by Hoogie Espinosa . May 19th, 2014
Not too long ago, Art did an article on the hardest languages to learn. This interested me a lot because I’ve been interested in languages for quite some time. Ever since I was a boy, I was interested in how other languages had similarities with ones I already knew and was quite pleased to find out this was due to similar histories. When I started traveling, this passion increased further.
Today, I’m going to do a review on one of my most used apps when it comes to learning languages: Duolingo. I believe that learning languages can boost your business because a lot of people out there haven’t learned English and miscommunication can lead to missed opportunities. A lot of people don’t have time for a personal tutor and even though no app can replace the real thing, Duolingo seems to be the one that works the most for me.
Starting out as a way to translate websites, Duolingo evolved into a language learning app for both the computer and the mobile device that teaches Portuguese, Spanish, Italian, French, and German. Other languages are currently in development, and of course, there are also options for native speakers of non-English languages to learn as well, such as French to German.
I learned about this app a few years ago when I was out of money, but wanted to learn German. The Berlitz book was extremely detailed, but reading a book with nobody to practice with was quite boring for me. It was a simple Google search: “Language Learning Apps Online.” I found a ton of them and reviews. Beside Duolingo was Italki, Busuu, Livemocha, etc. I tried a lot of them, but Duolingo caught me with its colorful website design and unique social aspect.
When I opened Duolingo, I was a bit sad that the languages were quite limited. It didn’t have any of the Asian languages, such as Japanese, Mandarin, Arabic, or Korean. Norwegian and Dutch were missing too. I found out they were in development by the community, but up to this point, they haven’t been published. But I came for German, so I selected it.
When you go around home, work, or school, you rarely see someone actively learning new languages. This is because a lot of people are embarrassed to show something they’re not good at yet. It’s like how in high-school, the artists in the class hate it when people swarm over them. “Yes, it’s interesting, but believe me, I’m not.”
As you start learning, you’ll also notice a stream of updates on who learned what and when they leveled up. Sort of like an automatic Twitter feed. A lot of people don’t care about this, but to me, seeing that others are in it as well gives me motivation. I’m the type of person who likes excelling over others especially when we’ve started the same time.
It’s Free. I tend to be a cheapskate sometimes and will always look for the best ratio of price-to-quality. Costing nothing, I have nothing to lose with Duolingo. All they ask for (and this is never forced on you) is that you pay back in the future by helping translate the web.
The learning curve is not too steep. Over the weeks of learning, you’ll notice that your lessons slowly progress. At the beginning, you learn things like “boy” and “apple,” but after a while, you see yourself progressing to verb tenses and unique grammatical rules. With some holes, I don’t see much difficulty in learning with Duolingo, unless you try to learn 100 words a day, which you’re obviously not supposed to do.
It motivates you. From the fear of losing your streak, to that of a friend overtaking you, to the regularity of the activity feed, there is no lack of competition. You can also set it to mail you at certain times of the day if you haven’t studied yet and will also message you if you seem to have forgotten about your lessons.
Lastly, it’s a game. I love games. I remember that as a child, my mom would help me get my grades up by giving our tutorials a Jeopardy format. And as an introvert, the only way people to get me to hang out with them is if they had a gaming console I didn’t have. I soon grew up to love MMORPGs such as Ragnarok and Guild Wars.
Duolingo shouts out to that aspect of me by letting me gain experience points and currency with which I can buy potions through a skill tree which I choose on my own. Through our need of competition, my friends and I remind each other to get back on as soon as we notice each other’s weekly experience to be at zero.
And that’s about it: my review on why Duolingo is the best online app for learning languages by yourself. If you want to tap into large markets such as Mexico or Brazil, you’ve got Spanish and Portuguese lessons waiting for you.
Comment below if you’ve got anything to add. Have you tried Duolingo or any other similar apps? Which one do you like the best? And do you thank any of these for increasing your profit?
I do grown-up things to pay for my childish whimsy and rule the universe one step at a time while at it. Join me for the most fantastical, out-of-this-world adventure your trudgy 24/7 startup will never have.
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