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Monday, November 28th
Busuu has a unique, communicative method for learning German. You learn real-life phrases, that aren't just memorization but application. You can apply them in writing and speaking, and then have native German speakers tell you how well you did and if you'd be understood. They might even offer to show you how to reword the phrase to say it more like they do in Germany. You can also offer suggestions to students who are learning your native language!
How will you know where to start?
If you're new to German, you would start at A1. You might be wondering what A1 means, and what's next after A1. Busuu actually uses CEFR: Common European Framework of Reference, which is the official European determination of fluency in a language. It goes from A1 to A2, B1, B2, C1 and then C2. The test you're given isn't the actual test that the European students take, but it's still good. This way, if you already know some German, or continue in Busuu's lessons and end up at a certain level, it's a well-known level and definition. That's a big plus, because some language-learning programs have their own definition of beginner, intermediate, or advanced, and you don't know if that "definition" transfers to anything in real life. And if they call you advanced, are you really advanced? Not with Busuu: it's clear cut, tried, and true. That said, Busuu's German program takes you to B2 at the highest. You can't get to an advanced level with Busuu. You can still get pretty far, and there are more than 250 lessons for you to learn and enjoy.
Determine your goals and available time
Once you take the placement test and determine which level to start at, you'll then be asked a short series of questions so Busuu can tailor a bit to you. What is your purpose for learning German? Is it to travel, for business, to make small talk or ask directions, or carry on meaningful conversations? You then tell them how much time per day or week you want to dedicate to your German lessons. Between the conversational goal you told them and your time allotted, they will tell you how long it will take you to meet your goal. This is refreshing! Rather than plod away at lesson after lesson, not knowing what you'll really be able to do and when, Busuu tells you when your goal can be completed. If you would rather meet your goal sooner, you'll know to adjust your time on task per week. It's all up to you. You can also get notifications to remind you that the day and time you dedicated for studying is coming up.
The Basic plan is good
The Basic plan, which is free, gives you access to vocabulary words and phrases, reading, writing, interactive exams, and goal-setting. The vocabulary offered is good, and it's in words and phrases, which helps to learn German for communicating. The free plan only allows you access to parts of the lessons. You won't be able to complete all of the activities and you won't get grammar lessons. When you complete activities or learn a lesson, you get to win prizes. The prizes are Busuu berries. When you win berries, you can go to the Busuu shop and "purchase" items. You can also invite your friends on Facebook or find new "friends" on Busuu, so you can have healthy competitions to motivate you to complete lessons or reach goals.
The Premium plan offers more
The Premium plan gives you full access to the German lessons, unlike the free Basic plan where you won't get to see the grammar lesson and you won't get to complete all of the activities. With this membership, not only will you have access to the complete German lessons including grammar, you get the AI-powered review, and have access to the program via the website and the Apple or Android app.
The Premium Plus plan really is the best
With Premium Plus, you can learn more than one language. Once you get hooked on one, you may want to start learning more, who knows? There are 12 languages possible with Busuu. When you complete a CEFR level of language study (A1, A2, B1, or B2), you will receive a certificate from a nationally-known education corporation. No, it's not a real certificate from a European school, but we think it's pretty good. On the Premium Plus membership, you can also receive corrections and possibly suggestions on your written and spoken work from actual, native German speakers. You are also invited to help other students with their written or spoken work when they study your native language.
Lessons are well planned out
The lessons go in an order designed to achieve CEFR goals. The titles of the lessons are intriguing. Many are conversational topics with underlying grammar and vocabulary. For example, one lesson is "Understanding Directions." Others are, "Asking for directions using the right definite article in the singular" , "Learning to say what your job is" , and "Expressing how a group of people feel with the verb "sein'." They try to let you know what you will be able to do at the end of the lesson.
You can choose what and how much to practice
After each lesson, there are activities to practice what you have learned, using the four skills of listening, reading, writing, and speaking. Your dashboard tells you the activities that are available to you, and you can choose which and how many activities you need. Because time can be of concern, each activity tells you how much time they anticipate it will take you to complete.
