Tag Archives: education

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Get ready for Halloween 2012!

While Halloween, or All Saint’s Eve, is most popular in America, countries around the world are now beginning to adopt this holiday too.

Halloween

If you are planning to attend, or even host a Halloween party, you should make sure you know the most common words related to this holiday. Halloween words borrow from many different languages. Today, these words are used in countries all around the world.

Do you know where some of these words come from?

Let’s take a look at the most common ones:

HALLOWEEN

Halloween is a condensed form of the phrase All Hallow Even, i.e. All Saints’ Eve. Hallow means “holy”, so Halloween is the Eve of All Hallows, i.e. all saints. Hallow and Halloween derive from the Old English adjective halig (holy).

PUMPKIN

Pumpkin derives from the Greek pepon, a kind of melon eaten only when very ripe. The word root is very interesting: Latin took over pepon as pepo, then French produced popon/pompon, then pumpion, and finally pumpkin.

BROOM

There is no witch in town that would make a Halloween appearance without a broom. The word derives from a Germanic plant name that appears as bramo, bramma and bramio in various Germanic languages. So a broom essentially bears the Germanic name of the twig plant.

COFFIN

This word appears in various languages. In Greek it’s kophinus (a basket), in Latin cophinus and French cofin. Initially, the word meant ‘box’ but in the 16th century it took on two meanings, one of which is the dreaded coffin.

GHOST

In traditional belief and fiction, a ghost is the soul or spirit of a deceased person or animal that appears to the living. However, Halloween ghosts will be disappointed to know that their linguistic ancestors where neither scary nor vengeful. In Old English, ghost simply meant “spirit”, a meaning preserved when we refer to the Holy Ghost.

To get you in the right mood for Halloween, here are the top 10 Halloween songs of all time.

To learn more words related to this fantastic holiday, complete our fun Halloween exercise on busuu.com

 

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Learn vocabulary even faster!

To become comfortable with new words, practise by using the word in your writing, speaking and everyday thoughts.

The more you use and think about new words, the better you can remember them. In order for a word to become a part of your vocabulary, you have to use and hear it in several ways.

The key to building up a good vocabulary is to be curious and to keep practising what you have learned.

This is why we have introduced CheckpointsCheckpointsa simple new feature that will help you to learn new words and phrases and remember them!

 Checkpoints

 

In addition, here are our top tips for you to remember new words:

  1. Practise saying the word and listen to others to get the pronunciation right.
  2. Try to learn the word and its meaning the first time you see it.
  3. Practise writing the word and its definition often.
  4. Take advantage of Checkpoints, our new tool to help you to remember new words.
  5. Vary the words: Try to make them plural and use them in different sentences.
  6. Repeat the word many times in your mind!
  7. And ALWAYS have fun learning new words!

CheckpointsCheckpoints is only available for Premium membersPremium! Upgrade to Premium today to take advantage of this great new feature!

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Challenge your friends to win 50 busuu-berries!

Do you have a competitive spirit? You can now challenge your friends on busuu.com! See who’s learning languages faster and get 50 juicy busuu-berries busuu-berry if you win the challenge!

To challenge a friend you just need to:

  1. Click on the new challenge icon busuu Challenge on your friend’s profile
  2. If your friend accepts the challenge, click on “Go
  3. Finish the three units assigned to you plus the test in less than 24 hours

busuu Challenge

The busuu Challenge is available to everybody, Premium Members Premium Member and basic members. Start a busuu challenge now!

As a reward you will get 50 busuu-berries busuu-berry if you win! But be careful, if you lose the challenge, you will also lose 50 busuu-berries busuu-berry.

Go to your course area and click on “busuu Challenge” in the new menu section “Fun and Games”. In your current challenge, you will see how much time is left, how many units you still have to complete and how many units your opponent did so far.

You can also check your challenge history to look at previous challenges or look for new friends to set up a new challenge with, if you’re currently not challenging anybody.

What are you waiting for? Challenge a friend and encourage him to do 3 learning units within 24 hours! If you both win, you both get 50 busuu-berries busuu-berry! Good luck!

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Check out our improved dialogues!

Practise your listening comprehension with our improved dialogues! We’ve added new functions that will help you understand the dialogues even better! If you’re a Premium MemberPremium Member you can now:

  1. See the part that is being spoken in yellow
  2. Pause the dialogue wherever you want
  3. Repeat any sentence that you want to hear again
busuu.com dialogue

Whenever you open a dialogue, the audio will start automatically and the part that is being spoken will be highlighted in yellow, so you can follow the dialogue easily. We recommend you listen to the dialogue as a whole at first. If you then want to hear a specific sentence again, or listen to one sentence at a time, just use the forward and backward buttons to navigate through the dialogue. Try it out now!

dialogue toolbar

Learn at your own pace by listening to each sentence as often as you wish or pausing the dialogue at any time. This way you can develop an ear for the language you are learning and you can also practise your pronunciation by listening to the sentences repeatedly and saying them out loud.

