Presenting the latest chapter of our Babbel user portraits — a snapshot of users’ lives and experiences learning a new language. Want to share your own story? Let us know in the comments section below!
Today we introduce you to multilingual Hans from Switzerland. This 69-year-old polyglot isn’t just a passionate language learner — he’s also a linguist, an organist, a marketing and database expert, and a website developer! Here, he talks about his mother tongue of Romansch, his love for foreign languages and cultures (he’s currently learning Swedish and Welsh), and how his language skills helped him land his dream job.
Here on the Babbel blog, we make no secret of our love for letters. Words, after all, are what we do.
But once in a while, they say, it’s good to get out of your comfort zone. So we’ve been crunching some numbers — big ones: we asked our users about how they learn with Babbel, and 45,000 of them got back to us (okay, 44,584 — but who’s counting?).
We scratched our heads, put the kettle on, dusted off our calculators and got to work. Here’s what we found out.
Here is the latest chapter of our Babbel user portraits: today, we introduce you to Giuliano from Italy. The architect and father of three had a dream: to travel with his kids in a converted pickup truck to Lapland. To finance the trip, he wrote a blog about his adventure: Rovaniemi Express. Here he tells us about his journey, and how learning Swedish helped him to discover a whole new world, and to show his children that languages are alive.
This is the latest in our ongoing series of Babbel user portraits – snippets from the lives of our users and insights into their reasons for learning a language. If you’ve got a story you’d like to share, leave us a comment!
This time we’re catching up with Martin Leonhardt, who is in the middle of an epic motorcycle journey across the Brazilian Amazon. Originally from Franken, Germany, the 36-year-old photographer and adventurer has been traveling the world for over two years now. You can follow his progress at freiheitenwelt.de.
Spain’s appeal is obvious – the sun, the sea and the sangria spring instantly to mind. Less clear, perhaps, is how to go about making the best of it all while staying on the good side of the locals. We can’t promise to keep you out of trouble on la playa this summer, but we do have a few pointers.
This is the latest in our series of portraits of Babbel users – a snapshot of their lives and the reasons they are learning a new language. If you want to share your story with us, please leave a comment.
This month, we interviewed Lenel who lives Galway in Ireland, but is originally from the Philippines. Alongside his job in a fast-food restaurant, the 24-year-old is also a blogger. Using bucketlist250.com, he created a “bucket list” of things he wants to achieve during his lifetime. Over a year ago, he began a new challenge – learning Spanish, Italian and French. Lenel decided to accomplish his goal with Babbel, and wrote about the experience in his blog. In this portrait, he tells us more about the concept of a bucket list and why learning those languages is part of his life’s goals.
We are launching a series of portraits of Babbel users – a snapshot of their lives, and the reasons why they are learning a new language. If you’d like to share your story, let us know in the comments. This month, we interviewed Michèle from Caen in France and André from Québec. Michèle and André do not know each other, yet they have a lot in common. Both are 65 and recent retirees passionate about traveling. They are learning Spanish regularly with Babbel to travel around the world the best they can. (more…)
Anja from backpacking blog happybackpacker.de has been travelling the world for almost 15 years, writing about her travels and her two great passions, surfing and diving. She recently spent several months on the road in South America and was reminded how important it is to have a few phrases of the local lingo up your sleeve. (more…)
About the blogger: Crisi is an old hand at Babbel and has been on board since 2008. It’s not only professionally that she loves to meet people and to learn with them: She has already travelled to 47 countries and in addition to souvenirs she also always brings home a smattering of local language with her. This is how to greet someone in Luganda, the other official language in Uganda alongside English: “Ki kati!”.
Whether you live in a rich country or a poor one, in a tiny village or amidst the bustle of a mega-city: It doesn’t take much to open up new perspectives for yourself – for example access to the Internet and a will to learn.
I had this experience once again last year in Uganda. In February, I travelled to Uganda for a month and met with Edmund Page from the Xavier Project in the capital, Kampala. This initiative and its sister project YARID (Young African Refugees for Integral Development) have made it their mission to provide access to education for the numerous refugees in the city.
Most refugees trying to build a new existence for themselves in peaceful Uganda come from the neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo, which has seen bloody conflicts flare up repeatedly over the past twenty years. So far, over five million people have been killed in the war for gold, diamonds and mineral resources and an estimated one to two million are currently displaced, of whom alone about 50,000 are living in Kampala. They lack everything, including accommodation, food and medical care. Even if they were expelled by the rebels as students, traders, mothers, nurses or teachers, they are not welcomed in Uganda with open arms as refugees speaking a different language. They can communicate very little, except with other people in the same circumstances, because in the Congo, alongside the local languages mostly French is spoken. In Uganda, however, it is mainly English that is spoken. So if you want to find work in Kampala and take part in public life, you need good English skills!
At YARID some of the refugees have the possibility to take part in an English course for free. Often it takes a lot of effort for them to be able to concentrate on learning, since beginner and advanced pupils are taught together, often about 70 people all at the same time in a small room. One of the volunteers is Robert, who fled the Congo in 2008 and now passes on the language skills he obtained to those that have followed him.
