Monthly Archives: June 2011

98

Breton, The language of Brittany’s medieval upper class

“Demat” is what the noble Brittophones would say to greet you.

This month, we want to introduce you to the Breton language, a Brythonic language with Celtic roots spoken by only 200,000 people in Brittany, in the North West of France. Up to the 12th century, this language was spoken by the upper class of the region. In the early 20th century, it was still spoken by 1.3 million people. This drastic decrease in the number of speakers in the last century was the reason why the UNESCO ranked it as a language in severe danger of extinction and why we decided to present it on our blog for endangered languages.

Breton is not legally recognized as an official language by the state of France, nor was it taught in schools until very recently. In 1999, the Office of Breton language was founded to promote Breton in all spheres of social and public life. The network of bilingual schools is currently growing and local communities are beginning to implement proactive language policies to counteract the imminent threat of extinction. Another attempt to bring the Breton vocabulary back to people’s mind is the terminology center TermBret, where, among other functions, one can consult an online dictionary to translate French terms into Breton and vice versa.

A very unique characteristic of Breton is the “zh”, a little orthographic character which allows a common script for two possible pronunciations. In fact, the word Brezhoneg (Breton Language) can be pronounced “brezoneg” or “brehoneg”, depending on the region. This character became very popular and is nowadays the symbol of both Brittany and Breton.

Every language implies a unique mindset, culture and history. The most visible aspect of Breton culture is its music, which is strongly influenced by Celtic rhythms. The work and creativity of musicians and the increasing number and diversity of festivals, fest-noz, have aimed at spreading the Breton culture; also preserving the traditional Breton dance.

Who says that rare languages are only spoken in their original region? Breton is also taught in Alego, Kenya! Beatrice Ouma discovered the Breton language when studying in France and decided to learn and teach it in her country. Her idea was that just as any endangered plant or species, an endangered language needs to be relocated in order to grow stronger. She has taken up the cause of teaching children in her village to count, sing and speak in Breton, in order to keep this foreign language alive.

Try learning Breton yourself! Here you have some basic vocabulary to get a first impression of the language!

Breton French English
Demad! Bonjour ! Hello!
Degemer mad! Bienvenue! Welcome!
Kenavo Au revoir Goodbye
Mar plij S’il te/vous plaît Please
Trugarez Merci thank you
Yec’hed mad! À la vôtre! Cheers!

97

busuu.com launches free Travel App for iPhone or iPad!

With everybody planning their holidays, busuu.com has just launched a must-have Travel App for your iPhone/iPad. Our new Travel App will help you find your way during your adventures abroad, be it exploring the big city or relaxing on the beach – and, best of all, it is completely free! Just download the Travel App in your iTunes App Store directly from your iPhone (including the new iOS4, optimized for Retina display), iPod Touch or iPad.

Our new Travel App will help you learn essential words and expressions you need to know when travelling abroad. The App is available for learning Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Turkish, Polish and English.

iPad Travel App

Of course, you can also earn juicy busuu-berries  while using our new Travel App! Simply synchronise the App with your online busuu.com profile and your new busuu-berries will be added automatically.

 

Complete audio-visual learning content

Just as our Apps for the regular courses which have been already downloaded by more than 2m people around the world, our Travel Application offers audio-visual learning content (including pictures and sounds) and can be used even without an Internet connection.

 

The busuu.com Travel App contains:

  • Survival Guide: This is a set of useful words and phrases for your holidays. You do not know how to order a glass of wine? Just look it up in your Survival Guide!
  • Vocabulary: As with our regular iPhone Apps, you can flip through key words and phrases. In addition, all learning content is supported by pictures and professional voice-overs.
  • Dialogue: You will have access to typical holiday dialogues spoken by native speakers as well as multiple choice questions to test your reading comprehension skills.
  • Interactive exercises: You can test yourself with our fun and varied reviews!
  • Mistakes overview: The application stores all of your test mistakes to help you focus on your weaknesses and progress much faster with your language learning.