As usual, after listening to the dialogue, you will have to answer three short questions to show that you have understood the conversation. Test your listening comprehension now!

These new functions are part of the busuu.com Premium MembershipPremium Member.

Not a Premium MemberPremium Member yet? Upgrade now to learn languages more efficiently or have a look at the complete list of our Premium functions here!

Have fun with our improved dialogues!

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The busuu.com Language Barometer 2012

Key trends of language learning point towards online language learning

busuu.com is on a quest to define the future key trends of language learning. In collaboration with IE Business School, a leading postgraduate education institution, we present: The busuu.com Language Barometer 2012! 

The busuu.com Language Barometer 2012

More than 45,000 busuu.com users from 230 different countries responded to our survey, held at the beginning of March 2012. Let’s have a look at our users’ preferred methods for improving their language skills, what encourages or hampers their learning process and many more exciting outcomes!

The future of language learning relies on online methods!

With 23% of the vote, our community defines language courses abroad as the most efficient learning method. No wonder, who wouldn’t prefer to have a nice holiday abroad whilst simultaneously improving language skills? ;-)

Web 2.0 platforms such as busuu.com are a close second, with 20% preferring to study languages through these interactive online communities. Our users even found this method more efficient than learning with a personal teacher (15%)!

The survey clearly shows that language learners regard grammar books and language classes as less attractive forms of learning. Only 8% of our users like to learn languages in a classroom, and books and CD-ROMS are considered the most efficient method by a mere 6% and 3% respectively.

Interestingly, mobile learning is not yet a popular option for learning languages. Only 2% identified this method as most efficient for them. We are curious as to how this perception of mobile applications will change in the future.

 The busuu.com Language Barometer 2012

63% of our users believe that combining different learning methods will be most important in the future. Those who opted for a single method clearly preferred online learning (27%). Only 6% rely on traditional methods and 4% believe that mobile learning will be important for future language learning.

The busuu.com Language Barometer 2012

Flexibility and direct contact with native speakers are the key advantages of online learning

35% of our users who preferred online learning value this method for its flexibility which allows them to learn whenever and wherever they want. Almost a quarter of the respondents learn languages online in order to learn with native speakers. 16% believe that this method is efficient and 15% learn online because it’s an economical way to learn languages.

The busuu.com Language Barometer 2012

How much money do people spend over their lifetime on language learning?

To keep it short and simple: a lot! The lifetime average spending of our users on language learning is approximately 740 Euros (975 USD). More than 17% of our users have spent more than 1,000 EUR (1,300 USD) in language learning over time.

Those who decide to invest in language learning have a good reason to do so: 78% of our users believe that foreign language skills will improve their career prospects and 72% are confident that the ability to speak a foreign language will directly improve their financial situation.

Why do people learn languages?

The reasons that motivate people to learn a new language have certainly changed in recent years. The main reasons for our users to take up language learning are travelling (46.5%), fun (37.6%) and business (37.1%). What is also interesting is the fact that 30% of our users learn languages for mental training.

 busuu.com Language Barometer 2012

What makes learning a language difficult?

Let’s see what our users have to say about the challenges of language learning: 23% think they don’t have enough time to learn languages. 19% believe that not having access to native speakers slows down their learning process and 14% have trouble staying motivated. No wonder over 15 million users learn languages with busuu.com, where these main challenges are tackled right away!

busuu.com Language Barometer 2012

What is the language of the future?

An impressive 51% of our users agree that English will be the language of the future! The second most voted language is Chinese with 22% and Spanish comes in third place with 7%. The rest of our users are split between languages such as Russian, Arabic, German, Japanese and others.

Concerning the topic of which language children should learn, English and Chinese are still the top choice with 40% and 11% respectively. However, the other main Western languages follow closely behind: 11% vote for Spanish, 10% for French and 8% for German.

Who learns languages on busuu.com?

Users on busuu.com cover all age ranges: Almost two thirds of our users are between 14 and 35 years old. 32% are between 36 and 60 years and a notable 6% of our users are older than 60! Congratulations to the so-called “silver surfers” for taking up the trend of online language learning!

Interestingly, an impressive 58% have a university degree and 23% have an MBA or a PhD.

The busuu.com Language Barometer 2012

This educational background is also represented in the current activity of our language students. 30% are studying and 41% are working either for a company or as entrepreneurs or freelancers. As already indicated by the age ranges, 6% of our users are retired.

The busuu.com Language Barometer 2012 

What does this mean for the future of language learning?

To sum up, people mainly learn languages for travelling, entertainment and business. However, the ability to speak different languages is also seen as very beneficial for opening opportunities for career progression and financial stability.

The numbers certainly show that, whether used in combination with other learning methods, or as an interesting alternative, online learning is the tool of the future. People look for a flexible and interactive tool that offers them direct access to native speakers. We’re glad to be on the right track with our language learning solution!

Many thanks to all of you who took part in this survey! We look forward to further discussing our results about the future trends of language learning with you in the comment section below!