Conversation exercises

Why and how to give corrections

Correct an exercise

What are Conversation exercises and corrections on busuu?

One of the most popular and important aspects of busuu is the ability to interact with our community of 80 million language learners through our Conversation exercises. These Conversation exercises allow you to write or speak about a topic and then receive feedback from people in the community who already know that language. Learning from mistakes is one of the most important steps in language learning and our community can help you improve your language skills faster.

You can let our matching algorithm select suitable people from the community to send your Conversations to, or you can choose to send your exercises to people from your own list of friends.

And as part of the busuu community we ask you to help others by giving them feedback on their Conversation exercises in the language(s) you know. Help us break down language barriers by helping others improve their language skills while you improve yours.

Why should I do a Conversation exercise?

Conversation exercises give you an opportunity to practise speaking and writing in the language you are learning. Our lessons are carefully designed to introduce new words and phrases gradually, to help you memorise them, and then to practise using them yourself. As you progress through the lessons, the Conversation exercises will get gradually more challenging. We always give you a tip and a suggested word count to help you along, but we recommend that you try to construct your answers without looking at the tip. When you challenge yourself to write or say something new in the language you are learning, you accelerate the learning process and get yourself ready for having real conversations in your new language!

Why should I give a correction?

Giving corrections is completely voluntary and you don’t have to do it. However, our learners tell us that once they’ve started giving corrections, they get a lot of benefits from it, including more friends in the busuu community, increased confidence in their own abilities and a sense of satisfaction from helping others out. We recommend that you at least give it a try!

What languages will I be asked to correct?

We only ask you to correct others in languages that you have told us that you know well. You can adjust the settings in your busuu profile to tell us which languages you speak to which level.

Why did I get an email or push notification asking me to give a correction?

If someone requests you to give them a correction, we will send you an email or, if you use our mobile app and have notifications enabled, a push notification.

How do I give feedback on a written exercise?

You can correct the text of the answer directly, as if you were editing a document. Changes you make will show in green. You should then award the person you are correcting a star rating. You can give them up to five stars depending on how well they have done. You can also leave them a written comment with some helpful feedback.

Some guidance on how to write useful corrections:

  • Try to correct any spelling or punctuation mistakes by editing the text.
  • You can edit grammatical mistakes in the text too, plus it can be helpful to explain the mistake (and how to avoid making it) in more detail in your comments.
  • Remember that the person you are correcting won’t be fluent in your language and will struggle to understand complex explanations. Try to write short, simple sentences rather than long, complex explanations.
  • Try to include an encouraging comment in your feedback, especially if you’ve corrected a lot of mistakes. Making mistakes is a vital part of learning a new language, but learners can sometimes be discouraged by them. Remind the person you are correcting that they are doing a great job of improving their writing skills!
  • Sometimes learners will write something that is grammatically correct but still sounds unnatural. Feel free to suggest more natural ways of saying things.
  • Remember there are sometimes alternate ways of writing or spelling something. For example, some regions of the world will use different words for the same thing. Differences in usage are not necessarily incorrect, but it can sometimes be helpful to point them out.

How do I give feedback on a spoken exercise?

Listen carefully to the recording and try to note down anything you think may help the speaker - in particular pronunciation problems that you can help them become more aware of.

Some guidance on how to record useful corrections:

  • Don’t feel you have to correct every mistake you hear.
  • Pick one or two of the most significant mistakes and focus on those.
  • If the speaker pronounces a word or a sound incorrectly, try to provide a model of the correct sound in your recording. For example, you could say: Hi Sam. When you say the word “this” try to keep the vowel sound short: “this”, not “thees”.
  • Listen out for pronunciation problems that affect the speaker’s ability to be understood by others. Simply speaking with an accent is not a problem that needs correction.
  • If the speaker is more advanced and isn’t making any noticeable pronunciation errors, you can focus on more subtle issues like the way they stress words, their intonation, their word choice and grammar.
  • Remember to keep your corrections simple and short. Try to speak more slowly than your natural speed, as the person you are correcting won’t be fluent in your language.
  • Try to be motivating and offer encouragement as well as correction.

How do I thank people for correcting my exercises?

You can give any correction a Thumbs up to say thanks, and you can also give one correction the Best Correction award. If you would like the same person to correct a future exercise, you can request that they become a friend.

Is there a limit to the number of exercises I can send for correction?

Premium members of the busuu community can send as many Conversation exercises as they want. If you are not a Premium subscriber you can only send a limited number of Conversation exercises.

How can I increase the number of corrections I receive?

Premium customers are prioritised in the queue for corrections, and should receive feedback fairly quickly (sometimes within a few minutes). Free members of the community may have to wait for longer to receive a correction. You can maximise your chances of getting corrections by friending more people in the busuu community, and by giving corrections to people who speak the language you are learning.

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