Monthly Archives: December 2013

2013: A great year for busuu and you!

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At busuu, we’re a bit like Santa’s elves: we work hard all year round to bring you new language-learning tools and features that help you learn faster and enjoy a better learning experience. In fact, it’s like Christmas every day!

This year, we’ve been especially busy coming up with exciting, fun ideas for the global busuu community. Here’s a round-up of some of the great new products and ways to learn that we introduced just for you in 2013.

New busuu products

We’re always up to date with new trends in language learning. We also find out what you need to help you learn languages anytime, anywhere. The result? Lots of innovative, useful products!

Extra ways to help you learn

As well as our award-winning website and apps for mobiles and tablets on iOS and Android, we want to help you learn in other ways, understand new cultures and stay motivated.

  • We used our blog and social media like Facebook, Twitter and Google+ to share fun facts and learning tips, as well as asking you to get involved!
  • In Language of the Month, we post questions and interesting snippets on one language each month on busuu’s profile on Facebook.
  • Our World of Work series introduces real busuu members who use languages in their jobs.
  • The Language Advent Calendar ran 1-24 December on Facebook, with a new post every day related to Christmas and other winter traditions around the world.
  • We started ‘busuu Go’ on 25 December to help you keep learning and to stick to your New Year’s resolutions going into 2014!

Fun competitions with great prizes

Sometimes, it’s nice to relax and play games — especially if there’s the chance to win a brilliant prize that will help your language learning!

  • In the busuu Easter Egg Hunt (March), we hid 80 Easter eggs throughout our courses. Ten lucky people won 5,000 busuu-berries to spend in our gift shop or to get great discounts.
  • Three talented winners each won a year’s busuu Premium Membership after they entered our Facebook photo competition (April).
  • We gave away a brand new iPhone 5s — complete with full access to all busuu’s mobile apps — in our sweepstake competition on Facebook (October).

busuu milestones in numbers

Since we began in 2008, we have gone from strength to strength to become the world’s biggest online language-learning community. And it’s all down to you — so a huge thank you for being part of busuu!

Helping us to help others

Did you know that our name comes from Busuu, an endangered language in Cameroon, Africa? That’s why, every year, we run a charity campaign in December to raise funds to help provide education for children in that region.

2013 was no different, as you continued learning to earn millions of busuu-berries that we converted into much-needed supplies to send to schools in Cameroon. Our Learn2Help campaign ran 1-20 December and you raised an astonishing 50 million busuu-berries!

What’s next in 2014?

Phew! Can you believe we managed all that in just one year? What was your favourite busuu experience or product in 2013? Which helped you most in learning a new language (or two)? Let us know in the comments and stay tuned for more exciting news in 2014!

 

Introducing busuu Go – our month of motivation!

The start of a new year is a great time for new beginnings! As we look forward to 2014 we may be excited about learning a new language, or getting back to a language that we used to study, or maybe just taking our language learning to the next level.  So we introduce to you ‘busuu Go’,  a whole month of motivational ideas, tips, activities and discounts that will help you make the most of your time on busuu and keep you motivated and learning throughout 2014.

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What motivates you?

During the month of busuu Go we’ll be looking at the different things which motivate you and helping you benefit from all these different factors. We want to help you love language learning, get motivation from the community, set yourself targets and make the most of the features of busuu.

Keep up to date

During busuu Go, keep an eye on our Facebook page and our twitter feed for regular motivational updates, and watch this space for more blog posts giving you details of how to be the best possible language learner in 2014.

20% discount during busuu Go

And to offer you a little bit of an extra incentive, during the whole of the busuu Go month of motivation, we’re offering a 20% discount on all our premium subscriptions. This will allow you to access all the features of busuu and maximise your language learning in 2014. And with all the new features being launched this year, we’re sure you’re going to love busuu more than ever.

Get involved! Add your comments to this post.

Thank you for helping education in Cameroon!

A huge thank you to all of you who helped us reach our target of 50 million busuu-berries in the Learn2Help campaign this month. Thanks to all your hard work, busuu will provide the Cameroon Association for the Protection and Education of the Child (CAPEC) with enough money to build a classroom at their school in Central Cameroon.

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Expanding the school

You can be very proud of all your learning this month as every berry helped busuu provide enough money to build a whole classroom for the CAPEC school for low-income families in Central Cameroon. The classroom will be built in the new year and will provide enough space for up to 40 children to learn at the school. The money donated will also provide all the classroom furniture that the pupils need.

Continuing CAPEC’s great work

CAPEC do great work helping to educate and protect young people in an area of Cameroon where literacy rates are low and many families are unable to afford to send their children to school. Here at busuu we are proud of our relationship with this amazing charity and proud of our users for helping us donate so much to such a good cause this month.

Keep up the motivation

And remember that you benefited from your hard work too, with every busuu-berry demonstrating that you’re learning a language with busuu. So keep up the good work and look out for some exciting tips and tools to keep you motivated into 2014!

Share your thoughts with us about this campaign by adding your comments below.

Santa in a helicopter – Part 1

A holiday roundup of funny and bizarre traditions from around the world from busuu, the largest online language learning community.

The British happily wear paper crowns to adorn themselves for the Christmas meal, the Spaniards hope to win millions in the Christmas lottery and, in Brazil, Santa Claus flies around in a helicopter. Busuu, the 35 million-strong online community for language learning has collected some quirky traditions from 12 countries whose languages are taught on our website: English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Polish, Turkish, Arabic, Japanese and Chinese. This will be presented to you in a two part blog post.  Check out our part 1 list below and see if some of these national customs surprise you.

