Category Archives: Language-learning tips

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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 Language of the Month time again!

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What did you think of our facts and fun questions about English on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ for our Language of the Month in October? Here’s a taste of what we talked about, as well as news of a challenging language for November!

Ask a native speaker

Heather, the busuu team’s native English speaker, was available for a live chat on Facebook to answer any questions you had. Here’s a selection of the best queries:

  • There’s a verse in Bob Dylan’s song, ‘Like a rolling stone’, that says: “You shouldn’t let other people get your kicks for you.” What does “kicks for you” mean in this case? (Alberto C Alberto)
  • What’s the most important tip you can offer adult learners? (Hiba Howard Lafoui)
  • Is there a specific word for riding the train and not paying for a ticket, like in Arabic and German (schwarzfahren)? (Simo Benziane)

Thank you to everyone who got involved! To read more questions and find out Heather’s answers, visit Facebook.

Proverbs that keep you healthy

We asked you to tell us what keeps the doctor away according to a well-known English saying. Reader Céré Lalounette replied with the correct answer in a funny rhyme: “An apple a day keeps the doctor away, but if the doctor is cute, forget the fruit!”

Differences within English

A big challenge for language learners is the difference between British and American English. In the USA, they say ‘candy’, whereas ‘sweets’ is used in the UK. We asked you what word you use and fan Yannick Bédouret sent us a video (in French) about ‘bonbons’.

Real tongue twisters

We gave you an example of a long one-syllable word in English – ‘screeched’ – and reader Gonzalez Sanchez Nicolas replied with lots of other examples like ‘scratched’, ‘scrounged’, ‘scrunched’ and ‘stretched’.

He also sent us some very long English words, which are extremely hard to say! They include:

  • antidisestablishmentarianism – opposition to the disestablishment of the Church of England (28 letters)
  • floccinaucinihilipilification – the estimation of something as worthless (29 letters)
  • pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis – a supposed lung disease (45 letters)

Don’t worry, these don’t appear in busuu’s Learning Units!

Language of the Month in November

The next language that we’ll explore will be a real challenge because it uses a different writing system to English. About 125 million people speak this East Asian language, which became more popular to learn from the 1980s onwards.

Have you guessed? Yes, it’s Japanese! We will take a look at Japanese culture, essential words and phrases, and provide tips on how to write Japanese characters. Learn about Japanese with busuu on Facebook, Twitter or Google+. 次回もお楽しみに!


 

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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!