Ever wanted to learn a foreign language but never had enough time to commit? Duolingo (www.duolingo.com) is an incredible phone app that is similar to Rosetta Stone (www.rosettastone.com) but is actually free (and probably equally as effective)!
- Multiple strategies to reemphasize vocabulary, grammar and sentence structure
- Useful microphone where you can speak vocabulary words and be assessed on your pronunciation
- Keeps track of your progress using experience points and levels
- Focuses on accuracy when writing
- Comes in the following languages: French, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Italian
I have been using Duolingo for 5 days straight to learn French, and it’s been going extremely well! In the past 5 days, I have learned words from the following categories: Basic words, Basic Phrases, Food and Animals. Even though Duolingo does not explicitly teach you grammar rules, it uses repetition of the same words and sentences to help you understand how the language works. You definitely have to rely on your own intuition to progress through each level.
How does it work?
Duolingo is split into different categories and within each categories are multiple lessons. The lessons need to be completed in order, so if a category had 4 lessons, you’d have to complete lesson 1 before you can unlock lesson 2. I personally find this effective because it makes your learning structured. Also, later lessons build on the material you learned from earlier lessons.
Once you’ve chosen the lesson you want to learn, you are asked do certain activities to help you remember the word. These activities include:
- Translating a sentence from French to English (and vice versa)
- Typing a sentence that is said to you
- Saying a word or sentence in the microphone
- Choosing a picture that represents the word
Also, the best part about this app is that since it’s on your phone, you can study it anytime and anywhere. Sometimes when my friend is driving, I will use this app in the car.
What does it teach you?
Even though the activities and sentences are somewhat repetitive, it really does a great job of helping me remember how to write certain sentences in French. Also, the app is designed in such a way that you practice every single aspect of learning a language including listening, reading, writing and speaking.
- Listening – For every sentence and vocabulary word that is introduced, they always have a voice recording of a French woman speaking the word. Also you can hear the voice recording as many times as you want. However, there is no option for a male voice.
- Reading – There are many opportunities to read the different words and sentences.
- Writing – This app does a great job promoting writing skills since you are asked to write an English sentence in French and, similarly, a French sentence in English. Also, if you make an error when it comes to articles, accents or spelling, it will let you know the mistake you made.
- Speaking – You are also able to practice your speaking by talking into the microphone on the phone. You are then graded on how well you pronounced the word. It’s not as if you receive an actual score, but it’s either you said it right or wrong.
What else is special about this app?
This app does a great job to motivating me to stay on track and keep studying French! It’ll send you an e-mail daily saying what your progress is. Also, it’ll send you a push notification on your phone to keep studying.
To motivate me even further, the app even has levels as if it was an actual game. Every time I complete a lesson, I receive a certain number of experience points (XP). Once I’ve accumulated enough XP, I can level up. In five days, I have already at level 5! Even though leveling up is pointless, it’s still fun because you feel as if you’re accomplishing something.
What cons are there?
Even though this phone app is amazing and free, I have experienced a few issues. Unfortunately, with the French language, it is difficult for me to replicate many of the French sounds since English is my first language. In turn, I have been getting every single speaking question wrong, and it’s been pretty discouraging. Sometimes I just turn off the microphone questions or else it ruins my overall score.
I think this app would be almost perfect if they had a category that focused on individual French letters and the sounds they made. That way, I would know how to phonetically pronounce each word and be less likely to pronounce the word incorrectly. I’ve had to research the French alphabet and French sounds separately on YouTube. Also, this app works better on WiFi instead of 4G because sometimes it’s prone to crashing (and this can be frustrating when you’ve spent at least 5 minutes on one lesson).
Despite these setbacks, this app is literally one of the best language apps out there, and it’s definitely giving traditional language programs a run for their money. If you want to learn a language, you have to try this app!
Disclosure: All views and opinions with regard to the products or the company are my own and were not influenced by the company.