The Babbel Blog

language learning in the digital age

City, country, river, mountain, sea… Poland.

Posted on October 4, 2013 by

Read this post in German (Deutsch)

Anyone who hears the name Poland and still thinks of socialist chic and endless Siberian iceage seasons has missed something. Certainly since its entry to the European Union in 2004, Poland has no longer been an insider tip as a holiday destination and tourists from all around the world have been thronging to the showcase metropolises of Krakow, Warsaw, Danzig and Breslau.

City breaks are actually some of the most popular types of vacation for tourists to Poland: The former Krakow residence of the Polish King Wawel, the new alte Starówka (old town) in Warsaw – which after its almost complete destruction in the Second World War has been rebuilt to original designs – and Breslau, the European City of Culture 2016, all invite you to stroll about, explore and discover. The weather too is actually nicer than its reputation, a trip to Poland can be very pleasant, even in its coldest months. Anyone who drives to Warsaw should definitely take a detour through Lublin, two hours to the south east: It is a particular cultural highlight in August! Traders from Western and Eastern Europe sell their ethnic wares at the historical Jagiellonian annual fair, while the Ukrainian cult band Dakha Brakha performs on the Plac Po Farze. Soon afterwards you will find high wires being stretched between the renaissance buildings in the historical old part of town at the Carnaval Sztukmistrzów (festival of street performers), and at night the town is lit up by fire jugglers while the Cirque Baroque performs at the Palace Square.

Poland also has much to offer nature lovers: Several mountain ranges (Tatry, Beskidy, Bieszczady), a national park with a wild Bison population (Żubry) – which incidentally gave its name to probably the most famous Polish Vodka Żubrówka – and even a small desert! The “Polish Sahara” (Pustynia Błędowska) extends a proud (?!) 33 km² to the north of Krakow – so nobody will die of thirst here. The Baltic Coast bike trail stretches over 500 km from Usedom to Kaliningrad, and the Masury Lake District (Mazuren) has meanwhile become the new sailing paradise for Warsaw high society. Warning – mosquito spray (spray na komary) is essential here!

Especially if you are travelling far from the larger cities you should also pack in your luggage, alongside Lonely Planet and your wash bag, a few basic Polish phrases. That’s why you will learn in the new course “Polish for holidays” how to order a cool beer and where you will find tasty Piroggen after a long day’s sightseeing. You can practice communicating with the natives and you will also be primed with helpful tips for a visit to the pharmacy in case of a small emergency. And if phrases like zwiedzić muzeum (visit a museum) make you dizzy: Take courage! Because anyone who dares to have a go at twisting their tongue around the eccentric consonant combinations of the Polish language will unlock a friendliness and enthusiasm in their Polish counterparts, since they know themselves that their language is not one of the easiest in the world – and they are even perhaps a little proud of this fact….

Click here to go to the course

About the blogger: Katharina grew up bilingual German-Polish and has been a Content trainee in the Babbel team since July.

The joy of Polish pronunciation

Posted on July 24, 2013 by

Read this post in German (Deutsch)

About the author: Barbara Baisi started in content and support (at that time still as a student) around five years ago. As of this year, she’s an integral and essential part of our content team at Babbel.

My first encounter with the Polish language? It was those first days of my semester abroad in Finland. Anyone who’s done Erasmus knows that this phase is characterized by an endless loop of “What’s your name? Where are you from?” etc. etc. The going was pretty easy. Until one day I got an unbelievable consonant cluster as a response: “G sc ji a schek”… or something like that. I should mention that Italian is my native language, and we Italians have more problems with consonant clusters than the Germans. I’m afraid I couldn’t avoid an incredulous look and a “what????” The young man looked like he was used to it but, despite that—or maybe because of it?—also amused.

“Gscjiaschek”, “Gscjiaschek” – I tried to remember it. It was definitely a challenge. I had to remember this name.

A few days later… there he was again. And of course I had completely forgotten the name. But the guy was sympathetic and I really wanted to get it. Call me stubborn, but that’s just how I am.

Luckily Cyrillic came to the rescue. Russian was my second subject at the university and I realized that in Russian there was actually a letter for each of these sounds. I got out a pen and a piece of paper right there in the entrance hall to the university and started to transcribe: Гжешек. Easy as pie.

That was my first encounter with the Polish language. I still needed a few weeks before I learned that it was written “Grzesiek” and was actually a diminutive, or nickname, for “Grzegorz” (approximately “Gzhe-gosh”).

Now, I’m still good friends with Grzes (the even more diminutive form of Grzesiek), and he is one of many wonderful Poles that I’ve met in the meanwhile. Since then my interest in the Polish language has only become more present, and now, I’ve taken the possibility to produce the new Polish Beginner’s course as a great opportunity to introduce this language to others.

 P.S. However difficult these consonant clusters may be – like the motto “the more consonants the cooler“ – Polish pronunciation actually has rules, and there are practically no exceptions! Languages like French or English should be so lucky…

Babbel for Windows 8 – Five questions for Dari Salimi

Posted on October 23, 2012 by

Babbel for Windows 8Dari 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
French here
Italian here
Spanish here
Dutch here
Indonesian here
Polish here
Swedish here
Turkish here


Mistrzostwa Europy 2012 – Getting Ready for Euro 2012 with Babbel

Posted on May 21, 2012 by

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.


Let us know about your language-related football experiences with the Championship in Poland, we’d love to hear from you!

Check our Babbel Shirts for the Euro 2012! For girls and boys!

Four New Languages!

Posted on June 15, 2011 by

New languages: Indonesian, Polish, Dutch and Turkish

 

 

 

 

 

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?!

Learn Polish
Learn Dutch
Learn Turkish
Learn Indosian