Language learning community Babbel adds two new languages, Swedish and Brazilian Portuguese, to its portfolio which now includes a total of seven languages.
Until March 26th members can also buy a special offer called Language Flex which allows them to learn all languages offered on the platform.
This is a very interesting move as for most language learners it does not make much sense. Of course there are some people who learn multiple languages side by side but I am pretty sure that this is not a big part of the market.
To me this has more to do with Foursquare badges. People simply love to collect badges, or in this case languages. The statement “I can speak five languages” is very much depending on the eye of the beholder. If “Je voudrais un pain” or “El coche es rojo” means that you speak French and Spanish…
So this phenomenon of language herding is quite known on all communities and the best one for this is of course Livemocha with 24 languages in total. You could do the same with Rosetta Stone of course but it would simply be too expensive. And in this case even I would agree to this statement.
Babbel’s Language Flex works a bit different though. Members cannot learn all languages at once but they are allowed to switch them anytime. This solves a big problem some people might have with signing up for a one year contract: what do I do if I learned everything I wanted to after six months? Will I get my money back? Do I have to learn everything again in order to not lose my money? Or what happens if I notice I chose the “wrong” language and I would rather try another one.
Hence there are a couple of reasons why an open system like this actually makes sense. It avoids the non productive language herding because you can only learn one language at a time but it leaves the system open for later changes.
The price for the Language Flex is 69 Euro at the moment, so 5,75 Euro per month. You also get a 20 day money back guarantee. I am not sure yet if this feature will stay as it is, I think it depends on the reaction of the audience.