How to use busuu

Start by setting yourself a manageable goal

Some students work through an entire busuu course very fast, but most take it more slowly, logging in regularly and studying for manageable periods of time. A manageable goal might be, for example: ‘I want to complete A1 level and have 5 short conversations in Spanish within the next 8 weeks.’

Decide when you study best – this will usually be when you are alert and less likely to be disturbed. Set some appointments in your calendar to remind you when it’s time to study.

How often and how long you study for is really down to personal preference and how much time you have available. We’d recommend you spend a minimum of one to two hours actively learning on busuu each week. We advise that you do this in small chunks rather than one large one: 10 minutes per day is a manageable goal, or 4 sessions of 30 minutes each is also good. If you want to do more than this, that’s great!

What to study

If you are a complete beginner, we recommend that you start at the beginning: A1 Lesson 1, and work through each lesson in sequence.

Lessons begin with vocabulary units and then usually a grammar unit, followed by a writing exercise and a voice recording exercise (voice recording exercises are currently website only). It’s important that you complete all the units – only skip a unit if you are certain you already know all the words and key phrases in it.

Vocabulary units

Most vocabulary units teach you between 5 and 10 new words and phrases. Most units contain flashcards with the word, a translation and a key phrase showing the word in a full sentence. If you see a flashcard with a word you already know, great – just move on. If you find a word you don’t know, we advise that you write it down and save it to ‘My Vocabulary’ (you need to be using the busuu website to do this). You can save a list of all the words you struggle to remember in My Vocab, and then at the end of your study session, or when you have a spare five minutes, go into the Vocabulary tab (on web) or My Vocabulary on the app and test yourself on the words. As you become familiar with the words, you can delete them from your vocabulary list.

Grammar units

Work through all the quizzes in the grammar units. If you find the unit difficult, we advise you to take a break and come back and repeat it later. It can also help to take notes as you go. Many students struggle with grammar – especially verb conjugation. It’s important to know that you don’t need to memorise verb tables or remember every verb conjugation. You will encounter these over and over again throughout the course, and each time you do, you will find it easier to remember them. Don’t put pressure on yourself to get your grammar ‘perfect’ – this comes with time and you can expect to make lots of mistakes at the beginning. This is a sign of progress!

Writing exercises

These are some of the most important exercises in your course. They allow you to practice producing the language you are learning, rather than just understanding or recognising it. Each writing exercise has an instruction for you to write something related to the language you studied in the vocabulary and grammar units. It may seem hard at first, but try to write in the language you are learning as much as you can. Even if you can only think of a couple of words, write those down and take a guess at the others. Once you have run out of ideas, you can click on the hint section to see a model answer. Try to write in your own words as much as possible, and try to write as much as possible – the native speakers in our community will correct your writing and give you suggestions on how to improve.

The best way to get good corrections is to become friends with as many native speakers as possible and ask them to correct your writing. You can find people to connect with in the Practice tab on the website.

Voice recording exercises

Note: these are only available on the website, not currently on the app.

The voice recording exercises are designed to give you pronunciation practice, and to allow you to hear your voice inserted into a conversation in the language you are learning.

We recommend that you record each section of the dialogue a few times, until you are happy with how your voice sounds.

Try to get as much speaking practice as possible

To get some speaking practice in the language you are learning, you will need to log on to the website and use busuu-talk (this feature is not currently available on the app), go to the Practice tab and find native speakers to chat online with. You can use this feature to text chat, audio chat or video chat. If the thought of chatting online with a stranger is too intimidating, we recommend you start just with text chat, which works in the same way as text messaging. Begin by saying hello to a few people. Sometimes you need to try to chat with a few people before you find someone who is available and happy to chat.

We recommend that after each lesson you try to practice using some of the vocabulary and grammar you learned in that lesson. If this feels unnatural, you can just try to have a casual conversation.

If you really can’t find any speaking partners, or you can’t use busuu-talk because you mostly study with the busuu app, you can challenge your speaking skills with the dialogue exercises (which you will find inside most vocabulary units). First, test your memory, by covering up one part of the dialogue (use your hand or a piece of paper) and trying to remember or guess a suitable response. Do this for each part of the dialogue a couple of times. Once you can remember the parts in your head, challenge yourself to speak them aloud. Play the audio to check your pronunciation and vocabulary. It may seem strange and artificial at first, but it is a great way to improve your speaking skills without the stress of a real life conversation.

Sample study session (30-40 minutes)

1.        Log in to the busuu website

2.        Open the next lesson in your course

3.        Work through the vocabulary units – write down any new words and phrases and save them to ‘My Vocabulary’, practice saying them out loud if possible

4.        Work through the grammar unit – take notes. Repeat the exercises as many times as necessary until you feel confident that you can get most of them right.

5.        Do the writing exercise. Try to write in your own words as much as possible. Only use the hint if you get stuck. Challenge yourself to write as much as possible and don’t worry if your answer isn’t perfect. Send your answer to as many native speakers as you can to get good feedback.

6.        Do the voice recording exercise. Record yourself as many times as you can.

7.        Go to the Practice tab and try chatting to a few people on busuu-talk in the language you are learning. Try to use some of the new grammar and vocabulary you just learned.

Sample study session (5-10 minutes)

1.        Open the busuu app or website

2.        Go to My Vocabulary/Vocabulary

3.        Work through your list of vocabulary words and test your memory. To challenge yourself further, you can change your interface language in the settings menu so that you can’t see the translation.

4.        Delete any words that you remember easily.

5.        Keep any words that you struggle to remember, and come back to test yourself again later.

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