Following on the tails of “Learn German: Beginner’s Course 1″ there’s now “Learn Spanish: Beginner’s Course 1,” the Spanish iBook for iPad. If you’re curious, we roughly described what an eBook actually is and its (interactive) possibilities here.
Dedicated Babbel users who already study with the online courses and have the iPhone/iPad or Android app might wonder: Why yet another way to learn (that’ll cost extra)?
Fact is, with this electronic text book, the Babbel editorial team has cooked up yet another, uniquely entertaining and effective way to learn. In the introduction of the book “complementary learning” is mentioned, and it’s true: The Babbel eBook brings the online courses’ rigorousness of content together with the convenient on-the-go nature of the apps. It uses known Babbel content—which from a didactic point of view is of course totally “Babbel”—but it’s not quite the same. Like a classic, bound textbook (that many of our users secretly or openly are jonesing for) the comprehensive 77-page eBook is put together in a linear fashion, divided into five lessons with subchapters.
The Babbel eBook is more closely packed in with material than the online courses. New vocabulary and phrases are introduced with audio dialogues and so-called “Keywords” are linked to the glossary and quizzed with “study cards” – good old-fashioned flashcards on digital index cards – right at the end. Users can even create their own flashcards with the “highlight” feature.
Grammar directly follows the beginning dialogue and – thanks to the practical explanations – never comes off as dry. But whether it’s about grammar or vocabulary, the spirited commentaries on language application, meaning and local use (in Spain or Latin America, accordingly) and the immediate quizzing of what’s just been learned that make for a positive learning experience. Charts visualize language structure while “slide shows” at the end of the lesson showcase local cultures.
How do I greet people in Spain? What kind of public transportation possibilities await me in Chile? What’s up in Bolivia? How do they celebrate birthdays in Mexico? And what’s the Day of the Dead all about? The Babbel eBook answers all these and many more questions in an appealing way.
All in all we’re feeling pretty good about our product. We think that anyone picking up the book in the iBookstore for the introductory price of 6.99 Euros is making a very sensible investment.
Native English speakers who live in or are planning to travel to the Spanish-speaking world and would like to immerse themselves in these regions, this textbook is highly recommended as the key to opening the door to their language and culture! We wish you all muchísima suerte with Spanish!
The world of music is a rich universe of linguistic intertextuality. Words have crossed borders as much as sounds have. In England music lovers use the French word encore to call for more at the end of a concert. Italian words such as piano (quiet), forte (loud) and presto (quick) are universally used to indicate stylistic interpretation. And many citizens of Europe and the world have had their best lessons in English from the export of Rock ‘n’ Roll. Well now it’s time to return the favour. Babbel have put together a course designed for touring musicians and DJs, helping them address their audience and deal with the everyday experiences of being on the road. The course is also perfect for fans of live music to learn the idioms and phrases based around the culture of going to concerts and clubs.
Warning: This course will not make you a better guitarist.
For that you’ll just have to keep practising! But you will learn how to talk about it. The course focuses amongst other things on live music experiences. So the next time you’re playing the main stage at the Hurricane festival you will be able to communicate with the sound engineer when your amplifier starts to make weird noises. But whether you’re a rockstar or a rock fan, DJ or techno head, this course covers everything from bouncers and queueing to ear plugs and stage diving.
They say what happens on tour stays on tour. So why not spend a little time learning how to communicate with the fans backstage in their own language? Do you prefer dubstep or disco? Reggae or Metal? Learn a rich vocabulary of musical terms for genres and instruments and how to express your opinion or talk about the digitalisation of music. This course is all about making contact, whether with the audience or with other music lovers. But don’t expect to become fluent overnight. For that you’ll have to take the advice given to the musician who asked a passer-by in New York, “How do I get to Madison Square Garden?” The answer of course was “Practice!”
Try out Rockstars and Fans now. Click the following link and get ready to rock!
Note: the picture above belongs to Ed East, guitar player of the British band Chikinki, and co-worker at Babbel
It has been proven that the two strongest types of memory come from taste and smell. And for many of us, the most powerful memories we have of holidays and trips abroad are the smells and tastes we experienced on our travels, sampling the local cuisine and delighting in the delicacies, nourished from the landscapes we are exploring.
Whether it is moules frites accompanied by a glass of rosé at the harbourside in Marseille or a plate of tapas and a carafe of rioja on the Plaza Mayor in Madrid, it is often these words that form our first experiences of another culture and, above all, of its language. And it is true that the most culturally important of these gastronomic phenomena are so powerfully rooted in their language that they bear no translation. Tapas is tapas in any language, as is Spaghetti, and everyone understands what you mean when you offer them a glass of Bordeaux.
