Babbel secures funding for language learning

Babbel, the Berlin-based language learning startup which we wrote about in January and which appeared at our London TechCrunch Pitch! event, has secured an undisclosed amount of funding from German investors Kizoo and and VC Fonds Berlin, although its understood to be less than a million euros.

Members of Babbel teach each other via an Adobe Air Flash framework. The languages it covers so far are French, Italian, Spanish, English or German. The schtick behind Babbel is that it has a design inspired by a game console, incorporating user-generated images and human voices into the teaching, like shopping or flirting. Year old Berlin company Lesson Nine GmbH, started the site only six months ago but appears to be gaining users if this investment is anything to go by. The company has four founders: Thomas Holl, Toine Diepstraten, Lorenz Heine and Markus Witte. Following its funding Babbel is now releasing a preview of new tutorial formats for things like grammar which are currently in closed beta testing. They will be followed by a tool for more advanced speakers and language educators to create their own tutorials.

Competitors to Babbel are myriad but many have a differing take on language learning. Mango Languages, which launched in September of 2007, offers ten languages. LiveMocha also features social networking. LingQ, offers vocabulary and grammar drills. Then in Europe you have FriendsAbroad, founded by former Amazon people a few years ago. The recent VoxSwap has video services and integrates Skype. And LearnItLists puts language practice into a widget.