235

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!

234

Easter treats and discounts for you!

Easter, chocolate eggs

Why the Easter chicken doesn’t exist and other Easter treats…

Don’t worry we’re not about to tell you the Easter bunny isn’t coming this year. To help us with our cultural and language learning, we’ve been eating chocolate eggs and reading about Easter (a lot) and now we’ve got questions …

So why is the bunny delivering the chickens’ eggs?

A symbol of fertility and new life (they can make up to 14 bunnies in one go and get pregnant while they are already pregnant) rabbits have been a part of springtime tradition since ancient times, and so too has the egg.

Many ancient Egyptians, Persians and Hindus believed the world began with an huge egg.  It’s also thought that the Anglo-Saxon Goddess of Spring, Eostre had a hare as her companion.

In the 1700s, German immigrants brought the ‘Osterhase’ tradition with them to America a hare that laid colourful eggs.

Why would you paint your eggs?

There is evidence of egg colouring in early Christian North African tribes. And as far back as the 13th century, it’s believed painting eggs was a celebration of being able to eat them again, as they were forbidden over Lent.

Who hunts for eggs?

From Sweden to Germany, the UK to France, people will be hiding Easter eggs all over the place hard boiled, chocolate or filled with sweets. And lots of little ones (and some adults like us) will be hunting them out.

And who rolls them?

In Egypt children roll red and yellow eggs. In Denmark they’re rolled down slopes of grassland or forest. In Germany they’re rolled down a track made of sticks. In America, some children are invited to roll theirs on the White House lawn.

Your last chance to grab your Easter treat

The Easter bunny’s giving you one last chance to get a 25% discount on a Premium Membership.

You’ll be fluent, quicker:

  • Get one-to-one support: record your exercises and get direct feedback.
  • Get exclusive high-end content: from The Guardian and National Geographic.
  • Master the difficult bits: added grammar support and practise.
  • Pick up and practise: unlimited access to our full mobile app content

Our promotion ends on the 21st of April 2014. Become Premium for less!

233

busuu partners with Pearson English

Here at busuu we are very happy to announce an exciting partnership with learning giant Pearson, allowing us to provide all our members with an even better learning experience. The deal means access to a new, affordable online test to measure English level at different stages of the learning journey.

Pearson partners with busuu

Available Summer 2014

The test will be free to all busuu Premium Members from the summer and will be available to all free members for a small fee. Initially busuu will be the only place that this test is available, providing a great opportunity for all busuu members to have exclusive access to this high quality product.

Accurate Scores

The test, known as the gSET, will be measured against Pearson English’s Global Scale of English (GSE), a detailed scale that tells learners exactly what their language level is in different areas. The tests will score busuu users against the GSE for Speaking, Listening, Reading and Writing, giving an accurate understanding of strengths and weaknesses in English.

Helping You Learn Better

Pearson has a great deal of experience in the world of English language teaching and we are really excited to give all busuu members access to this high quality test. We know how important it is to keep track of learning, and this test will allow our whole community to see their progress as they spend time with us.

A big thank you to all of the team for helping make this happen, we’re really looking forward to the launch this summer.

232

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!

231

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!