Real people to correct your work!
Some of the longer writing or speaking activities will be submitted to a real person to evaluate. They will read or listen to your work and offer feedback. They may tell you how well you did, and they may offer extra tidbits, such as where they're from or if they might use a different word or word order. The people who look at your work are called "friends." You can choose a "friend" to evaluate your work if you like how their feedback has been, and you can also choose to be a "friend" to those learning your native language.
Just as Busuu has a community of "friends" to evaluate each other's work, the company also encourages you to invite your friends or Facebook friends to join the platform. When you and a friend both learn from Busuu, you can challenge each other or have a healthy competition for lessons completed or levels reached!
Culture is that added spice
Have you studied hard in high school for years, and when you finally had the opportunity to practice your German in an authentic setting, got a funny look and were told, "That's not what we say. Nobody really says it like that." Boom! Huge confidence killer. You wonder what else you were taught that people don't use, and now you are afraid to speak. No worries, Busuu's got you covered. They tell you the "textbook" way to learn it, and then what people really say and why.
Everything but advanced
It really seems like Busuu has it all - thoughtful, communicative lessons, goal-setting applications, a European determiner of fluency goal-setting, a network of helpers, and little prizes at the end of lessons. But we want more. We want to be advanced. Although Busuu has over 250 German lessons, it only goes up to B2. We would love to see Busuu offer C1 and C2 levels. We also wish it had more practice speaking. We understand that real fluency happens with real-time conversations with native speakers, and online programs and apps without live instructors just can't offer that. But if Busuu offered more practice speaking, you could get a bit more fluent.
All in all, we think Busuu is great
Busuu's placement test based on the European system offers leveling you can be confident in. The lessons may not offer all the bells and whistles, but they offer you a good path to fluency. We love that Busuu has goal-setting technology and the community of "friends" to evaluate work. If it had more lessons at the advanced (C1 and C2) levels, and if there were more speaking opportunities, that would be ideal. If you are dedicated and stick with your goals, using this monthly-subscription German-lesson program is worth the investment. Busuu earns our highest possible rating.
Did you know that German is the second-most spoken language in Europe? Or that around 95 million people worldwide speak German as their primary language and that it is an official language in six countries? Perhaps you have German roots in your family and want to get in touch with your heritage by learning German?
If you study sciences, you may know that German is the most commonly used scientific language. Learning German can provide you with an insight into the German people's way of life and also broaden your horizons. Whatever your personal reason for wanting to learn German, the next step is to find your best way to study the language.
So much of our life now is digital, so it's natural to consider learning German online. There are many programs to learn languages: live, one-to-one tutoring; a real person teaching you through recorded video lessons; video-game-like lessons and practice; recording your voice and getting computer-generated specific feedback; getting feedback on written work by real people; or playing games and letting the time fly by while earning prizes and getting on a leaderboard. With so many different methods of learning and practice, we can help you narrow down what is best for you and your learning style.
The first thing to consider is how much German you may know. Have you had German classes in high school and want to brush up and continue to proficiency? Or is Gesundheit! when someone sneezes the extent of your German? If you are a beginner, choosing an online program will be easier, as most focus at least on the beginning German student. If you already know some German, some programs offer a placement test and others have you look at their curriculum and you select your own placement. If you are pretty advanced or your goal is to get there, only a few online German programs can help you get to advanced proficiency, while others fall short past the beginning German level.
How would you like to learn German? Would you like live one-on-one lessons with a tutor or in a small-class setting? Would you like to learn from a person, but via video so you can pause or review? Would you like to learn interactively with a computer program where you match phrases you heard with images, then record your voice speaking, and then have game-like practice exercises with awards and a leaderboard with a little healthy competition? It's all out there, and you get to decide which is for you!
Once you know your current level of German and how you might want to learn it, there are a few more aspects to consider:
TopConsumerReviews.com has reviewed, evaluated, rated, and recommended the best choices for learning German online or via an app. We're sure that with the information we have for you, you'll be able to make your best decision for learning German and becoming more proficient and fluent in this common and popular language!
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