Knowledge of the foreign languages in the modern global world is incredibly important.
No wonder so many adults regret not learning one or another foreign language at school and desire to master them today. That is the reason why many online tools and applications that provide language education are developed today. Not all of them appear to be incredibly useful, but still, they contribute to the whole learning process. One of such language learning platforms is acknowledged by many people Duolingo. It has gained recognition of millions and gathers more and more new learners on a daily basis. Let’s consider what is special about Duolingo and what secret it holds behind.
Being a popular educational tool Duolingo is a free of charge platform to learn foreign languages and deal with crowdsource translations. It was launched in October 2011 and has gained popularity all over the world. Today there are more than one hundred million learners, who can learn up to 21 foreign languages. For example, English natives can opt for learning only 5 languages, while the representatives of eastern European countries can learn many more of them.
What makes Duolingo courses so popular? Undoubtedly, it is an opportunity to learn languages free of charge, without any annoying advertisement and hidden fee. The website is able to sustain itself due to the translation of real website into various languages. Third parties are happy to order Duolingo web services and pay money for the delivered project.
It is an interesting fact that Duolingo can be compared in its effectiveness with higher educational establishments. According to the analysis of the statistics conducted by City University of New York and University of South Carolina 34 hours spent using the tool give as many reading and writing skills as 130 hours of the same subjects at the US higher educational institutions.
Today, the tool is available on mobile devices on iOS, Android and Windows 8 and 10, so the number of its users has reached 150 million people from different countries of the world.
You can learn a variety of Duolingo languages on the website including such popular European ones as Spanish, French, German, Italian and finishing with Swahili, Ukrainian, Welsh or Vietnamese.
When a person visits the website, the home page immediately offers him or her to choose the language to learn. As soon as you have made your choice in favor of one of the suggested languages, the website offers you to choose a daily goal that is between 5 and 30 minutes of learning per day. What is interesting the website will remind you about your learning hours each day if you allow that pressing a button.
The next stage is to choose an alternative to start at the basics or try the placement test to determine the existing language knowledge level. If you opt for the basics, you are immediately offered to start the learning procedure with the first word to translate. The second option will take you to the page that offers to take a test that lasts no longer than 5 minutes. If you start a test, there you will be offered words to translate into your native language or from it, spell the pronounced words, phrases, sentences etc. Depending on the language level the questions become more difficult. When you finish the test, you are offered to create a profile, save the progress and continue to study.
The procedure of using Duolingo app (Android, iOS, Windows) is similar to the online version, though the website also has a forum, where you can ask questions about grammar or other rules. The mobile version offers “taking a shortcut” where you can start with the latest lessons immediately.
After you have completed Duolingo sign up the procedure of language learning is rather simple. You are offered to learn the vocabulary and grammar stage by stage starting from the simplest topics like present tenses, family, animals, food, plural form. Each lesson has several levels the number of which increases with every new stage as the lessons become more complicated.
There are 4 exercise types:
- Translation exercises both to and from your target language;
- Listening exercises, the task of which to write down the pronounced word;
- Matching exercises where you should match the word with the picture or a word in the native language;
- Speaking exercises where you should read out the phrase in the foreign language.
The whole learning process reminds a game. You are given 3 hearts that stand for three mistakes you can make during one exercise. If you make two or more mistakes, you should start the exercise from the beginning again.
You can use either Duolingo PC version or opt for app Duolingo, in any case, your home page will provide you with information about your learning stage and the number of lessons you have completed. There are also two more pages you can visit:
- If you click “Words” button, you are offered a list of words you have already mastered. There are 4 columns in the table: the word itself, its part of speech, the time when it was last practiced and your strength.
- If you go to “Discussion” option, you can read or join any discussions connected with the tool.
Duolingo online learning is called the best new way to master foreign languages on the website. Such way of acquiring new skills is funny and addictive, so many people appreciate the fact that you can study a little on a daily basis and get good results. These bite-sized lessons are incredibly effective and have already been proved by specialists.
There is the main feature and motto of Duolingo: learn English and other foreign languages accompanied by gamification:
- Reading, listening, speaking and multiple choice tasks;
- Instant grading with the quick answer how to improve;
- Tracking of the progress;
- Obtaining hearts for every successful achievement.
Learners can improve their skills anytime and anywhere thanks to Duolingo Android, iOS, and Windows applications. Moreover, the platform has created high-quality products for language mastering aimed at schools and business. There is also a Duolingo English Test for ones, who want to know the level of English and tiny cards to make learning interesting and colorful.
Millions of people use free language learning apps and websites but not every of them has acquired such a recognition as Duolingo. Why has it happened? It is natural that a big number of benefits mentioned in every Duolingo review is the reason for that. Let’s consider what makes Duolingo a leader of the language learning tools:
- A variety of languages to learn.
- Gamification of the learning process.
- Possibility to use Duolingo free of charge.
- Necessity to go through all the stages to master the basics.
- Tracking of your progress on a daily basis as well as reminders to start learning are incredibly motivating and addictive.
- Possibility to obtain virtual gifts for your accomplishments.
- Accessibility to online and mobile versions.
- Opportunity to improve your language knowledge anywhere and anytime.
- Simple and user-friendly interface.
- A possibility to skip the exercises on speaking temporarily if you are in a public place, for example.
- Possibility to practice translating real-world content.
- Quality tests to determine the language knowledge level.
There are no perfect applications or platforms as there are no ideal people. According to some users’ reviews, Duolingo has a number of drawbacks in comparison with other language learning websites. They are:
- Not all the languages are fully-supported for every learner.
- Lack of real life communication and practice.
- Insufficiency of grammar rules to be read before being practiced.
- Focus on all the cluster vocabulary that might not be very important for daily conversations.
- Some composed sentences are not used in the natural speech.
- Pronunciation of the words and sentences is computerized and has little in common with real sounds.
- Absence of context, focus on the isolated words and sentences.
- No examples of idiomatic expressions, colloquial language etc.
- Lack of flexibility or responsiveness.
- Too many repetitive information etc.
In conclusion, it is necessary to say that Duolingo can be a good tool to remember some forgotten information or learn the basics of some languages. Not every person will be able to learn the language using this tool as much information should be searched on the Web to have a full understanding of the topic. But at the same time, it is a great platform to deepen the existing knowledge and extend it as well as bridge the gaps if there are any. It will be also incredibly useful for language learners as an additional tool.
At the same time, it is wonderful that we have such a great platform as Duolingo: learn English, French or some more rare languages without obstacles and extra fees and if you really wish to know it, Duolingo can be very helpful.
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Also published on Medium.