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Babbel Facilitates Refugee Integration

A language learning app supports refugee initiatives in a large-scale campaign

September 04th, 2018
Olimpia Mihaela, News from Berlin

Knowing what a crucial role language plays in daily communication as well as in successful integration, and in the light of the current refugee situation in Europe, the language learning app Babbel is designed for a non-bureaucratic approach that enables refugees to begin learning German right from the time of their initial registration in Berlin.

Babbel was founded in 2007 by Markus Witte (Chief Executive Officer) and Thomas Holl (Chief Strategy Officer). Now, the team integrated over 600 people form more than 50 countries, from Berlin to New York. Ad-free, and with a transparent and subscription-based business model, the company enables its subscribers to reach fast a conversational level in one or several languages of their choice.

With over one million active paying subscribers, the Babbel language learning app for web, iOS and Android makes it easy to learn 14 different languages from 7 display languages. It uses short lessons that fit into everyday life and are split into useful real-world topics, from introducing oneself, to ordering food and making travel arrangements. Every course is designed specifically for each language pair by a team of education experts, linguists and language teachers.

Babbel was recognized as the most innovative education company of 2016 by the Fast Company Magazine. Moreover, 73% of surveyed customers stated that they would be able to have a conversation within five hours of learning the language via the app.

While Babbel knows what subscribers demand of it, it needs the relevant experience and expertise of other partners in order to be able to offer German language courses to the people who need them the most. A vital step towards alleviating refugees’ situation is enabling them to become more autonomous and to integrate into German society. For this purpose, Babbel has partnered with several organizations to facilitate sustainable and effective language learning courses.

With the support of with the Senate of Berlin, AWO Berlin-Mitte, Kiron Open Higher Education and the Hoffnungsträger Foundation, Babbel provides various refugee projects with €1 million worth of language courses. These projects include support in various refugee projects, ranging from the official refugee registration office in Berlin, to various refugee homes lead by AWO and learning German at Kiron’s online university.

So far, the experience that Babbel’s partners bring to the initiative has already proved constructive. Not only do these organizations deliver the courses directly to refugees, but they also support them in setting up and using the app. In order to avoid putting certain groups of refugees at a disadvantage, and because the majority of refugees have at least a basic knowledge of either English or French, and in order to be able to reach a wider audience, these languages will be used as the display language for learning German.

In addition to providing free access to German courses, the Babbel team is helping to train volunteer teachers who deliver face-to-face lessons in refugee centres. These training sessions are delivered by a team of linguists, professional language teachers, translators and education specialists.

Beyond the above initiatives, Babbel is proudly supporting: ABW Berlin, Europaschule Bremen, Refugee Home Neuruppin, Refugee hostel Planegg, Refugee Home Unterhaching, West Vienna Initiative.


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