The busuu.com Co-Founder Bernhard Niesner has been selected as WU Alumni Entrepreneur of the Year 2008 by the Wirtschaftsuniversität Wien.
The Award is organized by the University of Economics & Business of Vienna, Austria, the EU’s largest educational institution for business and economics, business law, and social sciences, with about 20,000 students.
Although being a little late (there is really too much going on in education right now!) I want to take the chance to congratulate Bernhard and the team of busuu.com for this award. As the interview in the Alumni News is in German I would also give my readers a brief overview of the content.
busuu.com is a free online-community to learn languages. The user has access to audio visual learning material for Spanish, French, English and German in over 150 topics. Through the integrated video chat users can practice with native speakers. This way every student can also be a teacher. The idea was born during Bernhard Niesner’s MBA in Madrid.
busuu.com is extremely interactive. Instead of learning a new language alone you can immediately connect yourself to a community of 80.000 members from 200 countries worldwide.
busuu.com is privately financed but looking for investors. In february 2009 busuu.com launched their premium subscriptions starting at 7,99 Euro per month offering more audio files for 3.500 sentences and 150 dialogues, PDF files of all exercises, more than 150 podcasts and access to more than 35 grammar units.
New languages in the planing are Mandarin, Russian, Portugese and Italian. An iPhone application is also in the pipeline.
busuu.com has a social aspect, too. Besides trying to rescue the Silbo Gomero, a language that is whisteled instead of being spoken, busuu.com has many users from Africa, South America and India who are now able to have access to quality content for free. busuu.com hopes that this will have an positive impact on the chances to work or study.
You can also read my Spotlight article on busuu.com. There you will find more information about the website itself. Just go over here.
Little personal note from the teacher’s perspective. As my own language students are regular readers of this blog (thanks for that) already two of them went over to the busuu.com website, found a language partner and are frequently using the system besides their 1o1 language lessons with me.
Drawing a conclusion: a combination of the two systems seem to work out really well for the students and I can see good synergy effects for language learning communties and 1o1 lessons.