Monthly Archives: August 2008

New features on!

We are very excited to announce the launch of new features on!

Over the past weeks we have been very busy in improving our website and thanks to the input of many users we are proud to launch the following improvements:

1. New learning unit browser: Now you can only study a maximum of 5 learning units at a time! Finding new learning units will be much easier and you won’t get lost in the units you have previously started. Additionally, you can now remove learning units from your unit pool in case you want to finish them later.
2. Tagged vocabulary: With this new feature you can create your individual vocabulary pool by tagging all the vocabulary you would like to learn specifically! Just click on the images while you are doing the vocabulary session and they will be automatically saved to your individual vocabularies. You can then directly review those tagged vocabularies whenever you want to.
3. My mistakes: Whenever you make a mistake during the review session, this vocabulary will be automatically added to “your mistakes”. So you will have the possibility to study only the words you didn’t know – when you get them right the next time, they will automatically disappear from the mistakes list.
4. Dialogue: We have now added a dialogue session where you can test your reading comprehension. A short dialogue will be followed by three multiple choice questions where you can show whether you understood the text or not.
5. Finished units: Once you complete all 5 sessions (vocabulary, writing, dialogue, busuu-talk and review) of a learning unit, it will be automatically added to “your finished units”. If you completely finish 5 learning units you will receive a gift for your language garden. The functionality of the gifts is still a secret and will be launched very soon in the next version of!! ;-))

We hope you like the improvements we have made and are looking forward to your comments!

languages are learned with the eyes

On the 8th of August, an interesting study was published in the scientific journal Cell about the human being’s ability to learn. Researchers have apparently long sought a factor that can trigger the brain’s ability to learn – and perhaps recapture the “sponge-like” quality of childhood.
We all know very well how easy it was to learn a new language when we were young and how difficult it can be now these days…

Now, neuroscientists at Children’s Hospital Boston report that they’ve identified such a factor, a protein called Otx2. Otx2 helps cells in the brain to mature, initiating a time of increased brain plasticity, when the brain then can make new connections and thus learn.

The interesting part is, that Otx2 is actually sent by the Retina (part of the eye) to the brain cells. This means, that the eye is telling the brain when to become plastic (and therefore ready for learning), rather than the brain developing the increased learning ability on its own.

The researchers demonstrated that when mice are left in the dark, thus getting no visual input, Otx2 remains in the retina. Only when the mice received full visual input, Otx2 began to appear in the brain cells and they started to mature.

I think this new research study proves the highly visual learning approach we are trying to pursue with! The more visual stimulation you receive while learning a new language with our website, the more of this wonderful Otx2 will be produced and your language skills will grow and grow – just try it out!! ;-)