Monthly Archives: October 2013

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Halloween around the world

halloween_blog_V3

Halloween (also spelt Hallowe’en or known as All Hallows’ Eve) is recognised every year on 31 October in lots of countries around the world. Find out more about Halloween with busuu!

How did Halloween start?

Many people believe that Halloween originally developed from festivals in western Europe, celebrating either harvests or the dead. It might even come from the Gaelic seasonal festival called Samhain, which was observed in Ireland and Scotland.

Where is Halloween celebrated?

Although it began in Europe, Halloween is now popular in many other countries due to migrants introducing the tradition. For example, it’s thought that it arrived in North America thanks to Irish people who moved there in the 19th century.

North America

Throughout the USA and Canada, Halloween is one of the biggest events of the year. After Christmas, it’s also the most popular time to decorate both indoors and outdoors!

Trick-or-treating is a favourite pastime. This involves children dressing up and then going from door to door to ask for sweets. Halloween costume parties are very common – for adults too!

Europe

Halloween is not as popular as in North America, but it’s still widely celebrated. Typical activities include fancy dress parties, trick-or-treating, ‘bobbing’ for apples, making lanterns, eating toffee apples or enjoying fireworks.

Central and South America

The Day of the Dead, which is on the 2nd of November, is a well-known festival in Mexico. It’s a time when friends and family get together to remember those who have died.

However, North-American-style Halloween celebrations are also growing in popularity, including games such as trick-or-treating and typical symbols like pumpkin lanterns and witches.

Asia

For Chinese in Hong Kong and Singapore, Halloween is a time to give presents to spirits to keep them happy. Western-style celebrations are also popular in Singapore and Japan.

Explore Halloween with busuu!

Are you feeling spooky? Then try out the special busuu Halloween learning unit! It has lots of useful vocabulary, as well as a dialogue, a writing exercise, a chance to chat to native speakers and a test to check what you’ve remembered.

How do you celebrate?

Is Halloween celebrated where you live? Or do you have a similar local festival with different traditions? Does your language have any special Halloween words or phrases? Let us know in the comments!

195

busuu Facebook sweepstake – win an iPhone 5s

Win a brand new iPhone 5s, incl. all busuu mobile apps!

facebook-ads

The busuu language-learning apps to connect learners with native speakers worldwide are now downloaded an average of 25,000 times a day, enabling our users to learn on the go – wherever they are and whenever they want!

We are now giving one lucky winner the chance to win a brand new iPhone 5s, complete with full access to all mobile apps from busuu!

All you need to do is to become a fan of the busuu Facebook page and you are in for a chance of winning!

Once you have entered, make sure to share the sweepstake with all of your friends as you will get one bonus entry for each of your friends that enter too!

Win an iPhone 5s now!

194

Boost your pronunciation – Part 2

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When learning a new language, it can be hard to pronounce things in a way that people understand.

The busuutalk feature on busuu is a great way to practise both your listening skills and your pronunciation. Here are three tips to help you get the most out of busuutalk:

1. Listen. Different people pronounce words differently. Listen and pay attention to the way the words and sentences sound (see this post for some help with what to focus on).

2. Imitate. As you listen, try to copy the way that native speakers form sounds, words and sentences.

3. Ask for help. When using busuutalk, ask your partner to focus on your pronunciation. Tell them that you would like to sound clear and be easily understood and ask them to tell you when you make a mistake.

Which words do you find hard to pronounce correctly? Let us know on the comments below, or connect with others using busuutalk and ask them to help you!

 

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Language is more than words – Part 2

emoticons

In part 1, we looked at the different ways of greeting others across the world. Now let’s look at more language without words!

Darwin claimed that humans have six universal facial expressions to communicate happiness, sadness, surprise, fear, disgust, and anger. But is that really true? Recent research by Glasgow University has actually shown that different cultures express their emotions using different facial expressions. For example, a European will often express and recognise an emotion by the movement of the mouth, whereas Asian cultures tend to express and recognise strong emotion with eye activity.

But what about expressing emotions through text? We might want to do this if we are sending a private message on busuu, or using the busuutalk text chat. Interestingly, expression of emotions via emoticons also varies between cultures, but is largely based on the same differences involved in facial expressions:

  • European emoticons show differences in the mouth, for example :-) and :-o
  • Asian emoticons focus more on the eyes, for example (^_^) and (o.o)

Why not try this out next time you send a busuu private message or chat in busuutalk?

Have you noticed that facial expressions and emoticons vary between cultures? Do you think you express your emotions more with your eyes or mouth? Share your opinion by leaving a comment below.

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World of Work: Marly de Gomez

Learning a language can help you move on in your career or find new opportunities. In our ‘World of Work’ series, we speak to people who use languages every day in their job. In our first post, we spoke to Daniel, a hotel reception manager from Spain.

Let’s meet Marly de Gomez from Venezuela

Marly_WoW

Hi Marly! Thanks for talking to busuu. Could you tell us what you do?

Hi busuu! At the moment, I’m a self-employed clothing, bed and bag designer for small pets. I work to satisfy the needs of both pets and their owners, and it’s a lot of fun.

Why are languages necessary for what you do?

I must often work from patterns in other languages, above all in English and sometimes in German. And in this technology-dominated, globalised world, it’s essential to learn new languages anyway.

Even if this seems like a difficult challenge, we must keep in mind that learning a language is very beneficial. It creates the prospect of a better future, whether finding a new job or communicating with other people.

Our mindset is largely determined by language. If you can talk the same language as the person you’re speaking to, you will be able to better understand how they think, which increases your chances of commercial success.

That’s one of the reason why I love busuu – as well as improving my English language skills, I learn more about English-speaking cultures, too, through the units and talking to native speakers.

Could you tell us about the languages you speak and how you learnt them?

Spanish is my mother tongue and I’m currently learning English with busuu. I’m amazed by the progress that I have made in such a short time with busuu’s online language-learning method.

I can also adapt my learning to my schedule, thanks to the flexibility busuu offers for studying languages, and the direct contact with native speakers is something that would otherwise be impossible here in Venezuela.

Which languages do you think are challenging to learn?

As well as learning to speak English fluently, I would like to learn German too. It has very difficult grammar, but if you know a language’s grammatical structure, everything becomes easier.

And which language do you think is easiest?

I think English is one of the easiest and most important languages to learn. It’s spread throughout the world and is the international language for not just business, but everything!

Which learning materials or methods have helped you most?

There’s no doubt that to correctly learn a language, it’s essential to understand its grammar because it makes comprehension simpler.

As well as books, learning tools such as ‘busuu-Talk‘ and voice recordings are very useful. They both enable me to practise my pronunciation by recording part of a dialogue, so that native English speakers in busuu’s community can correct me.

Marly, thank you very much for taking the time to talk to busuu!

What do you think?

What did you think of this interview? Let us know in the comments!

Are languages essential in your day-to-day work? Would you like to be considered for a World of Work interview? Then please send an email to pr@busuu.com (subject: ‘World of Work’) with just 2-3 short sentences telling us where you’re from, what you do and which languages you speak. Thanks!