Have You Meet Duolingo?

If not, allow me to introduce you.

I was recently made aware of Duolingo when a friend mentioned it on Facebook (thanks Shannon!). I was immediately intrigued. I’ve never been very good at picking up new languages despite how badly I wanted to be able to fluently converse in another language. After I watching the Duolingo video on their homepage I thought, maybe I can finally do this!

I choose Spanish as the language I wanted to learn but you can also learn French or German. There’s also an option to learn English for native Spanish speakers. After deciding what language you want to learn, you then take a test to gauge your current skill level. After that, you get your road map. Mine is shown below:

Each level consists of a series of lessons as well as a set of real examples from the web for you to translate. New levels wont unlock until you’ve mastered existing levels. If you think a level is too easy for you, the only way to skip it is to test out of it. Each level presents you with vocabulary terms and then presents and tests you on them (and previous words) in a variety of ways.

You will see and hear a sentence is Spanish (or whatever language you chose) and be asked to type it in English:

You will be presented with a new vocabulary word that you will be hear and see as a written word and a variety of images”

You will be asked to listen to and repeat a sentence in Spanish:

You will be asked to choose the correct noun, verb or article to complete a sentence in Spanish:

(Pssst…..See how in the screen shot above I only have three read hearts instead of four? When you make a mistake during a lesson you lose a heart. If you lose all four and make a fifth mistake in the same lesson, the lesson ends and you have to start all over. The more hearts you have left when you complete a lesson, the more points you tally up for that lesson unit).

You will see a sentence in English and be asked to translate it into Spanish:

You will be asked to listen to a sentence in Spanish and write it in Spanish:

And, you will be asked to read (and listen if you choose) to a sentence in Spanish and identify the correct English translation(s):

So far, I’m impressed. I already feel like I’m learning and retaining more than I did the entire year I took elementary Spanish in college. The mix of formats for learning really helps the information sink in-I just tried a lesson after over a week “off” from regular use and I was impressed with how much I remembered from the last time I worked with Duolingo. Even when I wasn’t sure and guessed, I was correct over 75% of the time.

While I think Duolingo is probably best for learners that already have some experience with the language and may not be best for total novices, I would still highly recommended it as a way to learn a new language. It’s free and the colorful graphics would appeal to kids making it perfect for schools. It could make an excellent supplement to a foreign language class and definitely deserves to be shared with the education community at large.

Enjoy cats and kittens and if you give it a try, let me know how you like it.




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