Tag Archives: language learning

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Halloween around the world

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Halloween (also spelt Hallowe’en or known as All Hallows’ Eve) is recognised every year on 31 October in lots of countries around the world. Find out more about Halloween with busuu!

How did Halloween start?

Many people believe that Halloween originally developed from festivals in western Europe, celebrating either harvests or the dead. It might even come from the Gaelic seasonal festival called Samhain, which was observed in Ireland and Scotland.

Where is Halloween celebrated?

Although it began in Europe, Halloween is now popular in many other countries due to migrants introducing the tradition. For example, it’s thought that it arrived in North America thanks to Irish people who moved there in the 19th century.

North America

Throughout the USA and Canada, Halloween is one of the biggest events of the year. After Christmas, it’s also the most popular time to decorate both indoors and outdoors!

Trick-or-treating is a favourite pastime. This involves children dressing up and then going from door to door to ask for sweets. Halloween costume parties are very common – for adults too!

Europe

Halloween is not as popular as in North America, but it’s still widely celebrated. Typical activities include fancy dress parties, trick-or-treating, ‘bobbing’ for apples, making lanterns, eating toffee apples or enjoying fireworks.

Central and South America

The Day of the Dead, which is on the 2nd of November, is a well-known festival in Mexico. It’s a time when friends and family get together to remember those who have died.

However, North-American-style Halloween celebrations are also growing in popularity, including games such as trick-or-treating and typical symbols like pumpkin lanterns and witches.

Asia

For Chinese in Hong Kong and Singapore, Halloween is a time to give presents to spirits to keep them happy. Western-style celebrations are also popular in Singapore and Japan.

Explore Halloween with busuu!

Are you feeling spooky? Then try out the special busuu Halloween learning unit! It has lots of useful vocabulary, as well as a dialogue, a writing exercise, a chance to chat to native speakers and a test to check what you’ve remembered.

How do you celebrate?

Is Halloween celebrated where you live? Or do you have a similar local festival with different traditions? Does your language have any special Halloween words or phrases? Let us know in the comments!

195

busuu Facebook sweepstake – win an iPhone 5s

Win a brand new iPhone 5s, incl. all busuu mobile apps!

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The busuu language-learning apps to connect learners with native speakers worldwide are now downloaded an average of 25,000 times a day, enabling our users to learn on the go – wherever they are and whenever they want!

We are now giving one lucky winner the chance to win a brand new iPhone 5s, complete with full access to all mobile apps from busuu!

All you need to do is to become a fan of the busuu Facebook page and you are in for a chance of winning!

Once you have entered, make sure to share the sweepstake with all of your friends as you will get one bonus entry for each of your friends that enter too!

Win an iPhone 5s now!

194

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!

 

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busuu’s mobile apps reach 20 million downloads

We have some great news:

Our mobile apps have been downloaded 20 million times!

Read a summary of our official press release here and in case you have not done it yet, download one of our free mobile learning apps!

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The first language-learning app to connect learners with native speakers worldwide is now downloaded an average of 25,000 times a day, meeting growing global demand for mobile learning.

busuu’s mobile app allows users to learn up to 11 languages and connect to over 35 million native speakers in its global language-learning community. The top three languages downloaded for learning are English, French and Spanish.

The top three countries by number of downloads are the US, Germany and Russia, although there is also rapid growth in emerging markets such as Brazil, Turkey and China. 

Interaction with native speakers is an important part of successfully learning a new language, so busuu’s huge, active community is a key feature. Via the app, users connect to native speakers by completing writing exercises and submitting these for feedback and corrections. They can then do the same in return, acting as a tutor of their own mother tongue.

Since the beginning of 2013, busuu members have completed over 12 million vocabulary exercises via the app. The general shift to mobile learning is further demonstrated by the fact that busuu users now complete 33% more exercises via the app than online. Mobile users now also have the possibility to set a learning goal on their mobile phone in order to track their progress.

The busuu language-learning app is free, with access to 20 learning units (5 for each level). Premium Members of the web version automatically have full access included in their membership.

Download our free mobile app now!

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World of Work: Daniel Soto

Learning a language has lots of benefits, such as helping you to progress in your career and find new opportunities. So we are starting a series called ‘World of Work’, where we will speak to people who use languages every day.

Let’s meet Daniel Soto from Spain

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Hi Daniel! Thanks for talking to busuu. Could you tell us what you do?

I am the Reception Manager at Hotel Samos in Mallorca. It’s an independent hotel, where I work as part of a small, hands-on team who share responsibilities. I started here as a receptionist in 2002 and was already the department head by 2008.

Why are languages necessary for what you do?

Most of our clients are British, as Mallorca is a popular destination for the UK. We also have many guests from Portugal, Italy, France and Russia, and some from Scandinavia and Eastern Europe.

Thanks to the internet, we now have clients from all over the world and who book rooms directly. English is absolutely essential, from talking to travel agencies to dealing with the people staying here.

Could you tell us about the languages you speak and how you learnt them?

My mother tongue is Spanish and I studied English in school and at university, as well as using it every day at work with both clients and suppliers.

I speak fluent Italian, which I have learnt on the job from speaking to clients over 10 years. I also speak intermediate Portuguese – learnt in the same way – and know some German from studying for 2 years at local language classes.

Which language have you found most challenging to learn?

The most difficult has been German because of its grammar, such as the way certain words change their form depending on their role in a sentence. Also, I can’t practise it much at work as we do not have many clients from Germany.

And which language was the easiest for you?

English has always been the simplest and most intuitive for me, being the language of the music I listen to, the early internet and the tourism that I have mainly dealt with.

As a native Spanish speaker, the Italian that I have picked up through my work is also intuitive to me. I guess this is due to the two languages’ similarities in grammar and how they sound.

In your opinion, what’s the next important language for you to learn?

We are in a major tourist destination in Spain and the Russian market is growing quickly. Being able to speak Russian will soon be a big deciding factor in finding work and local classes are already overbooked. In fact, I downloaded busuu’s app for Russian.

Which learning materials or methods have helped you most?

As well as speaking to clients who are native speakers, audio-visual materials have always seemed to me the most natural way to learn a language. It’s the closest to learning in a real environment.

Do you have any tips for anyone who’s learning a language or would like a job like yours?

I would say to anyone who is starting to learn that it’s absolutely worth the initial effort – it becomes much easier in a short time. We were born to communicate with each other, so we have all the tools needed to learn a new language.

In the case of roles like mine, English is essential. It’s the language of business, communication and the internet. Any extra language is a plus – it’s another skill on your CV and will make you stand out in job interviews.

Daniel, thank you very much for taking the time to talk to busuu!

What did you think of this interview? Do you do a similar job to Daniel? Are there other occupations you would like us to consider for future posts? Let us know in the comments!