And yet who hasn’t been confronted with a menu in a foreign country and felt overwhelmed by a page full of words that suddenly sound more intimidating than appetizing? Well, Babbel has now put together a course that will help broaden your knowledge on international Gastronomy and Wine. You’ll be able to learn in seven languages how to describe wine, talk about everything from vegan to molecular cuisine and unlock the secrets of herbs and spices. So, when you’re next abroad, you’ll be able to make the right choices in the restaurant or on the local market stalls, choose the dishes that are seasoned to your liking and the best wines to suit your tastes.
Babbel’s interactive eBook
This year saw the release of our long awaited Apps for Android in the Google Play Store — and already we are able to announce our next release: as of now our first interactive eBook (Multi-Touch Book) “Learn German: Beginner’s Course 1″ is available in the Apple iBookstore.
What is an interactive eBook?
Interactive eBooks are digital books that you read, or should we say play, on an iPad. They offer many useful features, which enable far more than just reading; for example audio and video, interactive quizzes and individual Study Cards. In this way interactive eBooks close the gap between classical learning with books and mobile learning with Apps.
What does it involve?
Babbel’s Multi-Touch Book contains vocab videos, audio dialogue, interactive tests, a comprehensive glossary and much more. The meaning of a new key word can be revealed by the touch of your finger tip. And if you highlight a phrase with a swipe of your finger and write a comment, an individual study card is generated.
“Learn German: Beginner’s Course 1″ is an ideal introduction to the German language. It comprises five chapters and totals 72 pages. Within it you will find the most important words, helpful sentences and essential grammar. Audio dialogues bring the pronunciation and usage to life, and thanks to the many exercises with interactions and direct feedback, learning is really fun.
What does the interactive eBook cost?
The first eBook “Learn German: Beginner’s Course 1″ is available in the Apple iBookstore for an introductory price of 8.99 USD (5.49 GBP). If you would like to try it out first, you can download a test version with the whole first chapter for free.
Summer is somehow always smack in the middle of our daydreams. Even as a (school)child, everyone longs feverishly for summer vacation. Who wants to sit and study in a classroom when swimming pools, lakes, long days and balmy nights beckon outside?
There’s less going on at Babbel, too, when it gets really hot out… the users have what we call in Germany hitzefrei, a hotday—the summer equivalent of a snowday. We get it. Sometimes on those kinds of days in our Berlin office we wipe the sweat from our collective brow and envision a cold beer, a real Italian gelato or a swim in the Atlantic. But summer is an important time for Babbel, too. At least in our latitudes, this is peak travel season. In other words, this is the moment when Babbel learners finally put their eagerly acquired language skills to the test.
Italians are some of the first to get the summer started. They already began their holiday on the 9th of June, around the same time as the soccer European Championship in Poland and the Ukraine. Schoolchildren in Poland, on the other hand, don’t begin their vacation until the 30th of June. Same with the British, who’ll have plenty of time before the Olympic Games are held in London from July 27th to August 12th.
Swedish kids get off in the middle of June, and no one celebrates summer and the beginning of vacation quite like our Scandanavian neighbors: from June 22nd to 24th, the Swedish Midsummer is exuberantly feted with music, dancing, tons of food and drink and traditional, magic rituals. Nothing else quite like it
Whether it’s midsummer in Sweden, a beach holiday in Brazil, Italy, Spain, France, the Netherlands or Turkey, whether surfing in Indonesia, watching soccer in Poland or at the Olympics in London—it comes out not just how well Babbel users learned this year but also how well we’ve done our job. How do our travel language courses hold up? How do soccer fans make out in Poland with the basics offered through our “European Championship 2012” course?
There are apparently people for whom the European Championship and even soccer leaves them cold. But for a lot of us, the tournament is some consolation for when we can’t travel away from home, for whatever reason. At least all of Europe is dribbling through our living rooms.
In any case a “staycation“ isn’t the worst thing that could happen. What’s nicer than one’s own city in the summer? We can go to the pool and have an ice cream afterwards. And then we’ll do just… nothing.
Have a great summer holiday!
Babbel users – who are also football fanatics will be especially well prepared for when the Euro 2012 in Ukraine and Poland begins next month. The new course “European Championship 2012” covers all the essential Polish language vocabulary regarding the themes “Piłkanożna” (Football) and “MistrzostwaEuropy” (European Championship).
