Author Archives: Fabia Alves

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Watch foreign films to boost your language skills

The red carpet has already been rolled out this year for film festivals including the Golden Globes, the Sundance Film Festival and the Berlin International Film Festival. But have you ever thought about watching the foreign-language entries?

watch movies, foreign films, learn languages, language learning

Movies, TV shows and web series like busuu’s ‘London Central’ are useful for helping you improve your language skills. Here’s why they are a fun and (almost) effortless learning tool!

It’s an easy way to hear a different language

Films are excellent for listening to native speakers and how a language sounds. Imitate what you hear to help remember words – just think of all the phrases you know by heart from films in your own language!

Watching a movie that you’re already familiar with, dubbed in the language you’re learning, can also be useful. Because you know the story, you can more easily connect the plot with what’s being said.

You can use subtitles to help you

How many times have you wished for subtitles in real life when talking with a native speaker? The great thing about films is that you can easily turn them on to help you understand!

Whether you use them or not, and in which language, depends on your ability. You could start watching the film with subtitles and, once you’ve grasped the plot, simply turn them off and rely on your listening skills.

You’ll gain insight into a different culture

If you decide to watch a foreign film (rather than one from your own country that’s dubbed), you could discover fascinating, exciting and unusual movies that give you an insight into another way of life.

As well as improving your language skills, you’ll increase your cultural understanding and appreciation. They could also be a great talking point for when you practise with a native speaker.

Films are readily available in different languages

Nowadays, DVDs offer various languages for both soundtracks and subtitles. This means you can pick up a movie you already have at home and easily switch the options to the language you’re learning.

Many smaller, independent cinemas also show foreign films (although they probably have subtitles in your local language), and it’s easier than ever to rent movies online at a low cost from streaming services.

Learn English with ‘London Central’

At busuu, our education experts know watching films and TV shows in a foreign language can help you learn. That’s why we created ‘London Central’, an online series for learning English for beginners.

It’s the world’s first video course to include direct interaction with native English speakers. Find out more about ‘London Central or upgrade to Premium for immediate access to all 10 episodes.

What do you think about learning with movies?

Do you enjoy watching films to help you learn a foreign language? Can you recommend a movie in your own language? What tips do you have for other learners? Let us know in the comments!

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It’s carnival time! Celebrate and share a photo with busuu

At this time of year something out of the ordinary happens around the world…there’s mayhem and madness, people do weird and wonderful things, bring out their best costumes…and come together to celebrate carnival!

carnival around the world, photo competition, carnival

Win with our carnival photo competition…

Tell us how you do it, and to celebrate world festivals happening everywhere, you could win one of five 12-month Premium Memberships with busuu.

Do you wear feathers and samba? Do you wear coloured beads and catch doubloons? Maybe you wear a gown and masquerade?

Just upload your carnival photo onto our Facebook app by 21st March 2014, showing us what carnival means in your culture and why you love it.

Lots of ways to enter

It might be the excitement of setting up or dressing up. It could be the beat of the drums or the bass of the sound system. Or is it the faces of your friends lit up by lights or made up with face paints?

You can upload your picture onto our Facebook page or alternatively use Instagram or Twitter with the hashtag #busuucarnival, share with your friends and get them to vote for your entry. The entries with the most votes will win!

Our competition opens 21st February and closes 21st March 2014. For full terms and conditions, click here.

Amazing carnival traditions from around the world

In the UK…it’s a celebration of diversity
We save our carnival for summer and it’s a celebration of London’s diversity. We love how London bursts with colour – there are murals everywhere…

In Spain…something fishy happens
Tenerife’s carnival is seen as second only to Rio’s. Thousands of people in costumes dance until the early hours right up until Ash Wednesday when there is the symbolic burial of the sardine or ‘entierro de la sardina’. And then there’s the Carnival Queen to crown – an event watched by thousands.

In Italy…it’s not just about Venice
The largest food fight in the country takes place in Ivrea, Northern Italy. The food of choice? Oranges. Thousands are thrown in the streets and are said to represent the stones thrown at the castle of a tyrant king who was overthrown by the people of the town. Held in February, it too celebrates the end of winter and a new beginning.

In Venice…it can be frightening
Baroque costumes and beautiful masks turn the city into a fairytale. But this year there was something a little different. Hundreds of zombies and zombie hunters marched through the streets!

In Germany…it’s ‘crazy days’
Every shopkeeper, policeman, barman; every virgin, prince and farmer (the last three are Cologne traditions!) are dressed up in crazy costume to celebrate the start of Lent.

In India…it’s paint from head to toe
The Holi festival says goodbye to winter and the triumph of good over evil in the most colourful way possible – every paint colour you can think of is thrown – and everyone and anyone is game.

In the US…it’s all purple, green and gold
Purple is justice. Green is faith. Gold is power. Huge floats line the streets and ‘krewes’ throw colourful beads and coins to the crowd. People dance, drink, picnic and party on the streets until midnight on Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) before Lent begins.

In Brazil…you can be in the show
Salvador is Brazil’s favourite carnival. They say that ‘If you’re in Rio you are a spectator but if you are in Salvador you are in the show’.

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Let’s celebrate all languages

Language is such an important part of life. It shapes our interaction, our relationships and even the thoughts and feelings that we have as people. Different languages shape us in different ways, so imagine how boring the world would be without linguistic diversity.

language diversity, different languages, international mother language

International Mother Language Day

On 21 February 1952 a group of students were demonstrating for recognition of their mother tongue, Bangla, as a national language of what was then part of Pakistan. Tragically some of these students were killed during the demonstration. International Mother Language Day has been observed on this date every year since 1999, with the aim of promoting awareness of linguistic and cultural identity all over the world.

