Duolingo | ATOM

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It's been ages since I've done an app of the month post, mainly because I've just been using the same old apps. That being said I've been loving Duolingo. I've been using it for probably about seven months now and it's been amazing. I actually read about the app in a blog post but for the life of me I can't remember who wrote it!

If you aren't familiar with Duolingo it's an app that allows you to learn languages. Free of charge. I'm awful at learning languages however it's a skill that I really want to improve and so when I heard about Duolingo, downloaded the app and saw how awesomely it was designed I knew I wanted to give it a shot! The only problem was that at the time I was learning Chinese and so wanted to learn Chinese from English, Duolingo only has English from Chinese. This is probably because of all the characters for Chinese, something Duolingo isn't really equipped to handle at this stage. That being said I still wanted to use the app so with true spontaneity I decided to start learning German as well!  I tried to take German at school but couldn't due to timetable clashes (with Chinese!) and so I figured this would be the perfect opportunity to really try the app.

How it works
The app is broken up into sections like "Phrases" which is then further divided into lessons, usually 3-4. There's 120 sections (if I counted correctly!) for learning German and I presume there'd be a similar number for other languages. This means that there's loads of content on the app that you can learn, you're not going to run out! The other thing this means is that by the time you finish what the app has to offer (I imagine this could take a while!) you'll have built up a pretty solid vocabulary base.
Remember the vocab
Something I struggle with when it comes to languages is retaining the vocabulary; making it stick. This is where Duolingo comes in, as after you've completed each section, depending on how many mistakes you made, the "strength bars" begin to fade. After this you can complete a quick section recap to refresh your memory. In other words, the app knows you'll forget what you've learnt so every now and again it gets you to revise the content. The frequency of how often you need to revise is adjusted depending on how well you knew the content, I think it's called spaced repetition? Anyway, I love the idea of this as it means you don't have to keep track of what you need to go over and you don't just learn something, move on, then forget it! You also don't have to keep revising the content that you know like the back of your hand, which really does save time. The only downside is that as you go on in the app you've got to spend more time on it as you'll have learnt more sections that need reviewing! That being said I think as you get more into it, you're more committed to it and therefore you're willing to put in the extra time.
The website
The app is absolutely amazing and, on a daily basis it's what I use. However if you use and love the app then I'd highly recommend looking at the website. It has a whole lot of features that the app doesn't such as flashcards for the vocab or an "immersion" section which is basically where you and other users can work together to translate documents. I haven't used this feature before but it sounds like a really good idea! There's also a social aspect on the site which again, I haven't used but from what I can gather if there's a certain question that you don't understand the answer to, you can ask a question about it. You can also ask general questions about Duolingo and learning languages, kind of like an online language learning forum.
Keeping on track
I remember reading something in the app saying each section takes five minutes but to be honest it's more like three and thus, there's no excuses! You can't say you forgot either because you can set a reminder within the app to keep you on track. The other way that the app motivates you is by getting you to set a daily goal, for example 10 XP which equates to one lesson a day.
The price
The best part about Duolingo is the price. It's 100% free. It isn't one of those apps that tries to get you to buy anything either, which is nice. The other thing you'll be pleased to here is that it doesn't have ads so you can solely focus on learning a language.

In a nutshell
  • Duolingo has lots language learning content
  • It uses spaced repetition to help you remember things
  • The website has even more content
  • It has little features to help keep you motivated
  • It's cost and advert free!

Do you use Duolingo? What do you think of it? 

Thanks for reading,

Katie XO