New research highlights Busuu’s language teaching efficacy

November 10, 2023

Busuu is still one of the only language learning apps to repeatedly demonstrate that time spent studying with us leads to significant gains in spoken fluency.

Here at Busuu, the team works incredibly hard to make learning a language with us as effective as possible. We’re proud to offer a superior method of learning a language that reflects the way the world learns today.

To help us ensure we’re creating the best possible learning experience for our community, we’re constantly investing in testing and gathering learner feedback. On top of that, to be completely transparent with our learners, we also invest in independent studies into Busuu’s efficacy with expert research teams. 

Why? We want learners in our community to feel confident that when they invest time, money and effort into Busuu, they are getting the best possible return on their investment.

Our latest efficacy study

Our first independent efficacy study was published back in 2016 and focused on our self-paced course. Busuu has changed an incredible amount since then, with an important addition to our offering being Live Lessons – online lessons with qualified language teachers. 

We believe that the combination of Busuu’s self-paced courses, our community, and access to online teachers, all powered by AI, are the key ingredients to providing the best way to learn a language. And so we decided to put the Busuu of today to the test! 

For our 2021 efficacy study, we turned once again to Dr Roumen Vesselinov, who also led our 2016 efficacy study with his research team in the USA. Dr Vesselinov and his team are incredibly experienced in our space, having already completed 14 independent efficacy studies into language-learning apps. All of these studies are available to read in full on

How was Busuu assessed in the 2021 study?

Our 2021 study focused on both beginner- and intermediate-level Spanish learners, who used a combination of Busuu’s self-study courses and one-to-one Live Lessons with a teacher.

The research team in charge of the study tested all participants at the start and the end of the study to measure the improvement in their language abilities. Each of the 113 participants committed to studying with just Busuu for a two-month period, with a minimum time commitment of two hours per week. 

This way, we could assess improvements in language ability that a busy adult who is studying in addition to work, family life or education commitments could expect with a relatively small, weekly time commitment. 

So, how did Busuu do?

Our results were excellent across the board, with both beginner-level and intermediate-level learners demonstrating rapid and significant improvements in both their reading and grammar comprehension, as well as their speaking abilities. 

Compared with the average US college semester of study (typically 90-110 hours of face-to-face instruction), participants were able to show improvements in a much smaller amount of time (28-76 hours on average, depending on initial placement). 

It’s also worth highlighting that our 2021 study was the first efficacy study into a language-learning app that indicated the extent to which intermediate-level learners could significantly improve their language level. 

At present, Busuu is still one of the only language learning apps to repeatedly demonstrate that time learning with us results in significant improvements to spoken fluency. Most other language learning apps are only able to show gains in receptive skills such as reading and vocabulary recognition. 

The key results from the 2021 study were as follows:

Source: University of Maryland 2021
  • 100% of beginners improved on at least one speaking or reading test.
  • 82% of intermediate learners (n = 74) improved on at least one speaking or reading test.
  • 77% of beginners (n = 39) improved more than one semester on their WebCAPE placement.
  • 50% of intermediate learners improved on both speaking and reading tests.
  • Beginners took an average of 28 hours to move up out of their current speaking level. 
  • Intermediate learners took an average of 76 hours to move up out of their current speaking level. 

Interested in learning more? Read the full study on the Compare Language Apps site. 

What’s next?

Needless to say, we’re incredibly proud of these results. They help recognise all of the hard work and energy that we pour into Busuu, and encourage us to keep building the best learning experience for our community.  

Rest assured, we will continue to invest in independent efficacy research and we encourage other digital language learning providers to do the same.

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