Duolingo

I have strong feelings about the fact that a large population of the world speak more than one language and that many Americans barely know English.  Given that I like to travel, I very much appreciate that many people  in other countries know our language but it makes me feel worse that I don't know much about theirs. 

Here and there I've tried to do my best to learn.  I asked some El Salvadorian friends in the restaurant I worked at a few years ago if they would teach me Spanish.  It didn't really get anywhere.  I dabbled in Rosetta Stone a little bit, once after returning from a trip to Mexico after really falling in love with the country and it's language.  While it did a bunch for me in terms of learning certain words, it really wasn't a help for conversation and truly understanding certain aspects of the language (like when do you make a word masculine or feminine.)  Eventually I trailed off and stopped using it, mainly because the Rosetta Stone software itself sucked and I just wasn't progressing.    

Well I think I found a great replacement.  It gamifies the learning of a language and makes the process fun.  It makes you want to do a new lesson every day.  It works in an app or on the web and the best part is that it's completely free.  

You can sign up with just you're email address, a Facebook account, or Google account.  Once you sign up and select a language (they currently offer Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, and English.  

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The idea is to get through one lesson without losing all of your hearts.  Lose your hearts and you lose the lesson.  Each lesson takes about 5-10 minutes and if you're doing well you can get through a few pretty quickly.  

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On certain questions the app speaks to you in a pretty quickly and asks you to translate the sentence.  You can listen again at regular or slow speed if you want.  I do my best to try to not say it a second time at all.  

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I'm totally hooked.  At times when I might normally be playing a game I found myself using my spare time to do a lesson in Duolingo.  

A helpful coach will remind you to stay on track (you can shut this off if you want) at certain times during the day depending on certain levels you set. 

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I've tried a few and Dualingo is the best language learning app/service I've seen yet.  It's completely free and at times just seems too good to be true.  If you're interested in learning a new language I think it's the first thing you should check out.  

Visit Duolingo on the web

Get the app:

Android  //  iPhone/iPad