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English

In the UK people like to wear Christmas Jumpers (which are sweaters) with holiday themes such as funny-faced reindeers or penguins with hats. Even the Christmas dinner in England is a bit like a carnival: Guests wear colourful paper hats and burst balloons at the dinner table. The British like to watch TV over the Christmas period, with the Queen’s annual Christmas speech particularly popular viewing. In Ireland, the children dress up on December 26th, St. Stephen’s Day, as The Wrenboys and go out on the town to collect candy and money.

Spanish

The Spaniards start Christmas with a giant lottery, the largest in the world, which is televised on December 22nd. Most Spaniards are glued to the TV in the morning, anxious to see if they have become millionaires. Lottery draws also take place on 24 December, the “Noche Buena”. After dinner with the family, small gifts, but also rivets, are drawn from an “Urn of Fate “. One of the main nativity figures in Catalonia is “el Caganer” the “pooper”, who handles his business on the nativity scene. In Mexico, the ‘Psadas’ processions where the story of Mary and Joseph is re-enacted, are celebrated with friends and family. For the children, lovingly decorated papier-mâché piñatas filled with fruits and sweets are hung on the ceilings, to be be smashed and broken by big sticks while blindfolded.

French

The height of French Christmas is – perhaps not too surprising – the Christmas Feast: La Reveillon with mussels, lobster, oysters, duck, vegetables, foie gras and all sorts of pies, as well as a spectacular dessert, “la Bûche de Noël”, a chocolate butter cream cake that comes in the shape of a tree trunk. The French Santa Claus is called Père Noël. He slips down the chimney and places gifts in the children’s polished shoes.

German

One of the most important holidays in Germany, Christmas is called Weihnachten. December 6th is Nikolaustag, St. Claus day. A shoe or boot is left outside the door on the 5th of December in the hope that the following morning you find presents, if you were good – or, unfortunately a rod if you have been bad. The Germans make beautiful gingerbread houses and cookies. The German Christmas tree pastry, Christbaumgebäck, is a white dough that can be molded into shapes and baked for tree decorations. The main day is the 24th, Christmas Eve when children will find presents under the tree.

Italian

In some parts of Italy the real Christmas day is celebrated on January 6th, The Three Kings Day. According to legend, the witch Befana has missed the star of Bethlehem on Christmas Eve and is therefore searching for baby Jesus on the night of the 5th to the 6th of January. She flies on a broom from house to house, bringing gifts to good children and coal pieces to the naughty ones.

Portuguese

In Brazil, even Santa is an extrovert. Papa Noel lands a helicopter in the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro and distributes gifts. Celebrations are loud, funny and complete with fireworks. As most Brazilians are Catholic, the traditional midnight mass on Christmas Eve is a must-do. Presents have to wait until after the midnight mass. In Portugal, nativity cribs are often placed in the living room with the popular Christmas tree. These are also found in Portuguese churches, where surrounding landscapes are recreated in detail with real places, people and figures.

Continue to part 2

How do you celebrate Christmas? Is there a special or funny tradition in your region? Tell us about it on Facebook –  or @busuu on Twitter.

Santa in a helicopter – Part 2

The busuu holiday roundup of funny and bizarre traditions from around the world continues.

Busuu, the 35 million-strong online community for language learning has collected some quirky traditions from 12 countries whose languages are taught on our website. In part 1 we covered English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese. Now we’ll look at Russian, Polish, Turkish, Arabic, Japanese and Chinese, and see if some of these national customs surprise you.

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Polish

The Christmas feast is consumed in Poland only when the first star shines in the sky. Fish and vegetables are mostly served instead of richer dishes such as roast meat or sausages. This custom serves to remind the largely Catholic Poland that in the period before the Reformation, the 24th of December was a day of fasting. One extra spot at the table is laid, in case an unexpected guest comes for Christmas dinner. After dinner, traditional Christmas wafers decorated with small pictures are broken and shared.

Russian

One of the most famous Christmas exports originates in Russia: Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s ballet “The Nutcracker” is about a girl named Masha who receives a nutcracker on Christmas Eve from her godfather Drosselmeyer and dreams about it during the night. It is often performed all over the world at Christmas time. The Russians celebrate Christmas on the 7th of January. According to the Julian and Gregorian calendars, this day corresponds to the 25th of December. “Jack Frost” delivers the gifts in Russia.

Turkish

Although most Turks don’t celebrate Christmas as Islam is the main Turkish religion, Santa Claus is still an important figure. He is said to have lived in Anatolia in the 4th Century, as the Bishop of Myra. St. Nicholas is called “Noel Baba” or “Father Christmas” in Turkey.

Chinese

In China, Christmas is not celebrated due to Laoist tradition. But a more commercialized holiday based on Western traditions, with lush Christmas decorations and lights, is very popular here. The fact that the Christmas color “red” also stands for happiness in China, helps the Chinese feel joyous while decorating for the holiday.

Japanese

In Japan, the commercial version of Christmas is also very popular. Department stores have Christmas decorations, mistletoes and artificial Christmas trees – real ones would be too expensive. The “Hoteiosho” is the Japanese Santa Claus, who brings Christmas gifts to many non-Christian Japanese children.

Arabic

Even in Arab countries Christian people celebrate Christmas. In Iraq, Christians light bonfires made ​​of dried thorns in front of their homes during Christmas Eve. If they burn down completely, it is meant to bring happiness to the family. In Lebanon, self-grown plants are used to decorate the nativity cribs. For this custom, Lebanese Christians plant pea, bean, lentil or wheat seeds in cotton buds around two weeks before Christmas.

How do you celebrate Christmas? Is there a special or funny tradition in your region? Tell us about it on Facebook –  or @busuu on Twitter.