Saturday, February 25, 2012

Adding Busuu into my mix of resources

I was recently going through some old email, and found one from Busuu from when I'd signed up for the service. I'd forgotten that I had an account with them, but I'd signed up with them last year when they introduced Turkish as one of their languages being taught. I'm not sure why I never pursued it, but I forgot about Busuu after I'd created my account.

In any case, I decided to give them another look. I'm glad I did. It's proving to be a good addition to my current resources.

They currently offer English, Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Polish, Turkish, Arabic, Japanese and Chinese as full courses, but you can choose other languages to study, as I'll note later.

I wanted to start at their A2 level course and go from there, but it either wasn't allowed or I wasn't able to figure out how, so I had to go back to the beginner A1 course. It took me about four days to get through the A1 course. It's been a really good refresher, and I picked up some more vocabulary too. I can honestly say it's much more complete than, say, Teach Yourself Turkish, or even FSI. As a non-paying member, I was able to complete 25 lessons from the A1 course, but I think there are 35 lessons in total. The ten lessons that I didn't have access to appear to be mostly grammar-related. That's OK, since A1 is a refresher for me. I've now started on the A2 course. If I were a paying member, I would have access to much more material, including downloadable audio and PDFs of all the lesson material.

I think what probably impresses me most about Busuu though, is the social factor. Sure, there are other sites that offer a social aspect to learning, but I've not seen so much social interaction as I have on Busuu. Lang-8 comes close, but you don't get the camaraderie of shared courses like you do with Busuu. After every single exercise I completed, within seconds I had corrections, encouragement and requests for friendships. The chat and other realtime features are pretty good, and quite useful. I guess I should probably note that Busuu, like any other socially-powered site, has its share of people just looking to hook up. If that's what you're into, fine, but Busuu gives you ways to combat it if you need to, by blocking/reporting as spam, as well as up/down voting in the comments and critiques of your writing exercises.

Knowing that they didn't have any Georgian course, I still specified that I was learning the language. It gave me the option to search for native Georgian speakers and returned pages of users, so that may be an option for lesser spoken language conversation partners.

I can't really comment on the upper lesson levels, since I've just started to use the service in earnest, but if the quality remains as it has with the first course, I'm probably going to spring the €75 for 12 months of premium access.

I highly recommend it as an additional resource!


  1. Busuu has been the supplement for adding Turkish vocab while working on grammar through the FSI course. I have to rate LiveMocha a little higher than Busuu as far as interactivity goes, including having natives correct your recorded speech. But Busuu has more writing exercises which means more chances to have your writing critiqued by natives.

    I'm currently in the last unit. They will sometimes (like for your birthday) give you free access to the pay units, and let you download the PDFs and mp3s. Busuu assumes you're getting grammar from somewhere else, but I think it's great for vocab.

    1. Actually, I've discovered that Busuu also allows for recorded audio correction. It's not at all obvious how to go about it though.

  2. Another site you might find amusing is this one off of TRT Çocuk.
    Under "Oyunlar" there are some word games for kids that I find decent for language. For example, "Ziddini Bul" it shows you a word and you type its opposite. It's interesting to see the "correct" answer for words with multiple meanings. There are others with specific vocab for countries, fish, plants, etc.