A few weeks ago I ha an email from somebody at busuu asking me whether I would like to add a link to their site. I replied that I would check it out and write a blog post about busuu if I liked it.

As you all know, I love finding new resources for you, so  I was looking forward to try it out. Unfortunately this is my first post which isn’t flattering.

Busuu is a social media site where you can learn a foreign language with the help of either free online resources or with a paid subscription.

I registered and straight away received an email that I could try out their premium programme for free for 7 days. Except, any link I clicked on took me to the page which offered me 10% off the paid subscription, no free trial.

I decided to try out the free version and started at the beginner’s level. The first lesson I did was “Wie heißt du?” “ich heiße …”

Nothing wrong with that,except the man in the picture was a business man in a suit. Those of you who have learned some German know that ‘Wie heißt du?’ is what you ask children or mates, not business people! And yet, I couldn’t find an explanation about the use of the formal and informal you. (You have to pay for grammar guides). Imagine you’re going to meet a prospective German client and ask him his name as if he was a mate. The deal could well be off after that!

As I carried on I came across some translations which weren’t very good.  The most worrying thing was the idea of students correcting each other’s work. I had the opportunity to correct English sentences from foreigners learning English. I was horrified to see some of the corrections people gave those learners.

However, the thing that worried me most, was the reply I had from them when I told them that I found mistakes and wasn’t too impressed with the site. All I got was a ‘thank you for your feedback’. Not a single enquiry about the mistakes, nor an offer to look into them and correct them.

I know mistakes happen, we all make them. But when I get told about a mistake I check and, if necessary, correct it.

I guess, when you are having 35 million users, many of them paying members, nobody cares about mistakes – big shame!

So, if you are looking for free online resources, check out the many I have already found and can recommend, they will keep you busy for a long time. In the meantime, I will continue to look out for further opportunities for you to improve your German.

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