The Babbel Blog

Learning and language

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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Babbel: Perspectives speakers series kicks off with stimulating debate on Gender and Language

Posted on February 19, 2018 by

Zach works on Babbel’s Communications team, where he facilitates the exchange of knowledge and insights between his colleagues and experts in various academic disciplines, including linguistics and economics. Among these initiatives is Babbel: Perspectives, a new lecture series in which invited guest speakers and Babbel employees take on challenging and controversial topics. Zach hosted the first edition of Babbel: Perspectives on January 24, 2018; the focus was Gender and Language. The event put Kate McCurdy,  a computational linguistics engineer at Babbel, in dialogue with economists Eva Markowsky and Luise Görges.
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How To Do Just About Anything… In English!

Posted on January 18, 2018 by


 
 
 
Babbel’s newest English course teaches in-demand skills like rapping and surfer slang… entirely in English! The monolingual “How To” course for advanced learners is available now!
Chad has been an editor on the Didactics team at Babbel for over three years and is the resident expert for all things American English. Having lived abroad for nearly 20 years, he speaks a bit of Spanish, Thai, Khmer, and, most recently, German. Here he writes about his latest project, and the maxim “give the people what they want.”
 
 
 
 

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Automating Bias: When Machines Learn Gender

Posted on January 11, 2018 by

Big innovations in machine-learning have made some unsettling headlines the last year, holding a mirror to our own persistent biases by adopting them. When it comes to gender stereotypes, there’s a double-jeopardy nestled in how machines learn languages. Babbel’s computational linguist, Kate McCurdy, has been looking at how algorithms conflate semantic and grammatical gender, what this could mean for any application of so-called Artificial Intelligence, and how we might think about correcting course.
So, how about we start by just breaking down your project?
So, I’m looking at grammatical gender in word embeddings. Word embeddings are a kind of natural language-processing technology that are used in a lot of things. The core of this is an algorithm that learns the meaning of a word based on words that appear around it. In the past few years, we’ve seen pretty major developments in this area. Lots of research is happening, and big companies like Facebook and Google are using these technologies. A couple of years ago, there was this new algorithm that allowed you to train a model quite quickly and get these representations of word meaning that seemed to be really impressive. So, you could just automatically let it loose on a corpus and it would learn, for example, that “dog” and “cat” and “animal” are all related, or that “apple” and “banana” are related, without anybody explicitly telling it to. This is quite powerful, and it’s being used in a lot of technological applications. But we’ve started to notice that there are some issues with it. (more…)

How Babbel Built an Online English Test

Posted on December 21, 2017 by

Babbel’s partnership with Cambridge English brings language assessment into the digital age


 
Ben, originally from the UK, is project manager for English in Babbel’s Didactics team, the language experts who create and optimise our courses. In the past, he’s trained and worked as an English teacher and assessor in both Germany and Spain, and he delights in learning more unusual languages as far afield from English as possible, including Swahili and Tongan. Here, he writes about how Babbel and Cambridge English, experts in language assessment, partnered to release the Babbel English Test…
 
 
 
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