier?!).  It’s a sensitive topic for me, because as an ardent traveler, I know all too well that speaking the language of the places to which you travel unlocks metaphorical doors, allowing you to enjoy the true essence of the place through direct interactions with residents (who often afford more special treatment, if you speak their language) and a more authentic experience.  Additionally, speaking the language of the country to which you travel can also prevent frustrating and time-consuming mishaps and misunderstandings.

Since I’m laying it all out on the table in this article, here’s a personal example from my own travels through Italy, when I was on my honeymoon. Knowing how to speak Italian would have spared me an (embarrassing!) misstep.

Grand Canal in Venice

I was supposed to travel from Venice to Loreto (which was near our hotel in the Perugian countryside). I attempted to verify my destination with the ticketing agent in Venice, but she only spoke Italian and I only spoke English. It was not until I arrived at a destination almost 100 miles away in the Ancona province of Italy, also aptly dubbed Loreto, that I realized how a basic ability to speak Italian would have saved me a lost vacation day, friction with my new husband, and an embarrassing check-in an entire day late!

Sanctuary of the Holy House of Loreto – Beautiful, but the Wrong Loreto For Us

While the Italian countryside was beautiful and made up for any (shall we say?) misunderstandings, with my tenth anniversary coming up, I have decided that I want to go back to my beautiful patch of Italian countryside- but this time I want to enhance my experience by being able to speak Italian. Babbel to the rescue!

When I had the opportunity to learn Italian using Babbel, I was initially skeptical.  After all, I had attempted learning languages before, and it was always an uphill battle.

So, what was so different about Babbel you might ask?

Well, quite simply put, everything.

Whereas my past attempts at language acquisition had been largely based on long lessons and rote memorization, I quickly found that Babbel offers a more dynamic and palatable learning experience. Specifically, it provided varying audio, visual, and interactive elements presented in shorter sessions to foster language acquisition across learning modalities. In concert with customized review sessions that focused on my personal weak points, Babbel smoothed out my rough edges and provided me with an understanding of the Italian language in a more comprehensive, three-dimensional manner than I had thought was possible.

Babbel kept the lessons interesting by constantly changing up exercises, which began with vocabulary paired with pictures, audio, and pronunciation practice and moved on to such exercises as spelling out the words from a selection of available letters, completing conversations by filling in the blanks with the proper words, flash card quizzes, and much more!  It was really engaging at every step and the different exercises really caused me to not only take in the vocabulary, syntax, and diction, but also to retain it.

In the “Choose the correct translation” section of lesson 1, Babbel presents you with the Italian word that you already listened to and repeated and you get to choose the correct English translation to test your understanding. In the picture above, I’ve completed all, but the last one, “Ciao!” After choosing “Hi!”, the picture associated with that greeting and the Italian word replaces the English one.

The intuitive user interface made learning pretty easy as well. After practicing on my desktop, I thought I’d check out the UI on my cell phone. The picture on the right is a screenshot of the mobile UI, which is just as intuitive and easy to use.

Babbel’s focus on practical, conversational Italian with exposure to audio of typical Italian conversations and vocabulary was refreshing and more useful than the stilted (and unrealistic) conversations to which I had been exposed in prior language classes and reinforced my sense that I was spending time learning something of great utility that I could actually use in the course of my travels.  Another aspect of Babbel that was particularly helpful was continual calibration of the difficulty level in accordance with my progress and level of understanding.

I loved how at every turn, Babbel pronounced the words or spoke the sentences in Italian, so that I could get a true sense of the proper intonations to use. I will never say ah-ri-ver-dare-chi or comb-stah again!

Also, what’s nice is the way it is broken up into lessons with subparts so that you can learn in short increments whenever you have the time (each lesson really only takes 10-15 minutes).

After all, why should we let our busy lives get in the way of learning a new language and gaining a new experience if we can fit it in whenever we have a little time to kill anyway?  That’s what I did, and I couldn’t be happier with my experience. Thanks to Babbel (and despite my initial doubts), I was able to learn Italian quite efficiently and look forward to returning to Italy in all my new-found linguistic glory! This time, it will be with the confidence of knowing that there shouldn’t be any more… misunderstandings.

If I can learn a language from Babbel, then I’m sure that anyone can.  In fact, I had so much fun in my adventures with Babbel that I’m thinking of giving Spanish another try.  So, if you want to get the most out of your travel or to connect with your roots by learning a new language, I would highly recommend Babbel (check it out and get 25% off your new subscription) for its novel and singularly-effective approach.  It’s molto buono!

**While this post is sponsored by Babbel, all of the opinions expressed in the post are TravelFave’s.**

Michele W.
Michele W.
Michele is a professional writer, editor, and visual artist. She is an avid traveler, who loves sharing tips and tricks to maximize one's travel experience. She's a quirky, imaginative individual with a heart of really good chicken soup.

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