The Babbel Blog

language learning in the digital age

Why age is no barrier to learning a language

Posted on October 22, 2014 by

neuroplasticity

“To me, old age is always fifteen years older than I am.”

– Bernard Baruch, American financier and philanthropist.

 

Dear reader, are you in the prime of your teenage years? Or are you twenty, fit and raring to go? Is your life laid out before you like a majestic Persian rug?

Good for you. Now shoo. That’s it, skedaddle. Vamoose. Go and read something else.

Ah, that’s better. Now they’ve all cleared out, we can talk about a somewhat delicate subject: whether it’s possible to learn a new language when you’re a bit older. Can you keep all that new vocabulary in your head? Can you learn new grammar structures? Is it too late to start? (more…)

Portrait: Mireille from Lausanne

Posted on October 17, 2014 by

Portrait: Mirelle from Lausanne

We are launching a series of portraits of Babbel users – a snapshot of their lives, and the reasons why they are learning a new language. If you’d like to share your story, let us know in the comments. This month we spoke with Mireille, a 24-year old student from Switzerland who is learning Swedish for a very good reason – love.

My first encounter with Swedish was in school. When I was 16, I met my boyfriend… who was Swedish. (more…)

How we learn languages: The Army Method

Posted on October 8, 2014 by

army method

My grandmother learned French at school in Australia in the late 1950s. For years she studied it dutifully, and the one phrase that she recalls vividly to this day is:

La plume de ma tante est dans le jardin avec le lion.

For those who never had the pleasure or pain of learning French, it translates as ‘My aunt’s pen is in the garden with the lion’. Difficult to slip into casual conversation, to say the least. (more…)

Tongue-twister challenge!

Posted on October 1, 2014 by

tongue-twister

When you’re learning a new language, tongue-twisters are a great way to practice your pronunciation. Tongue-twisters are sentences or series of words that are hard to say. They often have similar alternating sounds, like ‘s’ and ‘sh’ or ‘p’ and ‘b’. Although they are typically nonsense, the English classic “She sells sea shells on the sea shore, and the shells that she sells are sea shells, I’m sure” was actually a popular song in 1908 based on the life of Mary Anning, a famous British fossil hunter and collector.

To celebrate the release of our Swedish tongue-twisters course, we’ve selected eight tongue-twisters in different languages – English, German, Italian, French, Danish, Swedish, Turkish and Russian – and turned them into short animations. Can you master them? (more…)

Portuguese for beginners

Posted on September 26, 2014 by

Portuguese

Anja from backpacking blog happybackpacker.de has been travelling the world for almost 15 years, writing about her travels and her two great passions, surfing and diving. She recently spent several months on the road in South America and was reminded how important it is to have a few phrases of the local lingo up your sleeve. (more…)

Zen and the art of language learning

Posted on September 17, 2014 by

happiness zen language learning

At the heart of Hanoi, Vietnam, there is a lake. Many roads converge to form a circuit around it. As evening falls and the city’s suffocating heat drops, people start cruising around the lake on scooters, driving around and around and around. They aren’t going anywhere. Sometimes I drive around the lake too, feeling the air on my face. (more…)

Not just back to school: the phenomenon of La rentrée

Posted on September 4, 2014 by

 

back to school

In France and Italy, the start of September is a time of furious activity: la rentrée, or il rientro, loosely translated as ‘the return’, or back to school.

Students all over the country go back to school. Businesses reopen. People go back to work. Stores hold massive sales. An enormous machinery cranks into gear as the country lets go of its holiday spirit and mentally shifts into a new year. (more…)

How to build a new learning habit in 3 steps

Posted on August 28, 2014 by

learning habit

Knowing how to build a new learning habit is crucial for your long-term learning goals. That’s why for the past few months, we’ve been investigating habit-forming. How can we help people form habits that keep them engaged in regularly learning a language?

We all know that an important part of learning is repetition and regularity. This may sound rather boring, but it is inevitable if you are serious about it.

A regular comment from our users is “I can’t find the time to learn regularly.” Does this sound like you? How many times have you gotten to the end of a long day, and not managed to find that little ten-minute window you promised yourself?

While we understand time is an issue, we believe the real challenge lies elsewhere.

It turns out that there is a way to create a new routine in your life. It starts with choosing a very simple behavior that you wish to do every day. But contrary to popular belief, it’s not about scheduling that behavior at a specific time, but about reliably triggering that new behavior so it becomes second nature.

Here’s how you can build a new learning habit in three simple steps. (more…)

Learning styles – what’s yours?

Posted on August 12, 2014 by

learning stylesImagine a friendly alien stops you on your way home. This little fellow has come to earth in desperate need of a good cup of coffee. The fate of millions on its home planet depends on whether it returns with a coffee machine and the knowledge of how to operate it. Of course, you are eager to help out. What do you do?

  • describe in simple words how to brew a cup of coffee
  • refer to an an article about coffee preparation on Wikipedia
  • draw a diagram of a coffee machine
  • take it home and show it how to make a coffee

The option you chose might say something about your preferred way of learning. (more…)

What is the sexiest accent?

Posted on August 6, 2014 by

sexiest accentHere at Babbel, we don’t shy away from the big questions. How can we solve global warming? Is Keynesian economics dead? Which nationality has the sexiest accent?

*cough*

(more…)