Learning languages online

As if I needed another distraction, this week I discovered Busuu.com. It calls itself a ‘language learning community’ and is basically another social network with a twist: you create a profile for yourself and add details of the languages you’re learning.

Busuu.com offers courses in English, Spanish, French, German and Italian at the moment. As well as providing units in vocabulary and grammar, it also prompts you to submit a short writing exercise that other members can then check and correct.

Improved site tools and features

This is a great little tool for language learners and much better than anything else I’ve found online so far. I’m not sure how old the website is, but I’m guessing it will of course be further developed.

A few things that I’d like to see are:

  • an improved search tool that lets users search using a keyword — I’d like to make ‘friends’ with people in my locality, not just my country
  • downloads (PDFs and podcasts) with more detail and exercises than just those found in that unit — these are ‘premium’ content that do not offer anything additional at the moment
  • the different languages to have different scripts — at the moment, the script is exactly the same in each unit for different languages, so if you complete ‘weather’ in German and then do it in Spanish too, the information isn’t new
  • recognition on your profile that you’re a premium member — I keep needing to remind myself that I’ve upgraded because I’m still being urged to do so!

Grow your ‘language tree’!

However, it’s an excellent start and I’m currently hooked! It’s great to chat to native speakers and the features that Busuu.com has introduced to keep you working are simple but inspired: your ‘language garden’ grows for every unit you progress and you collect ‘Busuu berries’ for every activity you perform.

There’s also a fabulous mix of fellow learners of all ages, and you can chat to people from Mongolia to Chile.

(Wondering what Busuu means? ‘Busuu is a language spoken in Cameroon — based on an ethnological study conducted in the 80s, apparently only eight people are able to speak this language’.)

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