Category Archives: Language learning

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

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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.

shakespeare, reading habits,

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!

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A Big Thank You from Cameroon

As you can see from the images, there’s a brand new classroom at the CAPEC school in Cameroon. And we’re very proud to say it was the busuu community that made it possible. Last December, every busuu-berry earned increased the amount that we donated to the charity. And we did a great job in raising the maximum amount possible, allowing us to donate enough for a whole classroom at the school.

charity, Capec, children in Cameroon

Nkolfoulou Village School

The school is located in Central Cameroon, in a remote farming village called Nkolfoulou, and provides education to children from families who are unable to afford to send their kids to schools further away from the family home. The kids love the school and get a huge amount of benefit from the education that the teachers provide there. It’s fantastic that this extra classroom will provide space and materials for an extra 40 children to attend the school each day.

A message from the school

The teachers and organisers of CAPEC, the charity that run the school, wanted us to thank all the people who contributed to the project and say how pleased they were with the new classroom. They stressed again how important it is for these young people to have an education that will help keep them safe and happy during their childhood.

So thanks again to all busuu users for your effort. You can pat yourselves on the back!

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Weather idioms

weather, idioms, language learning

What’s the weather like where you are?

Us humans seem to be obsessed with the weather! It’s a common way to start a conversation, a familiar thing to complain about when it’s bad and one of our favourite things to celebrate when it’s going our way. In this post, as we move into a new season, we’ll look at our obsession with weather and discuss some common weather Idioms in English.

Weather as an icebreaker

We’ve all been there, we arrive at the office or a cafe and don’t know exactly what to say to a colleague or family friend. We don’t want to sit there in silence…  so what do we talk about? The weather of course: ‘Nice day, isn’t it?’, ‘So cold out there today.’ or ‘Gosh, the rain today!’. It helps to break the ice and move us onto other topics of conversation.

Changing weather

But sometimes weather is a lot more serious than this. There is a lot of strong evidence to suggest that carbon emissions from human activity are having a serious effect on the weather and may be leading to more severe storms, droughts and flooding in some parts of the world. This is having a devastating effect for many people living in the areas worst affected, causing widespread damage to land and infrastructure and in some cases, tragic loss of life.

A ray of sunshine

Despite all the terrible things that bad weather can do, good weather is also an obsession for many. One of the first things that we talk about after a holiday is what the weather was like, whether it was sunny, how hot it was, whether there was enough snow for skiing. And nothing seems to brighten the mood in the busuu office like a warm sunny day here in London.

Weather influencing language

With all of this focus on weather, both positive and negative, and the massive impact that it can have on our lives, it’s no surprise that weather influences language. In English there are a lot of idioms that use weather related phrases, take a look at these five:
1. Every cloud has a silver lining.
2. Make hay while the sun shines.
3. A storm in a teacup.
4. It’s raining cats and dogs.
5. To be on cloud nine.

Do you know what these phrases mean? Do you know any similar expressions in other languages that you speak?

Learn more with busuu!

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Children learning languages

Here at the busuu office we recently celebrated the arrival of another busuu baby; with another member of our team becoming a proud parent! So naturally there has been a lot of discussion about how children learn languages and how we can help them become fluent language speakers.

children learning languages, bilingual children, learn a language

Make it fun

Adults tend to think that learning a language is a huge challenge, and while it’s true that it does take a lot of effort, this is something that young people are not aware of. Getting children to learn through fun games and activities from an early age can mean that they grow up with a more positive attitude to other languages and the process of learning.

Keep things moving

Children have much shorter attention spans than adults and it’s important to make sure there is a lot of variety for them. The language games they play should be short enough so that they don’t get bored. Children don’t understand the logic of hard work paying off in the future, so it has to be engaging in the present!

Songs and chants

Children love to sing, and songs can be one of the best ways of helping young people become familiar with the rhythm and tone of a new language. This can have a big impact on both listening skills and on their pronunciation. It also helps children remember ‘chunks’ of language; phrases and sentences that help them to become aware of the structures of language without having to focus on grammar.

Download the busuu kids app

If you want to help your child learn English or Spanish, we have a great app to help. The app, (available for iPad and Android) is made up of 30 fun and engaging learning units, each helping your child learn 5 useful words. And because learning is most fun when it’s interactive, why not use the words from each unit to make a song or a game to play with your child at home.

The most important thing, whatever your age, is to love learning. Here at busuu we aim to make learning fun and engaging for all; whether you’re four or one hundred and four!

 

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Be inspired to learn by these multilingual women

International Women’s Day (8 March 2014) recognises the achievements of women worldwide. To celebrate, we want to highlight a few benefits of learning a language, supported by examples of female polyglots to inspire you!

women's day, inspirational women, international women's day

Reach more people, help create change

Speaking other languages means you can communicate with more people. You could help raise awareness of important topics in countries that speak a language different from your own.

Pakistani schoolgirl and girls’ rights campaigner Malala Yousafzai kept a blog for BBC Urdu about life under the Taliban. As well as Urdu and Pashto, she can speak English too, which has helped her reach a wider global audience as her profile has grown.

Other examples include Nobel Peace Prize winners Mother Teresa and Aung San Suu Kyi. Albanian missionary Mother Teresa also spoke English, Serbo-Croatian, Bengali and Hindi, and activist Aung San Suu Kyi speaks Burmese, English, French and Japanese.

Achieve greater success in your career

Learning a language can be a benefit in any profession. Thanks to the global nature of most industries and markets, any language skills you have could help you to get ahead.

British Sky Sports News presenter Kate Abdo is also fluent in Spanish, French and German. She has worked in exciting roles in Germany and interviewed sporting stars in their own language.

Columbian singer-songwriter Shakira speaks Spanish, English, Portuguese, Arabic and Italian. Thanks to recording in both Spanish and English, she has won fans and enjoyed success worldwide.

Tap into your creativity and inspire others

Using your foreign language skills with other people – whether personally or professionally – will awaken their curiosity and get them interested in other cultures and languages too.

British author JK Rowling was a French teacher before becoming a writer. She used her language knowledge to help make up words in her Harry Potter books, captivating children everywhere.

Linguist Susanna Zaraysky, who was born in Russia, studied 11 languages and speaks 8 of them. She’s a book author, presenter, trainer and language blogger who inspires learners worldwide.

Who is your language-learning role model?

We hope our introduction to these female polyglots motivates you to keep learning on the busuu website.

Do you know of any other inspirational multilingual women? Who are your language role models, or do you try to inspire others yourself? Let us know in the comments!