Not too long ago I did a quick review of a website called Duolingo. It’s helping me to learn how to speak Spanish. Back when I did the review I was 6% Spanish fluent. Now, according to Duolingo, I’m a whopping 30% fluent (I’m taking it slow).
In my earlier review, I failed to mention Duolingo’s mobile app. Being old school I was using my desktop computer to complete the Spanish lessons, but when I realized there was an app (just about everyone has an app), I decided to give it a go.
In reviewing this app, we’ll ignore my Low-Tech Grandma issue of not liking to use the small on-screen keyboard for any app. That’s my problem not Duolingo’s. What I did find to be an oversight on Duolingo’s side is the inability for the user to insert/type Spanish characters on the unmodified Android keyboard. Unlike the web version, the app doesn’t offer accents, tildes and the like. To add insult to injury, not inserting the characters causes the app to display a gentle warning to “be mindful” of spelling.
The option to add Spanish characters similar to what’s provided in the online version would be nice.
Expedite Spanish Lessons
With the app, I’m able to go through Spanish lessons wherever I am. I don’t have to wait to get home to use my desktop. Each lesson is only a few minutes long so the app makes it easy to stay on track. And don’t worry about forgetting a lesson because Duolingo sends daily reminders to you to keep your learning streak alive.
Successfully advancing to a new level earns lingots. Lingots are virtual Duolingo money to be used to purchase items in their online store. The store offers necessary items such as timed tests, progress quizzes and bonus skills. For 10 lingots I purchased a streak freeze. Purchasing a streak freeze will keep your daily streak intact for a full day of inactivity.
I purchased the streak freeze one day because I had money to spend and it was burning a hole in my pocket. I assumed the streak freeze would be used automatically if I missed a day. That was an incorrect assumption. I guess you need to purchase it at the time you need it. Apparently, the app doesn’t check to see if you’ve got a streak freeze pass sitting around unused. No big deal. My goal is to learn Spanish, not worry about streaks. In addition to the streak freeze, I bought bonus lessons.
Additional Spanish Learning Resources
To supplement my Duolingo Spanish lessons, I’m also using Language Transfer. Language Transfer is a fantastic site that helps users to understand the mindset behind the language. It’s one thing to memorize words, punctuation and sentence structure, but it’s another thing to be able to think it through and understand why things are the way they are. Language Transfer helps you to think yourself through tricky language situations.
For more language-learning resources, spend some time browsing the Duolingo discussion boards. There you’ll find a wealth of information and additional resources to help you on your learning journey.
Duolingo is great for folks who don’t want to spend money for something like Rosetta Stone or don’t have time to attend formal classes. After all, it’s free so you have very little to lose by giving it a try.
Note: This review was written in Dec, 2015 using the Android app.