Author Archives: Thomas

European Day of Languages 2013

Since 2001, the European Day of Languages has been held every year on 26 September. It aims to encourage Europe’s 800 million inhabitants, whatever their age, to learn more languages to help intercultural understanding and preserve our heritage.

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Who’s it for?

The European Day of Languages is for everyone! From students and teachers to you and your next-door neighbour, the aim is to have a fun experience and learn a bit more about new languages and cultures.

 

Where can I take part?

If you want to get involved, look out for activities such as language classes and conferences. If you can’t make it to one of these, there are also television and radio programmes, and online activities.

Search for an event near you on the European Day of Languages website.

 

I have an idea for an event!

Why not arrange your own activity, such as a film evening with movies in different languages or a special dinner with different dishes from a range of countries.

 

Can I do something smaller?

Why not invite your friends or neighbours from different cultures for tea and a quiz based on fun language facts? You could also simply decorate your home, classroom or local community meeting place with posters.

 

What will you do?

Let us know in the comments if you’ll take part in an event or even organise your own! Even if you can’t get to an activity, don’t forget to log on to busuu on 26 September to continue your own language learning and talk to native speakers!

World of Work: Daniel Soto

Learning a language has lots of benefits, such as helping you to progress in your career and find new opportunities. So we are starting a series called ‘World of Work’, where we will speak to people who use languages every day.

Let’s meet Daniel Soto from Spain

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

I am the Reception Manager at Hotel Samos in Mallorca. It’s an independent hotel, where I work as part of a small, hands-on team who share responsibilities. I started here as a receptionist in 2002 and was already the department head by 2008.

Why are languages necessary for what you do?

Most of our clients are British, as Mallorca is a popular destination for the UK. We also have many guests from Portugal, Italy, France and Russia, and some from Scandinavia and Eastern Europe.

Thanks to the internet, we now have clients from all over the world and who book rooms directly. English is absolutely essential, from talking to travel agencies to dealing with the people staying here.

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

My mother tongue is Spanish and I studied English in school and at university, as well as using it every day at work with both clients and suppliers.

I speak fluent Italian, which I have learnt on the job from speaking to clients over 10 years. I also speak intermediate Portuguese – learnt in the same way – and know some German from studying for 2 years at local language classes.

Which language have you found most challenging to learn?

The most difficult has been German because of its grammar, such as the way certain words change their form depending on their role in a sentence. Also, I can’t practise it much at work as we do not have many clients from Germany.

And which language was the easiest for you?

English has always been the simplest and most intuitive for me, being the language of the music I listen to, the early internet and the tourism that I have mainly dealt with.

As a native Spanish speaker, the Italian that I have picked up through my work is also intuitive to me. I guess this is due to the two languages’ similarities in grammar and how they sound.

In your opinion, what’s the next important language for you to learn?

We are in a major tourist destination in Spain and the Russian market is growing quickly. Being able to speak Russian will soon be a big deciding factor in finding work and local classes are already overbooked. In fact, I downloaded busuu’s app for Russian.

Which learning materials or methods have helped you most?

As well as speaking to clients who are native speakers, audio-visual materials have always seemed to me the most natural way to learn a language. It’s the closest to learning in a real environment.

Do you have any tips for anyone who’s learning a language or would like a job like yours?

I would say to anyone who is starting to learn that it’s absolutely worth the initial effort – it becomes much easier in a short time. We were born to communicate with each other, so we have all the tools needed to learn a new language.

In the case of roles like mine, English is essential. It’s the language of business, communication and the internet. Any extra language is a plus – it’s another skill on your CV and will make you stand out in job interviews.

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

What did you think of this interview? Do you do a similar job to Daniel? Are there other occupations you would like us to consider for future posts? Let us know in the comments!

Bilingual, trilingual or polyglot?

Did you know that the world’s population has more multilingual people than speakers of just one language? If you can speak two languages, you’re bilingual; three and you’re trilingual. If you speak even more, you might be known as a polyglot.

A few polyglots, past and present

There have always been people who can talk or write in several tongues. For example, German polyglot Emil Krebs could communicate in 68 languages. Kató Lomb, a Hungarian interpreter and translator, worked in 16 languages.

A modern-day polyglot who can speak more languages than we can imagine doing is American professor Alexander Arguelles, who fluently speaks about 36 languages.

