Category Archives: News

Interview with busuu Languages Education Director, Oula Akiki


I recently had an interview with a Oula Akiki, Education Director at a busuu, a company that offers an array of digital language learning curricula and applications.

busuu-logo

 

 

Here are some questions and her answers.

How did you get started in the language learning field?

I majored in modern languages, linguistics and translation at university. I’ve always been interested in languages. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t learning a second or third language. I went to the same business school as Bernhard amp; Adrian the busuu co-founders. I met them at an event and we immediately shared a common interest in languages. They were talking about their ideas for busuu, and I was immediately interested in the product. From my interest in linguistics, I wanted to move away from the traditional way of doing things and become more involved in product innovation. I joined busuu in January 2011 after graduating from business school in Madrid. I moved with the company from Madrid to London a year ago.

How did busuu start?

Bernhard Niesner and Adrian Hilti founded busuu in Madrid, where it was an official UNESCO International Year of Languages project in 2008. The company is named after the endangered Busuu language of Cameroon. According to an ethnological study from the 1980’s, Busuu is spoken by only 8 people. We went to Cameroon to track down those 8 people and made a video about our experience here!

Language learning technology is a saturated field. What makes busuu unique? How does it compare to other offerings in the market like Rosetta Stone, Livemocha, Duolingo…?

We create a good learning experience where we are trying to offer everything you need to complete your learning. We combine the content with a cross-platform solution so you can learn on mobile or on the web – the program is flexible to your needs. We complement that with our unique community -  it’s a friendly, helpful community where you can speak to native lanugage speakers. So you can learn anywhere on any device. You can practice with the commmunity who bring the conversational element that is so important when learning language. Language is about interacting with others and learning about other cultures is a part of that.  Learning the language is one thing, putting it into practice is another. We offer one solution that is practical, adaptable and fun to use. busuu has a gamified environment that makes the learning fun and engaging. It has nothing to do with your language book or your language class. The people in the community are more relevant as they live in the country whose language your learning. It’s an opportunity to learn and engage in a way you’d never learn with a book.

What’s the busuu approach?

We teach you relevant vocabulary, that you need in every day life. We break down the course content into smaller contexts that are easier to assimilate when you’re learning language. Then, put it into sentences. You’re going to find that conversation to be useful in every day life. We take useful vocabulary and useful conversation modes that are bundled into topics based on your needs and the situations when you need to use them.

Learning a language is a rewarding yet arduous process. What is your advice for those learning a language now or considering it?

It can be challenging, like anything new that you learn, but having regular conversations with people makes it more fun and less stressful. We’ve built a useful process to learn and remember language as well as to practice it. You have the cultural exchange happening as well. Even if you are in the early stages, you can still practice by talking to native speakers. People find out that they know more than they think they do, and that then inspires their confidence to continue learning. Keep practicing your language exercises. Like any exercise, a bit of training here and a bit of training there is still very helpful.

Is there anything you can reveal to us about the future of busuu?

Stay tuned, we have some exciting things coming in early 2014.

What about language learning and acquisition in general?

People are learning on different devices, and we find language learning is suited to a multi-device lifestyle.  We base our content creation on user behaviour and what we know is more important to them. People learning want stats, dashboard. It’s more personalized and need-driven. In general, it’s more intelligent and data-driven. What we learn from learning habits and how people interact wtih content, so we can refine and make it better.

Rosetta Stone, for instance, backs the Endangered Languages project, is busuu involved in any causes our readers should know about and get involved with?

Given we are named after an endangered language, we do support this issue as a company. We run an annual program called Learn2Help, to help educate children in Cameroon with the ultimate goal of building a classroom to support a local school. In December, the 35 million strong busuu community will help others to learn through its own language learning. As busuu users achieve completed lessons, the company will contribute to the Cameroon Association for the Protection and Education of the Child (CAPEC) to buy school supplies and furniture. With enough language learning activity on the website and on busuu’s mobile apps, busuu will reach our ultimate goal  of building an entire classroom for children in Cameroon.

Cite this article:
Silva E (2013-12-13 15:51:43). Interview with busuu Languages Education Director, Oula Akiki. Enzo Silva blog. Retrieved: Apr 21, 2014, from http://enzosilva.com/blog/2013/12/13/interview-with-busuu-languages-education-director-oula-akiki/

Learn2Help Program: Learn a Language and Help Build a Classroom in Cameroon!


Learn2Help

It’s always time to give back to the global  community. I love to see opportunities like this one that allow you to help others by learning something new. In this case, by learning a foreign language.

I was told about the Learn2Help program sponsored by Busuu and think you should consider helping this cause. The newsletter about the program follows below.


Help busuu Build a Classroom in Cameroon by Improving Your Own Language Skills

This December, the Learn2Help Program from Busuu Buys Educational Equipment for Underprivileged Students

London, 3 December 2013 – busuu today announces its Learn2Help initiative to help educate children in Cameroon with the ultimate goal of building a classroom to support a local school. In December, the 35 million strong busuu community will help others to learn through its own language learning. As busuu users achieve completed lessons, the company will contribute to the Cameroon Association for the Protection and Education of the Child (CAPEC) to buy school supplies and furniture. With enough language learning activity on the website and on busuu’s mobile apps, busuu will reach its highest goal of building an entire classroom for children in Cameroon.

busuu, the company that took its name from the Busuu language of Cameroon, will donate school supplies to the CAPEC  organisation which it has supported for the past few years. Through their school in central Cameroon, CAPEC helps provide an education for children who come from low-income families in the local area. Many of the parents are illiterate and these pupils are often the first generation in their families to receive an education.

