Lingo My Duolingo!

Duolingo owl mascot and name

Not long after deciding to return to school and become a teacher, I realized that I should brush up on my Spanish-speaking abilities.  Living in southern California, this is a skill I have actually had an interest in for years, but when facing the reality of working with a student population whose parents will often speak a certain non-English language, I understood that my vast comprehension of how to say “sí” and “agua” probably wouldn’t get me very far in Spanish conversations.  So, I put it on my list of things to do: find efficient way to learn another language.

Lo and behold, I randomly came across my answer a number of months ago (by way of Lifehacker, I believe) in the form of a phone application named Duolingo.

I was certainly late to the party, and the mobile version is really just an extension of the actual site, but as I’ve seriously delved into it over the last couple of weeks, I’d like to highly recommend it for anyone who hasn’t yet heard of it.  Duolingo offers a way to learn many languages (Spanish, French, English, etc.), through a simple system of varied styles.  Going through each lesson finds me typing the Spanish/English version of a sentence provided in English/Spanish, speaking the words into the microphone, and selecting the correct translation of words from a given list.  I’ve found that Duolingo offers just the right amount of challenge and reinforcement – I never feel overwhelmed nor do I feel as if it’s wasting my time.  As with any popular game-styled application, Duolingo offers rewards and accomplishment stickers, but that is definitely just a side-aspect of how the program works.  After each page is checked, there is usually a link to a comments section, which I absolutely love; in the comments I find other learners asking and answering questions that have really helped deepen my understanding of the language all the more.

As with any language-learning endeavor, Duolingo really does operate on personal effort.  Though it’s not part of the program, every time the voice from the application says words in Spanish (and even when she doesn’t), I repeat the word or phrase out loud.  I am keen on actually learning Spanish well enough to be able to carry on a simple conversation, so I’m putting forth the effort to do so, and Duolingo is a great tool for that very purpose!  There’s no cost, no ads, and it’s pretty non-invasive.  Check it out, if you’re interested, at the main site linked above (which offers other activities, such as translating the Internet into other languages), for Android, or for iOS.  I hope you find Duolingo as helpful as I have, and if so, have a little bonus help on me: I’m lucky enough that a friend of a friend is a native Spanish speaker, so if you take on this pursuit and aim your vessel o’learnin’ toward the shores of Spain, here’s a phrase you can use whenever you come across a Spanish-speaker you’d like to practice chatting with: Estoy aprendiendo Español (I’m learning Spanish).


About Mark Mushakian

Just a man who loves God, women, kids, dogs, movies, and every other lovely thing in life :)
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