Awareness of traditions

According to UNESCO, encouraging people to celebrate their mother tongues will not just promote linguistic diversity, but will inspire solidarity between people based on understanding, tolerance and dialogue.

Help save dying languages

The name busuu comes from a language of the same name in Cameroon. With only eight living speakers of busuu, it’s really important that those people celebrate their language and try to pass it onto others before the language dies out. At busuu we made a video to help save the language we are named after.

Celebrate languages with busuu

Learning any language is a celebration of linguistic diversity. Here at busuu we offer 12 different languages and we believe people should learn new languages but also share and celebrate their own culture and heritage. With our massive online community you can connect with users from all over the world, speaking hundreds of different languages.

What’s your mother language? Is it the language you usually speak?

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Cross-language relationships – plus special offer!

Intercultural relationships are on the rise, so what better day than Valentine’s Day to celebrate them here at busuu? They can be an enriching – and very funny – experience, so we asked busuu users about the benefits of learning their partner’s language.

We also have a special Valentine’s Day 2-for-1 offer, available for 24 hours only – keep reading to find out more! And don’t forget to boost your language skills with our Valentine’s Day learning unit. Perfect for impressing someone special!

valentine's day, love, romance, discount

Enjoy the best of both worlds

As well as learning more words for ‘I love you’, busuu users in a relationship with someone from another country said they also experience a new way of thinking and living. You can pick the best bits from each other’s culture to create your own unique one!

“We bring two different cultures, and this enriches both of us,” says Oula, a Lebanese-Canadian married to a Venezuelan. Marta from Italy adds: “After two-and-a-half years, my Spanish partner is used to early dinner times and now he likes the Italian way of life.”

Connect with family and friends

Learning your partner’s native language and sharing their culture won’t just bring you closer together; you’ll also be able to get to know their family and friends, who will likely be extremely supportive and appreciative of your efforts.

“I’m part of a warm, welcoming family that isn’t afraid to have a laugh and a joke when I mess up speaking Arabic,” says Johnathan, a Britishman whose wife’s family is Yemeni. “Everyone understands that I’m still a beginner!”

Learn from your own personal tutor

Nothing beats practising with a native speaker, including your boyfriend or girlfriend. They can be a valuable help when you’re working hard to learn their language – but you can also be a source of entertainment!

“My Spanish partner is trying to learn Italian by just talking with my family, and it’s really funny,” says Marta. “He creates words that don’t exist and we all just laugh together!”

Johnathan adds: “My wife would get me to repeat words. I now realise this was for her own amusement, because I would walk around repeating them without knowing they were offensive!”

Laugh at the differences

When you know your partner’s culture, it’s easier to understand different ways of communicating. As Briton Helen, married to an Argentinian, observes: “Spanish is very direct and can sound like giving orders, which causes me to be a bit put out sometimes.”

On other occasions, the misunderstandings can be entirely grammatical. “I always say ‘I am smart’ instead of saying ‘I am ready’, due to wrongly using the verb ‘to be’ in Spanish,” adds Oula. “You can imagine the rest!”

There are less obvious cultural differences too. “I have my own separate ‘special’ dish of less spicy food,” says Johnathan of visits to his wife’s Arabic family. Irma from Lithuania, whose partner is from Germany, comments: “Germans have a completely different sense of humour to me.”

Realise love is more than words

Being able to communicate via a shared language is essential for successful relationships. But you also realise that they are based on more than words alone and you only need a few phrases to establish a connection.

“It was a miracle we were able to start a relationship with such initial language barriers,” says Henri from Luxembourg, who’s married to Alejandra, a Mexican. “But we realised that it’s not always necessary to speak to understand each other.”

As Belgian Julie – who met her boyfriend from Columbia on busuu – adds: “Love is not a matter of country or language; love doesn’t have boundaries.”

Special 2-for-1 offer – one day only!

To help both you and your partner learn and improve in each other’s language, we have a special 24-hour promotion: buy a Premium membership for yourself and get another completely free!

Of course, it’s not only for couples; if you upgrade, you can give the second Premium membership to anyone you choose. But don’t forget: it’s available only on 14 February 2014. Find out more and upgrade to Premium now.

Are you in an intercultural relationship? Have you learnt your partner’s language, or are they learning yours? Tell us about your experiences in the comments! You can also take part in our Month of Love on Facebook and Google+.

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Cameroon Project Update

We just got some really exciting news from the Cameroon Association for the Protection and Education of the Child and wanted to share it with you all. In December, all the berries you earned on busuu contributed to us donating money to build a classroom in Central Cameroon, and now we have pictures of the early stages of that process!

charity, education, learn to help, build a classroom

Mr Paul, the builder and Ms Collette, the CAPEC Founder

Building Materials

In Cameroon, classrooms are often built using large planks of wood. As you can see from the picture, these have recently been purchased and are in the process of being prepared by a carpenter, ready to be made into the classroom. Over the next few months the classroom will take shape and will be filled with all the furniture and equipment that the local children need for their education.

Keep up to date

Visit our Facebook and Google+ to see more photos. Also we’ll be posting regular updates on our blog so make sure you check in to see how the school is coming along.

Thanks again for all your hard work during the campaign. It’s your learning that made this donation possible.