“Tech is not neutral”: Babbel Pledges to Make Product’s Content More Inclusive
Babbel holds itself accountable for creating diverse, inclusive and equitable content in its online language learning products
As a first step, Babbel developed a DE&I content guidelines to empower creative teams to build more inclusive content, already implemented to diversify Babbel’s audio content
The extensive accompanying DE&I glossary can be downloaded for others to use
Babbel, the world’s top-selling online language learning platform, understands the power of language to create mutual understanding, enable shared perspectives, and foster inclusion. Moreover, Babbel understands its responsibility as a company to create content that reflects the values of diversity, equity and inclusivity that Babbel champions. Millions of learners use the Babbel product and Babbel wants to ensure that people see themselves represented within it. The company believes that learning a new language necessitates an interest and respect for other cultures, as well as for other perspectives.
“At Babbel, we understand that tech is not neutral. We have to be intentional about the nature of the content in our product. It is our responsibility to make a product in which learners see themselves represented, a product that they feel safe using. We also want to inspire a sense of "belonging" in another culture, so inclusive and representative content serves both as responsibility and a teaching method”, says Arne Schepker, Babbel CEO. “We do this because we believe that learning a language requires learners to build an understanding and respect for another culture and see themselves within it. We see this work as part of our promise to our learners and a way to provide the best learning experience possible.”
To ensure that the content within the product is in line with the values Babbel champions, Babbel developed content guidelines and a detailed Diversity, Equity and Inclusion glossary for creative teams. Deployed company-wide, the guidelines will serve as the go-to reference and benchmark for content creation. As Babbel experts produce all of the platform’s content in-house, the company is dedicated to not only the adaptation of these guidelines, but also ensuring that the products are continuously assessed and measured against DEI commitments.
Babbel has seen its first product informed by these guidelines: a Voice Talent Database survey. The survey invites voice talents to either share their personal story or answer questions about their unique identity. Content creators are then able to write storylines and characters based on the talent that will voice them, creating a diverse set of voices, and stories, for Babbel’s in-product audio. This is not common practice in the voice acting business and is a precedent-setting step towards creating better representation, for especially underrepresented groups, within the product.
The development of Babbel’s DE&I guidelines also led to the creation of a robust stand-alone glossary, a product that is being released publicly to serve as an external example for language-centered DE&I resources. It contains a set of definitions and examples organised by identity groups (Race & Ethnicity, Disability, Sex, Gender & Sexual Orientation, etc.) along with content about Culture, Privilege, Allyship, and other relevant topics.
Stephanie Wright, Head of Learning Content at Babbel, says, “It quickly became obvious that the glossary was an educational artifact that could live outside of Babbel, as more and more teammates began to anecdotally reference the glossary in their daily work. Moreover, it became clear that it was something that we would want to share externally amongst peers, something we would want to stand behind and be connected to.”
For more information, please contact Brittany Walters at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Babbel develops and operates an ecosystem of interconnected online language learning experiences and is driven by the purpose of creating mutual understanding through language. This means building products that help people connect and communicate across cultures. The Babbel App, Babbel Live, Babbel Podcasts and Babbel for Business products focus on using a new language in the real world, in real situations, with real people. And it works: Studies by linguists from institutions such as Michigan State University, Yale University and the City University of New York demonstrated the efficacy of Babbel’s language learning methods.
The key is a blend of humanity and technology. Babbel offers more than 60,000 lessons across 15 languages, hand-crafted by more than 180 didactics experts, with user behaviors continuously analysed to shape and tweak the learner experience. This results in constantly adapting, interactive content with live classes, games, podcasts and videos that make understanding a new language easy, from Spanish to Indonesian.
Because Babbel is for everyone, its team is as diverse as its content. From its headquarters in Berlin and its U.S. office in New York, 750 people from more than 65 nationalities represent the backgrounds, characteristics and perspectives that make all humans unique. Babbel sold over 10 million subscriptions by creating a true connection with users.
More information: www.babbel.com