The Babbel Blog

language learning in the digital age

Portrait: Daniela in Brussels

Posted on December 17, 2014 by

retratoBabbel User Portraits are glimpses into the lives of people around the world. If you would like to share your story with us, just leave a comment below. This month, we talked with Daniela Schaller who has been living in Brussels for a few months with her husband and young son, and who learned Dutch quickly with Babbel.


I started learning Dutch with Babbel in May of 2013. At that time, I had no idea I’d be living in Belgium one day. I’d always been interested in the language, and the defining moment for me to start was the wedding of a friend, who married a Dutchman. I wanted to at least be able to chitchat with him and the other Dutch guests. When my husband got the offer for a  position at the European Parliament, it was a wonderful coincidence.

Arriving in Brussels, I would have placed myself at a beginner level of A1 or A2, but when I took the assessment test at a Belgian language school, I was placed at advanced level B1 or B2. At that point, I’d only learned with Babbel. Here in Brussels, there are tons of beginner’s courses, but barely any for advanced learners – at least none that I can fit into my schedule. I have a young son that I pick up every day from kindergarten. So I’ll just keep learning with Babbel.

What I also really like about Babbel is that I can easily integrate it into my everyday life. When we were still living in Potsdam, I was always learning on  the subway or on the way to work. But now I also like to sit at home for a half-hour and learn while my young son, Nikolai, is playing or sleeping.

Incidentally, Nicolai is learning French in preschool. In Brussels, French is spoken often and Dutch almost never. For that reason, shortly before my move, I also started using Babbel to refresh the French I learned in school . That helps me here a lot, because I speak French literally every day – it started with the apartment hunt, but I also speak French when grocery shopping, at public offices or at the doctor’s . But I also hear English, for example, when it has something to do with registration forms or when my son’s French-speaking teacher realizes that she’s speaking too fast for me.

My husband is just starting to learn French at work, although a lot of German is also spoken there. Little Nikolai might have more of a knack for it than his father! He already says “mama” to me in French and can already count to thirteen. He’s also already started to pick up a lot from the other children. He always says: “All the other kids speak such a funny language.”

If you would like to share your story with us, just leave a comment below!


Translated from the German by Frank Cifarelli.


Although babble is my first language, I have progressed to English,Spanish (from living in Venezuela) and a little French (from being married to a French-Canadian who went from native patrios to elegant French because he loved the language}. If I were able to live a really long life ,I would try to learn a new language every year, starting with Serbo-Croatian.

I am English, French soeaking, living in France. My daughters also live here and my grandsons are rapidly and easily becoming bilingual. I can speak Italian, not very well. . Learning Dutch has been a new challenge – a bit like the German I learnt in school but the pronunciation is crazy! Babbel is a very good method for language learning;The grammar section is essential and really clear. Languages open out the world for us all. Even if you have very few conversations, reading in another language is a genuine thrill and a great learning exoerience.So good to know that other people share this. Christina

My mother tongue is a dying language, the fourth language of Switzerland, namely: Romansh. So, of course, no way of finding a learning tool online! The fact of being an extremely minority language has “forced” us Romansh people to learn at least a second language, most of the time, German. So, I’m bilingual from early on. Since I’m now on older guy, soon 68 next January, I master – apart from Romansh – the following 4 languages at mother-tongue level: German, English, Spanish and French, because I’ve lived in Zürich, England (around London), Spain (4 years) and now living in French-speaking Switzerland. I also own an intermediary level of the following 3 languages: Italian, Catalan and Chinese. So, in all, I’m capable of communicating in 8 languages. Why Chinese? Due to my mastery of languages, being out of job at 45, I got my life-time best job as manager of international business relations between Asia – including China – and Switzerland, on behalf of the Swiss Government. Looks like a miracle, but it was due to my languages. Language learning – apart from the huge benefit of creating cultural relationships – keeps one’s mind / brain in shape. That’s why I’ve – at nearly 68 – I’v started Swedish with this EXTRAORDINARY Babbel language tool – as well as Welsh (a Celtic, i.e. non-Indo-European language), with another tool. I’m also a musician (see my website, organist for weddings), which makes it perhaps easier to learn the foreign sounds.

All the best for the whole of 2015,

I lived in a small village in the early 1980s called Kleingartoch near Heilbron as I spoke not a word of German and most of the locals no English through kindness and patience in 3 months I learned the basics although in a swabish dialect it helped me progress and further my interest in German language and people.I am now in my seventies and make it one of my hobbies. Frohes Weihnachten u gesundes Neues Jahr to alle Ich Kennen in Deutchland

Thank You for all the inspirational stories! While I’m a native English speaker, I’ve always had a love for learning languages. I speak basic Spanish and French as well as Sinhalese. and would like to keep enhancing on those languages. I have studied with Babel and enjoy their language programs immensely. Thank You Babel for encouraging us to keep learning new languages!

Languages are the real key to the world! we are so lucky we have tools like Babbel nowadays. Keep up the good work!

It is a nice story, encourage me to learn another language. Actually i have plan to learn German language since 2 years ago but I always have “excuse”,that’s why up to now I haven’t started it yet. Oh no, i must start it right now….yes now. I will follow Daniela, learning by . Happy new year everybody, may good things always come to you 🙂

Hi, very inspired by all your stories. Thanks. I’ll keep going.
Rach x bye

This was a beautiful story! I’m native to English and Spanish. I grew with a great advantage of speaking two native languages. I fell in love with the German language and decided to practice it. It’s a difficult language; but baby steps. It really comes a long way when you finally realize you DO understand some of the words and sentences. It’s such a great accomplishment to understand little by little. Since I’m native to Spanish, I thought learning Italian would be great as a fourth language to study and learn quickly. Although, I have the disadvantage of being in a small town that speaks nothing but Spanish. So learning a exotic language is kind of difficult but I manage to use German and Italian. It makes me happy to able to speak and study four languages! I always encourage someone to learn a second or third language! It’s a great privilege and also a great advantage to life.

I am English and live in Spain. I used to live in Germany many years ago and learned to speak German very well indeed. Now I need a refresher course as I have hardly spoken German since 1964. As I speak Spanish well enough I feel that I should really find learning Italian no great problem- I can read Italian for pleasure and love that beautiful, musical language and keep dipping into it at irregular intervals. This year I really would like to make the effort and take some sort of crash course in Italian. In fact I sometimes think it might be a good idea to learn Italian in Spanish to save me having to read explanations of italian grammar in English, as much Italian grammar is similar to its Spanish counterpart.

Merry Christmas, Buon Natale, Feliz Navidad und Frohe Weihnach to all!

I love you I hop the best year for all people in the world and for German people first thank you and happy chrstmiss ….marcelorvaly

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