Duolingo – Review


So what’s your favourite language?  How have you been learning it?

I challenge you to try the free App, Duolingo.  Let’s see if you improve, I almost guarantee that you will.

But why?

I’ve known about Duolingo for some time but didn’t try it out.  My pupils raved about it enthusiastically but I never really bought into it.  Having seen many free apps come and go, fads in their own time, I was suspicious.

However, this app seems to have endured the test of time.  I cracked recently and downloaded it.  As a result I have been hugely impressed by Duolingo. 

In the process of not only teaching vocabulary, but also grammar, it does so in a logical, ‘learn through making mistakes’ fashion.  Initially I felt uncomfortable with this method, but unlike the deeply displeasing way in which Rosetta Stone does this, this actually corrects you and offers you a translation if you click on the dotted line.

I always enjoyed reading the theories of Grammar but never really having the chance to use them and make progress through making mistakes.  Duolingo teaches you in a systematic way which I was impressed with.  It did leave me to look for certain rules online and in some course books that I had, but this was ok.  I didn’t expect one app to have all of the answers.

What I particularly appreciate is Duolingo’s ‘nag’ and repeat function.

Lots of learners progress, and with Western European languages at a fast pace due to their similarity with English.  This leaves learners with a conundrum that they want to go forward yet forget to look back.  This app doesn’t allow this.

First of all it nags you to participate (you can set when and whether to do this which I liked).  Secondly, it has a kind of countdown on the modules that you’ve already studied.  After a certain time you have to go back and review them, meaning that you are far less likely to forget them.  This is a clever and scientifically proven method which plays on your brains natural rhythm.  Usually it is something like ‘next day, one week, one month, 6 months, 1 year’ in order to remember something permanently (from what I crudely remember).

I also really like other options that are available to you.  Not only does it have a host of languages available to English speakers, but if you go to the language of your choice and try to learn English, there are even more.  I tried learning English through the medium of Vietnamese which was startlingly interesting.  I have also tried the Korean>English and Mandarin>English which are both really fun!

There is a competitive edge as well, where you score points. 

You can add friends and compete against them.  A function that we’ll be using in my school for my classes to give an extra incentive to homework!

I strongly urge you to give this app a chance.  It’s drip feed method of doing a little everyday, and reviewing what you’ve already completed is a master stroke which all apps should have – but don’t.

How it’s still free is beyond me, I would actually pay good money for it!

P.s. I haven’t been sponsored by them, these are all my own opinions.

Give it a go!

Gareth Trew (Gtlanguages)


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