Monthly Archives: March 2011

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The busuu.com Language Barometer 2011

busuu.com in collaboration with IE Business School, a leading postgraduate education institution, presents: The busuu.com Language Barometer 2011, the worldwide largest online survey regarding the future of language learning.

More than 16,000 of busuu.com users from over 150 different countries took part in the survey which we conducted in March 2011. The findings clearly show that the future of language learning no longer lies in between the pages of dusty books or passively sitting in a dark classroom. Merely 2% of our users consider books as an efficient tool to learn languages and only 3% believe it’s CD-ROMS! Impressively, only 4% of our users think a traditional classroom is the right place to learn a language.

The most efficient method to learn a language is online language learning!

37% of our users believe that one of the best ways to learn a language is online. 24% specifically identify Web 2.0 platforms like busuu.com as the most efficient way to learn a language and 13% prefer individual online language learning. 32% of our users believe that language courses abroad are most efficient.

How much money do people spend over their lifetime for language learning?

The short answer: quite a lot! The lifetime average spending of our users in language learning is approx. 750 Euros (1,000 USD). More than 17% of our users have spent even more than 1,000 EUR (1,400 USD) in language learning over time. In fact, the reason why people spend quite a lot of money on language learning is also reflected in the study. 71% of our users believe that the ability to speak a foreign language will directly improve their financial situation.

Why do people learn languages?

The reasons that motivate people to learn a new language might also be different than some years ago. Our users want to learn a foreign language for traveling (37.7%), business (35.7%), fun (37.1%), school/university (27.4%) and personal/family reasons (22.1%).

What are the main challenges when learning a language?

We all know that language learning is a difficult subject! But what do our users believe? 24% say that they don’t have time. 16% think it is hard to keep up the motivation, and 15% believe that not having access to native speakers hampers their learning process. The latter might be the reasons why busuu.com seems to be the perfect language learning solution for our users! With our community aspect you can have access to native speakers, and it’s fun and easy to keep you motivated. Furthermore, you can choose to study whenever you want to.

How old are language learners around the world?

35% of our users are between 16 and 25 years old and 22% are between 26 and 35 years. 36% are between 36 and 60 years and an impressive 8% of our users are older than 60! It seems that the so called “silver surfers” are really active in online language learning – congrats to that!

What is the educational background of our language students and what do they do for a living?

Interestingly, an impressive 61% of our users have at least a university degree, and 18% have an MBA or a PhD.

The high educational background is also represented in the current activity of our language students. 29% of busuu.com´s users are currently studying. 40% are working either for a company or as entrepreneurs or freelancers. As already shown within the age ranges, 8% of our users are already retired.

82% of our users believe that knowing a foreign language in the workplace is very important. However, only 40% of the companies actively support their employees to learn a new language. We hope that we are soon able to change that by offering our platform also to companies!

What is the language of the future?

52% of our users believe that the language of the future is English, 23% voted for Mandarin and 8% for Spanish. The rest of our users are split between languages such as French, Japanese, Arabic, German and others. 

If this is what they believe, are the current learning habits of our students pointing in that direction? Indeed they are! 41% of users learn English on busuu.com! French is the second most popular language with 14% and Spanish the third one with 13% of our users studying this language on busuu.com.

This study might be just a peek into the future, but it clearly shows the importance of language learning in general. A new language is not only an open door to new career opportunities and better financial conditions, but also to new ideas, cultures and friends. Furthermore, the numbers imply that Web 2.0 language learning is the tool of the future. In fact, as people have less and less time, they look for an interactive tool to learn efficiently while having access to native speakers. This goes definitely hand in hand with the fun aspect of learning online through busuu.com.

Many thanks to all of you, who took part in this survey! We are looking forward to discussing these interesting results with you below in the comment section!

 

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Patuá, The Sweet Language of Macau

Our blog entries dedicated to endangered languages will continue as promised. This month, our blog will present the “Sweet Language of Macau” or in Macanese (Patuà) the Dóci Língu di Macau. Macau is one of the two special administrative regions of the People’s Republic of China.

Macanese is classified by the Atlas of Endangered Languages as being critically endangered. In fact, The Atlas puts the number of Patuà speakers at 50 as of the year 2000.

What attracted us to this language is not only the danger of it disappearing, but also its history and diversity. Macanese dates back to the 16th century when the Portuguese established their commercial naval base to Asia in the Island of Macau. The new settlers married women from Malacca and Sri Lanka, so the language took on strong Malay and Sinhalese influence. As a proof that languages evolve, develop and are never static, Macanese took on influences as demographic and political changes happened year by year. These influences made this language a unique mix of European and Asian languages. Furthermore, this language that has no known orthography and is a cocktail of grammatical influences, played an important role in the life of Macanese people. In addition to becoming their proudly claimed mother tongue, it was for centuries the reason the community developed socially and commercially. It was as well the only communication mean of the Macau’s Eurasian residents.

