The Babbel Blog

Learning and language

Advanced English, Drawn from the Headlines

Posted on October 15, 2018 by

Samuel works in Babbel’s Didactics team, designing and optimizing our English courses to deliver the most effective and engaging learning experience possible. With our most recent Advanced English course, the lessons get learners conversant in everything from gender identity, to gentrification and urbanism, to new workplace models. We sat down with him to talk about why fluency in these themes serves not just learning, but how we show up to the world.

 

I think, first, we should talk about: Why an English course in English? The logic of that may not be apparent at first glance.

 

Yeah sure! Language learning is all about talking, right? You see it’s pretty much agreed these days that the more exposure a learner gets to the language they’re learning, the faster and more effectively they’ll learn it. In a classroom setting it’s now normal that a language is taught almost exclusively in that language from the start. And it works. That’s what I learnt as an English teacher… and as someone who successfully scaled the formidable cliff-face of German as an adult with no prior familiarity. And as someone whose work and personal life are now largely conducted in German, I’m the proof in the pudding, so to speak.

 

But, of course, I always had a friendly teacher on hand to explain things when I didn’t have a clue what was going on. With Babbel Classic at beginner and intermediate level, we introduce new vocabulary and explain things in the learner’s native language to make sure there’s no confusion. For advanced learners this becomes unnecessary, as they should already have a solid enough knowledge of the language they’re learning to cope with simple instructions, guidance, etc. In fact, it’s important at this stage that the learner develops the ability to be able to work things out for themselves, as they would in real life, using the knowledge they already have in a given context to work out the meaning of longer texts, audio recordings, new phrases and sentence structures.

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How Babbel’s Language Experts Keep Up Your Motivation

Posted on September 28, 2018 by

Lena works as an editor for Swedish in Babbel’s Didactics team, the language experts who create our courses. In the second part of her series of articles on the pedagogical considerations that her colleagues engage with every day, Lena delves into the topic of motivation. When it comes to language learning, you often hear that motivation is essential for success. But what exactly is motivation and how do we work to keep our learners motivated? This article provides some answers, along with three tips on how to stay motivated, based on findings in the academic literature and insights from Babbel’s own experts.

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How and Why: Gender-Neutral Language

Posted on July 25, 2018 by

Nicki Hinz works in the Didactics Team here at Babbel, designing our courses and optimizing lessons to bring users the most intuitive and effective learning experience. As part of our in-house presentation series, Strangers, she recently delivered a breakdown of what gender-neutral language offers us, as language-learners and as a community. A deeper dive seemed in order, and she graciously sat down for a chat about it.

 

I suppose it should be obvious, given we work with language-learning, but what made you want to tackle this topic as part of the Strangers series?

In the Strangers series we want to really consider the different aspects of diversity from all angles, even from angles that might not be as high-profile or obvious at first glance. But as we’re working with lots of different languages every day, it becomes evident that there are problems inherent to some languages when it comes to how we talk about people. German is an excellent example, as we have the suffix -in to denote that a certain profession is female, e.g. der Lehrer (male), die Lehrerin (female). So what about people that do not identify with the traditional binary gender framework? If you’re genderfluid, for example, you might feel left out. You can see phenomena like this in other languages as well: Is a “gunman” necessarily always male? Other languages like French or Portuguese also denote gender in adjective endings, but it’s still a matter of one of two possible genders. The reality we live in looks quite different: we are transgender, genderqueer, intersex, non-binary, genderfluid, female, male…

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How Babbel’s Language Experts Enable Everyone to Learn a Language

Posted on July 10, 2018 by

Lena

Lena (pictured with her colleagues Ben and Sophie) works in Babbel’s Didactics team, creating and optimizing our language courses. She and her colleagues, who are linguists, teachers, instructional designers and, of course, language enthusiasts, handcraft learning content and tools that help our users meet their individual learning goals. In a series of three articles, she’ll write about some of the pedagogical considerations Babbel’s language experts must keep in mind when creating content for millions of learners. First off, it’s all about diversity!

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Meet Chris Wray: A man who learnt a language to serve his country

Posted on June 22, 2018 by

 

 

 

 

 

Megan, a member of Babbel’s PR team, speaks to fellow Brit and Babbel user Chris Wray about his experience learning German.

 

Meet Chris Wray. Chris lives in rural Dorset in the UK, and is enjoying retirement with his family after a career in the British Armed Forces. Between June 1968 and December 1983, he was deployed to Germany three times for a total of 10 years as part of military operations. For almost six of those years, Chris didn’t speak German outside of the classroom. When he finally did, he realised that there was more to a country than just being there.

 

 

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How I Flipped My Classroom: A Spanish Teacher’s Experience Using Babbel at Her University

Posted on May 31, 2018 by

 

 

Cristina Pérez Muñoz is a communication and language training specialist at Fontys University in the Netherlands. She obtained a BA in Spanish and a BA in English at the University of Salamanca as well as a MSc in Education. She has worked as a language trainer in Spain, the UK, Romania and the Netherlands, in diverse learning environments, including secondary schools, university lecturing and business training. Cristina loves traveling and learning the languages spoken in the places she visits or lives in.  

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Meet Dave Bottomley: A father who learnt a language for his son

Posted on May 9, 2018 by

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Megan, originally from the UK and working in Babbel’s PR team, chats with fellow Brit and Babbel user, Dave Bottomley.  Dave is 66, lives in Chepstow, and is a former taxi-business owner. In October 2017, Dave gave a “father-of-the-groom” speech before a sea of Spanish wedding guests. Only 24 months before, Dave could not speak a word of Spanish. Read on to discover his story.

 

 

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Meet Alex Sapple: A man who learnt a language for love

Posted on April 25, 2018 by

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Meet Alex Sapple: A man who learnt a language for love. Alex is 29 years-old, lives in Chester, works as a software developer, and coaches at Liverpool Victoria Rowing Club in his spare time. In 2016, Alex boarded a flight to Brazil. Little was he to know, that the love of his life was to sit beside him. Just one problem – Alex couldn’t speak her language.

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Babbel's In-House Language Challenge: A Roundtable Discussion

Posted on March 16, 2018 by


Babbel’s Didactics team knows that language-learning is more than drilling vocab and grammar. It’s a swirl of elements, in which motivating factors do battle with challenges and discouragement — many of them having very little to do lessons or exercises. To better understand it all, and better tailor Babbel’s methodology to the details of the learning journey, the folks in Didactics have turned their colleagues into study subjects, putting them through 90-day language challenges. With one in the books, and another underway, we sat three participants down with Ben and Nicki -the challenge architects, who were participants, themselves- to discuss what they learned.
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British sitcom course gets you speaking like a real native… with a rural twist!

Posted on March 5, 2018 by

Sam Samuel is the fresh-faced Editor and British-English ‘Besserwisser’ (know-it-all) on Babbel’s Didactics Team. In 20 years of continent hopping he has picked up an unhealthy smattering of French, German, Portuguese, Finnish, Czech, Croatian, Spanish, Arabic, Italian, Scottish, Kiwi and American English (lol). Here he writes about his latest project, which combines metaphor, idiom and colloquial language with (crackpot) British humour. The first of Babbel’s gripping new English narrative courses keeps learners on the edge of their seats while they discover how to converse like an English-language native. Tune in to the situational comedy series “Fowlmouth Farm” – an immersive course for advanced learners, taught almost entirely in English.

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