Category Archives: Language-learning tips

Celebrate 6 years of busuu!

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It’s busuu’s 6th birthday!

To celebrate 6 years of busuu, we are giving away a free Premium Membership to everyone who buys a Premium Membership before the 21st of May to share with a friend! Make the most of this amazing opportunity and share a language-learning gift with your family and friends.

Make the most of your language-learning

Here are 6 tips to help you improve your language studies:

1. Study every day

Try to set aside some time every day for your studies. It’s better to study for 30 minutes every day than for 3 hours once a week. This has to do with our brain’s learning curve: it’s better to keep refreshing knowledge, otherwise we’re less likely to remember it.

2. Watch TV and films in the language you’re learning

Watching TV is a great way to learn more vocabulary. You can often find internet sites that show programmes from all over the world. You could also watch foreign films with subtitles in your native language, or even in the language you’re learning.

3. Listen to music and the radio

Listening to native speakers on the radio is an excellent way to practice your listening skills. If you do not live in a country where they speak the language you’re learning, why not listen to an online radio station? There are 100s to choose from.

4. Have fun

Try to find other ways to make language learning fun. This could involve games, stories, tongue twisters, jokes and anything else you can think of. Why not sing along to your favourite foreign songs?

5. Don’t be afraid to speak

Don’t be ashamed to speak the language you’re learning and make some mistakes. The best way to learn a language is to speak and listen and get a feel for how the language sounds and is used. Practice with native speakers or other learners; the most important thing is that you give yourself an opportunity to use the language.

6. Learn about the culture

The absolute best way to learn a language is to surround yourself with it. Find out about the culture of the countries where the language is spoken, visit cultural centres or if you can, visit a country where they speak the language. There is loads of information available online, so even if you can’t travel you can find out a huge amount from the internet.

Continue learning with busuu, here!

Why reading is a must for language learning

This is a week of celebration, for the lives of so many incredible authors, who strangely, were born and died on this day.

It was Shakespeare’s 450th anniversary this week. This week it’s also exactly 450 years since he died. It’s the day when Spain’s most famous author Cervantes died. Iceland’s Nobel Winning author Laxness and French writer Druon were born. And it’s the day when William Wordsworth died.

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The best ever day for a book

So if you haven’t picked up a book for a while, today would be the perfect day. Another excellent reason is that reading a book in the language you’re learning in has been proven to boost your learning speed and vocabulary.

What would Shakespeare think about reading today?

We think he might be pleased that global literacy is at its highest, 84% (2010, UNESCO). And very surprised at HOW we’re reading.

With eBooks and eReaders, reading anywhere and everywhere is second nature to us now. So why has the simple act of reading the written word on a page endured all this technology? Well, all the writers who were born or died today would be able to tell you.

eBooks, eReaders, reading habits

It’s emotional

Reading a complete novel is about how you feel about the characters, about wanting to find out what happens, about finding something out about yourself or learning something new.

busuu’s top five tips for reading to learn language

So to keep you reading and learning faster, with a richer vocabulary, here are some quick tips.

1. Choose a book that’s not too hard, but not for children
You won’t identify with the stories or characters if the book is for young children, you’ll need to want to read it. We love Harry Potter! You don’t need to understand all the words, you’ll pick them up when you see them in context.

2. Make reading social
Start a book club, share good reads. If you know someone will love a particular character or story, tell them (it will make you look clever too!).

3. Find your favourite writers on social media
We loved reading ‘The Shock of the Fall.’ Then we found it’s author Nathan Filer on Twitter.

4. Read with sound effects and classical scores
Sherlock Holmes, Oscar Wilde, Rudyard Kipling are just a few amazing enhanced eBook experiences to keep you learning.

5. Make digital notes
You can make notes without ruining your books on eReaders. Pick phrases or thoughts that capture your attention. Language idioms or ideas that you want to remember.

Get learning with busuu and share your favourite books with our community!

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?

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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!

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!


 

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!