Babbel CEO and co-founder Markus Witte is giving some insights into the motivations in acquiring PlaySay. Founded by Ryan Meinzer in 2008 PlaySay is ‘a language learning experience’, offering a unique, visionary and fun way to learn Spanish and English. The 2011 TechCrunch Disrupt finalist PlaySay Inc., which has its headquarters in San Francisco, has seen its app ranked #1 in the education category of the iTunes store in ten countries, including the USA.
We already saw several great news in the first few months of 2013: Babbel apps for new platforms, coming along with important awards and even a presentation of our Polish vocabulary trainer to German chancellor Angela Merkel and Poland’s prime minister Donald Tusk.
Now we’re taking a step to increase our presence in the United States by acquiring the the language learning firm PlaySay. A very unusual step — most San Francisco start-ups are not bought by a German start-up.
In our case, we feel that combining PlaySay and Babbel makes a lot of sense. We’ve watched the success of PlaySay since we saw their pitch at TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco back in 2011. Since then, PlaySay was mentioned by some major newspapers such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and others and had its app as a #1 in the education category of the US App store and 10 other countries.
The current PlaySay app will be continued for the time being. All users are invited to join Babbel as well to combine both learning experiences. The product teams are in discussions of providing an integrated product.
The acquisition of PlaySay is opening a number of opportunities in the US market, especially since we have Ryan Meinzer, the PlaySay CEO, by our side as an advisor and supporter. Babbel’s CTO Thomas Holl and I will be in San Francisco with Ryan in early April to lay the foundations of our presence in California.
Im Oktober 2012 hatten wir elf Babbel-Apps für Windows 8 Tablet und PC veröffentlicht, die seither mehr als 390.000 Mal installiert wurden. Damals hofften wir auf eine Fortsetzung der angenehmen Zusammenarbeit mit Microsoft, wussten aber noch nicht, ob und wie es konkret weitergehen würde. Denn alles steht und fällt mit der Resonanz der Anwender. Umso größer die Freude über den Erfolg der App, der uns veranlasste, die für Windows Phone 8 optimierte Version nachzulegen – die wir jetzt, sehr angemessen im Rahmen der CeBIT, erstmalig präsentieren konnten.
Es wird die Kanzlerin bestimmt freuen, das Lernen der polnischen Sprache zukünftig auch auf ihrem Windows Phone 8 fortsetzen zu können.
Die neuen Windows Phone 8 Apps gibt es momentan in elf Babbel-Sprachen im Windows Phone Store.
Hier schon mal ein paar visuelle Eindrücke der schicken App:
This post in German
Having developed numerous courses for the Polish language, we know that it isn’t an easy language to learn. Angela Merkel appeared to concur as she tried out the Polish Babbel App, with the word “cześć” (hello) proving a particular stumbling block for her.
Despite the odd tongue twister, Merkel and her language exchange partner, the Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk, appeared to enjoy their Babbel experience, as you can see in the accompanying picture. Every year a different country partners the CeBIT, and this year it was Poland’s turn. For this reason we bestowed our Polish app the honour of being used by such luminaries.
The latest technological trends are presented once a year at the largest IT fair in the world. The prize ceremony for the ‘Innovation 4 Society Award’, in which the Microsoft initiative Chancenrepublik Deutschland (Opportunity Republic Germany) recognises outstanding, socially beneficial work from both young and established IT companies. took place shortly after the opening of the CeBIT.
And the winner in the category ‘Established Company’ is… Babbel.com, with its Windows 8 App sitting pretty as the most successful educational app in the Windows Store! The jury substantiated their choice by drawing attention to the ‘exemplary coupling of intelligent learning content and digital technology’, as well as the same ‘innovative learning methods’ which had previously convinced the jury of Digita. The Babbel delegation celebrated as Markus, one of the Babbel founders, presented the Babbel App to Chancellor Merkel and Prime Minister Tusk. Frau Merkel appeared to be quite intrigued by the App as she brushed up on her knowledge of Polish in front of the audience.
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.
Der “digita 2013″ der Bildungsmesse didacta in der Kategorie Privates Lernen (über 16 Jahre) geht an Babbel! Katja und Regine haben den Preis am Mittwoch in Köln stellvertretend entgegen genommen. Hier ist die Begründung der Jury nachzulesen, die Babbel als “innovatives und motivierendes System” herausstellt, und hier ist die Übersicht über die diesjährigen Gewinner in allen Sparten.
Große Freude und stolz macht uns auch besonders das von der didacta produzierte Video über Babbel – denn so charmant und schlüssig wie diese beiden Jungs hat wahrscheinlich noch keiner Babbel auf den Punkt gebracht.