It’s free to sign up and participate. The way the program works is that busuu users earn busuu-berries as they complete language lessons on the website and through busuu’s mobile apps. From the 1st through the 21st December 2013, the more busuu-berries earned by the community, the more busuu will contribute to buy school supplies including school stationary, textbooks, furniture and classrooms for the students. For example:

  • 35 million busuu-berries will help busuu provide the school with stationery like pens and books.
  • 40 million busuu-berries will provide textbooks and exercise books.
  • 45 million busuu-berries will allow busuu to donate furniture to the school.
  • 55 million busuu-berries will allow busuu to donate enough money to build a classroom for the school.

To put this into perspective, the busuu community earns around 1.8 million busuu-berries for completing language lessons every day, and every berry earned will help provide additional supplies for the school. Now is the time to get on busuu and starting learning a language. Everyone in the world deserves an education. Help busuu support CAPEC in their mission to education the children of Cameroon, and treat yourself to the gift of language this December.

 

About busuu

busuu is the largest social network for language learning, with over 35 million users worldwide. The company offers free and premium paid-for access to audio-visual courses for 12 languages: Spanish, German, French, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Polish, Turkish, Arabic, Japanese, Chinese and English.

Members can improve their language skills through direct interaction with native speakers within the community via an integrated video-chat application and peer-to-peer text corrections. As a result, every busuu.com user is both a ‘student’ of a foreign language and also a ‘tutor’ of their own mother tongue.

Bernhard Niesner and Adrian Hilti in Madrid founded busuu in early 2008. It was an official UNESCO International Year of Languages project in 2008. The website has received several awards including AlwaysOn Global 250 Winner 2009, Language Label 2009 from the European Commission, CeBIT Innovation Award 2010, Red Herring European Winner 2010 and ‘Best Education Start-up’ at The Europas TechCrunch Awards in 2011.

The company is named after the Busuu language of Cameroon. According to an ethnological study from the 1980’s, Busuu is spoken by only 8 people.

 

Cite this article:
Silva E (2013-12-06 13:14:35). Learn2Help Program: Learn a Language and Help Build a Classroom in Cameroon!. Enzo Silva blog. Retrieved: Apr 21, 2014, from http://enzosilva.com/blog/2013/12/06/learn2help-program-learn-a-language-and-help-build-a-classroom-in-cameroon/

Wanna be the Number One in Learning?


SuccessFactors’ Cloud Talent Success organization led by Jenny Dearborn has just been recognized as the #1 learning and development organization of 2013 by the Elearning! Media Group  in the Performance Excellence category.

Read the article here to find out more about what it takes to be amongst the top learning and development organizations in the world!

Also, congratulations to U.S. Defense Acquisition University for the #1 spot in the Collaboration Excellence award.

#1 baby!

#1 baby!

I am  proud to be part of this organization!

Top Learning Organization 2013 Meme

Cite this article:
Silva E (2013-08-27 12:37:37). Wanna be the Number One in Learning?. Enzo Silva blog. Retrieved: Apr 21, 2014, from http://enzosilva.com/blog/2013/08/27/wanna-be-the-number-one-in-learning/

Why confine creativity to a closed space? How Yahoo set back the workplace to the dark ages


How interesting that people confine creativity to collaboration in a closed space…

There is creativity in solitude and in collaboration (the latter being virtual or in person)…

Creativity and productivity are organic…

Open up your minds…

In recent news, Yahoo steps decades backward in workplace evolution by banning their work-from-home program.

All their CEO and high execs needed to do was search the Web for an Infographic or other sources of information on the advantages of working from home, and they’d have recanted this tragic decision:

Source: dashburst.com via Enzo on Pinterest

iBooks Author for Mac


Apple changes the publishing business once again. Sure there are other formats and authoring tools which are supported in iBooks, but this is different: an application that fits tightly in the Apple ecosystem, and as is normally the case with Apple products, simple.

Apple unveiled this new tool in their Apple Education event in NYC. Here are some highlights and features:

Integration with other Apple products and workflow

Template gallery

Drag-and-drop editing

Embedding and customization of elements such as galleries

Support for JavaScript

Support for HTML5

iPad simulator/preview

Accessibility support

Support for widgets

Apple says on their website:

Available free on the Mac App store, iBooks Author is an amazing new app that allows anyone to create beautiful Multi-Touch textbooks — and just about any other kind of book — for iPad. With galleries, video, interactive diagrams, 3D objects, and more, these books bring content to life in ways the printed page never could.

Did I say it is free of charge on the Mac App Store?

This application should facilitate the process for creating custom interactive eBooks that play well, natively, in Apple (and perhaps other) devices. Now all one needs is creativity…

One of the sources: The Official Apple Website, and TheNextWeb.

Twitter Newspaper Visualizer – Paper.li


I’ve been meaning to play with Paper.li for a while but haven’t found time to do it (even though it takes 30 seconds to set up). I know.

This is a great visualization tool for information shared on your (or someone else’s) Twitter stream. Links, photos, videos and other media are all nicely distributed on a newspaper-like web page. You can create newspapers from a username (@[username]), a hashtag (#[word]) or a Twitter list. These days, when most of us suffer from information overload, this is a great tool to help you aggregate, organize and skim through a lot of information.

Here is my newspaper “The Enzo Silva Daily” based on my username and those I follow (basically lots of instructional design, social media, tech and learning people).

I also created one for the Learning 2010 conference (#L2010) here.

Enjoy.

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