busuu

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Busuu Ltd
Type Language Learning
Headquarters London, England[1]
Founder(s) Bernhard Niesner, Co-Founder & Adrian Hilti, Co-Founder[2]
Owner Busuu Online S.L.
Slogan(s) The language learning community
Website www.busuu.com
Alexa rank negative increase 7,187 (April 2014)[3]
Registration Required (free)
Available in English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese (Brazil), Russian, Polish, Turkish, Arabic, Japanese and Chinese
Launched 16 May 2008

busuu is a social network for learning languages.[4] It is based on a freemium business model.[5] The website provides learning units for twelve languages: English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese (Brazil), Russian, Polish, Turkish, Arabic, Japanese and Chinese. Users select one or more of these languages and work through the self-paced units.

Name origin[edit]

Busuu is a language spoken in Cameroon. According to an ethnological study conducted in the 1980s, only eight people at that time were still able to speak this language. The ISO 639-3 code for Busuu is bju.

Concept[edit]

Busuu is the world's largest social network for language learning. Through online and apps, the business offers free and premium paid-for access to audio-visual courses for 12 languages.

busuu offers courses based on (CEFR) levels A1, A2, B1 and B2. Users enroll to study one or more languages. The study material for a language is typically broken down into around 150 units. Units consist of multiple-choice questions, speaking assignments, and writing assignments. Some sections within each unit include multimedia material, such as spoken multiple-choice questions. Users act as both student and tutor, correcting one another's work. They can converse via chat-window, an audio connection, or a webcam connection.

There are two classes of member: ordinary member, and paying premium member. Grammar units and some of the multimedia functions, such as video units, voice recording, and podcasts, are available only to premium members.[6] The site sells materials from its partners, such as grammar reference books from Collins.

Uniquely, the platform encourages collaborative learning by offering users the unique opportunity to learn the language and practise their listening, writing, reading and speaking with assistance from a rapidly growing community of native speakers. In this way, every busuu user is both student of a foreign language and tutor of their own ‘mother tongue’.

busuu also offers mobile apps for iOS and Android in 11 languages. All apps can be downloaded for free with a set of basic learning units. Additional units and content can be purchased. All mobile app content is free for busuu Premium members.

In 2013, the company launched two iPad apps for kids - 'Kids learn English with busuu' and 'Kids learn Spanish with busuu'

Development[edit]

The site left beta in February 2009, and moved to a freemium business model. As of April 2014, a single month's premium membership cost €14.99, with reductions for longer-term subscriptions.[6] The site's design is based on the Drupal framework. On joining, users are presented with an animated graphic representing a garden. They can earn points by completing units, and use the points to add ornamentation to the garden—clouds and butterflies, for example.[7] busuu offers courses in twelve languages: English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese (Brazil), Russian, Polish, Turkish, Arabic, Japanese, and Chinese. Since September 2011, busuu also offers business courses in English and Spanish.

In October 2012, busuu has closed a Series A investment round of €3.5 million from PROfounders Capital and private investors. The funds help to further improve the website and functionalities and increase global market share.[8]

In April 2014, busuu has partnered with education giant Pearson to allow its users to qualify with a recognised gSET certificate in English.

Awards[edit]

busuu was accepted as a project within the UNESCO 2008 international year of languages, after its campaign to save Silbo Gomero won a Silver Lion award in the International Advertising Festival.[9] In 2009 it was a nominee in the Tech Crunch and Premios de Internet awards, and won the European Language Label for innovative projects in language learning.[10] In 2011 it won the Tech Crunch award for Best Education Startup.[11] busuu won the BETT EdTech Innovator Award in 2014.

In November 2012, busuu won the Seven Ventures Pitch Day prize, worth EUR 4 mil in media spend in Germany. The pitch day was hosted by ProSiebenSat.1 Media AG in London.

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