Before travelling to Poland, English speaking (and cheering) fans can prepare for the match and for their linguistic encounters outside the stadium – in only 11 lessons. Therefore, when the UEFA Euro 2012 kicks off with Poland vs. Greece on the 8th June in Warsaw, neither one will be in a “Spalony” (offside) position.
From England’s perspective, the championship will kick off in the so-called “group of death” D on the 11th June with the match against France. With opponents France, Sweden and Ukraine, the preliminary round will be no walk in the park for Roy Hodgson and his squad. We will be crossing all our Babbel fingers in advance for a quick first goal against France. We wish all teams and fans an honest and peaceful Championship with great “Piłkanożna”!
The football course is not only available online at Babbel, but is also available as a free app for Android and iOS – to optimally prepare you for the title. There are also courses for French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, German and Swedish native speaking fans.
Katja Wilde, Content Project Manager at Babbel, has a vision. Remembering French class from her school days, she stands at home in the kitchen belting out „Non, rien de rien“. Even though she doesn’t always hit the right note—considering the ardor with which she sings—that’s completely irrelevant. She records the Edith Piaf song right then and there.
That’s how it goes when someone works at Babbel and an idea hatches. For outsiders it might seem a bit nuts that it’s considered normal to blurt out cryptic phrases in foreign languages, to suddenly declare the correct term for, say, meatballs, or even to spontaneously turn the kitchen into a recording studio.
But back to our Katja. She’s thinking about music, listening comprehension, fill-in-the-blank texts, but especially how easy and entertaining this way of learning was for her as a schoolgirl, how it was so much more fun to learn languages intuitively through music instead of through rote memorization. She begins to break down the song into its elements and to come up with various lesson parts. Around the same time, just under 2000 Babbel users are being asked how they best like to learn. Their answers confirm Katja’s experience, which Miriam Plieninger, Babbel’s Head of Content, later emphasizes: “Whether you’re singing in the shower, listening to music in the car or singing Karaoke with friends—when you’re singing in the language you’re learning, structures are impressed upon you and you understand words out of context.”
So after the implementation of the “Learn German with Music“ idea was a done deal, the first major challenge was to find the right music. It had to have a catchy melody, be copyright free, and appropriate from a language-teaching point of view. The choice fell on eight folk songs, whose lyrics were scrutinized by Katja and the editorial team, modernized here and there, and simplified.
The next step was when Christine Keck, actress, voiceover specialist and musician at Babbel, got the song lyrics, whose melody she also newly interpreted. She then recorded contemporary singer-songwriter versions of the delightful, though sometimes slightly dusty, tunes (like „Wenn ich ein Vöglein wär“ –“If I were a little bird“).
Later the editorial team began to work on translating lyrics into English and the design and order of the exercises. They extracted countless sound bytes, named them, and uploaded them to the server. The Babbel developers tinkered with the complex technical implementation of the new formats, including a Karaoke component.
Taking four months, the production phase was significantly longer (and perhaps a little more difficult) than it had been for other Babbel formats. But it paid off: now Babbel learners who are native speakers of English, Italian, Spanish and French can learn German singing. And if you ask Katja, the mastermind behind the idea whether it was worth it? “Je ne regrette rien“, she announces. She doesn’t regret a thing.
Read this post in German (Deutsch)
Many years ago they decided to completely rewire the electricity in my flat. First a lady from the building management came along, then two gentlemen with ties and big note pads and finally, several months later, two electricians. Those two were really thorough and my flat was gutted: walls were drilled open, old cables ripped out, new ones laid. My “vintage” fuse box was exchanged for an alien flat white plastic thing. Newspapers from the 1920s were found hiding behind my skirting boards and all the light switches were re-positioned.
After a few days of dust and dirt and candlelight I had fancy new electrics throughout the flat. I could now drive a nail in the wall without having to use a metal detector: the cables no longer zigzagged through the walls but ran in an orderly manner in strict adherence to modern building regulations. With my brand new plastic fuse box, it was a piece of cake to flip the switches on and off or to create, as if by magic, a cosy ambiance in the living room. But I became a stranger in my own flat because the light switches were no longer where they used to be. I would enter a room, slap my hand against a now naked wall and remain in the dark. Literally. It wasn’t nice.
At Babbel, we are also going through a fancy makeover: rewiring, rebuilding — and moving the light switches around. For example, all community features — the board, the people page, messages and friend requests — are being completely re-vamped.
Why all this trouble?
- Many users want to use Babbel on iPads or other mobile devices. This is a step in that direction.
- Babbel will run considerably faster afterwards.
- We will be able to tackle spammers much more effectively.
- We will be able to realize your suggestions quicker and easier.
