The Babbel Blog

Online Language Learning

School’s out for Summer! – Babbel along on Vacation

Posted on June 15, 2012 by

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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!

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Mini-Vocab Packages for the Last Minute Language Learner

Posted on July 7, 2009 by

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There’s always a little bit of anxiety that comes along with traveling abroad, whether for business or for pleasure. Possible scenario, night before — for example — the flight to Berlin, a sudden pang:  “Oh right, they speak German in Germany, and I don’t even know how to say ‘how are you’.  How am I going to manage to order my morning coffee?!?”

We at Babbel have now developed a stress-reducing linguistic survival kit (and perhaps path to that caffeine fix in a foreign country) for the last-minute language learner: the Mini-Vocab Package. Compiled especially for the spontaneous traveler, it offers essential words and phrases – in German, French, Spanish, Italian and English – to get through that first encounter with the locals unscathed.

For those who’ve got a little more time before the big trip, besides the Mini-Vocab, there are twenty other in-depth  packages for all relevant situations while traveling, from leaving the airport to arriving at the car rental desk.  There is of course also the opportunity to hook up with someone from Babbel’s now more than 350,000-strong community to chat, trade travel tips or set up a language exchange.

To go directly to the newly compiled Mini-Vocab package, click here. If you are not already registered at Babbel, after a quick and easy registration you will be taken straight through to travel vocabulary.  For our press release, click here.

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Let the machine guide you: Touring with your ears

Posted on February 17, 2009 by

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wheretoTo know the world,  just listen to it – these words from writer Amin Maalouf are the motto of Zevisit.  The website offers free audio guides to a number of destinations, mostly in France, but also to other places around the world, such as tours to Istanbul or the Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. The number of available guides depends on the language you use. Most are in French, though many can be found in English and there are a few in Spanish and German. Besides using the Google Maps to visualize the tours, you can download information to Google Earth, browse a Wiki or watch some video guides (via Fremdsprachen und Neue Medien).

When visiting these places, a translator could definitely come in handy. There is a new iPhone app which could have been a wonderful solution, but it comes with a catch: The iSpeak application ($2 for each language) offers translation from English to Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch, Polish, Swedish and vise versa – you type in a sentence, and it translates it and “speaks” the translation out for you. The only problem is that iSpeak relies on the Google translation engine – meaning you have to be connected to the internet. Which you may not be as a tourist without a contract with a local provider (or without wireless/WLAN, near the Victoria Falls for example).

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