The Babbel Blog

language learning in the digital age

The link between dreaming and language learning

Posted on July 9, 2014 by

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestEmail this to someone

dreaming and language learningEver wondered about the link between dreaming and language learning?

You’ve probably heard people talk about the moment when they started to dream in a foreign language. It’s often considered a sign of fluency. In the 1980s, Canadian psychologist Joseph De Koninck observed that students of French who spoke French in their dreams earlier made progress faster than other students.

But were they quicker because they dreamed, or did they dream because they were quicker?

(more…)

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestEmail this to someone

Brazilian football language: English roots, native flowers

Posted on July 4, 2014 by

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestEmail this to someone

Brazilian football language

With the World Cup in full swing, everybody is brushing up on their Brazilian football language and throwing around words like jogo bonito! and golaço!.

These words are part of every football fan’s vocabulary, testament to the vibrancy of Brazilian footballing culture and its impact on the world.

Yet we need only step back a century, to the birth of Brazilian football, and we have to acknowledge the influence of a small island nation that has only won one World Cup compared to Brazil’s five – England.

(more…)

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestEmail this to someone

Why are people really learning languages?

Posted on June 18, 2014 by

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestEmail this to someone

If you’re learning a language at the moment, take a second to consider this question: why?

Recently, the question has been framed in economic terms. Freakonomics began it with a podcast that questioned the financial benefits of language learning. Over at the Economist’s Prospero blog, Robert Lane Greene argued that the numbers were higher than had been estimated and varied greatly depending on language.

It’s a debate worth having – albeit a bit sad that we reduce the beauty (and unquantifiable benefits) of learning a new language to an economic return on investment.

But how decisive is this factor? For which age groups and nationalities? What are the main reasons that make people want to learn a language?

(more…)

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestEmail this to someone

Quiz: Brazilian football sayings

Posted on June 6, 2014 by

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestEmail this to someone

Brazilian football sayings

Are you a connoisseur of football formations? Can you differentiate between half-backs and wing-backs? Do you know how Hungary revolutionised tactics in the 1950s?

Us neither. 

Take our quiz to discover some colourful Brazilian football sayings – and dazzle your friends during the World Cup with your amazing street slang.

 

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestEmail this to someone

How to memorise vocabulary: User tips

Posted on June 4, 2014 by

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestEmail this to someone

How to memorise vocabulary

We asked you for your favourite ways to memorise vocabulary, and the tips were great. Some are old classics and some are slightly more off-the-wall. Which ones do you use, and what would you add? Tell us in the comments!

 

1. Exercise while saying the words – Joseph

This has been proven to be effective. A study in 2010 tested subjects who bicycled while learning vocabulary, and found “that simultaneous physical activity during vocabulary learning facilitates memorization of new items”.

(more…)

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestEmail this to someone

Why grammar (and broccoli) are good for you

Posted on May 27, 2014 by

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestEmail this to someone

grammar

This month Babbel focuses on grammar, with a range of healthy new courses. There are also new pronunciation courses, in-depth Italian, and false friends.

 

Poor old broccoli, pariah of the vegetable world. Despite the fact that it’s extremely good for you and US President Obama has declared that it’s his favourite food, broccoli is still reviled by children all around the world – and a fair few adults.

A bit like grammar. Years of being forced to conjugate verbs or grapple with textbooks the size of telephone books have left many of us bruised, battered, and wondering if it’s all worth it.

But grammar doesn’t have to be intimidating. The trick is to prepare it properly.

(more…)

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestEmail this to someone

7 Reasons Why We Love Listicles But They’re Killing Our Brains

Posted on May 22, 2014 by

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestEmail this to someone

Listicles

 

We like lists because we don’t want to die.

- Umberto Eco, The Infinity of Lists

 

What’s a listicle? It’s an article written in the form of a list. You know, the ones you see with titles like ‘11 Things to Never Say to a Man Whose Head Has Been Sheared Off by a Sheet of Glass’ or ‘25 Lesbians Who Look Like Justin Bieber’ (wait! come back!).

Depending on your taste they can make you laugh or simply confirm that humanity is a lost cause. Websites like Buzzfeed and Listverse grew famous for them, newspapers embraced them, and people, inevitably, started to hate them.

They are the purest textual expression of a distracted, modern mind. So it’s probably worth asking: what are they doing to our brains?
(more…)

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestEmail this to someone

Roll on: the story of the Babbel bikes

Posted on May 14, 2014 by

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestEmail this to someone

Babbel bikes

Gregory Simon in his natural habitat – Photo by James Lane for Babbel.com

One sunny Wednesday morning in March, Gregory Simon was getting ready for work. He showered, dressed, threw back a cup of coffee and left.

A couple of hours later he arrived in the office, looking rather frazzled.

“My bike just got nicked!”

(more…)

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestEmail this to someone

Turkish delights

Posted on May 9, 2014 by

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestEmail this to someone

Turkish Delights

Turkish delight’ by Dewet / CC 2.0

Babbel’s Turkish Delights course, full of useful phrases and everyday expressions, is out now.

You are in a shop in Istanbul. You thank the shopkeeper for giving you such a great discount on that rug you really can’t afford, and say goodbye.

“Laughing, laughing,” he replies.

Turkish is filled with these kind of small idiosyncrasies. If people want to thank you for your physical labour, they say ‘health to your hands’. The correct response to someone who sneezes is ‘live long,’ and the reply roughly translates as ‘you see it too’ (i.e. I hope that you live long enough to see my long life).

Babbel’s new course, Typical phrases and useful expressions, is available for both German and English users.

It’s perfect for those who already know a little Turkish, and want to learn the little phrases and expressions that are so helpful in everyday life – whether you’re in Istanbul or Berlin.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestEmail this to someone

Why Italians talk with their hands (and Scandinavians don’t)

Posted on May 7, 2014 by

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestEmail this to someone

Why Italians talk with their hands

Photo by Haraldo Ferrary / CC 2.0

 

When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie

That’s amore…

 

Love. Fury. Passion. Italians are well known for expressing themselves through body language and hand gestures, as if the feelings bubbling up inside them can’t be expressed in mere words, but require an accusing finger, an appeal to the heavens, a shake of the fist.

Scandinavians, on the other hand, are not.

According to traditional stereotypes, our northern brethren are more reasoning and reserved. It’s not that they don’t feel extreme emotions – just that they are less inclined to express them physically.

Yes, these are cultural cliches, although few people would dispute that Italians talk with their hands to express themselves. But what if there is a biological imperative behind it? What if gestures actually help our brain develop? What if there is a link between how we use our hands and how we solve problems?

(more…)

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestEmail this to someone