Learning a new language or maintaining a second language to prevent it from fading from memory is one of those things we all mean to get around to doing.
If you own a computer, tablet, or smartphone and have access to a Wi-Fi signal, Duolingo is the most user-friendly and accessible foreign language learning tool/app around. With the exception of German, it offers lessons in four of the five major romance languages: Spanish, French, Italian, and Portuguese.
First of all, it’s free.
Secondly, the methodology behind the curriculum promotes learning the fundamentals of the language as opposed to remembering a few phrases that apply to specific situations.
I have been using Duolingo to keep my Spanish language skills tight. I’ve decided I would use the app to help me focus on learning German.
What I like the most about its brand of pedagogy is that you learn to write, listen, and speak the language.
You are able to choose the foreign words to construct a sentence, identify the correct translation from incorrect translations, and translate a phrase that is spoken to you.
Vocabulary is taught in tandem with the other language building skills. You can click on any of the words in the sentence you are translating to find out its English meaning. As you progress, it gives several meanings of the word which requires the user to decide a word to use for an answer.
The user gets three hearts per lesson. If your translation is incorrect, you loose a heart. Once you are out of hearts, you have to repeat the lesson. In order to pass the lesson, you cannot miss more than three translations.
Even after passing a block of lessons, there is the opportunity to sharpen the skills from that particular block.
Although Duolingo is a comprehensive foreign language learning app, it is not magical. You should not expect to achieve foreign language fluency immediately. Foreign language learning is an incremental process that demands persistence, patience, and discipline.
It is my recommendation that learning a foreign language via Duolingo should be supplemented with an instructional book and a foreign language dictionary.
There is no substitute for foreign language immersion. Being apart of an environment where the language is spoken exclusively can take your foreign language abilities to the next level. If going abroad to study a language isn’t feasible, consider joining a meetup group or take a class at the local community center.
Duolingo continues to expand its audience and options to Non-English speakers through inexpensive alternatives to English standardized tests like the TOEFL. Recently, Duolingo launched a Hindi version to cater to Indian users wanting to learn English.
Among some of its other features are “duels” where users compete against one another. Also, there is a shop where users can purchase specifically tailored lessons with the points earned from passing lessons.
Learning a foreign language will not be an overnight achievement. However, with the right tools and attitude foreign language fluency can happen for you.