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Busuu Ltd
Busuu Logo.png
Type of site
Language Learning
Available inEnglish, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Chinese, Japanese, Polish, Turkish, Russian, and Arabic
HeadquartersLondon, England[1]
OwnerBusuu Online S.L.
Founder(s)Bernhard Niesner, Co-Founder & Adrian Hilti, Co-Founder[2]
Alexa rankNegative increase18,550 (Global, October 2018)[3]
RegistrationRequired (free)
Launched16 May 2008

Busuu is an AI-powered language learning platform on web, iOS and Android that allows users to interact with native speakers from around the world.[4] There are 12 language courses currently offered: English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Chinese, Japanese, Polish, Turkish, Russian, and Arabic. All courses are available in 15 interface languages. Learners work through self-paced lessons of one or more course languages. The lessons include studying vocabulary and grammar. At the end of each lesson, learners can practice with native speakers of the language they are learning, in written or spoken conversation.[5]

As of January 2019, Busuu numbers more than 90 million registered users in its community.[6]


Busuu was founded in May 2008 by Bernhard Niesner and Adrian Hilti. The company launched with a free version of its website and opened its first office in Madrid. In 2009, Premium membership was introduced to access to all features on the platform and in 2010, the first Busuu mobile app was launched.[7]

Busuu is named after the endangered language Busuu, spoken in Cameroon. According to an ethnological study conducted in the 1980s, only eight people at that time were still able to speak this language.[8] In 2010, Busuu created a short language course to encourage people to learn the Busuu language using Busuu.[9]

After closing a Series A round of 3.5 million euros from PROfounders Capital and private investors in 2012, Busuu further improved the functionalities of the platform and increased its global market share.[10] During that year, the company moved its offices and staff to a London based office. The head office of Busuu has remained in London ever since.

In April 2014, Busuu partnered with education company Pearson, and users could achieve a recognised gSET certificate in English.[11] In 2015, global education publisher McGraw-Hill Education became a strategic investor in the company. Users could then gain a McGraw-Hill Education certificate from beginner level A1 to upper intermediate level B2, in English, Spanish, French, German, Italian and Portuguese.[12]

In May 2016, the company launched Busuu for Organisations, the language learning platform for universities and businesses.[13] Using the platform, organisations can give their students or employees access to Busuu Premium. The platform allows organisations to view learner's progress and use of the app over time. Personalised courses have been created for organisations such as Uber. This included lessons about the specific contexts an Uber driver would encounter with their passengers.[14]

Busuu is committed to exploring new technologies for language learning. In 2016, it was a launch partner for Google Home Assistant, offering voice-activated lessons in Spanish; in 2017,[15] it launched a virtual reality app for learning Spanish, available for the Oculus Gear and Oculus Go,[16] and in 2018, Busuu launched a comprehension test for the Amazon Alexa platform.[17]


Language courses[edit]

Busuu incorporates the communicative elements of social learning into self-study language learning. Through its website and mobile apps, Busuu offers free and Premium access to 12 language courses, taught in 15 interface languages.

Busuu offers courses based on CEFR levels A1, A2, B1 and B2. Study material is divided into themed lessons, each based around common conversational scenarios.[18] Lessons contain vocabulary and grammar practice, pronunciation exercises, interactive quizzes and conversational practice with native speakers who are members of the Busuu community.

In 2019, Busuu launched third-party content with lessons featuring videos and articles from The New York Times and The Economist, to allow learners to learn from real-life examples of language use.[19]

Through their partnership with McGraw-Hill Education, learners can receive a level completion certificate between beginner level A1 and intermediate level B2 in English, Spanish, French, German, Italian and Portuguese.[20] The tests focus on dialogue, comprehension and productive skills.

There is free access to all courses, and paid access to Premium features. Grammar instruction, spoken and written conversations, spaced repetition vocabulary training and other features such as Offline Mode, are only available for Premium learners.[21]


The platform encourages collaborative learning by allowing members to practise their writing and speaking skills with help from native speakers of the language they are learning. All learners correct one another's work.[22] They can converse via asynchronous voice recording or text chat. In this way, every Busuu user is both student of a foreign language and tutor of the languages they can already speak.

Recognition and awards[edit]

Academic research[edit]

In 2016, researchers from City University of New York and the University of South Carolina conducted a study into the efficacy of Busuu's courses. The results stated that learning a language for 22 hours with Busuu Premium was equivalent to sitting 1 college semester.[23]

Later in 2016, Busuu worked with a senior lecturer at The Open University to find out about the behaviour of language learners on the platform. The results showed 82% of Busuu learners confirmed that Busuu helped to improve their language learning.[24]

Busuu is working with University College London in an ongoing study about motivation and second language acquisition.[25]


Since the company was founded in 2008, Busuu and its founders have won over 19 awards, including Best Language App by the German Association for Consumer Studies, the Bloomberg Innovator award, and was selected as 'best of 2015' apps by Google Play.[26]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "busuu.com receives €3.5 million investment, moves its headquarters to London and welcomes lastminute.com co-founder Brent Hoberman as board adviser", www.advantageaustria.org/, 6 November 2012, retrieved 13 May 2013.
  2. ^ "About the founders". www.busuu.com. Retrieved 2008-08-08.
  3. ^ "Alexa.com Traffic, Demographics and Competitors - Alexa". www.alexa.com. Retrieved 1 January 2019.
  4. ^ "Busuu Online S.L.: Private Company Information - Businessweek". investing.businessweek.com. Retrieved 22 October 2012.
  5. ^ "The busuu methodology to language learning". busuu.com. Retrieved 23 January 2019.
  6. ^ "busuu app offering "real-world" English". thepienews.com. Retrieved 16 January 2019.
  7. ^ Jolin, Lucy (2017-03-07). "From busuu to Babbel, language-learning startups adapt to thrive". the Guardian. Retrieved 2018-09-12.
  8. ^ Ltd, Hymns Ancient & Modern (March 2005). ThirdWay. Hymns Ancient & Modern Ltd. p. 33. Retrieved 1 January 2011.
  9. ^ "Save busuu". busuu.com. Retrieved 2019-01-12.
  10. ^ "Language Learning Platform busuu Raises €3.5M Series A Round, Moves to London To Scale Up". Retrieved 20 October 2012.
  11. ^ "Pearson English announces major partnership". Retrieved 30 April 2014.
  12. ^ "McGraw-Hill Education certificates". Retrieved 10 January 2019.
  13. ^ "busuu for Organisations". Retrieved 23 January 2019.
  14. ^ "Uber offers UK drivers free English course". Engadget. Retrieved 16 February 2017.
  15. ^ "Learn Spanish with busuu on Google Assistant".
  16. ^ "Learn Spanish in VR with busuu". 4 May 2018.
  17. ^ "busuu plugs into 'intelligent assistants'". 4 May 2018.
  18. ^ "Find your level".
  19. ^ "busuu language app now offers 'New York Times' and 'Economist' courses". Retrieved 24 January 2019.
  20. ^ [1]
  21. ^ "Bussu Free versus Premium membership matrix". Archived from the original on 2011-10-18. Retrieved 20 August 2012.
  22. ^ [2]
  23. ^ The busuu efficacy study
  24. ^ Autonomous language learning through a mobile application: a user evaluation of the busuu app
  25. ^ [3]
  26. ^ "Awards and accolades". Retrieved 15 January 2019.