Learning a language can be fun and free

7983004328_0e06f91fbe_zDuring my unemployment early this year, I picked up a few daily habits in hopes of using my new found time for self-improvement. The best of these is my morning Spanish lesson, courtesy of Duolingo.

I took three years of German in high school, most of which I’ve forgotten and rarely use.

Ich habe eine schwarze katze.

Living in southern California, I’ve picked up a little Spanish over the years and even took a community class a while back. I would like to be conversational and think a good way to do that is with daily practice.

Yo quiero ser bilingue!

Every morning, I hop on the website and complete one or two lessons, either to learn new words or refresh lessons that I’ve already taken.

My current stats:

  • Current streak: 260 days (that’s over 8 months!)
  • Current stash of points (called Lingots): 310
  • Current level of fluency: 50%
  • Word learned: 1313 (whoa!)
  • Number of friends I’ve connected with: 2

duolingo_1duolingo

Features that are muy bien:

  1. It’s easy to use. All the lessons are laid out on my home page. I can easily find my next lesson and level to reach, which are all color coded with cute little icons.
  2. It reminds me when I need to refresh previously completed lessons so I don’t forget what I’ve learned. It’s especially fun to play against a timer to see how quickly I can translate.
  3. I can spend as much time as I want on it. As long as I complete at least one lesson per day, my streak continues. If I have some free time that morning, I will do several lessons to beef up.
  4. The streak feature totally motivates me to log in every day. Without it, I would have given up months ago. Competing with friend is also helpful to keep me coming back.
  5. They have an iPhone app that I can use anywhere and feels like playing a game. No excuse to miss a day!

Features that are just so-so:

  1. My progress has been slow, but I think that’s a product of only doing 1-2 lessons per day. In order to improve fluency more quickly, I should dedicate more time.
  2. My vocabulary is limited and less practical than I’d like. I’m more familiar with sentences like “The yellow horse does not eat cheese” than “Would you like to buy me another drink?” Which is more useful in my actual life? You decide!
  3. Buying stuff at the Lingot Store doesn’t interest me. The more levels I complete, the more I earn. I can use them to buy a streak freeze or open up optional lessons. Meh.
  4. Immersion lets me translate news articles to test my fluency, but I don’t find it very helpful. This could be a good resource to get better, but the way it’s set up confuses me. I should give it another try.

The site has more than twenty languages to chose from. I recommend you check it out to see if it’s the right fit to help you learn something new. Adios, mis amigos!

P.S. Just want to mention that I’m not affiliated with Duolingo in any way. I’m just a faithful user who wants to spread the learning love.

(Image: Geraint Rowland)

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