Nowadays, the geographical distribution of the Macanese population is at the image of the language itself. It is quite diverse and starts in Macau the origin point of the language, and migrates to reach Hong Kong, California, Canada, Peru, Brazil, Costa Rica, Australia, Portugal, the United Kingdom and Paria peninsula of Venezuela. Even within that community, Macanese is actively spoken by just several dozen old people, mostly women in their eighties or nineties, in Macau and Hong Kong.

We said at the beginning that Patuà is also named the sweet language, and there is a reason for that. The poem below written in Patuà is a reminder of that. We will leave you to ponder on these sweet words. Until we meet again enjoy the sound of the sea and the romantic settings of Macau’s Patuà.

Patuà Portuguese Translation English Translation
Nhonha na jinela A moça na janela Young lady in the window
Co fula mogarim Com uma flor de jasmim With a jasmine flower
Sua mae tancarera Sua mãe é uma Chinesa pescadora Her mother is a Chinese fisherwoman
Seu pai canarim Seu pai é um Indiano Português Her father is a Portuguese Indian

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Record your voice and get your pronuncation corrected by a native speaker!

Today we are launching an exciting feature that you, our users, have been demanding for a while, and which has kept us busy for the last few months: voice recording!

Pronunciation is an essential part of language learning and we are thrilled that we can offer this new feature to you.

From now on, you can record your own voice on busuu.com and get it corrected by a native speaker from our worldwide community! There are 150 fun new dialogues in seven languages, recorded by professional voice artists, for you to practice on and improve your pronunciation skills. The recording exercise is a dialogue that consists of a conversation between two people.

There is one new exercise within our existing learning units. You choose the character you want to practice (e.g. receptionist or hotel guest) and record your own voice. Our system will automatically mix your recording with the voice of the professional voice artist, who plays the second person in the role play. You can then send the new dialogue with your own voice to a native speaker for correction.

How does voice recording work?
You can access the new dialogues by clicking on the voice recording icon in the learning unit overview:

Learning unit overview

You are only able to do the pronunciation exercise if you have a microphone. You can either use the microphone that is built in your computer or an external one. First of all, you will need to enable your microphone. If it is disabled, the window below will appear.


It is important that you make sure that the allow button is clicked on the right hand side and the remember box ticked. You are now ready to record!

Once your microphone is enabled, you will choose your character by clicking on one of the two characters you would like to be. A green frame will indicate your choice of character. If you don’t choose one, the system will automatically choose the second one for you.

The image below shows the first screen you see when entering the voice recording exercise. You can now listen to your character’s part as well as the other character’s part by clicking on the play button next to the text box.

As shown above, your character’s part that you have to record will be shown in green. To record it, click on the red record button and wait until the 30 second countdown appears. Record the sentence by speaking clearly, slowly and matching the volume of the voice artist.

You will listen to what you recorded by clicking on the play button and you can record as many times as you want.

Before submitting it at the end, you will be able to hear the full dialogue matched with the voice artist’s voice. If you are not satisfied with the recording, you can record it again by clicking on .

Once you are happy with the results, you can then submit the voice recording for corrections to the community or to friends that you select by notifying them. You will also receive five juicy busuu-berries for completing this pronunciation exercise.

All voice recordings done by the community will be in the section review posts of others, followed by this icon .

Normally, this feature is only available to our Premium Users, but as this is a new tool we want you to try it for free! So, you have until Sunday 27th of March 2011 to use our new voice recording absolutely free. Try it out now!

Hurry and take advantage of our new feature! We wish you a great and entertaining pronunciation practice! Try it out now!

Update: We have issued a special 10% off discount during the trial period of the new recording functionality. Use the code: ADFG2011 when upgrading to a Premium Membership. Only valid until the 27th of March!

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We are 2.000.000!

Today is a very important day for busuu.com – we have more than 2.000.000 users! This number shows that the busuu.com baby is growing fast! Only five months ago we crossed the 1.000.000 user landmark – a lot of things have happened since then:

  • We have been awarded with a “highly commended” in the Best Learning Start-Up 2010 Category in the prestigious TechCrunch Europas Awards.
  • We have entered into a strategic partnership with the worldwide renown publisher Collins to offer interactive grammar guides to our English native users.
  • We have successfully launched our “Save Busuu” campaign – more than 200,000 people have watched our funny Save Busuu video on youtube.
  • We have implemented My Busuu – your individual study guide“, the result of a successful cooperation with Salzburg Research Institute.
  • We entered into a strategic cooperation with The Guardian and Macmillan to provide you with daily news articles from The Guardian in English and an on-demand translation via the Macmillan dictionary

As you can see, we have been very busy over the last few months and we believe that this is the reason for the success of our strongly growing language learning community. We also want to thank you for your great support and valuable feedback which helps us improve our platform continuously. More than 12.000 people join our website every day in order to improve their language skills! So invite your friends to busuu.com and make our language learning community grow even more.

Thanks again for being with us and stay tuned for new exciting features that will be launched VERY soon!