Duolingo ?

Duolingo is a language learning app that turns learning into a game, which is not anything new, but it has become incredibly popular lately. I see a lot of friends taking on new languages, and I think that’s amazing. I’m typically a fan of anything that promotes learning new skills, I think becoming stagnant with our skill sets is a bad thing, and we need these challenges.

I decided to install it on my phone and see what it was about, refreshing myself in French. I was in French immersion when I first started school, my mother’s family is French, and over the years I have seen almost zero use of it so I’m nice and rusty. I can read it and speak it pretty well, spelling is a whole other can of worms. You do a placement test to see what level you rank at, and then lessons start from there.

It’s an interesting app, but I have one major issue with it.

There are some words that have multiple meanings, or words you can use instead of, or words that have evolved over time, and none of this is taken into account when duolingo grades you. For example, the French word “manteau” is commonly used for jacket, coat, and various other objects. Duolingo wouldn’t accept anything but “overcoat”. As I mentioned to friends, getting silly stuff wrong isn’t fun, and it takes away from the program.

You earn points daily for completing the program, can see your progress, earn badges, add friends and all that good stuff. The app is also free with ads that are blended in fairly well (they have their own screens that you can skip or click but the actual interface blends in well with the basic app interface). You can choose to unlock everything and pay monthly, there’s three tiers of payment plan offered depending on how often you want to pay.

Is this the most amazing language learning app out there? I’m not convinced. I do think it works well as a beginner stepping stone, and I can easily see why it’s so popular, but it’s a lot of memorization, no lessons or explanation what so ever on anything. I think it’s a good tool for beginners to learning a new language or refreshing one you may be rusty in but I’d combine it with other language tools out there, including actual classes and of course the best learning tool which is hands on experience where you’re actually speaking the language with someone else and having discussions.

I’ve personally always been of the opinion that languages are something you can learn that will never go “out of style” and the more you can learn the better. I regret not doing it more as I grew up, but really, it’s never too late.

Have you tried duolingo? What are your thoughts? If you decide to give it a try, which language are you going with? Let me know in comments!

1 Response to Duolingo ?

  1. Shai says:

    My mother is using Duolingo to learn German and she really likes it. I think part of the reason it appeals to her is the ease of use (considering she’s still learning how to use her smartphone) and the pacing doesn’t often leave her feeling frustrated. I’ve actually thought about putting a comment on my Postcrossing profile that people who know German could write a few lines on the postcards they send me so that she can practice her reading skills. :)

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