Another example is teenager Timothy Doner. He became well known via his YouTube videos, in which he speaks more than 20 languages. Have you done this too? Add a link in the comments!

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How did they learn so many languages?

The key to picking up a new tongue is the same, whether you’re learning foreign language number 2 or 22! On his website, Alexander Arguelles gives these tips for success:

  • Stay focused on learning
  • Use clever study methods and good materials
  • Study regularly over a long time
  • Take active control of your learning
  • Make the most of resources like books and recordings

Become a polyglot with Busuu!

With Busuu, you can learn up 12 different languages! Whether you want to become a polyglot or to simply learn one new language, we’ve got the tools to help you.

  • Speak to native speakers using the Busuu chat tool and get their feedback on writing exercises and voice recordings.
  • Study with our Learning Units, designed by language experts and based on a tried-and-tested method.
  • Set targets and track your progress using My Goal, to help you stay motivated.
  • Download the Busuu mobile app (for iOS and Android) to keep learning, even on the move.
  • Try our other fun tools, like Live Units, the ‘London Central’ video course, Grammar Guides and more!

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Which languages do you speak?

Are you bilingual, trilingual or a polyglot? Which languages do you speak and how did you learn them? How many languages have you learnt with Busuu? Let us know in the comments – we’d love to read your stories!

Develop good language-learning habits

The trick for successfully learning any language is to develop good habits from the start. At busuu, we want you to stay motivated and have fun while achieving your personal goals. Here are our top tips to help you reach them!

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Top language-learning habits

1. Listen as often as you can

Listening to native speakers is crucial for learning a language. You can easily do this even if you don’t live in the country of your target language, thanks to lots of useful online resources.

Try listening to TV shows, podcasts or videos like busuu’s ‘London Central’. Or go to our busuu Live Units for more fun videos to watch.

2. Practise with native speakers

The best tutors are native speakers themselves, so try to talk or interact with them as often as possible. With the busuu chat tool, you can do this from the comfort of your own home!

Speaking will help you to improve your pronunciation, but you can also better your fluency through writing. Complete a Writing exercise on busuu and our community’s native speakers will give you helpful, positive feedback.

3. Track your progress

Learning a new language is a challenge, so be persistent and you’ll reap the rewards. Study and practise regularly, and track your progress using My Goal on busuu.

By setting and achieving your own aims, you’ll feel motivated to carry on learning. It also means that you’ll be more likely to study a language consistently, for even faster results!

 

What good habits do you have?

It’s helpful to hear about other people’s good habits. What are your tips for staying motivated or learning faster? Do you have any funny stories about your experiences? Tell us in the comments!

 

Discover our next Language of the Month!

What did you learn from our first Language of the Month?

Throughout July, we posted fun facts about Spanish on Facebook, Twitter and Google+. Here are some of the highlights, as well as which language we’ll be focusing on in August!

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Words and phrases

‘Eres la leche’ is an expression used in Spain that sounds funny if translated literally (‘You are the milk’). What it actually means is ‘You’re amazing’, as lots of people correctly said.

False friends are words that sound similar to ones in your native language, but have a different meaning. ‘Estoy embarazado/a’ sounds just like ‘I’m embarrassed’, but it means ‘I’m pregnant’!

What do ‘autobús’, ‘camión’ and ‘guaguas’ have in common? They all mean ‘bus’ in different parts of the Spanish-speaking worldFind out which words our members suggested.

 

Cultural aspects

Many of you identified our mystery landmark as Peru’s Machu Picchu, a 15th-century Inca site. Claudia Elgueta Beltrán Mayssa, a busuu.com fan, even shared a music video featuring Machu Picchu. Great link, Claudia!

Our post about the Mexican sauce called ‘mole (from Nahuatl ‘molli’) was also popular. Lots of busuu.com members took part in naming different types of mole. Fan Anke Baurott offered to help anyone looking for Mexican recipes. Thanks, Anke!

Language of the Month in August

Following the success of our Spanish month, we will be taking a closer look at German in August. It’s an official or dominant language in 7 countries (can you name them all?) and has around 90 million native speakers.

So if you’d like to tell everyone how great Oktoberfest is, discover some tasty delicacies or see beautiful sights in German-speaking countries, follow busuu.com on FacebookTwitter and Google+. Bis bald!