Read this post in German (Deutsch), French (Français), Italian (Italiano), Spanish (Español)
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!)
Dari is our product manager for mobile Apps and these days he’s a very sought after man here at Babbel. Nevertheless our Blog author Aishah was able to track him down and ask him a few questions to coincide with the upcoming Babbel for Windows 8 release on 26th October (and the corresponding Babbel for Windows 8 App). Privately Dari is a committed Apple user. Nevertheless he is certainly very happy with the new Apps, especially from a visual perspective.
What do you do at Babbel? Do you actually ever get around to learning yourself?
For me it’s more a case of “learning by testing”. But of course a lot of it sticks. I would say my favourite language to learn is Spanish.
I’ve been at Babbel for about a year. When I started here the vocab trainer for iPhone had already been developed. Since then we have optimised the Apps for iPad and also brought one out for Android.
As you say, there is already Babbel for iOS and Android. Why then soon for Windows 8 as well?
Our Apps for iOS and Android are very successful – the subject of learning is not only becoming more and more relevant, but also more popular. We had the opportunity to take a look at Windows 8 and the technology behind it as part of a collaborative project with Microsoft in Berlin. Coming into direct contact with Microsoft experts tipped the balance. Of course I had already wondered if and when we would start work on an App for Windows 8. But now we are going to be the first provider of a language learning App in the Windows Store, and that’s something we can be very proud of.
What is special about Windows 8?
I find the most interesting aspect is their attempt to join together mobile and stationary usage. Windows 8 doesn’t just support conventional PC use via mouse and keyboard, but also touchscreens, which are most widely distributed among mobile devices. Also the design of the user interface has changed dramatically. For us it is a welcome change, which suits our audiovisual vocab trainers perfectly.
What was it like to collaborate with Microsoft? Was it the start of a beautiful friendship?
It was definitely an enjoyable collaboration, especially since we didn’t just work with a contact person for the business side, but we also had access to a developer at Microsoft. This direct communication made the whole development process much smoother. We are excited to see how things develop, although as yet we haven’t forged any concrete plans. First of all we need to wait and see how Windows 8 and especially the Babbel Apps for Windows 8 are received by the users. The much-loved voice recognition will be added as an update, since for technical reasons we were unable to include it in the release version. A conversion for Windows Phone 8 would likewise be another interesting step. For the time being it will be just for PC and tablet. Another option would be to integrate all of the web-accessible courses into the App. We certainly have a lot to think about.
What can the user expect from the Babbel App for Windows 8?
With the official release all of the eleven Babbel languages will be available as individual Apps in the Windows Store under the category ‘Education’. As far as content and didactics go, we will be staying true to our existing Apps and the Babbel concept. In my opinion our Apps fit really well to the new Windows 8 look. But most of all the user can expect one thing: lots of fun!
Try out German here
Brazilian Portuguese here
Babbel is adding four new languages to the roster: Polish, Dutch, Turkish and Indonesian. That makes eleven languages in total! With these new additions Babbel is offering learners the chance to engage with cultures that welcome a lot of travelers, but don’t often have a lot of foreign students of their languages.
Studying the local tongue is a great way to get a perspective on the place you’re visiting. It also makes getting around a lot easier!
Babbel’s four new languages are also astonishingly widely spoken outside the places you might immediately assume. On a visit to Chicago or London, Polish could come in quite handy, as would Turkish in Germany. Chicago is one of the largest cities of the Polish Diaspora, and it’s been said that Berlin is one of the biggest Turkish cities outside of Turkey.
As for Indonesian, the language is very closely related to Bahasa Malaysia, the language spoken in Malaysia, and both Belgium and Suriname count Dutch as one of their official languages.
The kick-off packages contain vocabulary and phrases and also incorporate popular Babbel features such as the automatic Review Manager and the Pronunciation Trainer with real-time speech recognition (all the better to get your tongue around those Polish sibilant sounds or those umlauts in Turkish). As usual at Babbel, new content is permanently in the works and new learning material will follow soon.
With a three-month subscription, access to all content within the Turkish, Polish, Dutch and Indonesian courses is available at a special rate of €9,90 per quarter. However, a sample lesson is always free of charge, with no obligation to purchase, so why not try it out?!