Every day I make my morning coffee, to the sound of Spanish. The conversation’s pace is quick, with what seems like no room to breath in between. I often just stand back and watch in owe of how beautiful the language is. Regardless, of what she’s saying it sounds happy with an alluring undertone. The “she” is this case is my roommate, Maria. Maria recently moved to Toronto from Columbia to learn English. Therefore, as of right now the majority of her conversations take place in Spanish. I often feel bad that she’s forced to speak to me in my language when I’ve never even attempted to learn her’s. So I thought, this is my chance to be the one to bring something to our relationship.
Duolingo is a platform in which users have the opportunity to learn another language for FREE. It is currently accessible as an iOS app and Android app as well as a Google Glass app. Or of course, you can use the old fashion way and access it through it’s website. Whichever program you prefer to use, the process to begin is very simple and straightforward. I simply begun by going through the list provided and selecting the language I wished to learn, Spanish.
After I chose my language, I then selected the path I wished to take within my chosen language. If you are a beginner, you select Basics 1 or if you have some previous experience you take a Placement test to see what level you will be placed at. In my case, I was most definitely a beginner !
After the intake process was complete, I could begin learning ! I started at lesson 1, where I was to match images to very basic words. Then, I moved on to translating these words from Spanish to English through text. Which seemed surprisingly easily, since I now had a picture in my mind to help make the connection.
From here I continued through a variety of lessons, each accompanied by tips and tricks to help with my progress. My progress was also automatically tracked and stored for me. I felt as though I was getting the experience and help of a tutor, from the comfort of my own home ! Not only do I think it’s a great way to learn a language, I think it could also be modified to teach a variety of subjects. It’s a very interactive and engaging program that I think children could really benefit from when it comes to learning academic subjects such as Science, Math, Geography, etc. It could be a very useful tool to have in classrooms.
However, as a language learning program it does have a few flaws or cons you may say.
These cons are incredibly limited and did not impact my use whatsoever, but they should be mentioned now the less. The first one I noticed right away, was the limited amount of languages available. There’s currently just over 20 courses listed on the website, however many of them are still in Beta (Greek, Hungarian, Hebrew, etc.) whereas others are still in the developing stage or as they call it “hatching” (Korean, Czech, Hindi.) The second con I experienced was that the words and sentences I was learning really weren’t useable everyday words. I would have felt a lot more motivated if I could use the things I was learning more regularly. Even if the program started off by teaching, “Hi, how are you” or “Hello, my name is …” This would have encouraged me to be more engaged in the learning.
Overall, these two cons I experienced were not enough to make me dislike this program. My encounter with Duolingo was very pleasant and I intend to use it in the future, as well as encourage my friends and family to at least check it out !