Using French learning apps offline – how Duolingo, Busuu and Babbel compare.

Been travelling in Vietnam and carrying on using French language learning apps. This meant I was off network data, and reliant on hotel WiFi which was patchy at best or no connection at all on transport across the country.  This post therefore focuses on the accessibility of the apps offline.

I’ve also added another one to the crop of apps I’m using –  Babbel.


Screenshot of Duolingo offline

Doesn’t work at all.  It’s a shame as it’s frustrating to not be able to keep a streak going just because there is no offline access.

The marking system seems to be in the cloud as it can take a while to mark a question right or wrong even when on a decent connection. Not really sure why this should be, I have a feeling it’s to do with the whole infrastructure of duolingo and it’s way of harvesting translations although at the early levels this need for persistent connectivity seems unnecessary.


Works partly. Some flashcards were available for the next lesson but some of the audio files were missing including dialogues so it was hard to progress.

The written exercises need online access as they need to be made available to the community for marking; this is clearly signposted as not being available offline which is fine.  The other sections appear as if they should work (there is no message to say they won’t)  but the audio clearly needs to be downloaded to use the content offline and there is no obvious way to manage this.


Babbel requires the lessons to be downloaded prior to use so the content is then fully available offline. It’s easy to manage and very useful for my use-case while travelling.

It will be interesting to see if this way of managing the content seems so useful when back home and worth persistent data.


Overall, it was Babbel that got the most use when travelling with the ability to plan ahead and download the content needed.

One Comments

  • Neil March 20, 2016 Reply

    Update – as of v6.9 Busuu allows the user to download the units. A very useful additional feature.

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