It’s something of a misnomer for this blog to have the word “polyglot” in it’s title, and yet have almost all of the posts about Thai language! Let me reassure you that I do also learn French, and I use Duolingo to do it. I would like to inform you that I absolutely LOVE this website.
The first thing that made me interested in the website was the ‘gamification’ side: having a high score board, friends lists, and an RPG style skill tree. I also like the fact that this website is very interactive. Apart from the prompts to click buttons and type things using your keyboard, it also uses your microphone to physically get you speaking the foreign language out loud to your computer!
If you’ve already looked at the video in this post, you will know that Duolingo also gets people to translate the internet as they learn their target language. The obvious benefits of this mean that the internet becomes more accessible (assuming that this website is here to stay, language barriers will slowly be eroded away through translations) but also as a language learner you are exposed to real life examples of the language. This is invaluable as you learn a language.
The other thing which I really love about Duolingo is the way that words are introduced in context. This means that you get to learn the function of the words. This is probably the biggest advantage that Duolingo has over other websites where you can learn a language. It’s common on other websites to learn a word, and it’s definition. And yet have no clue as how to actually use the word that you have “learnt”.
Duolingo has been incredibly successful so far, and at the current time of writing you can learn 5 languages: French, German, Italian, Portugese and Spanish. There are plans to introduce Chinese – I am very interested in that! Another fantastic thing about Duolingo is you learn a new language using your native language. My mother tongue is English. However, Duolingo also teaches English to native speakers of Spanish, Portugese or Italian.
For the computing/technology geeks – Duolingo also uses mixpanel analytics so the developers really get a feel for what is successful and what isn’t. Now I do this whole language learning thing as a hobby, but for my job I teach English. And I can tell you from experience that student feedback is vital with course design.
I wish the Duolingo team the best of luck with what they are doing, they have my complete support and I am a massive fan of their work! If you are interested in learning a language, clicking buttons and typing things other than on facebook, and making a rewarding contribution to something bigger than yourself (by translating the web), then I would wholeheartedly recommend Duolingo to you.