Duolingo

My trip to Berlin was booked and now I wondered:

-How much will I be able to speak if I do the whole Duolingo course in German?

My previous knowledge from the evening course in German 1983-84 was since long forgotten and when using a Univerb CD and book course in 2015, I mostly listened and seldom opened the book.

Before going to Germany on May 3, 2017, I actually did all the exercises and reached a level of 35% fluency according to the Duolingo application.

The greatest advantage with Duolingo is, in my point of view, to get a sense of the order of words in a sentence. The vocabulary increases of course too. I wasn’t however that accustomed in creating my own phrases and started to do it on my own out of situations in my daily life before the trip. Duolingo is for me a bit like listening to music and singing along, knowing all of the text by heart. Ask me to sing the same song without the help of hearing it simultaneously and I will know perhaps about half of the text by heart.

Looking back now at my seven days in Berlin, I did feel more at ease speaking. It still happened that I needed to change to English, however less often than in my week there in 2015.

Writing produces an imprint in the brain and as I often wrote the same faulty sentence AGAIN (how irritating!) I started to sometimes copy the correct answer from up in the top of the window by writing it accordingly. Thus my 35% of fluency needs to be taken with a grain of salt.

Using Duolingo this time[1] intensively for a month I was very content with the practicality of the application. It is easy to use and as the exercises only takes about 5-10 minutes, it is easy to keep up the continuity of training.

Yet, there are things I would like to find and this is therefore my wish lists for future updates:

Technical related wish list:

  • Ability to see the amount of exercises I’ve made in a day. No matter how many exercises done, the application only shows “Practice complete +10XP”.
  • Ability to save phrases in order to create my very personal phrase book.
  • A possibility to choose the amount of repetitions that shows for each day. Getting 25 new every day was stressful. Perhaps though, this might be due to the amount of exercises I had done the previous day?
  • When having finished a repetition, it sometimes takes a about 10 seconds before the color change to orange and the text “No more week words/Strength full” shows. This could perhaps be my phone being slow.

Language related wish list

  • A module with pure grammar information in order to get the bigger picture of a language once in a while. I especially missed that in the beginning.
  • A part of this grammar module would be a table with the auxiliary verbs, to be, to have etc
  • Orderly exercises corresponding to this grammar module. With this I mean sentences being in the order of I, You, He/She/It, We, you, They. As this suggestion might be what many like least with language learning (plodding through, just like in school) it could be a bonus skill for nerds who want to dive deeper, just like the exercises “flirting” and “idioms”.
  • When studying French, a decade ago, there was a vocabulary test, Maximots, built by a professor at Stockholm University on the 1600+ most used words. I’d be delighted to find a similar option also in Duolingo.
  • I have often had a good laughter by some of the sentences, especially in the Danish course. Some of my favorites are: The squirrel is our captain, the ants import rye bread, I am the queen of France, and Why does the bear conduct the orchestra? In the same time, I really don’t know when I would use them. And, Good Heavens, what would an answer be if I did?

 

New languages wish list

Some years ago, I fell in love with the Breton language and in 2014, I went on a five days’ language course in Brittany.

According to UNESCO, the Breton is a severely endangered language with an estimate of only 250 000 speakers[2]

The Duolingo newsletter of May 18, 2017 tells a hopeful story of another endangered Celtic language, the Irish. With only 44000 speakers it is classed by UNESCO as “Definitely endangered”[3] and now “3 million people are learning Irish with Duolingo” [4]

What an advantage! Except for the opportunity in learning new languages, the Duolingo application is also contributing to save endangered languages. How many more can be saved? What about being able to learn as well e.g. Sami languages and Occitan?

My first wish is to soon find Breton as one of your courses. With the facility of the Duolingo application more people would have the possibility to learn Breton, thus helping also this language to stay alive.

Here is the link to learn new languages[5]:
https://www.duolingo.com/register

DSC_1904
Berliner Dom, St. Marienkirche, Fernsehturm and the Humboldt box.

[1] I discovered Duolingo in 2016 and started with the German course, then changed to do some Italian and finally the whole course in Danish.

[2] www.unesco.org/languages-atlas/index.php

[3] www.unesco.org/languages-atlas/index.php

[4] https://www.duolingo.com/comment/19407224/Irish-President-meets-with-Duolingo-and-course-contributors?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=link&utm_campaign=save_irish

[5] This blog post has been sent to Duolingo on their “Submit your Duolingo story!” https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfAnfVmCB7UftggiS0pMAtN4ctX1yZuW3wGRG6MfCyAFrHEgQ/viewform?c=0&w=1

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