Category Archives: Language learning

Everything related with how to learn or how to improve your language skills

Find Out What These 16 Wonderful Untranslatable Words Mean


Untranslatable words

There are about 6500 languages spoken around the world. Of those, about 2000 are spoken by less than 1000 people, including busuu, which is spoken by just a handful of people in Cameroon. The most widely spoken language is Chinese, with over 1 billion speakers worldwide.

With so many languages it’s hardly a surprise that some words are untranslatable. Whichever language you’re learning, you might come across words that can’t be translated into your native language.

Here are some of our favourite untranslatable words:

  1. Akimbo – English

The position of standing with your hands on your hips and your elbows pointing outwards.

  1. Friolero – Spanish

Someone who is especially sensitive to cold weather and low temperatures.

  1. Dépaysement – French 

The feeling you get when you’re not in your own country.

  1. Schnapsidee – German

An idea that sounds so crazy you’d think someone had it while they were drunk.

  1. Schilderwald – German

A street that’s got so many street signs on it you get lost.

  1. Culaccino – Italian

Sounds like a coffee but it actually means the mark a wet glass leaves on a table.

  1. Saudade – Portuguese

A sad yearning or pining for something that probably doesn’t exist, a bit like nostalgia in English.

  1. Tosca – Russian

Longing, restlessness, anguish or boredom – when you ache for something.

  1. Pochemuchka – Russian

Someone who asks too many questions.

  1. Zalatwic – Polish

Working for cash but also using bribery, your charm, friends, connections or family to get something done.

  1. Yakamoz – Turkish

The luminescence a certain sea creature creates on the surface of the water.

  1. Inshallah – Arabic

Literally translated into Enlglish it means, “if Allah wills it”, but in Arabic its meaning differs depending on slight changes in tone. It can also mean that something is unlikely to happen.

  1. Kyoikumama – Japanese

A mother who pushes her child to achieve academically.

  1. Tsundoku – Japanese

The act of buying a book and then not reading it and adding it to a pile of other un-read books.

  1. Shān zhài – Chinese

Innovative businesses that can be very successful and are based on fake or pirated goods.

  1. Shàng huŏ – Chinese

A term used in Traditional Chinese Medicine, it means having too much internal heat.

Those are our favourites, what are yours? Let us know by commenting..

Continue your language learning today!

Learning a language makes your travel experiences so much better


Learning a language makes your travel experiences so much better

Even a little knowledge of a foreign language can help you make a good impression when you meet people from other countries.

You will never truly experience the local culture if you limit yourself to interacting on a touristic level alone. A deeper level of communication will help you fully immerse yourself in the culture.

In other words, speaking another language helps to break down barriers.

Learning a foreign language can enrich your travel experience

Of course, nowadays you can travel anywhere and everywhere without speaking any other languages, but the experience can be completely different!

Learning a foreign language can help you become a more confident traveller, but also it will give you the opportunity to meet local people, explore different places off the beaten track, and learn more about the culture and cuisine of the place you are visiting…

Particularly if you are travelling alone, speaking a foreign language can make your trip so much easier, and more enjoyable too: for social reasons when meeting new people and discovering cool new places; or for personal safety reasons, like when asking for help in case of emergencies (obviously, we hope the former would be more relevant, but it’s better to be safe than sorry!).

There are plenty of good reasons to learn a foreign language and can help you to enjoy the process of learning a new language using our app and website!

Continue your language learning today!

Crazy New Year’s Eve traditions from around the world



The Italians bring in the New Year with red underwear, the Spaniards with grapes, the Scots

with a fruitcake and a piece of coal: all of these customs are said to bring good luck. The

online language learning community at has been exploring traditional and

unusual New Year’s customs from countries where the world’s five most widespread

languages are spoken: English, Spanish, French, Italian and Portuguese. This is how the

world celebrates New Year’s Eve!

Happy New Year!

All over the world, people wish each other “Happy New Year”, as English is the main

language in more than two dozen countries, as well as an official language in another 30.

New Year’s Eve traditions, however, vary considerably within the English-speaking world. It is

common for many English-native speakers to raise a glass at midnight and sing “Auld Lang

Syne”: whether it’s on London’s Trafalgar Square, the New Year’s ball drop in New York’s

Times Square or in a small New Zealand town. The Scottish ballad is probably the world’s

most famous song sung at the stroke of midnight.

However, there is also a lesser-known Scottish tradition: it is said that the first visitor after

the New Year brings luck into the house (especially if he is tall and handsome). Therefore,

after midnight young Scottish men go door to door of friends and relatives wearing a

traditional kilt, carrying a bottle of whiskey, lump of coal and armed with a black bun – a

fruit cake with raisins, citrus peel and almonds.

Feliz Año Nuevo!