For an hour I helped Robert to teach the mostly adult students. It was really fun, because they were extremely enthusiastic! Although the teaching time was short, I was quite worn out because I was having to fight against the noise levels in the small corrugated iron hut. I also found it a real shame not to be able to address the individual course participants on their various learning levels – some were visibly bored, while others had a hard time to keep up with the lesson, in which mostly whole sentences were written up on the blackboard and repeated loudly in chorus. Especially the women on the course are very shy and don’t dare to come forward and to ask questions if they don’t understand something.
After my host Edmund showed me the computer room of the Xavier Project, I came up with the idea of using Babbel – English courses on the computer would solve all these problems!
At first, however, it was only a half success: Out of the twelve outdated machines only two worked well enough and the Internet connection was painfully slow. I put my own laptop alongside them and always put two or three people on one computer. Most of them had never used a computer before and first of all needed to familiarise themselves with how you click with the mouse or which letter is to be found where on the keyboard. But once they arrived on the Babbel website, everything worked wonderfully: Lesson after lesson vocabulary was spoken out loud and typed in – long into the evening, until the room had to be closed.
In the days that followed I repeatedly held a “Ladies’ Day” and explicitly invited women from the English class in the afternoon to the computer room, including Fatou, who, at 60, is one of the older students. They didn’t let their initial struggles with the keyboard discourage them, and before long were posting requests on their Facebook accounts to all “moms” to do likewise and learn English in this way. To see how much fun Fatou and the other women had on the computer has motivated me to become an advocate for reliable access for refugees to Babbel courses.
Back in Berlin I launched a fundraising campaign within Babbel and my circle of friends, which was very successful. So, in November, I was able to return to Uganda with some laptops, speakers, and some money for a better Internet connection. This time I showed Alex, the new employee of the Xavier Project, how to set up Babbel accounts, redeem donated access codes and select courses that match one’s own ability level. From this month on, Alex will be conducting regular computer courses, where he shows his participants, amongst other things, how to use Babbel.
So the refugees in the project will be able to learn English with their own account, whenever they have time, and at the same time practise using a computer, which will give them an advantage when looking for a job. In so doing, each person can take the time that he or she needs to learn spoken and written English according to their own ability.
I am very pleased that the Congolese refugees in Kampala have a way to improve their situation with relatively little effort and I hope that many of them will soon become a part of Ugandan society. Often it only takes a small initiative, to produce something that makes the world much bigger. Or, as they say in Uganda in their down-to-earth way: “The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The next best time is now.”
Read this post in German (Deutsch), French (Français), Spanish (Español)
Overcrowded resort beaches, bad food in hectic restaurants and seemingly “exotic” holiday destinations where the only native language is that of retired tourist groups… sound familiar? Welcome to mass tourism. Those undeterred by scenarios such as these will spend happy holiday on popular islands such as Mallorca or Sardinia or in cities such as Nice and Barcelona.
But not so fast: There are still a few little spots in Europe that – at least for the moment – haven’t yet been spoiled by mass tourism. You only have to look a little harder…
Vieux Boucau: This small village on the French Atlantic coast is familiar to but a few surfers and camping enthusiasts. White sand beaches bordered by vast dunes stretch for miles, while pine forests in the background give campers shade. Those with little taste for the hustle and bustle of nearby Biarritz get their money’s worth in this charming village, enjoying beautiful sunsets on the dunes.
Molise: Far from the flow of traffic, mountains, vineyards and stone villages are the backdrop to this idyllic region of Italy. 200 kilometers east of Rome, among beech forests, fields of wild herbs and clear mountain lakes, travelers encounter a special kind of holiday. The small spa town Termali is the gateway to the region. However lovers of unspoiled beaches will have made a true find with Petacciato.
Cuesta Maneli: The Costa de la Luz, Spain’s Atlantic coast in the gulf of Cádiz, hosts cavorting crowds of tourists from countries all over the world. But even here there’s an alternative: The insider tip is Cuesta Maneli. On the southwestern edge of the Doñana National park there is a kilometer-long, unspoiled sandy beach. Those looking to while away there can reach the remote coastal strip via a 1200 meter-long boardwalk through wild dunes.
Moose, red wooden houses and Pippi Longstocking: To date, most people associate Sweden with unspoiled, idyllic nature for the whole family. But even here it can be hard to find places unaffected by mass tourism. One of these areas is the province of Hälsingland. In a landscape of stony mountains, in the borderlands between northern and southern Sweden, nature lovers can immerse themselves in the wilderness. Marked paths and trails lead the way through dense forests full of lynx, bears, moose and wolves, along with countless lakes for swimming and fishing.
If you want to get your language skills in shape for vacation, Babbel.com is the place. You’ll find travel vocabulary for French, Spanish, Italian, Brazilian Portuguese, Swedish, German, Dutch, Indonesian, Polish, Turkish and English and as iOS, Android and Windows Phone 8 apps.