When I was at high school I did two years of French. Despite loving the language I chose to carry history as a subject instead of French through to my senior years. BIG mistake. During the 1980s apartheid education school history in South Africa was full of propaganda, the great Afrikaner trek and nothing else. I spent three years suffocating during lessons and the rest of my adult life yearning to do French again. Enter Duolingo!
Duolingo is a free app that can be downloaded onto a tablet or smartphone. As an English speaker you can learn Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch, Irish, Danish, Swedish, Russian, Polish, Esperanto, Turkish, Vietnamese, Norwegian, Ukrainian or Welsh. It was on a recent trip to visit my daughter in London that my clever son-in-law told me about this user-friendly language site. Naturally I chose French, downloading it to my iPad without delay.
I set up Duolingo for ten minutes of learning per day. I thought short time periods like this would be best as I was more likely to stick to a daily regimen, especially when life got busy. During my ten minutes I now steadily work through different levels of lessons that incorporate: pictures as cues, processes of elimination as methods of teaching, sound bites for pronunciation, writing responses for translation and spelling, and chances to record for speaking practice. I have completed basics, phrases, food and animals. I’m currently “Practising Weak Skills” so as not to forget what I’ve learnt, before embarking on adjectives. A little owl is the Duolingo symbol and he looks very happy when I complete my daily lesson, sending me encouraging sound effects that spur me on to greater heights.
I got a chance to put some of my early skills into practice on a recent trip to Mauritius. This island holiday paradise attracts a lot of French nationals and holiday staff all speak English and French. I am very happy to report that after just a few weeks of Duolingo I felt confident enough to greet people in French and was chuffed when I recognised certain words.
Okay, just so you know, I’m not getting paid by Duolingo to promote them… I have just found the app a simple, effective, fun and accessible way to learn a language. If you have a device and an Internet connection it’s really easy-peasy.
Visit www.duolingo.com for more info.