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App Review: DuoLingo

So I recently have invested a good portion of my time into the somewhat recent app DuoLingo.  I saw the website during the introduction phase and my how the service has flourished. Since las November they recently published the iPhone app which as increased my time learning Spanish tremendously.  It also helps that there is a little reminder everyday. This app is a true help to learning Spanish and Italian as I come to find out personally.

The structure of the software is somewhat of gamification where you have to complete several tasks before you can move on to the next round.  The layout reminds me of Mario Brothers 3 fo Nintendo. You can select a couple of things to learn first and move down the track from there.  It is also nice that every lesson you get 3 extra “lives”.  This allows you as the learner to have a safety net of failure and focus on the learning taking place. It is also nice because there is a limit to your tries before you have to start over again.  This is where I have a split decision and yes it does force me as a learner to go back through the exercise again, but now is the app training me for test taking? I will leave that up to you to decide. Regardless, the app has actually helped me learn spanish not just memorize it.  I was having an email conversation with a native Spanish speaker and I mentioned I was learning Spanish because I actually thought in Spanish instead of strictly English. He was elated, because to truly learn you must spend time and that time is also out of the “learning time” thinking about the language.

If you are looking for a free online learning tool this has to be one of the best I have come across and I say watch out Rosetta Stone! If DuoLingo can keep expanding and getting fans like myself and actually teach us new languages that we don’t just learn partially or key phrases I think they could easily have a new share in the market.  Thanks DuoLingo for helping me achieve one of my goals in life, and I will continue playing/learning until I reach the end of my map!

Learning Languages

Recently I have been testing out the website and app Duolingo. There are claims from TechCrunch that the software is actually better and more engaging than RosettaStone and those other guys in this business.  There is much to be said about the newer soft ware, and I really like the fact that as you progress through the levels you are translating words online for others to read. The idea that as I learn I am helping others read these translations is amazing.  When all is said and done, does it really help?

I have used RosettaStone many years ago, but I have seen it in action recently, and it still remains the same. However, there is now some more speaking and you don’t just click on pictures to match words.  There have been many improvements since the early years. The program has been proven time and time again; however, when you think about it how many other language software programs can you think of quickly. If you are like me you can think of absolutely nothing else like this software.  Sure there are online courses for languages, but has RosettaStone been so good because it works or due to the lack of competitors in the market?

Move out-of-the-way Rosetta, you are getting some seriously strong competition! Duolingo has actually worked quite well over the past 3 weeks I have been using it.  The gamification of levels and lives make Duolingo somewhat addicting.  It is incredibly hard to put down once I start on a level I really want to move on to unlock the next level.  The interface is simple and reminds me of Mario Bros. 3 moving from level to level. However the graphics are better even on my cell phone.  Duolingo has me hooked and I am learning Spanish and Italian, but it is because I want to learn.

MarioBros3

Both softwares have the one major fatal flaw, the user.  No matter how many times we look at statistics of people using the software, we need to take into account the learners wanting to learn.  I know that if I was still in school I would prefer to take a course that had levels, and a gaming side to it if it was structured properly. What about those students and people “using the software” but not actually wanting to learn.  This is where I think Duolingo has the leg up in the competition because the software actually keeps the user in the software.

Have you used language software? If so what was your experience like?

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