As education rapidly moves to the online medium, a relatively new site and app called Duolingo is creating quite the buzz with users. The completely free language learning resource and tool is one of my new favorites and something I’m seriously addicted to. Ever since I bought my iPod Touch 5, I will admit that I downloaded a lot of games like Ghostbusters, The Simpsons Tapped Out and yes—Angry Birds, but that one is based entirely on my need to vent.
I downloaded the language app after reading a tweet from actor, Ashton Kutcher over at Twitter. It piqued my curiosity and decided to check it out. After watching their video and introduction to what their business really is, I signed up and am really happy that I did. With all the progress I made, I actually have to admit what Ashton Kutcher says is pretty true. You really can learn a lot in a week and from my own experience, more so than in the classroom. With respect to all the French teachers I had over the years, this is a very helpful tool in perfecting those teensy-weensy grammatical mistakes that we tend to make. I always had issues with conjugation, possession and placement of certain adjectives, but this allows me to revise my knowledge and tweak it to perfection. One of the strong points to the application is repetition as doing lessons over and over again is beneficial and helps to retain new words in memory, but the program doesn’t necessarily explain why something is the way it is. With that in mind, it’s still a good start to understanding a language visually and then applying your knowledge.
There’s a great interactive aspect to Duolingo as well that allows users to translate articles on the web to the language they are studying, as well as discussion threads on each level by users. With regards to translations though, I haven’t reached that much confidence as yet to try it out since I’m currently on Level 9 of French and hold a vocabulary of a mere 258 words. Thus far I’m really enjoying it and can speak a little French or understand something written in French, and that makes me extremely happy because I’m finally getting it and doing my best to apply.
Duolingo works like a game too because you get to earn coins! I mean, who doesn’t love earning coins in a game? I’m already a millionaire in the ‘Ghostbusters’ game, though I wish that translated to real life. You can even add friends and in a way, compete with them as each user has their own “leaderboard”, showcasing who has the most coins each week. They updated their iOS app to offer offline access (up to an hour) and speech recognition, though the latter isn’t offered offline but it’s still really great to take with you on the road when you don’t get a wireless connection. Duolingo currently offers French, Portuguese, Spanish, German and Italian.
Android users, the app will be available for you later this May! If you already have the app on your iOS device, let me know what you think.