DUOLINGO-Learning English Made Easy!

by Justine Lavoie

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Duolingo is a free website designed for language learning. 

What is Duolingo?
D
uolingo is a tool for online language learning that:

  • teaches a language (or more) to anyone that wishes to be taught;
  • allows a community of language learners to exchange on language learning;
  • may teach a language in 34 hours.

How does it work?
First, you have to create an account and profile that will save and record your progress. Next, you need to select the language you wish to learn. You can either learn English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, Portuguese, Irish, Dutch, Swedish or Danish.  A short tutorial will be presented to you and you will have the option of deciding to do a placement test or not. The placement test determines your level and helps adapt the exercises for you. However, you can easily just explore the website. Then, you may begin your learning by doing the provided exercises that are divided into four distinct categories: translation, listening, matching, and speaking exercises. At the beginning of each level, you will be given three hearts or lives, and if you make more than three mistakes, you have to restart the level.

For an ESL teacher,
Duolingo is great because it is free and can be used to vary the teaching. Also, it can be seen as a reward activity when the students behave well. It is complete, concise, and some exercises can be modified to later on be used in the classroom. Duolingo can be used with students who are more visual. Another idea for ESL teacher can be to use the tool in order to do cultural language workshops. And finally, Duolingo can be used by teacher for their personal learning of a new language.

As an ESL teacher in the becoming,
think that Duolingo is great and I actually enjoy using it. While it is easy and simple to use, it provides a complete formation of a new language teaching. I can see myself using this with my future students because it is adapted to second or foreign language learning. Most importantly, I believe the exercises presented are relevant and the way Duolingo is designed is effective.

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The main perk of Duolingo, according to Jasmine Daudier, is to be able to start and stop learning a language at any time. Which gives one the opportunity to explore various languages.

For students,
Duolingo is fun! It is a great and fast tool to learn a new language. It is actual and interactive. Students may like it because of the game aspect it has and the challenge it provides. Also, learning a language now becomes something that they can do on their own, in their free times, and without any expense.

For parents,
Duolingo is a great website for them to work with their children, but also for themselves. Indeed, although it presents a childish face, Duolingo can be used by pretty much anyone. However if parents want to focus more on their children’s language learning, it is possible. They can assist their children throughout their exercises and motivate them. I believe it is a nice tool to create a connection between a child and his parents because of a new language they can learn and speak together.

There is an mobile application available to Windows, Android, and iOS devices.

Pros & Cons:
As illustrated on the Duolingo Website, Duolingo presents a series of perks such as:

  • having easy-to-search vocabulary;
  • having a possibility for learners to pass on irrelevant or easy content;
  • having a forum where problems, concerns, tips can be shared;
  • having a spaced repetition that reinforces weaker students’ vocabulary;
  • having and presenting articles that can be related to real life contexts;
  • being free.

However, Duolingo also presents areas in need of improvement such as:

  • having unnatural vocabulary that may not be used in real life contexts;
  • not demonstrating the students’ progress through the failed attempts;
  • not having enough forum management, therefore, some problems or concerns may not be resolved, and some tips may not be validated;
  • having an unnatural spaced repetition that may eventually lose the students’ interest;
  • having and presenting some articles that are not based on any reliable or scholarly sources.

Reviews:
From a tech tester’s point of view, Duolingo has an addictive element that can motivate students to perform and explore the levels of language learning even further.
From a teacher’s point of view, Duolingo focuses on spelling and vocabulary, and is good for low budget schools that wish to have their students learn more than one language.
From a parent’s point of view, Duolingo is great not only because of the money saving on courses it provides, but also because it really makes the users progress and learn.
Since the website is quite recent, no relevant reviews were published by children.

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Why don’t you just give it a try?

Although Duolingo may appear childish, I think that it is a great tool to learn a language quickly, and to challenge oneself. I can see myself recommending it to my students in my next Practicums, as well as to my future students.

Justine Lavoie.

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