For the past several weeks, I’ve been learning Spanish with the help of the program Duolingo and its owl (búho) coach, Duo. This program – which is FREE by the way – has been an absolute godsend for me. Earlier this summer, I started working with a Spanish coursebook and a few CDs, but found myself getting bored and impatient, and the lessons weren’t really sticking. With Duolingo, I can log in to the app via my iPhone or to the main program from my laptop, track my progress, take quizzes, see a list of vocabulary I’ve learned, and tell at-a-glance which lessons it’s time to go back and practice. I get emailed reminders to log into my lessons, which get progressively harder as I increase my knowledge.
As I work, I gain “lingots” – virtual currency which I can spend on outfits for Duo, extra “lives”, quizzes, and “fun” lessons like Flirting or Idioms. The app smartly allows users to make their experience more social if they choose. You can share your progress with your friends on Facebook, for example, or go online to access forums and recommended immersion programs.
The best part of all of this? It’s FREE! You don’t have to spend a fortune on Rosetta Stone if you don’t wish. Give this a try first. Spanish isn’t the only language – find French, Dutch, etc. It is fun and a great stress-reliever. And the award-winning mobile version (which links to your usual account) is great for on the go. with the app you can practice speaking your chosen language, as well.
Complaints? Sometimes the spoken portion of the app will be really lax about some words, and very picky about others! And occasionally, when I have to choose the correct words to make a sentence, one of the required words is missing from the options! These are relatively small compared to how much more comfortable I feel with Spanish now. And yes, I’m smitten with the adorable owl.
Whichever language you choose, buena suerte!