Take our upcoming writing exercises: the new version we developed has resulted in many more of you getting involved. Beginners in particular are now much more inclined to take the plunge.
The course overview pages are also getting an overhaul and should go live in a few days. We would also like to streamline the Babbel login: everyone will be able to log in using an email address alone.
Those of you who are used to the “old” Babbel are may feel like I did when my flat was dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century. We are very aware that some of these changes may be very irksome, but they have not been made on a whim. Every month we receive hundreds of suggestions and requests from you and we read each and every one of them. Every month we get together to look at your feedback and ideas. We read them, we discuss them, we argue about them, we categorize them, and we count them. Some requests are easy to fulfill. Others require fundamental changes and involve long and meticulous preparation. But the construction work has started now. With dust and dirt and candlelight…
If it had been down to me back then, they needn’t have moved the light switches at all. I knew where they all were and had gotten used to reaching behind the fridge whenever I came into the kitchen. However, that was just me. The real difference only struck me a few weeks after the dust had finally settled: never more do I hear the screams that once haunted the dark corners of my flat — “Anne, where’s the @!#*&$ light switch?!”
After just a few delays, Babbel is available in the Google Play Store as an Android app!
Babbel Android was one of our users’ most common requests, and we are delighted to finally make this dream come true. Now all of you out there with Android devices no longer have to wait to take advantage mobile learning with Babbel. We’d like to give a big thank you again to our beta testers, whose feedback had a direct impact on improving the app. We’re super happy with the results and we hope you’ll have a lot of fun with the new apps and learn a lot, too!
What can the Babbel app for Android do?
The app includes the Basic and Advanced Vocabulary with 2000-3000 words for each learning language. As usual, all vocabulary packages are organized by topic and presented audio-visually (spoken out loud by native speakers and illustrated with pictures). You can decide which themes interest you the most, and get started right away.
We’ve also optimized out speech recognition software and integrated it into the Android apps. It will now be even more effective in analyzing your pronunciation and helping you practice. Of course, the popular review manager is also on board—presenting you words you’ve learned for review in ideal intervals, so that what you’ve studied permanently embeds itself in you long-term memory. You don’t need a constant internet connection for the Babbel apps, so you can study vocabulary easily and flexibly—at home or on the go.
How much do the Babbel Android apps cost?
The Android apps are completely free for all eleven languages and can be downloaded from the Google Play Store. The first lesson from every category is ready to be studied right after download. To download additional vocabulary packages and use the intelligent review manager, you’ll need a free Babbel account, which you can sign up for directly on the app. If you already have a Babbel account, then you can simply log into the app, download everything you’d like to learn and go.
Should I expect ads in the app, since it’s free?
No. You shouldn’t be distracted by advertising. Babbel remains, as always, an ad-free premium product.
Those of you who are familiar with Babbel know that the Basic and Advanced Vocabulary is just a small part of what Babbel has to offer. Product innovation and product development are still dominant themes at Babbel. The Mobile Team has already begun with the development of new apps that will bring more features and courses to mobile devices. Our Content Team is also busy working on new lessons and courses. Very promising!
To make the best out of any trip, you should be able to communicate in the local language at least a little. Here are nine cases where our travel-themed courses can give you a hand:
Whether you’re sightseeing in Rome or on a package tour in Tuscany, “Preparativi” (Preparations) gives you A to Z! Here you’ll find the fundamentals for planning your Italian holiday.
2. Hotels and Accomodation
Just got there and already problems with the room? Here you’ll find everything you need to book the right room or politely complain (for example in Spanish)
3. Manners and Customs
How does it really work with tapas? Are you supposed to give a tip? Impress your friends and acquaint yourself with manners and customs.
4. How to get from A to B
In the urban jungle you can quickly lose the big picture. Here you’ll find lots of useful phrases for navigating public transportation, parks and nightlife (for example in German).
Ciao! Come stai? Per favore, grazie – The most important Italian greetings and polite phrases at a glance. You’ll get the conversation underway quickly.
How about a trip to the Louvre? But to speak eloquently about art, you’ll need the necessary vocabulary. You’ll find the most important words here.
7. Bars and Cafés
Spend the day on the beach and experience long nights partying on the streets of Rio. With the vocabulary course Bars and Cafes you’ll have a lot of fun!
Holiday in France without great food and wine? Forget it!
All the necessary words and phrases for (almost) everything edible and drinkable. You’ll also find the best phrases for ordering in a restaurant or cafe here.
¡Hola guapa! (Hi beautiful!)
The Spanish temperament sometimes rubs off on holidaygoers. Go for it… but say it right! Here you’ll learn the words and phrases to give a compliment.