thoughts on duolingo

Duolingo app screenshots

I downloaded the Duolingo app right after I booked my ticket to Buenos Aires. I really wanted to be able to say more than four words in Spanish when I got there, and I had heard it is a good tool to kickstart language learning. Because it works offline I could continue to use it in Argentina, though it is finicky and much better when running through an Internet connection.

It turns out that Duolingo is the best thing ever and gives me a heretofore unfelt appreciation for my smartphone. Mostly because it uses gamification in all sorts of different ways to make learning fast-paced and fun. And it throws you into the language without really teaching you anything about the rules first, which is liberating. It’s frustrating to not understand the rhyme or reason behind the grammar but it also feels, soothingly, kind of like learning as a baby would – through repetition and context clues. Very different from a textbook approach.

It took me about a month to go through the entirety of the Spanish lessons on the app and now I am working my way through the French (which is a completely different experience because I am very familiar with French and basically reviewing it with DL whereas I am almost 100% new to Spanish). One thing I noticed with the Spanish that I haven’t seen so much with the French: the sentences they give you to translate are bizarre, and sometimes downright disturbing. About halfway through I started jotting down the best ones, from the absurd:

These elephants do not have eyes.

to the nonsensical:

He lives from the air.

to the morbid (there were lots of these):

I am alone in the universe.

They found her body on the beach.

You must eliminate the witness.

He does not know friendship, love or hope.

However, I was pleasantly surprised and delighted to find that both the Spanish and French versions seem to be highly progressive in the queer-friendly department:

I was asked to translate ‘I am his husband’ into Spanish and ‘Elles ont un fils de dix ans’ into English. (Elles is the feminine version of they in the sentence: They have a ten year-old son.) Vaya! [I have no idea if I actually used that word correctly – Duolingo never taught that one to me. :)]

Check out this Twitter brilliance for more Duolingo gold.

Do you use Duolingo, either the Website version or the app? What has your experience with it been like?

[Photo from Tidbits]

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7 thoughts on “thoughts on duolingo

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