Monthly Archives: September 2013

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Boost your pronunciation – Part 1

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Pronunciation can be tricky!

It’s hard to know how to pronounce a sound, word or phrase in another language and we all worry about getting it wrong. Using the Voice Recording feature on busuu can help.

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Listening to yourself speak a foreign language will help you improve your accent and correct some of your mistakes. In the Voice Recording exercises you listen to sentences from a dialogue and then record the sentences yourself.

When you listen to the example, and when you listen back to your recording, focus on these things:

Phonemes - These are the individual sounds that make up words.

Word stress - Which parts of the words are stressed (spoken stronger or louder than the others)?

Intonation - How does your voice move up and down when you speak?

Keep trying until you are happy with your recording and then send to other busuu users!

Get started!

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Language is more than words – Part 1

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How embarrassing! The etiquette of meeting and greeting

We all love meeting people on busuu – conversing with people from different backgrounds and cultures whom you would never normally meet, all from the comfort of your living room. Best of all, there’s little chance of making any first-time-meeting faux-pas – just flip open a busuutalk or private message and get chatting!

But we don’t want you to just stay at home – we want you to get out there and practise your new-found language skills in the real world! Studies show that we have just 7 seconds to make a first impression, and that non-verbal communication has more of an effect on people than verbal. That’s why in this series we are looking at the theme ‘Language is more than words’ – when are words not enough?

Find out how the world greets others

Anthropologist Edward T. Hall defined our four levels of social interaction as being: intimate (distance of 6-18 inches), personal (distance of 1.5 to 4 feet), social (4 to 12 feet) and public (distance of 12 to 25 feet). At each distance, there are certain actions which are expected and certain which are inappropriate. But what happens when greeting etiquette from different cultures transcend different social distances?!

In international contexts, or places where there is little definition of greeting etiquette, greeting can be a social nightmare – in the UK, a handshake was always traditional, but cheek kisses have become more common, and these days some will even dive straight in for a hug!

Nod? Bow? Handshake? Kiss? Hug? Even where it’s clear there can be confusion. In France, the number of cheek kisses exchanged can vary from region to region – from 1 to a whopping 5! Context is also a defining factor. In Japan, a typical informal bow might be of around 15 degrees, whereas a formal one can be 30, and an apologetic bow would see a person dipping to 45 degrees! (Add in the duration and repetition of bows and we have even more variation!).

How do you greet people in your country? Does it vary across regions? Have you experienced any greeting faux-pas?! Leave a comment on our blog so that we can all learn to avoid the embarrassing situation pictured above!

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What’s October’s Language of the Month?

Did you take part in our Language of the Month in September, when we posted lots of fun, interesting facts about Russian on Facebook, Twitter and Google+? Find out what we talked about and read on to discover October’s language!

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Russian-language culture

There were lots of interesting discussions about Russian life. We asked about the shapka-ushanka hat and Alsu Zaynutdinova told us that she only used to see it when she was a child, so it’s not very popular nowadays.

Have you heard of the brilliant Russian cartoon, ‘Cheburashka and Crocodile Gena’? Reader Santos Andrade Evandro said that he would like it to be transmitted on TV in Brazil. Maybe it will happen, Santos!

Ask a native speaker

Did you have a question about Russian? Language expert Maria was available on Facebook for one hour to help fans with their queries. Here are a few of the highlights.

  • Oula Akiki asked: “What is the best way to start learning Russian? What should we learn first?”
  • Maria told Michael Webb that reading, talking and writing every day are very important.
  • Lindsey Sampson wants to improve her listening skills. Maria recommended a useful book with short recorded dialogues.

How did Maria answer and what tips did she provide? Discover what she said on our special Facebook post!

Words and proverbs

Do you know what ‘Na vkus i cvet – tovarisha net‘ means? Vadim Davydov told us it’s a proverb that says everyone has different tastes and no two people are the same. Anush Nakhshikyan and Tanya Ivanchenko agreed – thanks everyone!

In our post on Facebook, did you spot the mistake the speaker makes? Mikael Marcondes de Oliveira told us about another common error when he explained that the English word ‘magazine’ sounds very similar to the Russian word for ‘shop’, which is ‘магазин’.

We also posted an interesting fact about ‘спасибо’, the Russian word for ‘thank you’. Fan Arsen Hayrapetya told us that, in the Armenian language, ‘thank you’ is very hard to pronounce and literally means ‘to wish that a person receives grace’.

Language of the Month in October

The next tongue that we will delve into is an official language in many countries, including the UK, USA and Australia. It’s possibly the most widely spoken language in the world, if you combine native and non-native speakers.

Have you guessed? That’s right, it’s English! This language has several variations, so we’ll explore some of the differences and talk about a few tricky grammar rules. Learn about English with busuu on Facebook, Twitter or Google+. See you soon!

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Let’s use busuu!! / busuuを使ってみましょう!

Hi, I am Shino, and have written this guest blog in Japanese.

Continue reading

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busuu’s mobile apps reach 20 million downloads

We have some great news:

Our mobile apps have been downloaded 20 million times!

Read a summary of our official press release here and in case you have not done it yet, download one of our free mobile learning apps!

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The first language-learning app to connect learners with native speakers worldwide is now downloaded an average of 25,000 times a day, meeting growing global demand for mobile learning.

busuu’s mobile app allows users to learn up to 11 languages and connect to over 35 million native speakers in its global language-learning community. The top three languages downloaded for learning are English, French and Spanish.

The top three countries by number of downloads are the US, Germany and Russia, although there is also rapid growth in emerging markets such as Brazil, Turkey and China. 

Interaction with native speakers is an important part of successfully learning a new language, so busuu’s huge, active community is a key feature. Via the app, users connect to native speakers by completing writing exercises and submitting these for feedback and corrections. They can then do the same in return, acting as a tutor of their own mother tongue.

Since the beginning of 2013, busuu members have completed over 12 million vocabulary exercises via the app. The general shift to mobile learning is further demonstrated by the fact that busuu users now complete 33% more exercises via the app than online. Mobile users now also have the possibility to set a learning goal on their mobile phone in order to track their progress.

The busuu language-learning app is free, with access to 20 learning units (5 for each level). Premium Members of the web version automatically have full access included in their membership.

Download our free mobile app now!