The Babbel Blog

language learning in the digital age

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…)

The birth of the Russian course

Posted on July 29, 2014 by

Russian course - Barbara Baisi

The challenge in bringing Babbel’s new Russian course to life was to find a way for users to type Cyrillic letters using a standard Latin keyboard. Content Project Manager Barbara Baisi from the Didactics department gives us the lowdown.

 

Can you please tell us a little about yourself?

I come from Italy and I’ve been working at Babbel since the very beginning in 2008. At that time it was a little smaller [laughs]. Now I coordinate Italian and Russian. I’ve been working on Russian since January. It was a big deal for all the departments in the company.

(more…)

American slang – it’s a piece of cake

Posted on July 22, 2014 by

american slangBabbel’s new course, American Slang, teaches you the most useful American expressions and phrases. It got us wondering: why is something that’s easy ‘a piece of cake’?

Here are some of the (possible) origins of some classic American expressions. Take them with a grain of salt!

 

broke – to have no money, or to be bankrupt

Many banks in post-Renaissance Europe gave their customers small porcelain tiles, with the person’s name, credit limit, and the bank written on them. Think credit cards, only heavier. The customer brought the tile with him when he wanted to borrow money, and if he was past the limit, the teller ‘broke’ it.

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Russian stereotypes quiz

Posted on July 16, 2014 by

russian stereotypes

To celebrate the release of Babbel‘s new Russian course we’ve compiled a quiz to test your knowledge of Russian stereotypes. We looked at what the numbers said, and we asked Larisa Bulanova from our Didactics department to give us an insider perspective on what Russians think.

So: is it true that Russians drink vodka like it’s going out of fashion? Is it actually that cold?  And if you go to Russia, should you watch out for bears?

Remember, they’re called stereotypes for a reason! Please don’t take them too seriously.

Test your knowledge of Russian stereotypes… click to begin the quiz.

 

 

The link between dreaming and language learning

Posted on July 9, 2014 by

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…)

Brazilian football language: English roots, native flowers

Posted on July 4, 2014 by

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.

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