The Babbel Blog

Online Language Learning

Excellent! We receive the German Educational Media Award

Posted on February 25, 2013 by

The Babbel team proudly announces to have been rewarded with the “digita 2013″ in the category “private learning age 16+”. Katja and Regine received this important trophy on occasion of the education and media fair didacta in Cologne on Wednesday. The jury praised the “innovate and motivating” approach of the Babbel learning system which, in turn, motivates us to carry on and get better and better. Read the full statement here (in German, obviously) .

We admit that it feels great to get an award, and we did face some serious competition out there. But we are almost equally thrilled by this lovely video that was made by didacta, and that features two charming, bright young gentlemen who probably succeed better in explaining (again, in German) what Babbel is than most other people who have tried, including ourselves.

 

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Two new languages! Babbel highlights Norway and Denmark as your next destination of choice!

Posted on February 21, 2013 by

Read this post in German (Deutsch)

For the superstitious amongst us 13 is an unlucky number, but for language lovers it’s quite the opposite! Why? Because Babbel has now welcomed Norwegian and Danish to the fold, boosting the number of wonderful languages offered to a very fortunate 13!

Do you like the sound of cross country skiing in Norway or summer holidays in Denmark? We’ve just put the finishing touches to Beginners’ Courses for Norwegian and Danish, two more Scandinavian languages to add to the Swedish courses already available on Babbel. These courses provide a helping hand as you take the first steps in the languages, presenting the most important vocabulary for everyday situations as well as the grammar you need to build sentences creatively and independently.

For those who think that all Scandinavian languages are the same, think again!

Content Manager Karoline looked for inspiration in the Fjords

Danish may look similar to Swedish and even share a lot of vocabulary, but the pronunciation is quite something else. Whilst a “d” at the beginning of a word should be pronounced just like an English “d”, it suddenly becomes an English style “th” sound if placed with a fellow “d” in the middle of a word. The rather harmless looking sentence, “Hvad hedder du”? (“What’s your name?”), for example, sounds markedly different to what you may expect.

Our Danish Beginners’ Course has been suitably garnished with pronunciation classes to help you soar above such linguistic hurdles. In the Norwegian Beginners’ Course, users will be brought closer to the first grammar points, enabling them to get acquainted with unfamiliar combinations of consonants such as “kj” and “tj”. Armed with such invaluable information, you may even get through your first sentences in Norway without being found out as a foreigner.

With a little bit of practice, you may even release a near-native sounding, “Kan du kjøpe tjue kjeks?” (“Can you buy twenty biscuits?”).

On top of vocabulary and grammar, both courses also offer an insight into the regional cuisine and lifestyle of our Nordic neighbours. Should you one day lose your way whilst investigating a fjord, then you’ll realize that Norwegians are always willing to help. And if you bump into a Danish acquaintance, he may bid you farewell with the grateful words “Tak for sidst” even if you haven’t done anything to deserve them.

So that’s just a taster of what you can learn in the Beginners’ Courses for Danish and Norwegian. There’s plenty more inside, all of which you can try out on your next trip to the Scandinavian Peninsula.

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Discover the Netherlands with the Dutch beginners course!

Posted on February 19, 2013 by

Read this post in German (Deutsch), French (Français), Italian (Italiano), Spanish (Español)

Karoline has been working at babbel.com since September 2012 where she likes to sit on this huge gym ball. Her focus is set on Scandinavian languages, but her thorough knowledge of Dutch led to her participating in the building of this course. Love brought her to the Netherlands 10 years ago, and she has remained faithful to this language so far.

Opinions on Dutch vary from “it sounds so cute!” to “do you have something caught in your throat?” With our first Dutch course for beginners you will not only learn correct pronunciation, but also vocabulary and the basic rules of grammar so you can defend yourself on your next visit to the Netherlands or Belgium.

