Last spring I was heading to France and wanted to brush up on my language skills. I turned to Duolingo, a free app, to test out my skills and perhaps learn new ones. I had about three weeks to refresh my high school French and hopefully grow to fluency, a lot to ask, maybe?
Unfortunately, upon arrival in Paris, I was not fluent. Then again, I am not sure I can blame Duolingo for that. If grammar school and high school classes could not teach me the language, an app I played ten minutes a day for three weeks probably had little chance. The thing I like about Duolingo is, it is fun, even if it is just a taste of a new language. Languages for those of us not innately talented can be laborious but here is an app that really makes learning fun.
Recently, I saw Duolingo written up in a couple of different best app lists, it did win iPhone app of the year in 2013 as well as assorted other prizes. I decided to go back to it and see if I had retained any of my knowledge and guess what I had! Granted I was only on basics but I had retained those basics!
They have also expanded the gamification a lot. They now have their own currency called lingots, which you earn for completing a level or learning a new skill. You can spend them by gaining dressing your owl or for gaining more skills like idioms or flirting. On the website there are also immersion exercises you can do by translating articles from the Internet.
Currently Duolingo offers Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch, Irish, Danish, and Swedish for English speakers. Turkish, Esperanto, Russian, Ukrainian, Romanian and Polish for English speakers are currently being worked on.
The list of languages is impressive for English speakers and for those wanting to learn English. For other languages it is more limited other than English there are at most three or four others. Duolingo is available on the android, iPhone or on the computer site. I have been waiting for a while for Mandarin for my children but it is still in the incubator. They can’t wait!