Danke, didacta, vom ganzen Babbel-Team!
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!)
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.
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!
Wer sich als Reisender auf französischem Boden tummelt, begibt sich manchmal auf verbales Glatteis. Das erlernte Schulfranzösisch ist schnell ausgeschöpft, sobald ein Franzose munter umgangssprachlich losplappert.
Stellt euch vor, ihr seid gerade in Paris gelandet und erforscht völlig euphorisch die Stadt. In Gedanken verloren und den Blick nach oben gerichtet schlendert ihr durch die charmanten Straßen und Gassen und rempelt aus Versehen einen Fußgänger an. Er reagiert mit einem „T’es vénère ou quoi !“. Was hat er gemeint? Wie soll ich reagieren? Ihr erwidert intuitiv „Excusez-moi !“. Euer Gegenüber scheint sich wieder beruhigt zu haben. „C’est pas grave.“, antwortet er, “Je peux te taxer une clope ?“ Schon wieder dieses Gefühl, in der falschen Stadt gelandet zu sein. Ihr denkt euch: „Taxer? – Taxi? – Braucht er ein Taxi? Was ist mit clope ? – Klopp… klingt als ob er meint, ich sei bekloppt.” Ihr entscheidet euch für die erste und nettere Übersetzungsvariante und stammelt in eurem besten Französisch „Là, il y a un taxi !“ (Dort ist ein Taxi!). Das Gesicht des Franzosen verwandelt sich in Sekundenschnelle in ein Ausdrucksgemisch zwischen Verblüffung und Ungläubigkeit. Upps, falsche Antwort.
Der neue Babbel-Kurs zur französischen Umgangssprache hilft euch jetzt auf die Sprünge! Denn hier lernt ihr nicht nur, dass “taxer” “schnorren”, “cimer” “Danke” und “une clope” “eine Kippe” ist, sondern dass die Franzosen in der Umgangssprache Wörter auslassen, verdrehen, verkürzen und mit anderen Endungen verwenden. So kommt es, dass aus “énervé” (genervt) eben “vénère” wird.
Babbel hat einen Kurs zur Umgangssprache für alle Französischfreunde mit Vorkenntnissen entwickelt, die tiefer in die französische Sprache eintauchen wollen. Die sogenannten „Verlan“-Wörter mit den verdrehten Silben und andere umgangssprachliche Ausdrücke sind mittlerweile auch in der französischen Alltagssprache – vor allem bei jungen Leuten bis 40 – gebräuchlich. Fünf wichtige Aspekte behandelt der Kurs: “Verlan”-Begriffe (Wörter mit verdrehten Silben), Slang, verkürzte und ausgelassene Wörter, besondere Endungen und aus dem Englischen entlehnte Wörter wie “fun” (lustig), oder “has been” (altmodisch). Fünf Aspekte, dank derer man nicht mehr nur Bahnhof versteht, wenn einem ein Franzose eine „clope“ anbietet.
For whom is soon to set foot upon French soil, beware of verbal mud traps that may await. High school French abilities are quickly exhausted as soon as the French begin to jauntily jabber in their local lingo.
Imagine you’ve just landed in Paris and you’re exploring the city immersed in euphoric Francophilia. Lost in thought, gazing upwards while strolling through the charming streets and alleyways, you accidently bump into another pedestrian. He responds with a “T’es vénère ou quoi!“ What did he mean? How should I respond? Your automatic reaction is “Excusez-moi”. Your counterpart seems to have calmed down. “C’est pas grave,” he answers, “Je peux te taxer une clope ?” Once again that feeling of having landed in the wrong town. You think, “Taxer” – taxi? Does he need a taxi? What’s a clope? Clop! Maybe he means a horse-drawn taxi? You decide on the first and more logical option and stammer in your best French, “Là, il y a un taxi!” (There’s a taxi). Suddenly the face of the Frenchman contorts into an expression somewhere between astonishment and disbelief. Whoops! Wrong answer.
The new Babbel courses for French slang help get you back on your feet. Here you won’t just learn that “taxer” means “to bum”, “cimer” means “thank you” and “une clope” is “a smoke”, but that in their slang the French switch endings and twist, cut off and leave out words. So it happens then that from énervé” (annoyed) you get “vénère”.
Babbel has a course on slang for all French enthusiasts who have some previous knowledge but want to dive deeper. The so-called “Verlan“-words with reversed syllables and other colloquialisms are mixed into everyday French—especially among young people under forty. The course treats five important aspects: “Verlan”-words (words with reversed syllables), slang, shortened and omitted words, special endings, and loan words from English such as “fun” or “has been”. These five aspects help so that next time, when someone offers a “clope”, it sounds more like French than like Greek to you.