Up until now there was only a vocabulary trainer for Dutch, but now you can learn, for example, idioms and how to respond to questions in the negative. That might sound trite, but maybe you’ve learned how to say “I’d like a tea,” but you need to know the negative, because you might not want a tea just now. Important for us also was to provide a lesson with helpful phrases for everyday encounters, so for example you can say that you don’t understand, or ask if someone can show you the way better by indicating directions on a map. Perhaps you even dare to order a “koffie verkeerd” (a café au lait), or a “kippensoep” (chicken soup) and “een portie bitterballen” (a serving of meatballs).

German speakers often hear the word “lekker” in Dutch, and as the homophone means “delicious” or “good tasting” in German, they wonder if perhaps the Dutch are obsessed with food. But it will become clear that the Dutch use “lekker” for lots of other things, like “lekker slapen” (sleep well). The charm of the language lies in the art of making everything into the diminutive, from “cadeautje” (little present) to “autotje” (little car). For the learner, it has the advantage that whenever an article is unclear, one can simply use the diminutive and the article is always the same.

A word about pronunciation: The “g” might sound strange at first, because it is irregularly spoken. But you’ll get used to pronouncing the guttural “g” and you’ll quickly get over the ‘something caught in your throat’ prejudice. There is also a clear North-South divide when it comes to the pronunciation of this sound. In the South (in Belgium) it is pronounced more smoothly than in the North. This was one more reason for us to have a voice from the South and a voice from the North in the audio for the course. With the two options you can hear the difference and practice your listening comprehension from the outset

Veel plezier ermeel! (Have fun!)

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Je t’aime… moi non plus – how to break up when you cannot make up

Posted on February 14, 2013 by

At this time of year, it’s really worth taking a closer look at what actually brings a couple together. It’s most likely a mixture of a number of things; physical attraction, personality, charm, interests, but successful communication is of utmost importance. To make a relationship work, its constituents must be able to understand one another. Everyone has his or her own way of expressing and conveying feelings, but how is this process complicated when these constituents don’t speak the same language? Couples in a bilingual relationship face a somewhat harder challenge than those in monolingual relationships. While everyone knows how to say ‘I love you’ in several languages, not everyone can express himself or herself well if and when a relationship turns sour.

The vocabulary lessons conjured up and developed at Babbel draw upon realistic dialogues inspired by everyday life. And part of modern life is undoubtedly ‘breaking up’; that moment when single life beckons once again. But how do you break up in a foreign language? How do you find the right words to make your soon-to-be ex-partner understand your reasons? We turned Saint Valentine on his head to help all you freedom fighters out. Enough Schmulz. Let’s learn something practical.


And for all those who are lucky in love, there’s tons of vocabulary and a veritable bundle of courses available on Babbel that teach you how to give compliments, express feelings, and keep the flame alive until the next Valentine’s Day arrives.

In French
In Italian
In Spanish
In German
and many more!

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Dictation courses: Language learning with wit and charm…

Posted on February 6, 2013 by

Read this post in German (Deutsch), French (Français), Italian (Italiano),Spanish (Español)

One day it became clear that Babbel users wanted to write more.

But when someone suggested a dictation course, a murmur rippled through the editorial department. Everyone remembered their schooldays well—classrooms with an unreasonably stiff atmosphere, boring texts that had little resemblance to reality

For those of you with bad memories: the new Babbel format keeps you especially in mind! Here, in contrast, writing and listening comprehension can be practiced with wit, charm and fun. Unlike the teacher in the classroom, the dictation feature has a repeat button, so you can listen to the sentences as many times as you like—without the pressure.

Little stories that make for a smirk or even the occasional burst of laughter sweeten up this new experience of dictation. Not only will you be able to practice writing without having to resort to the old, tired formulas, but you’ll learn how to put everyday vocabulary words to use, too. We have little use for purely written language: our dictation courses are based on the spoken language.

Tales of strange encounters, misunderstandings and other incidents are partially based on Babbel authors’ true experiences. In one, for example, you will find out how Katja’s jacket ended up in a tree—and how she got it back. Meanwhile you’ll also be exposed to important grammatical issues such as verb endings and agreement. So, you won’t necessarily hear whether with “préféré” you need to write “é” or “ée”, but you’ll be able to deduce it from the context. Don’t worry though, you won’t have to do it cold, either—you’ll know because you’ll already have gone over the words and practiced them!

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