 

The Travel App includes full access to 15 learning units which are divided into the following 5 courses: “Basic Expressions”, “Transportation”, “Moving Around”, “Money, Shopping and Eating” and “Planning and Accommodation”.

iPad Travel App Survival Guide

So, leave your dictionaries at home and improve your language skills on the way to your holiday destination by downloading our free Travel App now! You can also click on the pictures or follow the links below to download each iPhone application from the iTunes store FOR FREE:

 

 


 

96

Try out our video units on busuu.com!

We have made some improvements to our language courses to make your learning experience even more fun and diverse. If you are a Premium member, you can now  comment on videos in our intermediate courses on busuu.com. Our community’s native speakers can then correct your comments. Of course, you will be rewarded with busuu-berries for your efforts!

Simply click on the new icon in your course structure for direct access to the Live Units, which contain videos from well-known sources such as CNN, France 24 and Europa Aktuell. If you are learning English, you can also comment on news articles from The Guardian newspaper. As always, you can send your writing exercise to your friends or other native speakers of our community.

The video-based learning tool is designed to strengthen your listening comprehension and to provide you with interesting videos on a wide range of topics like news, sports, travelling, etc.

For English learners, we also offer our fantastic The Guardian news articles which will help you improve your reading comprehension. If you stumble across an unknown word, just look it up in the integrated dictionary provided by Macmillan.

The videos and news articles are updated automatically, so you can enjoy topical learning material every day! Just select the video or article you are most interested in!

 

If you do not have a Premium account , upgrade your account now and improve your listening, reading and writing comprehension with our Live Units.

More exciting features are coming soon so stay tuned!

95

busuu.com won the iPhone App test of “Stiftung Warentest”

We proudly announce that the busuu.com mobile App for learning English has outstripped all its competitors and received by far the highest mark in the Stiftung Warentest review for the best mobile vocabulary trainer.

Stiftung Warentest is a renown German foundation which tests different products and services on the market in order to offer customers an impartial opinion. Their reviews have become an accredited seal of quality in Germany. We are honored to be the best out of 11 tested mobile vocabulary trainers, and the only App that received an overall mark of “good” with 2.0 points.

The App was tested on its functional and didactical design, its technical design and its product information. Our mobile App for learning English received the marks 2.3, 1.6 and 2.5 respectively, all of which are classified as “good”.

The App was especially recommended for its variety of exercises and its ease of use, making language learning a fun and complete experience for users. The audio and visual functions in addition to the reading and writing exercises available in our mobile Apps help you memorize words. Stiftung Warentest also pointed out that classifying the vocabulary into different themes and language levels, following the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages, gives users a reference of their learning progress.

According to Stiftung Warentest, the vocabulary provided by any language learning tool should include at least 1000 words. busuu.com offers a combined pool of words and key phrases three times this size to prepare users for typical conversation topics.

Being test winner of the best mobile English vocabulary trainer motivates us to further expand our mobile offers and shows that we are on the right track. We want to thank all our users for helping us continuously improving our platform and its corresponding Apps!

Remember that the iPhone App is available in the seven languages offered on busuu.com! So, keep improving your language skills and earning busuu-berries while on the bus, on the metro or wherever you are by downloading our iPhone application now!

You can also click on the pictures or follow the links below to download each iPhone application from the iTunes store:

Stay tuned because we will launch more exciting updates very soon!

94

Get ready for your holidays with our updated Travel Course!

With summer nearly here, it is time to decide on where to go for your holidays! To help you get ready, we have updated our popular Travel Course and added a new dialogue feature to prepare you for relevant conversation topics.

Our interactive Travel Course contains all of the essential words and expressions you need to know when you travel abroad. It also includes a very useful PDF
containing survival phrases to carry around. The Travel Course is available in all nine languages offered on busuu.com.

You can access the Travel Course in three easy ways:

1. Invite your friends
For free access to our Travel Course, simply invite 10 of your friends to join busuu.com. Invite them directly via our website and once they have signed up, you will get access straight away!

2. Buy it online now
If you can not wait to try our new course, you can get immediate access to the Travel Course in all languages by buying it online for only 9.99 EUR!

3. Become a Premium user
Premium users have free access to the Travel Course, which has automatically been added to the existing Premium features. So upgrade your account to enjoy our full range of learning tools!

So, have fun preparing yourself for your holidays with our updated Travel Course!