While the Scots wait for New Year’s luck to come knocking at their door, the Spaniards must

demonstrate their own “skills” at midnight. A widely practiced Spanish New Year’s tradition

is to shove twelve grapes in your mouth in the twelve seconds after midnight. Spaniards

gather for the grape feast on marketplaces such as Madrid’s Puerta del Sol. A grape is then

eaten and a secret wish is made for each chime of the clock tower. Those without a church

clock nearby, gather together and listen to the bells on television. If a person looses count or

swallows their grapes whole, then the wishes will not come true. The highest level of

concentration is required for this custom.

The Argentineans practice the New Year’s Eve tradition of getting rid of last year’s baggage,

especially in Buenos Aires, where people shred papers and documents from the previous

year on December 31 and then throw them out the window. This tradition not only cleans

out last year’s trash, but also allows children to enjoy a “White New Year’s Day” in

summertime temperatures.

Bonne Année!

The French celebrate the new year rather calmly and quietly, surrounded by friends and

family (of course, there will always be good food). The French eat very well on New Year’s

Eve: smoked salmon, famous goose liver pâté (foie gras), snails as well as oysters, lobster

and caviar are all poplular. These delicacies are then carefully arranged into a three (or

more) course meal. At midnight, champagne corks pop across France. Private fireworks are

prohibited for safety reasons in many places, but instead, champagne glasses clink and

kisses are exchanged under mistletoe to deliver good wishes.

Buon Anno Nuovo!

Italian men give red underwear to their girlfriends, wives and even mothers on New Year’s

Eve. The tradition says that slipping into a pair of red panties for New Year’s brings good

cheer and happiness. In Italy, there is less emphasis on fine dining – unlike in neighboring

France – and more emphasis on achieving goals. Pig’s feet and lentils are placed on the

dinner table of many Italian families for New Year’s Eve. This is a traditional peasant dish

meant to represent saving money, as the lentils represent coins. As they swell whilst

cooking, the this signifies wealth in the new year.

Feliz Ano Novo!

In Brazil the New Year’s Eve menu is comparatively modest: the traditional bean stew

‘Feijoada’ is much like the lentils offered in Italy’s financial blessing. As for their choice in

underwear, the Brazilians differ from the Italians yet again. If you are still searching for love,

a pair of red undies should be worn. However, those who already have a partner and wish

for a harmonious year together should put on a pair of white underwear. Many Brazilians

dress in all white on New Year’s Eve as a symbol of purity, innocence and peace, but also for

fertility. Of course, the biggest and best New Year’s Eve parties in Brazil are on beaches like

Copacabana or Ipanema. Even the sea “dresses up” to welcome in the New Year: colourful

flowers are thrown into the water in honor of Yemanjá, Goddess of the Ocean.

Prosit Neujahr!

“Prosit Neujahr“ is wished throughout Germany at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve.

“Prosit” actually comes from Latin and means: may it benefit! No matter whether you’re in

South America, Northern Europe or in New Zealand, people all around the world associate a

new year with a fresh start. Across the globe, people raise their glasses and wish each other

a happy new year at midnight.

We wish you well!

Busuu has been selected as one of the AppStore Best of 2014 in Switzerland



At the end of every year, Apple releases a list of its best Apps, and this year busuu is featured in the Best of 2014 in Switzerland.

We never could have done it without our great team of web designers, developers, customer services personnel, education experts and marketing specialists. It is thanks to their professionalism, hard work and attention to detail for which all of this was made possible.

We just wanted to say a huge thank you to all of you for making our app one of the Best Apps of 2014!

Success is the result of perfection, hard work, learning from failure, loyalty, and persistence.

Colin Powel.

Get your official Pearson Certificate



What is  GSET “The Global Scale of English”?

GSET is the world’s first truly global English language  test which allows you to measure your progress throughout your English language learning journey, from beginner right through to advanced.

This is a brand new test that will revolutionise the way you measure your level of English! busuu is currently the only place where you can take this test and earn your certificate, so you can be one of the first people in the world to benefit from it!

The test measures your level of English across four core skills:

  •      Speaking
  •      Listening
  •      Reading
  •      Writing

It uses advanced speech and writing recognition technology to provide the most accurate result.

Why is it useful?

This test will help you to answer three questions about your English level:

  •      How good is my English?
  •      Am I progressing?
  •      What do I need to do next?

The test provides an overall numerical score based on the Global Scale of English (GSE).

After completing the test you will receive your score and will be able to download an official Pearson Certificate.

How can I take the test, buy a test or upgrade to Premium?

12 months premium = 1 free test:

We are offering a free test as part of the busuu 12 months Premium membership.

Buy a test:

If you are a free user and you want to take the English language tests, you can buy them individually or as part of a package.