Competition is good, especially for the customers. Today, Busuu, now 1.5 million users strong, announced a new partnership with The Guardian and MacMillan, two well established brands and as British as five o’clock tea and scones (in the Savoy, of course).
To quote from another recent press release in that space, the partnership “catapults” Busuu in the intermediate level and above learning sector.
Foremost, this is another example of one of the core skills that the Busuu founders Bernhard Niesner and Adrian Hilti clearly have: to build something useful and valuable that matches the overall brand at a small expense.
The new service for English learners based on this partnership will provide the premium English learners on Busuu with selected news articles from the Guardian on a daily basis. If the learner needs to look up a word, MacMillan’s online dictionary now integrated in the Busuu platform, will provide on the spot translations.
The aim is to encourage learners to then comment on those articles and give their opinion and thoughts. Those comments will be corrected by the native English speakers within the community, just like the regular writing exercises.
For now, Busuu is pulling the Guardian’s global news feed only but according to Bernhard Niesner there will be filters for topics like sports, culture, economics etc in the near future. I also had the chance for a short Skype chat on the partnership with Bernhard Niesner yesterday:
busuu.com has been growing substantially during the last few months. We see that our system has received tremendous traction and that many users seem to love our language learning system.
That´s why it’s very important for us to continously offer new material to our growing community. The cooperation between The Guardian and MacMillan makes a lot of sense for our community. A user is now able to access daily changing news articles from The Guardian, translate the words he/she doesnt know via an integrated MacMillan dictionary and then receive a correction on his comment by a member of the English native community from busuu.com.
That´s exactly the innovation we want to drive in the language learning market. Language learning should be interactive, based on real-life situations and over all fun!
Looking at the recent partnership between Livemocha and goFLUENT and also the launch of a Business English course on Babbel, it is clear to me that the communities are heading towards the business sector as next source of generating users. This move makes a lot of sense as companies around the world are always looking for flexible, inexpensive alternatives to in-house face to face trainings. Offering content from a newspaper like the Guardian in combination with the MacMillan dictionary will surely make Busuu more interesting and valuable for users from intermediate level upwards, plus the topics will resonate with clients in the business sector.
As I said at the beginning, competition is good. The race for new, better features in the language learning community market offers language learners a growing choice of really great products and features.
There are, of course, particularly noticable similarities to existing services like my all time favorite VocabSushi and Voxy which raised $600k angel funding back in December. The Busuu’s strength lies in a dedicated community, correcting the texts of their fellow learners.